Monthly Archives: April 2009

I HATE KOREAN CUSTOMS!!!!!

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Boo—hiss—-!  The Korean Customs Office is on my official hate list.

Why?  Well, if you seen my post regarding our wedding rings, you know that they’re a bit unusual, and not something I was likely to find in Korea.  So we ordered them online from the US-based company Titanium-Jewelry.com.  They’ve been great to work with—I’ve been in contact with the same customer service guy since last October.  I was really looking forward to having our rings in time for our Korean ceremony this Saturday (How time FLIES!!!).  Even though there is no official ring exchange in a traditional Korean ceremony, Yoongu and I would have donned our rings before the ceremony.

Last week, we get a notice from the Korean customs office notifying us that the rings have arrived, but that they cannot release the rings for continued shipment to our home address because they have determined that taxes must be charged.

We were afraid of this.  Many times, international packages can just go through.  I’ve Internet-shopped before without problems….until now.  That’s because the Korean government is thinking KA-CHING! since we bought the rings for a little over $3,000.  Okay, we brace ourselves for the worse—maybe $300-400, i.e. about 10% of the rings value?  The customs official says that he doesn’t have an exact number yet, but will call us as soon as he does.  In the meantime, we keep reassuring him that the rings are just for personal use, and NOT for resale.  We have no affiliation with the jewelry industry.  Silly us for thinking that would help…because we got a call of DOOM the next day.

They did not ask for a number that was anywhere close to what we had expected.  Those highway robbers wanted friggin’ close to $1300.00 in taxes!  Yeah, you read that right, and the decimal is in the right place: OVER ONE GRAND!  We’re thinking this is absolutely INSANE!  30% tax on a single package???!!!

Sigh, once we got over our shock, we realized that the only sensible thing to do is to NOT pay the tax, let the shipment be returned to the sender, and try to have Titanium-Jewelry.com mail it to us in the United States when we head there later this month for our US-based wedding reception.  Truly a big disappointment, but the ring company has been very understanding since they’ve waived reshipping charges since this was out of our control.  Sigh!

If you have a printer, feel free to do as I plan to and print the above logo and burn it!  Grrr!

Wardrobe for the Engagement photos in California

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We’re working with Caroline Tran for our wedding photography–I saw her portfolio and fell in love with her pictures and the artistic eye she has in her compositions.  I also felt a great connection with her when I met her in October last year—she just got my vision for the wedding ^^.

Yoongu will finally have a chance to meet her a mere three days after we arrive in California in late April because that’s when we have our engagement photo session scheduled.  It’s a tight fit, since that’s just shy of three weeks before our wedding reception, but it’s the best we could do.  Afterall, I needed to give the Korean photographers enough time to rush photos of our Korean ceremony so I can share them at the reception, and we’re leaving the Friday after our Saturday April 18 ceremony.

I explained to Caroline about the travel/vintage theme of our wedding, and she’s come up with some great ideas for locations, such as the Bradbury Building:

or Union Station:

We haven’t finalized a location, but wherever it is, I’m totally excited!

So I’ve been working hard on what to wear during the shoot, and although it’s a little backwards, the first thing I found, which influenced all my other decisions, was this hat:

I LOVE hats!  Really, it’s not like I need to have any more—after all, I have only one head, and I never wear the ones I have as much as I should.  But I saw this one in Itaewon shopping district in Seoul, and loved how it had this old fashioned quality to it.  I think I’ll curl my hair and have it in a kind of 40’s hairdo—something where I can have the hat both on and off for the shoot.  And I may add a white flower to it to match my two-toned shoes.

So once I had the hat, I had to find a dress to suit it.  It took quite awhile, but yesterday I finally ordered this dress.  My dad is coming to Korea next Wednesday, so he’ll be able to bring it over so I can make sure it fits and looks alright (fingers crossed!).

I love the flutter sleeves (also great for hiding upper arms!) and the small details on the front bustline.

Now on to the shoes!  The great news is that the Bargain Hunter is BACK!  I got these two-toned beauties for a mere $8.  Now that’s what I’m talking about.  My hope is that they’ll turn out to be comfortable enough to swing dance in, too! And what a clever idea for the clasp: it’s like a bra or swimsuit hook so it’s SO much easier to get in and out of.  I can’t believe I haven’t ever seen this before–it’s ingenious and better than resorting to velcro!

Darlene has also generously offered the following pair of GORGEOUS shoes to borrow for the photo shoot.  Aren’t they just amazing?!  I’ll see how they fit, and how tall they make me relative to Yoongu, but maybe my feet can have a wardrobe change for some of the seated pics ;)!

As for Yoongu, I think he’ll look good in his suit, or if it feels too formal, I think he could take the jacket off and show off a pair of suspenders to give it a fun vibe.  Here’s a pic of him in his new suit we just bought to wear at my uncle’s wedding this past Sunday.

I’m even considering a fedora for him!  Whaddya think?

He’s a little shy of the whole photo shoot idea (he HATED having to pose even for our hanbok fitting pics!), but I’ll try to get him into it.  If anything, I think having it be more like “costumes” should make it feel easier–it’s like we’re just playing make-believe!  Sigh, if only he was into swing dancing—I think that would make it a lot easier!  I totally plan to go swing dancing in my outfit!

Korean Wedding Ceremony: Hanbok Fittings

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Last week Yoongu and I went to do our hanbok fittings.  These are the traditional Korean clothes we’ll be wearing during our wedding day.  However, during the ceremony, both of us will have an additional wedding costume that’s worn over these clothes.  The wedding costumes are loaned to us for the ceremony from the Korea House, which is the location of our traditional ceremony.  Generally, with the costumes on, we’ll look something like this:

But in the meantime, here are some pics of our fittings, and the hanboks we’ll be wearing underneath the wedding costumes:

In the first pic, I have a vest on known as a paeja.  Otherwise, a woman’s hanbok is traditionally just the skirt (chima) and the top (jeogori).   Men’s hanbok consist of the top (jeogori) and pants (baji).

