Apr 142024

Hey! It’s me. I feel like after 23 years of blogging, I should have some really UNIQUE TO ME intro solidified by now. But, eh. You know WHAT I finally solidified after 23 years, though? MY LEGAL PARTNERSHIP WITH IDIOT HENRY. I’m just a late bloomer with some things, I guess.

Anyway, I know I sprinkled bits and pieces throughout several months, but here are the juicy (not really) deets about why we chose to elope and the process of getting married in South Korea, because we struggled to find much information about this online so hopefully one day, some random American couple wanting to tie the knot in South Korea might not have to be as info-blind as we were going into this.

I’m not going to get into why it took so long for idiot Henry to propose (that’s his story to tell, after all, if he even has a story), but for nearly two decades I dreamed of how I wanted my wedding to be, at one point even considering doing it at Warped Tour. But, Warped Tour doesn’t exist anymore, and I also forgot about most of those dreams. When he finally proposed to me last June, people started asking wedding questions and I realized pretty quickly that I had no answers/thoughts/ideas, nor did I have a desire to join the Knot, make a registry, brainstorm venues, deal with wedding parties.

And then I realized something else: I couldn’t picture it.

I don’t mean “a future with Henry” because come on, that isn’t changing just because now we were finally going to make it “official” in the eyes of the IRS, but I mean “the wedding.” I couldn’t picture it! I literally couldn’t imagine myself in a dress, walking down an aisle (I mean, it definitely wouldn’t be in a church, but you know what I mean). I couldn’t FATHOM standing there in front of a bunch of people, friends or not, reciting vows. I mean, I can barely talk to people on the phone these days without stuttering, and this felt like Public Speaking adjacent.

The unsolicited advice and suggestions started to roll in too and that made me actually feel like I was losing interest. I didn’t want this stress, especially with college applications coming up – I knew I didn’t want to wait too long to get married since I had already waited 22 (at the time) years, and I’m not saying I wanted to get it over with, but I felt like the sooner the better.

The one no-brainer was that we would go to South Korea for our honeymoon. There was no waffling on that one. We both sincerely love this country. I definitely love it more than Henry (he said the other day, “No one loves anything more than you do” and it’s kind of true because I am hyper-obsessive about things that I like, you weren’t aware of this though, so I’m telling you now) but he does genuinely enjoy everything about it, as well. And that’s special, you know? With Warped Tour, he would have just been going along with it and I can promise you he probably could have come up with 13 different ways to get married that he would have preferred more (eg. at a local garbage dump; while bungee-jumping; in his ex-wife’s driveway; etc.).

But then, one day last summer, I thought to myself, “Why the honeymoon though? Why not the actual MARRIAGE?” And I say marriage and not wedding because a destination wedding to South Korea felt like a logistical and financial nightmare, not to mention none of my friends or family would ever agree to attend that. Hi, you have never expressed a modicum of interest in visiting this country, but hello friends, please get ready to fork over $$$$ for airfare, thank you! That is truly a big ask. (I will say though that Wendy was strongly considering coming with us!)

And also, this still goes back to the whole “I don’t want an audience” sentiment. I mean, I know I’m a Leo but I’ll decide when and where I want attention paid to me, and it ain’t for this, fam.

Also, I started thinking about how even something like THE PIE PARTY or CHINGUMAS stresses me out to the point of lying awake in bed with heart palps, not being able to stop dwelling on the mistakes, the fails, the no-shows, the details that were forgotten in the rush to get ready. Imagine me and a WEDDING. I would spend the rest of my life with every last negative morsel of the day festering in my soul. I would definitely end friendships over it. Oh, you didn’t RSVP? UNFRIENDED.

I started googling “foreigners getting married in Seoul” because surely, we could do something simple without the bells and whistles, something for just me, Henry, and obviously I’d want Chooch to be there. I mean, he’s dealt with us for nearly 18 years of his life, he might as well see this through, you know?

There wasn’t Too Much Information that came up, but from what I did see: it was possible, seemed relatively hassle-free, and is recognized in all 50 states. There was even information on the US Embassy’s website so that was reassuring knowing that the US Gov was telling me, “Yes, you can do this. We will allow it.”

Of course, Henry was on board without hesitation. He did suck in his breath a little when I said I wanted to do this March 2024, less than a year away, but we made it work. The hardest part turned out to be getting the appointment with the US Embassy in Seoul only because you had to have PATIENCE. This is something that I lack. But, this was the necessary Part 1 because here, we would receive our notarized Affidavit of Eligibility, which we would then take to the “Local District Office” for the actual marriage license to be issued.

