I'd been here for two weeks when Korean Mother rushed us off to see a wedding planner at the local newspaper building, which curiously enough, seemed to also house a wedding hall business.
Much negotiation followed as to the composition of the wedding package, most of which I remained oblivious to. Half-way through the proceedings, we were whisked upstairs where we were shown three different wedding halls. One appeared to have been designed by Liberace, another by John Travolta while he was still in his Saturday Night Fever days (while the disco lights were impressive, I remained perplexed as to their application to a wedding ceremony). After choosing the least stylised (i.e. visually offensive) hall, which also happened to be the smallest and cheapest, we were taken to the top of the building to the banqueting area where our host made a point of pointing out it's impressive scenic view... of Busan Docks. Well, whatever floats your boat I guess. In a city benefiting from many impressive views, dining over an outlook of several hundred shipping containers would not have been something I would have chosen to highlight.
Having failed to upgrade the provisionally agreed package over a drink, we then went back downstairs and into a side room where yet more discussions followed and we were shown some Korean costumes that we might wear. The conversation went back and forth, and although my girlfriend gave an occasional commentary it didn't seem to do justice to the quantity of the discussion. I began to feel as though we were being held hostage until we agreed to some upgrades.
Not that the 'basic' package we walked out with was in any way egalitarian. Aside from the actual wedding hall and banquet arrangements, we came away with an agreement to have an accompanying wedding album, and a series of facials and massages leading up to the actual day itself.
I walked away somewhat jaded by the experience. While Koreans might ultimately judge the wedding to be simplistic, by Western standards it was by no means a small affair.