Bridezilla? I Think Not

Korean weddings are different from Western weddings. 
My wedding is different from Korean weddings and Western weddings. 

When Kenny and I first started talking about what we wanted in terms of our wedding, we both agreed we wanted something small and intimate, something that would be meaningful for both of us and our families. We wanted to avoid all the "look and see" chaos that tends to be ever-present at Korean weddings (at least the ones I had attended.) We desired to celebrate our marriage with people who knew us and truly cared about us and wanted us to succeed at loving each other well. At the same time, it was also our desire to respect Kenny's parents and his Korean culture. And so, his dad being the pastor of a church and a respected leader in the community, we are expecting around 400 guests. I have made my peace with this. 

photo here
When Kenny and I first started talking about what we wanted in terms of our wedding, we agreed that we wanted something casual. Both of us are simple and our wish is to live humbly together, not acquiring things or money, but investing in each other and the communities we're a part of. We wanted to keep things easy and simple. We wanted to bypass the traditional buffet dinner for all the guests and have the ceremony in his church so that the people who attended did not come with empty bellies, but with full hearts. However, we also wanted to respect the church community that has supported Kenny and his family and not to disappoint them or to offend them by taking away something that was expected at every wedding, despite who it was being wed or how different the couple might be. Also, his parents would not hear of it. And so, we have rented the third floor of one of the tackiest buffet/wedding halls for the dinner after the ceremony. I have made my peace with this. 

When we began to discuss how we wanted the sanctuary to be decorated, we both wanted the focus to be on the lighting. We had a vision of clean, modest lines, and neither one of us cared much about flowers. Personally, I don't want flowers at my wedding. Because they cost money and sure they look nice, but I'm not a flowery person and it just doesn't concern me. I can barely even manage a shrug over it. So, we opted for no flowers. However, there was some opposition to this because "they" always have flowers. "Usually" there are flowers. And a very kind and generous member of the congregation desperately wanted us to have flowers and wanted to provide them. And so, I compromised and after a few deep breaths requested white and green flowers if I had to have them. I made my peace with the flowers. And then, seeing as it is a wedding, the kind and generous member of the congregation seemed to believe she could not produce any kind of "bridal" arrangement. And so, there will be no flowers. I have made my peace with this, again. 

When we decided to have our wedding in Korea instead of the States, we sacrificed many things. Number one, I myself sacrificed the right to stomp my foot and use sentences like, "It's my wedding." Because in Korea it's not your wedding. It's the community's wedding, it's your guests' wedding. I find that this idea goes against everything that has been planted inside of my head pertaining to weddings and a bride's wishes. But I also see the beauty in it. At Korean weddings, the guests all bring an envelope with cash in it. I've mentioned this before. And when they give this envelope to the right person, they receive a "meal ticket" that gets them into the free buffet provided after (sometimes during) the ceremony. And it's true that many guests bring their envelopes, hand them over, grab their meal tickets, skip the ceremony all together and go get their eat on. At first, I was horribly offended by this. Why come at all if you're not going to witness the marriage? And it was easy for me to chalk this up to just another way that Koreans preserve their proverbial "face." 

But when I began to consider this and talk it over with Kenny, I saw it in a different way. I saw that every time someone goes to a wedding, they are making an investment in their community. They are literally investing money in the future of this couple's family (usually the money goes to the parents). And in doing so, they are securing a bit of their own future because when their sons and daughters get married, all the family weddings they attended will pay off. Those families will bring their own envelopes. It's a big circle. And I think it's a nice way to support each other. And if there are people who simply drop their cash to be noticed and then go eat their dinner and leave, why would I want them to be at my ceremony anyway??? I have made my peace with the fact that some people will simply come to "see" what our wedding looks like, and some will come to support us and to invest in our future. 

