Beach destination wedding and honeymoon in Honolulu, Hawaii
Lucinda and Kayeon had a wedding ceremony in Korea, where they live, but traveled to get legally married and honeymoon in Honolulu, Hawaii.
“We had our wedding in Korea and then got married in Hawaii. We wanted to make it official and Korea still does not recognize same-sex partnerships, so fleeing to a tropical paradise was really our only option!
My wife is Korean, and I am an American ex-pat living in Seoul. We met in a typical way. I ‘liked’ her profile on Her, a dating app for LGBTQ+ women, and she ‘liked’ me back. I had been on the app for a while and knew that follow-through was sketchy at best, so when she sent me a cute message, I was excited but hesitant. Besides, she lived all the way in Seoul, and I lived in Daejeon, a smaller city about two hours away, but one thing led to another and soon we were messaging every day. The messages were continuous, ranging from the innocuous to the intimate. Eventually, I wanted to meet her.
I arranged a trip up to Seoul with a friend and casually told Kayeon that I would be in town. She took the bait and invited me to have lunch. I had been angling for drinks the night before but agreed anyway. She showed up to the Thai restaurant limping and explained that she had taken a fall rushing out the door that morning. She claimed it was no big deal and that she was, ‘Fine, really!’ and our date continued. The date ran long and by the next morning her ankle had swollen to the size of a grapefruit and we determined that she was definitely not fine. A trip to the hospital and it turned out that she had ripped three ligaments in her ankle pretty badly. I felt guilty for keeping her out so long, but also smitten with her tenacity.
After that it became normal for her to come down to Daejeon pretty regularly, sometimes even midweek which required her to wake up at ungodly hours to get back to Seoul in time for work. She was lovely and everything I could’ve dreamed of in a significant other. Cute as hell and funny and smart. So, so smart. Eventually, I moved to Seoul and we started talking about taking the next step. But how to do it? Foreigners can be married in Korea, but not to a same-sex partner.
A little more than a year after our first official meeting, we held a wedding party in Yangpyeong, a small town near a river. We rented a beautiful pension on the water and invited friends and family to celebrate our commitment. It was beautiful, more lovely than I could ever imagine, but no matter how perfect it was, it wasn’t enough for either of us. We wanted something official. So we chose Hawaii.
We flew out as soon as we could (months later) and enjoyed a honeymoon elopement. It was absolutely exhilarating to hear people openly welcome me and my wife. Even the flight attendant on the plane asked if my wife needed her own entrance papers, taking her cue from our close proximity and excited whispers! It may seem a little thing, but in Korea, such casual acceptance is unheard of.
My wife cried at the courthouse. She hadn’t cried at the wedding in Korea. Later, when I asked her about it, she explained that she had never even imagined herself able to ever get legally married and that this little ceremony in a plain room with just a judge as a witness was worth so much to her. The wedding in Korea was merely window dressing, but with this official ceremony, no one could ever tell her she wasn’t married.
Even though our marriage still isn’t recognized in Korea, at least it is still official somewhere. We got our pictures taken by an amazing photographer based out of Oahu. We were so excited and absolutely giddy with happiness. But Shannon Sasaki put up with our giggles and was so lovely in sharing in our joy. Her pictures will be something we treasure for the rest of our lives, marking the day that we truly made our commitment to each other. The gorgeous backdrop of the ocean that lies between my homeland and my wife’s a marker of the journey we made to make that commitment.
We still live in Korea and will likely do so for some time still. I hope that they change the law soon and that we don’t have to hide so much of ourselves and our love for each other. Neither of us wants special treatment, just the same security our heterosexual counterparts have when they exercise the right to legally be wed. In the meantime, we will live quietly, and take comfort in the fact that our marriage is official somewhere. And we have the certificate to prove it!” —from Lucinda, one half of the couple
Photographer: Shannon Sasaki Photography