Korean Traditions For Wedding – All You need To Know!

In this article, we will share to you all you need to know about Korean traditions for wedding or korean traditional wedding ceremony, make sure you read it to the end to know all informations concerning traditional korean wedding in south korea.

Choose Korean traditions for your wedding can make your wedding a truly unique and unforgettable event. Make sure you know all information you need before you choose to have a korean traditional wedding ceremony.

Korean wedding is a colorful but traditional affair. Even though in these days, Western conventions have emerges into Korean weddings, yet several elements of ancient Korean traditions still occur at most ceremonies. At a Korean wedding, you will almost certainly witness symbolic rites, gift-giving, bowing, and vows.

If you plan to marry a Korean partner but you can’t speak Korean, it’s really recommended fo you to learn at least a little bit of Korean language, so your partner family will feel respected and feel your sincere effort to adapt with Korean culture family.

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Origin and Meaning of each Custom

Eum/ Yang (Yin and Yang)

Marriage represented the perfect union and balancing of the two primary elements of the world: Eum, the dark, female element; and Yang, the bright, male element (“yin” and “yang”). Often, the marriage ceremony took place at dusk, representing a balance between light (day) and darkness (night) The color blue stands for Eum, while red represents Yang.

Kireogi (Wild Geese)

Korean Traditions For Wedding Wild Goose1

A pair of wild geese made from wood represent the new husband and wife. In the Jeonanrye part of the marriage ceremony, the groom gives a single kireogi to his mother-in-law. The geese symbolize several virtues that the couple should follow in their married life:

  • Wild geese keep the same partner for life. Even of one dies, the other will not seek a new partner for the rest of his or her life:
  • Wild geese understand hierarchy and order. Even when flying, they maintain structure and harmony.
  • Wild geese have the nature to leave their existance wherever they go. People should leave a great legacy for their descendants when they leave this world.

Chickens

Korean Traditions For Wedding Chicken(2)

A male and female chicken (one wrapped in a blue cloth, the other in a red one) sit on or under the wedding table. One meaning is the symbolism associated between roosters and the morning. The crowing of the rooster marked the beginning of the day, a bright, fresh start, just like the marriage should be. The crowing of the rooster also told the evil spirits that day was coming and they had to disappear. The rooster in the wedding ceremony marks a hope that evil spirits will go away and not trouble the new couple.

A secondary meaning represents the hopes that the couple will have many children, very important in a traditional agrarian society. As productive chickens made many eggs, thus should the new bride produce many children.

Preparations of Korean Traditions For Wedding

In Korea, the marriage between a man and woman represents the joining of two families, rather than the joining of two individuals. As such, the event was often called Taerye (Great Ritual), and people from all over participated. Steeped in traditional Confucian values, the ceremonies and events surrounding the actual marriage were long and elaborate, from the pairing of the couple to the rituals performed after the ceremony.

Eui Hon (Matchmaking)

The process of finding a prospective wife or husband for ones child usually involved the services of professional matchmakers who would gather information about local unmarried people and their respective social levels, education, and family lineages.

The matchmaker would match prospective partners and have their parents meet each other. The parents would also meet the prospective mate for their own child, but the future bride and groom would not meet each other at this time. The groom’s family would send a proposal of marriage to the bride’s parents, who would either accept or decline the proposal on behalf of their daughter.

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Napchae (Date Setting)

After the proposal was accepted, the groom’s family would prepare a Saju, which specified the year, month, date, and exact hour of the groom’s birth, according to the lunar calendar, and deliver it to the bride’s family. White paper, 40 cm tall and 90 cm wide, was folded 5 times evenly, and the Saju written in the middle, then put in a white envelope. Rather than sealing the envelope, the groom’s family wrapped the envelope in bamboo branches then tied it with red and blue thread. Finally, the entire package was wrapped with Sajubo, a wrapping cloth with red fabric on the inside and blue on the outside.

Based on the information contained in the Saju, a fortune teller determined the best date for the wedding. The bride’s family then sent a Yeongil to the groom’s family that stated the wedding date and inquired about the groom’s body size.

