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The Korean Wedding Ceremony and Customs

3 Aug

After my ridiculously simple look at Korean wedding and getting bewildered looks when I asked my bf to explain things like while the groom give te bride a piggyback ride- I decided to stop being lazy and google it. I found a lovely site to answer all my questions and hopefully yours too. i’ve copy and pasted it in full~ check out the site if you have more questions. 

Korean Wedding Customs & CeremonyDuring the course of discussing wedding plans with my parents, my Dad suggested that we demur in conducting a traditional Korean ceremony, in deference to Western custom. That’s when I had my first Bridezilla moment, and exclaimed “I’ve been waiting 40 years to do this!” So, we’re going to incorporate a traditional Korean wedding custom on our special day, called the “Paebaek.”The actual Korean wedding ceremony incorporates several stages:The first ritual is the Junan-nyeh: the groom offers a goose to the bride’s family. Historically the groom delivered a live goose, but in modern times, this has been replaced by a colorful, carved wooden bird. The goose is a symbol of marital fidelity, as geese couples mate for life. It is a pledge made by the groom to be faithful forever.

This is followed by the Gyobae-ryeh. In olden days, Korean weddings were arranged by matchmakers, and the parties were most often betrothed sight unseen. The Gyobae-rye was a very dramatic moment, because it was the first time that the bride and groom would meet each other face to face. Needless to say, Frank and I are past this drama. During the Gyobae-ryeh the bride and groom perform deep, grand ceremonial bows to each other. Because women are associated with “yin” and even numbers, and men are associated with “yang” and odd numbers, the bride bows twice to the groom and the groom bows once to the bride.

The Gyobae-rye is followed by the Hapgeun-nyeh: the bride and groom exchange ceremonial toasts using two halves of a gourd as drinking vessels. As the bride and groom sip from their cups, the two halves of the gourd are symbolically reunited and made whole. Thus, it symbolizes the union of the bride and groom into a single union. The bride and groom then stand and face the audience as husband and wife.

The Paebaek, which we will perform during the wedding reception dinner for your viewing pleasure, was traditionally held a few days after the official ceremony, with only family members present. Originally, the purpose of the ritual was exclusively for the groom’s side of the family to be introduced to their new family member, the bride. However, in modern times, Korean weddings have incorporated the Paebaek ceremony immediately after the reception, and include the bride’s side of the family. We will incorporate elements of the Junan-ryeh, Gyobae-ryhe, and Hapgeun-nyeh during our Paebaek.

The Paebaek is conducted on a woven straw mat in front of a decorative screen, before a ceremonial table laden with symbolic food. The bride and groom wear traditional costumes. The bride dons a heavily embroidered, rainbow-hued silk jacket with flowing white sleeves over a bell-shaped skirt. On her head, she bears a decorative crown. Her hair is parted in the middle and tied in a low bun with a long hair pin threaded through. Hanging on the pin are long flowing embroidered ribbons. The groom traditionally wears a long blue embroidered robe fastened with a belt, and a black hat and boots.

The ceremonial table holds several symbolic items: red and blue silk cloth, a rooster and hen (symbolizing fertility), bamboo and pine branches, red and black beans, wine flask and drinking cups, and finally and most importantly, chestnuts and dried red jujubes (a type of date), which symbolize children. These are all arranged artfully on the table.

Family elders from both sides of the family are seated on cushions behind the table, with the newlyweds opposite them. The newlyweds traditionally perform a deep bow: it begins standing up, then a slow kneel, and ends with pressing their foreheads on their hands on the floor (depending on our flexibility, we may just do a modified standing bow).

The newlyweds and elders offer and exchange small cups of Korean rice wine. The elders then impart words of wisdom to the couple. From the table, the elders grab handfuls of jujubes and chestnuts to toss at the couple, who have to try catching them with a decorative white wedding cloth. The elders exclaim, “have many children!” The amount of nuts and fruit caught by the couple symbolize how many children they will have. The chestnuts represent male children, and the jujubes girls. We hope to catch just 2.

After counting the “children,” the bride and groom toast each other with more rice wine. Then, “Lady and the Tramp spaghetti style,” the groom takes a single jujube in his mouth to feed to his bride. It looks like a kiss J. However, in actuality, it’s really a power struggle! Like a wishbone pull, whoever gets the seed is the one who will supposedly be “in control” for the rest of the marriage. So help me, we will bite the seed in half.

Finally, the groom is supposed to give the bride a piggy back ride twice around the paebaek table: this demonstrates that he is able to support her, and represents the journey to their new home. To spare Frank’s back (and my dignity), we will forego the piggy back ride, and instead, shall opt to walk hand in hand together around the table, as best friends equally supporting each other throughout our marriage.

Mr and Mrs Kim: the Wedding

13 Jul

I’ve decide to profile my boyfriend brother and his new wife. There are so many customs that go with getting married and starting a family that I thought why not get a nitty gritty look at it first hand.

! Before reading this you should know I have a terribly cynical view of most old world Korean ideas and of all weddings and ajummas (middle age Korean women) both prejudices I am working on toning down but its a work on progress.

First things first!

When the happy couple decide to get married they must first goto her parents house and ask permission. Then if all is well head over to his parents house. From what
I’ve seen sometimes (and usually) the parents don’t meet the girl or man in question until one  or two times before the man plans on asking permission to marry. My boyfriends brothers wife only met her future mother in law twice. Once by accident after her son told her he was too busy to come and visit her and she saw them in Seoul near a subway stop and the other to tell her they were getting married.

