Posts Tagged ‘wedding dress’

Msleetobe to Asiana Flight Attendant:  “I’m sorry to bother you, but could you hang this up in first class?  It’s my wedding dress.”

Asiana Flight Attendant:  “Oh of course!!! Wow! Congratulations!!!  No problem.  What is your seat number and we will return it at the end of the flight.”

Msleetobe to the ridiculously overworked Japanese airline agent at Tokyo’s Narita Airport: “Would it be possible to hang up my dress in first class?  It’s my wedding dress…”

Agent:  “I’m not sure – let me check with my supervisor.’  (quiet conversation in Japanese) “For a wedding dress? OKAY!!! No Problem! You are getting married? Wow! Congratulations.  We’ll put a tag on your dress so the flight attendants know.”

Msleetobe to Air Canada (Canadian) flight attendant standing to the side of the plane looking bored:  “I’m sorry to bother you, but could you please hang up my dress?  It’s my wedding dress.  The airline agent I spoke to at the gate said it would be no problem and put a tag on my garment bag.”

Air Canada Flight Attendant:  (Rolls eyes – gives a pissed off look to the flight attendant beside her) “I don’t know.  I’ll SEE…but it’s probably full.  I’ll take it FOR NOW, but if it doesn’t fit I’m BRINGING IT BACK.”

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These are a few pictures taken by my coworker RF which have a bit of a different perspective from my sister’s photos.

I really loved our venue space. I think it was the best part of the wedding. If you’ve been to a wedding here, you know that they are usually in somewhat cramped rooms in multi-leveled wedding halls meaning that there are multiple weddings happening in the same building simultaneously.  While there was one other wedding on the same day, it was an hour after ours, and the space was large, shaded by 500 year old ginko trees, and had a natural beauty which cannot be matched by most wedding halls.  We had over 330 people attend, including children, so there was ample room for everyone, and the children would roam freely without disturbing the ceremony.

Mr. Lee’s initial idea was to have a Korean girl and a Western boy carry the lanterns, but when we realized most of our friends had children too small to participate, and that my sister really wanted to play an active roll in the ceremony, we gave the lantern bearing job to her alone.

We made offerings of alcohol and jeon during the ceremony, and then drank some alcohol (not jeon).

I was trying desperately to see what was happening in the rest of the ceremony (can you see me trying to catch a glimpse?), but I was being a bad Confucian bride, and my handlers kept reprimanding me and putting my arms up higher.  If you want to be standing beside your spouse-to-be during the ceremony, this is not the tradition for you.  However, even though I didn’t see everything that went on, there was a certain relief in not being responsible for anything else than getting myself up and down during prostrations.  Also, as I had attended several ceremonies for other people or in preparation for our own, I knew what was happening without seeing it.

 I can’t even explain how difficult it is to prostrate oneself while wearing bloomers/traditional underclothes, a crinoline pinafore, a traditional top, a large coat piece, two headpieces, and a wig…in a graceful way (in 29 degree weather).  But that was sort of the fun of being in the traditional ceremony. I do advise you to practice ahead of time – not just in your comfy pjs, but in your whole outfit so you can figure out how to maneuver with all the layers on. 


Before my own wedding, I thought the women were actually helping to hold your arms up.  They’re not…they are simply holding me in place and pushing my arms up to cover my face.  Do a lot of free weights in preparation as well!

Overall, this was the absolute best option for us, and many of our Korean guests – 95% who had never seen a traditional wedding before – felt very moved at seeing this form of wedding.  Mr. Lee’s one coworker is even going to encourage his son to have this kind of ceremony when it is his time to marry.  I LOVED the performative aspect of the ceremony, and although it was physically demanding, it was also such a joyful spectacle of music and colour that it was exciting to be apart of.

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So here is my completed hanbok that we picked up two weeks ago…only to find out that they hadn’t made it long enough…and then finally picked up the final (long enough version).  It’s hard for me to find a good space to showcase it, especially with the cat babies prowling around, but here’s a few pics of all the pieces.

not-so sexy underthings

mounds of crinoline in my petticoat

traditional Korean socks

my fav part:  shoes

the skirt

top detail

the top in its entirety…can you spot my cat trying to get in on the action?