Napp'ae (Exchanging Valuables)

Traditionally, Korean betrothal gifts were brought to the bride’s home by a band of the groom’s closest friends. The gifts were placed in a box called a ham. The group, dressed in costume with blackened faces, would arrive singing at the bride’s family home, this group called Hamjinabi (people who delivered the Ham). Small group of close friends of the groom also took a pot of Bongchi Deok (red bean rice cake) from the groom’s family. 

They would stop just outside the house, chanting, “Ham for sale, ham for sale!” The bride’s family would rush out and offer money to the group and held a small party offering them food and drink for their efforts. Through fun negotiation and laughter, the bearers would be bribed until at last the ham was delivered.

Ham usually contained 3 items:

  • Honseo (marriage paper), wrapped in black silk, specified the name of the sender and the purpose (marriage) of sending. It symbolized the dedication of the wife to only one husband. The wife was to keep this document with her forever, having it buried with her when she died.
  • Chaedan was a collection of red and blue fabrics, used to make clothing. The blue fabrics were wrapped with red threads, while the red fabrics were wrapped with blue threads. The two colors represented the philosophy of Eum/Yang (Yin/Yang).
  • Honsu, a collection of other valuables for the bride from the groom’s parents.

Engagement Parties Mix Culture

Most Korean-Western engagement parties are now held in restaurants. Gifts are exchanged, sometimes worth $30,000 to $40,000. Family members are formally introduced. The bride may wear the traditional hanbok (a special engagement dress).

You can expect some entertainment, but it might be range from Classical korean music or just family members singing along with their talented voice in a karaoke settings.

Ceremony of Korean Traditions For Wedding

Chinyoung Parade

Korean Traditions For Wedding

Traditional Korean music will play. Historically, the groom would parade to the bride’s house on a horse, but now an officiant will enter and begin to explain the wedding, guiding the audience through the sequence of events. The two mothers will walk in first, each with their own candles.

The attendants often played musical instruments to make the mood more festive, although the groom had to remain grim faced and hide his emotions.

The bride’s mother carries a red candle and the groom’s mother carries a blue candle. Just like the red and blue clothing, these two colors symbolize the balance of cosmic forces that occur in nature. When the mother reaches the end of the processional, they light one single candle, symbolizing the beginning of the Korean traditional wedding. 

Jeonanrye

Korean Traditions For Wedding Wild Goose1

This is the “presentation of the wild goose,” in which historically, the groom would gift a wild goose to his mother-in-law to symbolize his commitment to his new wife, showing he would be loyal to her for life just like geese, which mate for life. In modern times, the groom’s family will gift wooden ducks to the bride’s family.

The groom was expected to bow twice before presenting the kireogi to his future mother in law. In modern Korean weddings, a wooden goose may be given in place of a traditional kireogi

This Korean tradition is respected as a symbol of harmony and structure. Wild geese mate for life, so by giving the mother a goose, the groom is promising a life of love and care to the woman’s daughter.

Kunbere

During the Korean wedding ceremony, vows are taken in the kunbere ceremony. Both bride and groom wear the traditional hanbok, a traditional Korean dress specially designed for the ceremony. 

The hanbok represents thousands of years of tradition and is usually made of a lightweight material with bright colors, simple lines, and no pockets.

The colors that the bride and groom wear are symbolic of the “taeguk,”  (also known as yin and yang). The bride dons a red hanbok, while the groom wears blue, exactly like the South Korean Flag together, that represent the balance of complementary entities. Traditionally, the marriage would occur at dusk, representing the balance between light and dark as well.

Gyobaerye (bowing)

Historically, a Korean wedding was an arranged marriage in which the bride and groom would see one another for the first time at this point. First, the bride and groom, who would each have two attendants to assist in the ceremony, would walk to opposite ends of the wedding table and the attendants would spread out a rug for the bride and a rug for the groom. The attendants wash the bride and groom’s hands to symbolize cleansing themselves for the ceremony. Facing one another, the bride and groom bow to one another—the bride bowing twice to the groom, the groom bowing once to the bride, the bride bowing two more times, and then the groom bowing once more. Then, they kneel down and face

Hapgeunrye (drinking)

This is the time when the bride and groom will drink from the same copper cup. Either the bride and groom will drink from two separate halves of a gourd connected by a thread, from the same cup, or from a combination of both. The halves of the gourd symbolize that the bride and groom are becoming one whole entity. 