My mom also got a new hanbok done (her fitting is tomorrow), and since my brother is part of the ceremony, he’ll also have a hanbok costume provided for him for the ceremony.

I can’t believe our Korean ceremony is next week!  It’ll be hectic after the wedding, since we’re headed to California the Friday following our Saturday ceremony, but I’ll try to get some wedding pics up as a preview to the slideshow you’ll see at the ceremony!

Wedding Shoes: Seoul has defeated the Bargain Hunter

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As many of you know, I am quite proud of the fact that I am a bargain shopper.  This especially applies to shoes.  One of my proudest purchases?  These adorable black and white chunky-heel shoes I used to wear when I went swing dancing—purchased for……(drum roll)……. FOUR DOLLARS from Ross.

I’ve been hunting around for wedding shoes for awhile now.  I know there’s a bunch of bargains to be found on the Internet, but given my size 6 feet which are also wide and flat (curse of my dad’s genes), it’s extremely important for me to try on shoes before I purchase.  I know Zappos and other online stores have a good return policy, but it’s just too complicated to deal with when I’m living here in Korea.  I could have them shipped overseas, but that jacks up the price, makes returns a lot harder, and takes more time in general.

Given these circumstances, I headed to Seoul on Tuesday determined to find a pair of white shoes for my wedding dress.  First I headed to Dongdaemun shopping district, one of the largest shopping areas in Seoul.  There are hundreds of stores here, selling everything from shoes, clothes, camping gear, accessories, hanboks, blankets, craft supplies, you name it.  And I pretty much feel like I must have gone through at least a hundred stores here looking for the right kind of shoe: white, open-toe, heels that were about 2.5″ or less and wide (instead of pointed) because I want to be sure I’m comfortable (and I know from past experience that wearing uncomfortable dress shoes during a formal event can probably qualify as a new level of Dante’s Inferno).

No luck in Dongdaemun, so I moved on to stores located in Itaewon, the foreign/imports shopping district.  Strikeout.  Next, the stores near Seoul Train Station, and finally the stores at Yongsan Station.  This excursion took me over SIX AND A HALF HOURS.  I went to some of the best places I could in the whole friggin country for a good shoe bargain!

At one point, I found a potential candidate that was only about $20, but when I tried them all, all I could think was, “These are gonna give you grief after a few hours.”  But otherwise, I came up empty.  Why?!  How could this be?

First of all, it’s still early spring.  The kind of open-toe sandal-like heels I’m interested in won’t really be in stock until later in the spring.  However, given that I’ll already be heading back to the US in just over two weeks and I’d like to get my wedding dress hemmed before I cross the Pacific, I really can’t afford to wait.

Secondly: I’m short.  Let me explain: I’m almost 5’2″.  While that is pretty short in the US (after all, Kris used to joke that the top of my head made a good elbow rest for him, since I think he’s over 6′), in Korea, it’s pretty normal.  I feel like women hear have a greater desire to compensate for their height with high-heeled shoes because by default, it seems like 97% of the shoes I saw were REALLY high-heeled: easily 4-5″. The other 2.5% were ballet flats, which still seems a very popular fashion trend in Korea.  That leftover 0.5% is all that remained of the shoes in the height I was looking for.

Now, some of you have seen my shoe collection, and know that I’m not afraid of some hookerish 5″ stilettos (I’m particularly thinking of my black Two Lips beaded heels with the infamous clear stiletto heels).

However, I have two overriding concerns with shoe height for the wedding reception: Comfort & Courtesy.  What do I mean by courtesy?  Yoongu has requested that I not go for my usual preference for crazy-high-heels so that our heights can be well matched.  Yoongu’s not really that tall either, and I would also like for him to remain taller than me during our reception.

Thirdly: it’s not easy to find white shoes.  There were a number of good candidates, but they were in non-white colors, like champagne, grey or black.

I was on the brink of despair, and tired and cranky to boot.  I finally decided to give in and see if these beautiful Pierre Cardin heels I had tried on just for fun at a department store in Yongsan were still available.  I had tried them on when Yoongu and went there to find him some dress shoes a week ago.  There they were—calling to me.  They were just what I wanted: open-toe, strappy sandal like heels with a wide, not-too-tall heel.  I tried them on: comfortable!  I turned them over to see the price tag: EGADS!  $200 for a pair of heels?  NO THANK YOU!

A sales clerk saw my consternation and how I was about to put them back on the shelf.  He rushed up to me and said, “These heels are on sale!  They’re only $109.”  To me, that’s not really a bargain, so at the time, I said no thank you.

Fast forward one week: I have spent over 6.5 hours dragging my tired ass around the city looking for a mythical pair of shoes that don’t seem to exist.  I’m hungry, exhausted and generally just pissed-off.  I remember the vision of those Pierre Cardins, and I say, screw it to the bargain shopping diva inside me, and head off for the store.  Now that I’ve made my decision, I’m praying that the shoes are still there.

Ack!  They weren’t in the same place!  But fortunately, as I looked around, I located them.  The store had simply rearranged their sale display.  I try them on: the ones on display are just my size 6.5W.  A sales clerk comes up to me, ready to schmooze me into buying these, but I beat him to the punch by saying, “I’ll take these.  Do you accept credit cards?”  He’s a little dumb-founded at the ease of the sale, but he gladly processes my purchase.

So here they are.  I am loathe to admit their price, but at least I really like them, and if I average out all my shoe purchases, I guess it’s still a deal since my four dollar swing shoes help to lowever the average!