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Well readers, it seems that my boobs are too big for a regular hanbok, this despite the fact that everyone always says, ‘Hanboks fit all women!’ 

Mr. Lee, Mother-in-law, Sister-in-law, and Eldest Uncle’s Wife, all went to the hanbok shop together.  Pre-shop I had decided two things:  1) I’m not going to fight any battles related to hanbok style.  I don’t understand the history or variety of styles, and I certainly don’t want to look like I’m stuck in 1982 or something like that, so I decided to let the female relatives make all style-related decisions.  2) I DID however decide that I would NOT accept any neon or super bright colours.  It seems every time I see a purchased hanbok these days, it is in neon pink or some other ‘delightful’ colour.  I’m not sure why these colours are en vogue for the wedding set, especially as the rental hanbok I’ve been seeing have awesome colour palettes and patterns, but Mr. Lee and decided that these were not the colours for us.

So, we sit down on the stools looking at the wide array of fabrics and colours available, and what does the woman start pulling out?  Neon orange, brilliant blue, lime green. Oh no.  We negotiated, negotiated, negotiated…..and finally settled on a dark purple skirt and pink top for me and dark blue pants, ivory vest, and pink shirt for Mr. Lee (there’s fewer hang-ups about pink on men here). 

However, as soon as the colours were chosen, the topic of conversation immediately turned to boobs….apparently mine are too big for Korean traditional clothes.  Supposedly I should wear this:


Instead of this:


Now, I don’t totally believe this, because not only have I met family members of expats getting married here who are no smaller than me in regular hanboks, but also the woman tried to get me to buy both the special top and the regular top…so how is it that I can’t fit into it…but should buy it as a second top? Hmmmmm And did I mention the special top is nearly $300 more than the regular one?  But point #1…I had already decided not to make style decisions, so I went with the general wisdom of those there who assured me I would look ‘slim’ in it.

Anyway, Mother-in-Law is also getting a new hanbok made, and you can see her colours and crest below (blue, white, pink, with the flower crest:



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“You didn’t look fat when you walked in the door, but when I measured you, you were enormous! You have princess hands though…so pretty.” And with that, I ended my first day of shopping for a wedding dress in Korea. My size 14, 180 cm tall body was just too much for the seamstress to handle. Despite the 100 or more dresses offered on the website, and despite that she was in fact a seamstress capable of making said dresses offered on the website, the seamstress had two choices to offer me. One was a cathedral length train monstrosity far too large than our booked Canadian venue while the other was an A-line dress overwhelmed by ivory and champagne gold flowers. In other words, I can at best tolerate my 1 real option.

While shopping with brides-to-be in Canada, I always dreamed of the day when someone would sit me down with a flout of champagne, wheel out a rack of dresses which closely resembled the Vera Wangs in my friends’ look books, and fawn over my body wrapped in crinoline and silk. In fact, wanting to be a princess on one’s wedding day – in whatever that definition of ‘princess’ entails – is probably one of the singular dreams that ties womankind together. Alas, it seems in Korea, that only my hands are worthy of being princesses. Unfortunately for me, hands are usually not the main focus on the wedding day.

It is very difficult for most people ‘back home’ to comprehend a) what it’s like for a girl with breasts, hips, and bum to go shopping here and b) how unimportant a foreign customer is in most stores. Yes, of course there are the tourist traps where vendors race to make a sale or department stores where years of interaction with foreigners forking over cash might demonstrate the benefits of dealing with foreigners. But when it comes to cell phones, or credit cards, and now it seems wedding dresses, the seems to be that most vendors don’t need foreigners. Dealing with me makes life more difficult for the seamstress because she has to make more alterations and lengthen the hem of the original dress (despite the fact she is being paid 50,000 \ extra to do so). Therefore, her comment is about how her life is being made more difficult because of my body rather than a comment on my actual body. She also knows that Western women buying their white wedding dresses in Korea is a miniscule and statistically irrelevant population. And perhaps most importantly in this land of netizens, she knows by the fact that I needed to bring a friend to translate, that I won’t have enough Korean skills to give her negative press on the web to perspective Korean customers. All in all, the wedding dress buying market in Korea is not a buyer’s market.