After the inital drama the parents finally meet. Usually on neutral territory~ my bf family is from Paju(near the DMZ) and her family is from Daegu(near the middle of Korea) so they met at a restaurant in Seoul. Because my bf is the oldest son he was expected to go as he is “head” of his house. Together the parents (not the bride and groom) decide what day is best for the families as well as where the couple will honeymoon and live after. It may seem old fashioned but key money ~ the deposit money for an apartment is a very big strain for young people as most key money deposits are between 20-40,000,000 ₩. More on key money in a later post. So now that the parents have decided the fate and life plan of the couple its time for the normal stuff.

I’ve never heard of a Korean save the date card~ I think word of mouth is cheaper. But as an ex member of the hospitality I find Korean weddings missing alot of the pomp and circumstance of American weddings. Even though the wedding industry is huge is Korea you don’t see the extras like elaborate invites gift bags ~ everything is simple and straight forward. In my opinion its not treated as a big celebration its treated as an event everyone will go through. To say every Korean is expected to get married ( and more or less produce a baby is those following months) is not an overstatment. I’ve even heard women tell me the biggest contrubution they can make to society is giving birth~ likewise I’ve heard men/huabands are basically ATMs and sperm donors. But I digress~

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Above is one of the snaps from my bf brothers wedding shoot~ theres are a ton more from my friend Jeesuks on the facebook page . Basically the bride wears a ton of different dresses in a ton if different settings. Most of his brothers were inside the studio and Jeesoks were in the studio with tons of props(an old moped, the front have of a car, etc.) . I was completely baffled by why you would want pictures wearing your wedding dress!? ITS BAD LUCK PEOPLE!!! But again different culture~ the idea is that the couple has a wedding album at their wedding… o_O your wedding album at your wedding… whatever~ not my style.

As I mentioned the wedding invites are nothing to shout about and are literally given to everyone last person the couple and their parents know, they’re usually white, girly and if I heard correctly I think you can buy them generically from the venue. My biggest complaint about Korean weddings is the pre- packaged- ness. Also your supposed to invite everyone – literally EVERYONE in your address book and extended family. Usually it pays off^^. I always thought you invited every to share the special day but apparently its to pay for it. After his brothers wedding I found out his mom made 10,000,000 from it!!! Which leads me to gifts.

If your going to a Korean wedding you’ve got to bring a cash gift. Always over 30,000(which is considered really low and kind of cheap) and an uneven number~ 30-50-70 etc.

The cash gift like so many other gifts in Korean society are seen as a returned investment. Which is why at the wedding ceremony there are two desks setup~ one for brides guests and one for the grooms. After giving a white envelope of money the envelope taker gives a color coded paper the guest then give the paper to the waiter or attendant at the buffet. (see below picture)

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Prior to the event starting the bride is dolled up and placed in a very elaborately decorated room and made to sit in a giant chair. You can take lots of pictures with the bride. As you can see she look absolutle adorable!
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After the event is finish and before the happy couple depart for their packaged honeymoon the bills must be paid. Each family pays for their guests and if your guests have been extra generous then you pocket their kindness. About 700 people ate at their wedding~ when I asked how many people saw the wedding he said maybe half that. As usual the most important part of the event was the food not the ceremony which is basically an elaborative civil ceremony.
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There was a private traditional part that was great the watch where super bitter tea was drunk, jujubees were tossed and other promienent couples were supposed to give the couple advice (myself and my boyfriend included o_O). Below are some snaps from that~
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Like I said the ceremony is relatively boring but its held in a place that looks like a nightclub flowershop.

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His sister in laws friends did a k- pop dance to Psys ” Gentleman” which left everyone squealing (eye roll) and asking me if I wanted to have the same thing ~ unfortunately for his family I hate that crap here and elsewhere~ although Id love to see it in an Indian Wedding too. Also the serenading (double eye roll). Because my bf is the oldest its considered not very good that his brother was married before him. His mom said it made their family look ” broken”~ honey I can think of alot more things worst than that. But old ladies will be old ladies and all of her noisy country friends accosted us throughout the ceremony regarding when we were getting married and where. Good grieve! Far away from you! I wouldn’t mind them so much but they know I’m not fluent and they laugh at me when I can’t answer them~ its fecking rude. We’ve got a plan which is none of you damn business you intrusive old raisin now leave me alone. But naturally you smile alot and don’t say any of that. More often than not if you are brought by your boyfriend to that kind of event your considered a public couple. I didn’t see my attendence as a big deal but when I was called out to stand with the couple, his parents and him in the grooms picture there was a noticeable hush in the crowd. Jerks~ then even more people came up to us not asking but looking and laughing this time jibber jabbering in Korean. I know theyre not rude people and they just didnt know any better but I was still really embarassed and didnt enjoy being laughed at. Needless to say I thought every last one of them was a massive uncultured ass-hat. Another annoying thing that left me pretty furious was when his mom didnt give the bride and groom the difference in the food cost and the cash gift- which would have been nice for them to take on their honeymoon or put down on an apartment which I knewbthey were struggling to find. It was explained to me that his mom has given or would be giving money at the weddings of these attendees(her friends) children. My brain was spinning and I was beyond angry~ I still dont understand why a gift can just be a freakin gift~ everythings got to be a full circle.

Later after enjoying the banquet meal with his family after all the guests had left the couple went off on their honeymoon to Maui when they drove around a Mustang convertible in true American fashion and snorkeled their little hearts out ♥♥♥
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PS~ Fun fact Korean women don’ take their husbands names- no idea why and don’ t really care!