A cup of coffee, please, and a dozen 8x10s

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A cup of coffee, please, and a dozen 8x10s

The moment young girls read the fairy tale about Prince Charming sweeping the princess off her feet and carrying her away to an enchanted castle, they start dreaming of being swept away, too, dressed in a white satin wedding gown, of course.

In reality, however, wedding gowns and Prince Charmings come at high costs. Especially since brides typically wear one gown and make a commitment to a single Prince Charming, unless they are secretly planning additional weddings later in their lives.

At Multia, small cafe that sits on top of a hill some 100 meters (109 yards) behind the City Cinema movie theater in Gamgnam station, every customer can have his dreams come true for a reasonable price while sipping a cup of coffee, free from the pressure of making actual wedding vows.

Although there is no Elvis around to complete the vows, at Multia, a theme cafe that opened last November, customers can experience an imitation of a wedding, with 10 different gowns and three different types of tuxedos to choose from, plus a full range of makeup and a professional photographer to record things -- all done without getting hitched.

If you want to toss in a bouquet, that'll be just a little extra.

"A lot of couples come here to pledge or revalidate their love," says the cafe's owner, Jeong Chun-sub, 34, a former wedding consultant. "Usually the girlfriend drags a reluctant boyfriend in, but in a few cases it's the guy who is more excited about playing bride and groom."

According to Mr. Jeong, young couples show up at the cafe to celebrate in front of friends their 100th day of dating, a significant event for young people in Korea, while garbed in wedding gowns and tuxedos. Even already-married couples come to the cafe to celebrate their first or 10th anniversaries.

On this Sunday afternoon, Lee Mee-hyeon, 37, and her husband, Jang-Duk-soon, 42, dropped by for a photo shoot, using the cafe's well-stocked wardrobe. "It's been 14 years since we had our wedding," says Ms. Lee. "I wanted to have a memorable photograph of us as a couple before we got any older."

Mr. Jang smiled shyly and said, "I feel a little bit nervous -- but not as much as our actual wedding." The couple's two children wanted to come see their mom and dad in wedding outfits at the cafe, but this was a moment that the kids' parents wanted to cherish on their own. Thus, their kids, 14 and 12, stayed home.

Mr. Jeong says the cafe helps people get accustomed to a wedding ceremony and to cherish a relationship by actually having them dress up for it. "It's sort of a practice run so people can feel more comfortable. And when a person is dressed in wedding attire, it is hard to make light commitments."

The owner, who is not married, confesses that his family and friends keep bugging him on the issue. "They ask me why I can't meet the right person -- since I'm sort of in the matchmaking line."

Multia is open daily from 10 a.m. to midnight. The phone is 568-1255.

by Lee Ho-jeong
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