Korean Wedding Traditions: What You Need to Know

Incorporating your Korean traditions into your wedding can make it a truly unique event. Today we have adapted to more westernised weddings, but with our help, you can have the best of both worlds.

Korean Marriage Traditions

During the Jeonanrye ceremony, a kireogi, or wild goose, was presented to the groom-to-be. 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 instead of the 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 promises a lifetime of love and care to the woman’s daughter.

The parents of the bride and groom have the right to invite whoever they want, often resulting in guests as many as 500! It is a Korean tradition for the bride and groom to wander through the wedding venue to welcome each guest on their special day. This can often become a stressful task for the bride and groom. However, the groom is allowed to greet the wedding guests in one room, while the bride has her own special room to greet her guests. Photos of the bride and her guests are also taken prior to the ceremony.

The Korean wedding ceremony

During the Korean wedding ceremony, vows are taken in the kunbere ceremony. Both the bride and groom wear the traditional hanbok, a traditional Korean dress designed especially 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 bride wears a pink or purple hanbok, while the mother of the groom wears a blue hanbok. Female members of the family can also wear the hanbok, but they can choose more modern clothes instead of the traditional ones.

A celebrant and a master of ceremonies lead the ceremony. After the vows are made, the bride and groom seal their vows by bowing and drinking wine from a gourd handed over by the bride’s mother. The ceremony is quick and usually lasts no more than half an hour. After the vows are made and the wine drunk, the family and guests partake in a simple meal.

The main requirement for attending a Korean wedding is that you bring a white envelope containing money to present to the bride and groom. The amount given depends on the relationship between the guest and the couple. It is traditional to give the chosen amount in one clean, sharp bill in the white envelope.

After the ceremonies, it is traditional for the groom’s family to buy a house for the newly married couple, and the bride’s family will take care of the furnishings. Korean children are becoming more independent these days and may already have their own homes when they get married, so this tradition is not practised as often as it used to be. Both families usually discuss and agree on what wedding gifts will be given to their newlyweds.

Korean Wedding Tradition: De Pyebaek

The pyebaek is one of many Korean wedding traditions that emphasise 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 house to present the nuts and fruit. The dates and chestnuts are a Korean representation of the fertility of the bride. After the fruit and nuts are offered, the groom’s parents will serve sake in return. At the end of the ceremony, the groom’s parents 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 symbolises the number of children she will have later.