I have given up the right to claim this wedding as mine. It is our wedding, in the biggest sense of the word. Actually, considering all the work and planning he's put into it, we should call it The HubbO's wedding. He's taken care of so many of the things that the bride would normally do, but because of the language barrier have been shoved off of my list onto his. He has also taken on the responsibility for things that we have decided to add to our ceremony to make it special not just for us but for everyone there, such as subtitling our vows, our video, making our invitations bilingual (not to mention designing the entire thing!), and so many more things that go on behind the scenes. 

However, there are two things that are still mine. They are the only two real responsibilities I have. One is my dress. Check. The other is my hair. And thanks to my good friend Angie, also Check! We did a trial run last night and it was perfect. Even better than I thought it would be. I was so pleasantly surprised and after I went home, I pranced around my apartment cleaning and packing things like I was a movie star with her very own soundtracked life. 

Perhaps the reason for the Wedding Hair Rage was that it was one of only two things I had any control over. And the stylist rendered me completely powerless as he imposed his own vision of what a wedding hairstyle should look like, instead of what I wanted. And let's be honest, how many days out of the year do I care what I look like? I have not washed my hair since Monday, people. (I really have no shame. Sorry, Mom.) I wasn't lying about the 7 minute max morning bathroom time. But I do care what I look like on this day. Because it is going to be a good day. A great day, even. And I want to look and feel great. 

I am not Bridezilla, anyway. I imagine Bridezilla to be the bride who does not compromise on anything, who does not care to respect the wishes of her husband or his culture, but only wants to create that fairy tale day she's been nursing since she was 7. Bridezilla, instead of thanking the stylist for making her hair "too pretty," freaks out in the salon, yells like a crazy foreigner and makes him take it all out and do it again. Bridezilla does not make peace with this. 

I have come to the conclusion that I am not Bridezilla. 
Oh no. I am Bridechilla, baby. (Somebody call Websters. For real this time.) I have made peace that my wedding is not everything I wanted it to be, but that it will still be meaningful to me and my husband. It might not be the exact style we wished for, but it will please his parents who are so gracious and kind to this girl who struggles to understand this culture. Now, I'm not saying that I haven't cried, railed, and pitched many a fit. Oh, I have done this. But I have done this in private, behind my doors, perhaps in the presence of my husband. And I have gotten over it. And now, I am totally chill. I am a Bride and I am chill. Bridechilla. 

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go freak out because we still have not confirmed a photographer and our wedding is like... 11 days away. 


  1. Hi! I'm a relatively new reader and really like your blog. This was a beautiful post about your wedding, and I have only the best wishes for you.
    I thought your previous video was funny and I felt for you, and I'm glad you found something that works better!

  2. Very moving post, Danielle, especially for someone in the same foreigner being married in Korea position. I hope your sense of repose continues!

  3. I went to a Vietnamese wedding once in Houston when I was dating a guy from Taiwan. It was so interesting seeing how they merged the traditional western wedding with the circus-like atmosphere of the reception. The weird part was that they hired a DJ, put out a dancefloor and lights, but NO ONE DANCED!!! WHAT THE HELL?

    It was after all of the old folks pushed out from the pier that the friends of the bride and groom started doing shots and getting their groove on. I loved that part.

  4. Danielle,
    When I got married, I choose not to get married in my mom's church. It was really hard for her. I sometimes wish I would have listened. I understand how you feel, but you explained it so well, the community thing. Although, the red envelopes are nice and they really are, there is a lot more pride I think! But the best gift from my mom and her Korean Mafia is how they still continue to take care of the "community" 1000's of miles away. With all 3 of my children, the pray and send money! We've been blessed and now I wish I could have had the wedding at her church.

  5. i wish you much love and luck on your wedding day and the years ahead.

    that was a great post. the way you were able to coalesce these aspects of Korean culture and your own expectations and desires, it says so much about you and so much about this country. that was really a special piece of writing.

    again, best wishes on your special day.

  6. Danielle

    Thank you and I love you

  7. I would never get married in a Korean-style wedding, but since your fiancé's dad is a pastor, you really have no choice.

    If I ever get married in Korea, it's going to be on a beach somewhere. But probably not that nude beach they're planning.


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