In one tradition, the first sip from the copper cup represents the couple’s relationship with one another. The second sip is taken from the gourd cups, which are switched between the bride and groom after the second sip to represent an interchange. Finally, the groom and the bride bow together to show respect—to their parents, their ancestors, and their wedding guests.

Last step to Korean Traditions For Wedding

Pyebaek (Bowing to Husband's Parents)

Korean Traditions For Wedding 2

The pyebaek is one of many Korean wedding traditions emphasizing the importance of family within the culture. During the pyebaek, dates and chestnuts are given to the bride. Together, the bride and groom will visit his family’s home to gift the nuts and fruit. The dates and chestnuts are a Korean representation of the bride’s fertility. 

After the fruit and nuts are offered, the parents of the groom will serve sake in return. At the end of the ceremony, the parents of the groom throw the dates and chestnuts at the bride as she tries to catch them in her large, traditional skirt. The number of dates and chestnuts she catches symbolize the number of children she will later have.

Shinbang (Bridal Room)

Korean Traditions For Wedding Shinbang

The bride and groom would retire to one of the rooms of the house specially decorated for the occasion. Outside the room, relatives would use their fingers to poke small holes in the rice paper covering the windows so they could watch what happened inside. Ostensively, they did it to make sure the bride did not run away in frustration. As the grooms were often much younger than the brides, they often did not know what to do.

To help the young couple along, servants from both families started getting them undressed by removing the outer layers of their wedding costumes. The bride’s servant began removing the groom’s jacket, while the groom’s servant removed the bride’s jacket. After the servants left, the groom had to finish undressing his bride, while she offered no help to him.

Wugwi (Bridal Procession)

Korean Traditions For Wedding 2 Wugwi

After three days, the bride and groom would go to the groom’s home, which was usually the house of his parents. The groom rode the same horse or pony that he brought to the wedding, while his servants carried his bride in a Kama, a small palanquin. Near the groom’s house, neighbors scattered red beans, cotton seeds, and salt to keep away any evil spirits that might have followed the procession.

Additionally, the groom’s family placed sacks of grain and burnt straw and the threshold to the house that the bride had to cross. In addition to keeping out evil spirits, the practice also represented a wish for a good harvest brought on by the joining of a new family member.

Hyeon Gurye (Introduction to Husband's Family)

Once in the groom’s house, the bride was formally introduced to the groom’s entire family. This ceremony resembled p’yebaek, but was usually less formal.

Bride's Clothings of Korean Traditions For Wedding

Wonsam or Hwalot

Korean Traditions For Wedding Wonsam

The bride wore an elaborate topcoat with flowing sleeves over her other clothes. Similar to the costume worn by queens and noblewomen of the time, a Wonsam was made with blue silk on the inside and red silk outside. The front and back had embroidered flowers representing wealth, longevity, and nobleness. The billowing sleeves had blue, yellow, red, fabrics, with a wide strip of white at the cuffs, which also had colorful embroidery.

The wonsam replaced the hwalot during the Chosun Dynasty (1392-1910), and many brides followed suit. Princesses wore green ones. The wide sleeves often had 4 or 5 colors, with wide white strips at the cuffs.

Daedae

A Daedae (belt of red woven silk with gold embroidery) was wrapped around the wonsam or hwalot and tied in the back.

Jokduri

Korean Traditions For Wedding jokdur

The Jokduri was fashioned after a cap used by Mongolian women when they went outside the home. The Korean version became smaller than the original size and is used mostly as an accessory. Jokduri worn by royal family members contained 7 different colors.

Yongjam and Daenggi

Korean Traditions For Wedding yongjam

The bride’s hair was pulled back tightly and tied at the back of her neck. A Yongjam (long hairpin with a dragon head at one end) was placed through her tied hair. A Doturak Daenggi (a long, wide piece of dark silk, embroidered with gold lettering) attached to the Jokduri and hung down the bride’s back. A thinner Ap daenggi hung from each side of the Yongjam, resting along the front of the Wonsam.