However, for notarial services, the US Embassy in Seoul only books appointments on Tuesday and Thursdays (and some weeks, only one of those days from what I deciphered during my months of stalking, constant page refreshing, hysterical shrieking with frustration) but they only open appointment three weeks out. So, we either had to:

  1. wait to get an appointment and then quickly book our flight with three weeks’ notice;
  2. book our flight a normal amount of time in advance and then pray we could get an appointment for one of the Tuesdays or Thursdays we were going to be there.

We booked our flights in the beginning of January, for March 22 – April 2, and prayed for the best.

It’s here that I would like to apologize to my friends, primarily those I work with who had to deal with me screaming in text about this constantly. Every once in a while, my brother and Christina would chime in with, “Any update re: the appointment?” and I would send them screenshots of the US Embassy’s appointment calendar.

“Getting close!” they would say, to which I would snarl, “NOT CLOSE ENOUGH.”

Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the US Embassy was like, “FIND OUT WHO OWNS THIS IP # BECAUSE THEY MIGHT NEED TO BE PUT ON A SECURITY LIST.” Like, no one in their right mind visits their website as many times a day as I was, hitting refresh like a motherfucker, and then being SHOCKED when no new appointment availabilities would magically populate.

I don’t miss those days, happy to put that behind me.

I never did figure out exactly when the new appointments would open up on the website, if it was arbitrary, if there was ANY rhyme or reason to it, but Henry did manage to snag us two appointments for Tuesday 3/26 pretty much the moment the times were listed, and he even got the first available – 12:30PM. I kept checking and I swear I never saw notarial appointments for any time before this so if you were hoping to get this done early in the AM, that probably isn’t going to happen.

These are the last two pictures I took as a single woman, en route to the Embassy, contemplating pulling a runner:

After parting ways with Chooch, who was eager to be on his own to play Pokemon Go without the background static of his parents bickering, we arrived at the US Embassy about 15 minutes before our appointment. There is a side entrance, rather than entering through the front, with numerous signs that says AMERICAN CITIZENS PLEASE GO TO THE FRONT OF THE LINE. That felt like entitlement but OK. So, the regular line wasn’t *too* long, but there was NO ONE in the Uppity Entitlement American Line so I felt really self-conscious standing there. The people in the other line were there for Visa and Passport issues, as we found when Henry EMBARRASSINGLY ran up to the window to ask the Embassy a guy a question and the guy was like THIS IS VISA AND PASSPORT ISSUE TIME! Like, for Christ’s sake Henry, WE ALREADY HAVE OUR OWN FANCY LINE, CAN YOU NOT CAUSE A SCENE.

The guy at the window was INTENSE.

Shortly before 12:30 though, the window guy cut off the other line and then waved us over. There were a few other people in our line by then so I didn’t feel as idiotic. The guy was still pretty intense (he kept yelling through a microphone which would blast his voice to kingdom come through a series of speakers outside of the building; it was unnerving. I mean, who goes to another country and WANTS to visit the Embassy, right?) but was much nicer than I anticipated once it was our rightful turn. We were thankfully allowed to show him our appointment confirmations on Henry’s phone but please, print that out beforehand because it will be much more efficient. I thought Henry had, but apparently, I need to go back to micromanaging him.

That portion took probably 2 minutes honestly. Showed our passports, the appointment confirmation, bam. Entry granted.

Once inside, you go through a security line. You will not get your phone back until after your appointment. The way my heart was racing. I felt like I was on my way to a sentencing. And I guess, in a way, I was.

After we made it through that part, the rest was A BREEZE. The first staff person we encountered was so pleasant, just immediately quelled my fears. She asked in a very sweet intonation, not sounding at all like an interrogation, what the purpose of our visit was. Instead of just saying “notarial purposes,” I fucking blurted out WE WANT TO GET MARRIED.

When I say this was something that kept ringing back throughout my head for days to come….


And you know I said it in that high-pitched hyper voice I get, too.

She was so kind though! She smiled and handed us a number and told us to have a seat. We were the first people to arrive, and our number was going to be next to appear on the screen. We just had to wait for all of the clerks to come back from lunch, I guess, lol. But they did arrive a bit after 12:30 and then our number flashed on the screen pretty soon after.

The young woman at our designated window was just as sweet as the first one. Just, imagine the shitty attitudes that you often encounter in places like this. The DMV, for example. This was not that. We were treated like human beings.

She gave us a paper to fill out, just basic “bride” and “bridegroom” info, then we took it back to her, she prepared all of our paperwork and passports into a package for the notarizing officer, we paid $50 at another window, and then sat down and waited to be called into the “interview” rooms. As we were taking our seat, our clerk called out, “Congratulations!” and it was just so special! I loved this whole process. Everyone we encountered was so pleasant.

