The Complete Guide to Korean Traditional Wedding Ceremony
Korean traditional wedding ceremony is full of colors and excitements. Fifty and some shades of colors in the traditional house’s courtyard and traditional live music have a power to make you dance in your heart. Even though we have this valuable tradition, for certain period of time, having a traditional wedding was considered old-fashioned. Koreans were focused on modernization. But now, Korean wedding is reclaiming the glory. Getting out of the western-style wedding, now lots of couples choose to be married in the traditional setting. Of course the much increased amount of international marriage is another reason of the popularity.
Every little detail in the traditional ceremony means something. The dress, accessories, position, food, and even all the bowing and drinking indicate something.
The ceremony itself takes about a half an hour, but there will be celebratory performances before, and photo shoot, and dining after the ceremony. Our ceremony at Korea House took about two hours including everything. The details of ceremony can be different depending on the host, but the core program would be the same.
Here is the complete guide to Korean traditional wedding ceremony.
-Samulnori: traditional percussion quartet, literally means play of four objects.
Four instruments and their meanings are:
Kkwaenggwari (a small gong): thunder
Jing (a larger gong): wind
Janggu (an hourglass-shaped drum): rain
Buk (a barrel drum similar to the bass drum): cloud
-Buchaechum: Korean traditional fan dance
Chin-young-rye(親迎禮): Bride’s family greets groom
-Groom enters the courtyard (wedding was usually held in bride’s family house) with girukabi (person leading the way with the wedding geese – best man).
-The girukabi hands the geese to groom.
Jeon-an-rye(奠雁禮): Presentation of wooden geese
-Groom place wild geese on a table and bowing twice to his mother-in-law.
-Mother-in-law takes the wild geese into the house.
*The wild geese symbolizes harmony and love between husband and wife. Wild geese (it’s actually mandarin duck, to be exact) mate for life: they keep their promises of love and never find another, if they lost their partner.
*Wooden geese is used nowadays, instead of the live one.
Gyo-bae-rye(交拜禮): Facing each other and bowing
-The groom stands on the east, and bride walks to the west side of the wedding table.
-The helpers (two each for bride and groom) wash the hands of bride and groom.
-The helpers spread the mat on the yard for each other.
-Groom bows, then the bride and groom stand on the mat, facing each other (bride holds her hands to cover her face).
-First, bride bows twice and groom bows back once.
-Bride bows twice again, then groom makes a deep bow and kneel down.
*The bowing represents the promise of commitment to each other.
*Bride’s bow is required to sit cross-legged on the floor and stand up. That’s why the helpers are the must!
*In the olden days when arrange marriage was the custom, the wedding ceremony was the first time bride and groom saw each other’s faces.
Hap-geun-rye(合巹禮): Combine the gourd dipper
-The helpers of bride and groom prepare drink (usually rice wine) and side dishes.
-The groom bows, then bride and groom present drink and side dishes to the sky (to the greater existence who’s looking down on everyone).
-The helpers pour the drink. After groom bows, bride and groom raise their cup.
-The helpers fill the cup which made of gourd dipper and groom bows.
-Bride and groom exchange gourd dipper.
*The two halves of gourd dipper represent the bride and groom to be one whole with one another.
Seong-hon-rye(成婚禮): Declaration of wedding
-Bride and groom bows to both families and guests.
-Bride and groom, and with friends and families
Pyebaek(幣帛): Korean wedding custom for family members only (traditionally groom’s family)
-For the ceremony, the bride’s family prepared jujubes (Korean dates) and chestnuts, which symbolize children.
-The ceremony begins with the parents (of groom) seated on cushions behind a table in front of a painted screen, with the newlyweds opposite them.
-The newlyweds perform a deep bow.
-The bride offers the cup (rice wine) to the father, and the groom offers the cup to the mother.
-The parents then shares some wisdom on marriage from their advanced experience.
-Finally they will throw the jujubes and chestnuts back at the couple, who has to try catching them with her wedding skirt.
*Traditionally pyebaek is only for groom’s family, but bride’s family also participates in modern weddings.
#All the photos were taken by our wedding photographer from Korea House.
8 thoughts on “The Complete Guide to Korean Traditional Wedding Ceremony”
Very nicely taken pictures and thanks for the comprehensive write up. Congrats!
My Boyfriend and I. Planning to celebrate a wedding in a other country. to simply a to do with honeymoon unlike if you are in your own country very common places..
But if you are in other you will encounter a new experience. 😉
Well we make plan to celebrate in korea our wedding. that because i like the way they do the wedding process.
It’s kind of cute with me.idont know why. LOL
Anyway keep it Great ! You have a Such a wonderful Post! 😉
Such pomp and circumstance … it puts Western weddings to shame! Hope the memory of this day will live happily in your heart forever!
Fascinating story! And very good pictures! It is amazing how the ceremony is different from what a kind of “normal” European wedding is! When we went to Israel, we took part in a pre-wedding ceremony of Palestinian bride and groom and it was remarkable too! You were lucky to see this wedding!
It’s so nice to learn about the Korean traditional wedding ceremony which is totally different from the western weddings I saw before! It’s so interesting!! Thanks for sharing!
I have a quick question say the grooms father has passed away and the grooms mother is sick and cant travel to korea I’m asking because my baby brother is dating a Korean woman and ve done my best to look after my brother after my dad passed away (we were born 10 years apart so I’m much older )
Hey Warren, what is your question exactly? 🙂 I’ll answer as much as I can.
The pictures are lovely and the wedding is just breath taking.
My brother is getting married next year and he wants to have the complete traditional wedding, just like yours.
Where did you find the musicians, dancers, decorators, helpers etc?
Is there a specific company that does it all, or did you have to find them one by one?
Also, in relation to the temple, did you have to ask for their permission to have all that set up, did they work directly with the team?
Last question, what was the name of the temple?