Have you ever wondered about wedding traditions from other countries or cultures? Maybe you’re learning Korean and it piqued your interest in worldly affairs. In this article, you’ll learn about neat traditions practiced for Korean weddings…
In Korea, traditional weddings are a very important and special event. There are many customs and traditions that are followed during a Korean wedding. Some of these include the bride and groom not seeing each other before the wedding, bowing to elders, and sharing a cup of wine.
These traditions play an important role in the overall ceremony and signify important aspects of Korean culture.
If you are attending a Korean wedding, it is helpful to be aware of these traditions so that you can better understand what is happening during the ceremony.
What Are Some Korean Wedding Traditions?
Some of the most common Korean wedding traditions are:
- Eui Hon
- Noodle banquet
- Korean traditional wedding dance
…of course, there are many others, too. If you’re interested in learning more about these Korean wedding traditions, one of the best ways to do so is by signing up for Korean lessons. Sign up today and check out the many benefits of doing so by watching this video:
Korean Traditional Wedding Customs
While Korean wedding traditions are both unique and interesting, not all couples choose to incorporate these rituals in their wedding day. In fact, Korean superstar Lee Na-Young got married in May of 2015, and she clutched a small bouquet and wore a long white gown during the simple outdoor ceremony. Her new husband, fellow actor Won Bin, complemented her modern look in a tailored suit with white flowers in the front pocket. Western wedding traditions have gone global, and even South Korea has adopted some of these wedding day rituals.
Today, most Korean couples follow this famous couples’ lead and plan westernized wedding ceremonies that have more in common with Hollywood movies than ancient Korean rituals. Some couples, however, choose to incorporate older Korean rituals into their special day.
What Happens at a Korean Wedding?
From pre-wedding events to ceremony rituals, here are four unique Korean wedding traditions.
1. Eui Hon
Professional matchmaking in Korea is generally based on education level, social status, and family lineage. Before the potential bride and groom meet in person, the matchmaker introduces the families and introduces the parents to the potential mates.
If all goes well, the groom’s family sends a marriage proposal to the bride’s family. The bride’s family can approve or deny this proposal on their daughter’s behalf.
Hanbok refers to a traditional Korean clothing style that men and women have worn for more than two thousand years. Silk, simple lines, bright colors, and high collars are common characteristics of this festive fashion tradition, which almost always includes long sleeves and a sash around the waist.
Today, hanbok is shorthand for the custom-made costumes that Korean women wear on very special occasions. These colorful tops and full-bodied skirts are usually reserved for weddings or national holidays.
Though white wedding dresses are now much more common than ceremonial hanbok, many Korean brides pay homage to their heritage by incorporating this traditional dress in their wedding day activities. Some slip into their hanbok to pose for photos after the wedding. Others wear a hanbok for a smaller, separate ceremony on another day.
When a South Korean man or woman marries a partner from a Western country, like the United States or United Kingdom, hanbok allows them to integrate both cultures in their ceremony. Hanbok is also a stylish but nostalgic nod to the union of past and present; if the bride and groom wear a gown and tuxedo, their parents might choose to wear hanbok and white gloves to honor their roots.
Modern wedding traditions usually focus on the bride and groom, but in South Korea, family still plays a central role in weddings. The pyebaek is the best example of this. Originally, the pyebaek was a patriarchal tradition that officially integrated the bride into the groom’s family. She would bestow gifts upon her future in-laws and ultimately bow in subservience as she left her family for theirs.
Today, the pyebaek celebrates the union of both families. This family ritual is one of the most popular remnants of ancient Korean wedding traditions, and some original elements remain. For example, the bride still presents the groom’s family with a gift of Korean dates and chestnuts, which symbolizes fertility. The bride and groom also wear hanbok as they bow to their families in unison, a gesture of gratitude and respect.
Though the pyebaek began as a long, pre-wedding ritual, modern couples often hold their pyebaek immediately after the wedding. During this small, private ritual, the parents share advice for married life and accept gifts of wine.
During the marriage ceremony, the groom gives his mother-in-law kireogi (wooden geese/Korean wedding ducks). The kireogi symbolizes structure and harmony, keeping the same partner for life, and leaving a great legacy.
5. Noodle Banquet
When it comes to weddings in Korea, nothing is more important than the celebration feast. Known as a noodle banquet, this extravagant event is a hallmark of traditional Korean culture and an opportunity for friends and family to join together in celebration of the newlyweds.
At a typical noodle banquet, tables are laden with an assortment of delicious dishes, including spicy kimchi, savory soups, and steaming bowls of noodles. With its vibrant colors and enticing aromas, the noodle banquet is truly a feast for all senses.
And while the actual wedding ceremony may be short and sweet, the noodle banquet serves to memorialize this joyous occasion in style for years to come.
6. Korean Traditional Wedding Dance
The Korean wedding dance is a popular tradition that is enjoyed by many couples on their big day. The dance is performed by the bride and groom, who each take turns holding a traditional fan and dancing around a table.
The dance is said to represent the union of the two families, and it is often used as a way to wish the newlyweds good luck in their marriage. The dance is also a symbol of respect for the elders, who are often present at weddings.
The bride and groom will typically bow to their parents and grandparents before beginning the dance. The Korean wedding dance is a beautiful tradition that is sure to add some excitement to your special day.
7. Specific Colors
When attending a traditional Korean wedding, it is important to wear the proper colors in order to express respect for the bride and groom. Typically, people wear gray to acknowledge the bond between the bride and her new family, red or cream to represent happiness and prosperity, and white or black to symbolize purity and virtue. In addition, bright colors such as yellow or green are typically avoided out of respect for the couple’s ancestors.