A few minutes later, we were called back to the interview room, where we had to answer a series of questions posed in the most conversational way imaginable by a tall white man with some indistinguishable European accent. His name was Denis and he told us that he had recently visited Pittsburgh and I was about to say, “Ew, why” but then he went on to say how much he loved it so even though I have certain feelings about my hometown, it was still kind of cool to hear accolades and I felt proud. There. I admitted it.

We had to do the official right-hand swearing on our mom’s life that we’re married and I won’t lie – I really started to doubt myself, remembering the time a Darkchat friend suggested that my boyfriend at the time (JEFF) do a handfasting ceremony and…we didn’t, right? That was just a phone call, an idea. RIGHT? Those days are all a blur now.

This is what the affidavit looked like, but I cut off the top part because it had our passport numbers and I have been hacked enough lately, thanks.

Denis also gave me a blank Korean version of this form and said that depending on which district office we go to, they might require it to also be filled out. I was only half-paying attention to this because I was SO NERVOUS ABOUT THE NEXT PART. This is the part that was very unknown to me and for months leading up to this day, I had visions of getting there and running into issues or being questioned or scrutinized.

But anyway wow, what a great guy Denis was! And what a great moment in the story of our marriage. All these great people who essentially held the door open for us along the way, I will never forget them!

I went back and took this picture of the side entrance to the US Embassy later, I will never forget that stern ahjussi sitting behind that window with his demoralizing microphone, god love him:

The next part is where things got murky. I knew that after we received this document, we would have to go the “local district office” which I guess would basically be the equivalent of city hall in the US (I had to ask Henry because I don’t know adult things like this). So, in Korea, there is one of these offices in every district so you could pick one I guess, but there is literally one RIGHT BEHIND THE EMBASSY:

LOL I love this picture. If I send out marriage announcements, this is the one.

OK, so as I said, the Jongno District Office is right behind the US Embassy so if you’re reading this in the future because you want to marry your US citizen boo, it’s really that easy – and from what we read online, this is also the district office that is the most familiar with foreigners getting married so = easiest.

This is the map they have on their website:


Honestly, this entire area is A TOURIST HUB so it’s very easily accessible by subway and bus. We took the subway there from our hotel.

When we walked in, we had no idea where to go because there are other things in this building too. But there was a very helpful and friendly woman at an information desk to the left, and when we said, “District Office?” She smiled and pointed to the first door to the right and then when she saw that we walked through the doors and still seemed confused, she came in after us and pushed something on a kiosk that we blindly walked right past and then handed us a number.

We didn’t even have a chance to sit down – our number was IMMEDIATELY called. Also, there was no one else in the waiting room so that helped calmed my nerves too.

IMPORTANT: Before we left for Korea, Henry found the form that is needed for the District Office online, but it was on the Dongdaemun District Office’s website. He printed out the English and Korean versions since we weren’t sure which would be needed but for some reason, the English one printed out HORRIBLY. I was like, “Oh great, I can’t wait to turn this in.”

These are the forms that we took to Jeonju the day before and had Jiyong help us fill out, plus these are the forms that require two native Korean witnesses. I wasn’t sure if this would be ok, to already have the forms filled out rather than obtain them here so I was sweating about this.

Everything I had read (and honestly, there wasn’t much) was that most district offices do not require the two Korean witnesses to be present, and that the Jongno office in particular definitely didn’t. I read that one couple asked two people at the front desk of their hotel to sign for them so I would suggest that if you don’t know how to write in Korean, print both forms out and ask whoever you target as your witnesses to also help you with the Korean form JUST IN CASE.

Again, we were met with nary an eye bat when we presented our forms to the young woman at the window. She was happy that we had both versions filled out too ahead of time.


Remember that other form that the guy gave me at the Embassy? Yeah, that needed to be filled out. The clerk asked if either of us could write in Korean and Henry nudged me forward like, “GO GIRL IT’S YOUR TIME TO SHINE.”

So I had to take that other to another counter and essentially just copy all of the info from the English version over, but in Hangeul, which I haven’t practiced writing in a very long time but was able to get it done. I mean, it was rough, but I did it.

Meanwhile, she had given us another form, which Henry was responsible for completing while I was struggling with my Korean alphabet but when he gave it back to her, she was like, “Sir, you missed an entire section” and I was so annoyed with him. Like, he had the easy part of answering in English for god’s sake.

We also had to write our parents’ names and birthdates and I fucking froze and blurted out, “I DIDN’T KNOW MY FATHER” and she was like, “It’s OK, we can skip that.” Jesus Christ, I was sweating.