Perhaps I’m going a little too far by saying this is a ‘foreigner’ issue. In fact, deviating from the established pattern is usually rejected here. If there is a giant bow obscuring your butt…and you think said bow might be better off your butt…there is no point in asking for it to come off. The dressmaker will look at you strangely and proclaim that the bow IS the dress. If you want the piece of meat left off the bowl of noodles, it will be almost impossible for the cook to refrain from putting said piece of meat on the noodles at the end. Despite the fact that the restaurant will save money on the piece of meat, and despite the fact that this meat is placed on at the very end of the dish, so it is quite easy NOT to put the piece of meat on, the meat will be placed whether you want it or not. I once got in an argument with a woman at McDonalds who argued that she couldn’t make a Big Mac without meat because it would take longer for the man who was putting together the sandwich in front of my eyes. Sigh.

All this sounds like I hate my one perspective dress. I don’t hate it. It’s just hard to fall in love with something when it is the only thing available. And it’s hard to trust that a woman who shows such distain for my figure will alter a dress to augment my figure. All in all, I think my relationship with what is most likely to become ‘the’ dress if I can’t find a more accommodating dressmaker, will probably be similar to my relationship with my new home: a painfully slow, quiet acceptance of reality. When I try to express my views on the dress and Korea, people often want to read through the lines and proclaim that life (and the dress) must be awful. People want to hear a sound bite, a rousing affirmation, an affirmation that all is right and instant happiness abounds. And when they don’t hear positivity, they assume disaster. Perhaps it’s because I’m a cynical bitch, and perhaps it is because I make appreciate life’s little complications, but life is full of compromises and perception shifts. Perhaps there are those brides who try on a dress and go WOW THIS IS THE ONE. And maybe people some people move to another country and can say nothing but goodness about it. But it’s probably safe to say that most brides set aside their $4000 dream dresses for something a little more affordable just most immigrants and visa holders have to change their lifestyles and perspectives to fit into their new home. I don’t want to compromise. Compromising is not in my nature. But sometimes I can live with what I’ve got. And when you are a size 14 curvy giantess in the land of the mini-bust, that has to be your opinion.

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On Wedding Dress Hope

One of the most important differences between Korean and Canadian weddings from the bride’s perspective is that Korean brides rent the wedding dress. Women think it’s too expensive to buy their own dress, and weddings are generally packaged deals here, so the wedding dress, veil, hair, and make up are all part of the deal. Dress rental comes with your very own primper who tugs, buttons, and fluffs.

I suppose if you MUST have a Vera Wang dress, it might be cheaper to rent, but overall it’s a bit of a marketing scheme to make women pay more money (dresses can easy cost $1500 for rental).

We’re having a traditional Korean wedding here in Seoul, so we’ll be getting 한복 (hanbok), or traditional Korean clothes made for that day. However, the white wedding dress for the Canadian has been the bane of my wedding planning existence. A few years ago I had a hideous dress maker disaster where I paid $200 for two dresses I threw out as soon as I got home because despite 30 minutes of measuring, they were completely ill-fitting and ugly as hell. I’m also very tall and a non-stick-insect kind of girl, so I knew that I could not buy ‘off the rack’ from the very very few upscale wedding stores in Seoul.

I thought of flying to Shanghai, Hong Kong, or Vietnam to have it made, or taking my chances of finding an off the rack in Canada in the two weeks or so I’ll have there before the Canadian wedding. However, happily, my ex-coworker’s fiancée sent me this gem today. They’ll make the dress within 2-3 weeks according to my size for just $50 more! That’s way less than I would pay for alterations back home, and much much faster than the 8 month order deadline I was given in Canada. This news combined with the previous post about a green wedding dress designer have given me hope that I can find something here!^^

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