They should ban brides from phoning their grooms on the night before the wedding
"But it's not
the actual ceremony that proves that I love you," M. said down the line. "It's our every day life together that we have which is meaningful, where I show how I love you, don't you think?" He was trying to be patient, I knew, even though he felt the urge to give in to his frustration. And I knew he wasn't trying to upset me, this was just the way he felt. But why
did he have to feel this way?
"Are you saying that this ceremony doesn't have any meaning at all for you? Then why the hell are we doing it? Am I getting married to myself?" I yelled. I felt my eyes well up.
problem was, I was sitting on the floor of my sister's room, while my dad was outside practising his thank you speech to the guests in his great, rumbling voice; I had less than four hours to go before I had to wake up to get to the hairdresser's to have my hair and make up done, and yet I had still not finished my wedding vows which the professor who was officiating the ceremony had told us to write.
"J-A," he had written in an email the following day after M. and I had gone to meet him, "I think the wedding vows are the most important part of the ceremony. This vow is not something you are meant to just recite aloud for one day and then forget; this is something you are meant to keep for life."
It was all very well for him to say, I thought to myself as I sat on the floor with salty tears overflowing on my face (I had already sprouted a tension pimple) while M. tried to fix the mess I was in by comforting me as much as he could (without
reiterating his views that we were showing our love more publicly by leading a happy life together than by one day of overblown felicity, as that was sure to make me cry again). The professor could tell us to write our oh-so-meaningful wedding vows within the next twenty-four hours because he wasn't the one who had been getting up at six thirty for the past five days to make sure the bouquet was ordered, the hair and make-up sorted out, the hanbok
hired, all the relatives had been met and regaled with food, and the bride was not going to have a nervous breakdown. Or was this the nervous breakdown?
"I'm just saying, we know we love each other, and I'm going through this for you, OK?" M. said. "It's going to be OK."
"I have no idea what I'm going to be saying for my wedding vows," I said. I realised after I'd said it that this was not very helpful. I wasn't trying to be unhelpful, I was just in that kind of state.
"I've written mine down," M. said. "It's something personal, from me to you."
After we'd finally hung up on the phone, I went into the living room where my dad was still loudly reciting his thank you speech as my mum looked on.
"Can you please do that somewhere else? I've got a wedding vow to write!" I yelled.
"I have to memorise this thing!" My dad yelled back. I glared at him, but there was no point, he had started off again - "My most esteemed guests..."
It was an important thing to say, I had to make sure I was saying the right thing. I wrote what I first thought of, then scratched it all out, to delete any references to 'best friend' or 'soulmate'. I wrote it out on a clean sheet of paper. (As it turned out, M. decided to use 'best friend' and 'soulmate'). He's probably not going to say much, I'll bet, I thought to myself, seeing how he doesn't think much of this ceremony in the first place. It's probably better if I restrain what I say, too. And anyway, I'm too fond of hyperbole.
I did sleep, but I woke up as soon as the alarm rang. The whole time I was getting my makeup and hair done, I was amused at the process of my transformation. I decided, afterall, as M. said, this was just one day. Things would happen today, but we would be just as we were - in love.
"Oh my goodness," I said, to the ladies who were doing my hair and makeup, "you're making an excellent effort to paint stripes onto a pumpkin
The ladies laughed, then looked appalled. "You shouldn't say that," one of the ladies protested.
"I know," I said. "But you should definitely call the newspapers."
"Why?" The bewildered ladies asked.
"To tell the world you've changed a pumpkin into a watermelon, of course," I said. The ladies started laughing again, in spite of themselves.
At the site of the ceremony, great pains were taken to make sure M. only saw me standing at the entrance of the hall. I was surprised to see him look so cheerful - his face was lit up with some energy I hadn't expected. He smiled widely as he took my hand. And then, before I even knew it, it was time for him to say his vows. From the first word he uttered, I felt great surprise and even some resentment.
"Hey, that's not fair!" I wanted to shout. "You said this was just a ceremony!" But it was too late for that - M.'s vow to me was personal, and its emotional content made his voice waver, causing my little sister to cry a little and one of my best friends burst into tears. I held his hand as he finished saying it, although I'm sure mine trembled more than his.
"Why is it that when you give me these little gifts, mine seem always smaller, drabber and not as spontaneous? I am still so crappy at being the generous lover. I'm sorry, I'll be better," I wanted to say to him, but I had my little piece of paper to prevent me from bursting into such incomprehensible gibberish. My voice cracked at the seams as I read out my paragraph. All I wanted to do was give him a big bear hug, but I resisted this, and instead said to him in a low voice, "I love you," at the end.
*In Korean, you can say to someone who is ugly but well made-up, 'If a pumpkin is painted with stripes, does that make it a watermelon?' as an unattractive woman is referred to as a pumpkin in slang. Naturally, these are fighting words
and not to be used for complimentary purposes.