Then the clerk wrote something in Korean with a colon at the bottom of the Korean form that I filled out and said to me, “OK sign here” and I said, “OK, what is this for?” and she said, “You’re signing as the translator of this document.”

Yo. Are you kidding? That was cooler to me than the actual marriage portion of the day! I will never forget years ago when I started studying Korean, some of my friends teasing me and asking me what in the world I was ever going to do with that. Well, clearly read signs and menus the three times I came to Korea and translating my own document in order to get married, also in Korea. So.

And that was it. We had to pay 400 won for two copies of the license. That’s basically less than 50 cents.

Boom, married! In Korea! Korean marriage license!

The part that I didn’t mention in my first “we got married” post was that when we got back to the hotel, I sent a picture of the license to my brother Corey. He goes, “That’s so cool! But…. why does it say your birthday is July 33rd????”

Oh, motherfuck.

It did too.

How does this happen to me?!

My heart sank. I mean, I’m no whiz when it comes to legal documents (says the bitch who’s worked in a law firm for 14 years) but I kind of felt like this would POSSIBLY render the marriage invalid if we brought that back to the states?!

Henry was like, “Calm down, we’re here for another week. We can go back and get it fixed.”

I cropped it before I posted in on Instagram because I just knew people would come for me in the comments lol.

“Um, I don’t think this is legit??”

“Do you really not know your birthday????”


The hilarious part to me is that it’s not even like it was July 3rd, like the zero was missed. No, the typo decided to assign a birthdate to me that DOES NOT EVEN EXIST. NOT EVEN ON A LEAP YEAR.

This had to happen though, right? Traumatic proposal. Losing my engagement ring 30 minutes before my surprise bridal dinner. And now I present to you Chapter 3: Going to Korea for an invalid marriage.

BUT don’t worry. The next day, Henry had to go and get an apostille for the marriage license, which I guess is just a certification to make it legit before bringing it back to the States. This is the final step. Here’s a picture with the information on where to go for this, and it’s also in that same area:

Here’s the fun part though, and even more fun for me because I wasn’t with Henry for this because it sounded boring so now, I’m relying on his recount which is he giving me while stuffing bread between his cheeks and stomping in and out of the kitchen. Literally, he sat right next to me this whole time I have been typing until I get to the part where I wasn’t there and need him to fill in the blanks.


OK, so it’s the next day right? I told Henry, “Please make sure you get my birthdate fixed before the license gets certified or whatever” and he is like, “OK.” Then a little while later, he texts and says, “OK done. I have to go back on Monday and pick it up.” (We weren’t going to be in Seoul on Thursday or Friday.)

“Great! Did they fix the date?”


“So, you gave them the original marriage license with my birthdate being a day that doesn’t exist. HOW DOES THAT MAKE SENSE.”

“….I will take care of it.”

So now Henry is telling me that he went back to the Jongno District Office and the same clerk was working. He had the second copy with the wrong date and asked, “Can you fix this?” and she did and gave him new copies for free, so then he had to take the new one BACK to the Overseas Korean Services Support Center and said that it was like he was never there, no one remembered the American stoop, but he was finally able to go back to the original person who had helped him, explained that he needed to swap licenses, she said “OK” and took the new one, gave him back the old one, and on Monday he went back to pick it up. This is what they put on the back of it to make it look double-official:

Also, per Henry: When he first went to this Korean Service Center place, he had to fill out the initial “service form” I guess you would call it, in Korean. The security guard there helped him! He was probably cursing me for not being there with him so I felt bad, but not TOO bad considering he was going to get the wrong license certified so yes, I clearly should have gone with him!

Typing it all out, it seems like A LOT of bureaucratic bullshit, but it was actually in the end a lot easier than I imagined. No one asked “Why?” or made us feel weird about wanting to make this official in our favorite country, and I feel SO HAPPY every time I think about it. Like, we decided to do this, and we did it. We did it our way, with Chooch rolling his eyes as he took pictures of us with the marriage license but probably was thinking, “Aw, yay mommy and daddy.” (OK, that’s pushing it.)

Afterward, we assumed we would have to register our marriage when we got home, but according to the Commonwealth of PA, our marriage will never be registered. They give no shits. And the US Gov and the IRS consider us legally married since we did the whole apostille part. So, if you are planning on doing this, just check with your state.

And that’s the story of our very clerical marriage that was made official in Seoul. <3

BONUS! Here’s a photo of Henry and me from our first trip to South Korea in 2018 which was the SAME DATES as this trip and I didn’t even plan it that way, it’s just that spring break/Easter happened to fall at the same time as 2018 this year. It was meant to be, you guys. I will never look back with regrets on how we chose to get married.

Say it don't spray it.

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