Dangui and Hwagwan

Korean Traditions For Wedding Dangui

The queen, princess, or wife of a high ranking government official wore a dangui during minor ceremonies in the palace. Women of the Yangban (noble) class also wore it as a wedding costume. It was usually made with green silk outside and red inside or purple silk outside and pink inside. The costume had narrow sleeves and a half-moon shape on the bottom hem. Similar to the jokduri, but more ornate, a hwagwan was worn for a headdress with a dangui.

Groom's Clothings of Korean Traditions For Wedding

Korean Traditions For Wedding samogwandae

Samogwandae

Called Samogwandae, the groom’s costume closely resembled the clothes worn by the lowest ranking court officials during the Chosun Dynasty. The color and belt decoration symbolized the person’s position within the court hierarchy. As marriage represented the most important event in a man’s life, the groom was allowed to wear this uniform, even though he did not hold any position in the palace. (Those of higher rank would wear different clothes during their own marriage ceremony).

Paji and Cheogori (Traditional Pants and Jacket)

The Paji had wide legs as baggier pants were more comfortable for sitting on floors than narrower pants. Two straps of cloth (called Daenim) bound the cuffs of the Paji around the ankles. This prevented the cuffs from covering up the boots. A Cheogori was the traditional shirt worn by men of the time.

Dalryeongp'o (Jacket)

Korean Traditions For Wedding

This jacket, usually of blue or maroon color, contained an embroidered picture (hyungbae) of two red crested white cranes on the middle of the chest. A gakdae (belt) tied the dalryeongpo together, similar to the bride’s daedae.

Completing the costume were a pair of black cloth boots (Mokwha) and a Samo (a stiff cap with “wings” on the sides).

FAQ about Korean traditions for Wedding

What should I wear to a Korean Wedding?

It depends on the wedding’s attire, of course, but a suit, formal dress, or cocktail dress can be one of the options, but hanbok is appropriate.

What Color of Hanbok should we choose?

The colors that the bride and groom wear are symbolic of the “taeguk,”  (also known as yin and yang). The bride dons a red hanbok, while the groom wears blue, exactly like the South Korean Flag together, that represent the balance of complementary entities. Traditionally, the marriage would occur at dusk, representing the balance between light and dark as well.

The mother of the bride will wear warm tones, including pink, purple, or orange, while the groom’s mother will wear cool tones like blue, gray, or green—though mothers with specific color preferences have known to swap tones, Park says.

Table Manner

The contents on the table will be explained by the officiant, which include Mandarin-style wooden ducks (won-ang seteu), pinecones, bamboo, dates, chestnuts, persimmons, red beans, gourd cups, and a copper bowl.

The copper bowl is for the handwashing of the bride and groom, to symbolize their cleansing and purity for one another. Pinecones and bamboo represent loyalty for life, while dates and chestnuts represent fertility and however many children the couple will have.

Will I be allowed to view the pyebaek ceremony?

The Pyebaek ceremony is traditionally a private ceremony allowing only family, but you may be invited to view it if the bride and groom hold it during the cocktail hour. If the ceremony is private, photos will certainly be taken that will be shared later.

What should be prepare for wedding Banquet?

Korean wedding banquets can be very simple: Noodle soup is the only required dish. In fact, the wedding banquet is called kook soo sang, which means “noodle banquet.”

Long noodles that symbolizing a wish for a long and happy life are boiled in beef broth and garnished with vegetables. Dok, a sticky rice cake, is also served at most Korean events, especially weddings.

Is there drinking and dancing at Korean weddings?

Most Korean weddings these days are actually a mix and hybrid of Western and Korean traditions, so if the couple drinks and dances, those festivities will most likely occur.

Should I bring a gift or send one in advance?

Yes, a white envelope containing cash is considered the optimal gift at a Korean wedding, and the amount of money should correspond to your level of closeness to the couple.

Gift certificates to well-known stores and fulfillments from registries are also wonderful gifts, and sending a registry gift to their home in advance, especially a large one, is practical.

Cash gifts in white envelopes are the most common gift at a Korean wedding. Traditionally, during the paebaek, the bride and groom receive words of blessing and money gifts from the parents.

How do you think about Korean Traditions For Wedding ? Do you interested to incorporating Korean traditions in your wedding?
Let us know in the comments!

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