By choosing appropriately colored attire, guests can help to add a special touch of tradition to this momentous occasion and honor the couple in a meaningful way.
8. The Processional Parade
The processional parade at a Korean wedding is a colorful and joyful occasion. As the bride makes her way toward the altar, she is surrounded by an entourage of women in vibrant hanbok dresses that are embroidered with intricate patterns and colors.
These women sing and dance energetically as they wave fans, ribbons, and chopsticks to encourage good luck for the newlyweds.
The energy of the procession reflects the celebratory spirit of this important cultural event, and it is a must-see sight for anyone who wants to get a taste of traditional Korean culture.
Whether you’re attending a Korean wedding or simply witnessing the spectacle from afar, the processional parade will leave you in awe of this beautiful expression of love and community.
9. Explanation of the Table
At a traditional Korean wedding, one of the most important elements is the table setting. This elaborate display typically includes fruits, sweets, and other delicacies, as well as symbolic items such as flowers and bowls of gold coins.
These objects are all meant to convey different meanings related to marriage and the new couple’s future together. For example, the colorful fruit indicates that the two partners are sweet on each other, while gold coins represent growing wealth and prosperity in their lives.
Additionally, many of the displayed items have symbolic associations ranging from specific colors to aspects of nature. Overall, this beautifully arranged table sets the tone for what is sure to be a long and happy marriage for the new couple.
10. Wine at a Traditional Korean Wedding
At a traditional Korean wedding, it is customary for the bride and groom to share a glass of wine during the ceremony. This wine, known as jung jong, is said to symbolize the couple’s new life together.
Traditionally, the bride and groom each take a sip of the wine from opposite ends of the glass.
They then exchange sips, after which they drink the rest of the wine. The sharing of jung jong is seen as a way for the couple to seal their marriage and start their new life together on a lucky note.
Traditional Korean Wedding Gifts
At a traditional Korean wedding, guests will often bring gifts for the bride and groom. These gifts are usually wrapped in colorful paper and ribbon, and they can range from household items to personal items like clothing or jewelry.
In some cases, guests will also give money as a wedding gift. The amount of money given is usually based on the relationship between the guest and the couple, with close family members and friends giving larger amounts. Wedding gifts are typically placed on a table near the entrance of the reception hall, and the couple will open them after all of the guests have arrived.
By tradition, these gifts are meant to help the newlyweds start their life together, and they are often displayed in the couple’s home as a reminder of their special day.
The gift registry is one Western staple that still hasn’t found a place in Korean wedding traditions. Instead, the vast majority of modern Korean couples receive cash in special envelopes. Because odd numbers are associated with good luck, many guests make sure they give an amount that begins with an odd number, such as 50,000 or 90,000 won.
Why Are Korean Weddings So Short?
There is no single answer to the question of why Korean weddings are so short, as there are a variety of factors that contribute to this phenomenon. Some experts have pointed to cultural or historical factors, arguing that Korean wedding traditions emphasize simplicity and minimalism.
Others have speculated that the short length of Korean weddings is a result of the time constraints associated with modern life. Whatever the case, it is clear that short Korean weddings are here to stay, and continue to be one of the defining aspects of this unique cultural tradition.
At first glance, Korean weddings may seem like any other celebration: elaborate dresses, heartfelt speeches, heartwarming rituals, and extravagant food. However, all too often these celebrations come and go in a matter of hours, leaving guests baffled and wondering just why they were invited in the first place.
So what exactly drives this curious trend? On one hand, some scholars point to purely cultural or historical factors as explanations for Korea’s brief weddings.
For example, some argue that Korean wedding traditions draw on Buddhist influences and place increased emphasis on simplicity and minimalism. Others believe that shorter ceremonies may be more reflective of Korea’s tumultuous political history during the 20th century.
Who Pays for a Korean Wedding?
In Korea, it is customary for the groom’s family to pay for the wedding. This includes the cost of the venue, food, and other expenses.
The bride’s family usually pays for her wedding dress and other incidentals.
However, this is not always the case. Sometimes, the two families will split the cost of the wedding equally. In other cases, the bride and groom may cover all of the costs themselves.
Ultimately, there is no set rule for who pays for a Korean wedding. It is up to the couples and their families to decide what makes the most sense for them financially.
Modern Korean Wedding Traditions
Modern Korean wedding traditions can vary widely depending on a number of factors, including the couple’s cultural background and family traditions. One of the most commonly observed elements of a modern Korean wedding, however, is the wedding ceremony itself.
Often held in a beautiful and ornate banquet hall or temple, this ritual typically involves both the bride and groom walking down an aisle together while wearing traditional ceremonial attire.
Once they reach the altar, they are joined by family members or other participants and proceed to exchange vows and rings. Throughout the ceremony, there may also be traditional songs, dances, or other symbolic rituals performed by various members of the couple’s families.
So regardless of other customs or traditions that may be incorporated into a modern Korean wedding, it is always characterized by an emphasis on celebration and togetherness.
Koreans don’t always incorporate ancient traditions in their weddings, however, ceremonial clothes and gifts are still popular ways to honor Korea’s past on this special occasion. Nowadays, Westernized weddings are becoming more prominent while ancient Korean traditions still remain preserved. I hope you had fun learning about Korean wedding traditions!
If you’re planning a wedding, it might be fun to try some of these Korean traditions. They add a unique and memorable touch to your big day. And who knows, maybe you can start a new trend! Have you ever participated in or seen any of these Korean wedding traditions?