As a little girl we all dream of the perfect wedding. And as a Korean woman there are other traditional practices that come to mind when we think of getting married. The Korean Traditional Wedding Ceremony called Pae Baek (폐백). We've all seen it somewhere, either through a Korean drama or a family or friends wedding. Traditionally, the Pae Baek is a ceremonial practice where the groom's family accepts the new bride into their home as part of the family.
Obviously, these traditions have been catered to fit the modern Korean family as well as the traditional. Back in the day, the bride paid respect to the grooms family during the ceremony with close family and friends being present. However, the modern Korean family incorporates both families as a way to bless the marriage. Through the years, Pae Baek's have been the same in terms of the ceremonial practices. However, the way to go about presenting this practice has been catered to each couple. Some couples choose to have the Pae Baek immediately after the Western Style Wedding at the reception location. While others choose to have it before or after the Western Wedding at their home. It is a time consuming ceremony so choose wisely.
During the ceremony both the bride and groom wear Hanbok's (한복). These traditional outfits date back to the Joseon Dynasty where women and men of the Royal Family wore these decorative, bright colored outfits for formal functions or ceremonies. The 20th century has modernized the Hanbok's for practical reasons. But for the purposes of the Pae Baek, the Hanboks remain in the traditional sense where the bride and groom wears a head dress and many layers of the vibrant colors of royalty.
Generally there is a Korean Style table set up where the Grooms and Brides family sit on one side of the table (one family at a time) and the bride and groom on the other. The table is set up with two wooden ducks facing each other which symbolizes fidelity. Why ducks? Well like Geese these birds mate for life. Also present on the table are dates which symbolizes the female gender and chestnuts which symbolize the male gender. These are thrown at the bride for her to catch in her dress. And tradition states that how ever many the bride catches, is the number of children she and her groom will be blessed with. The dates and chestnuts are later eaten by the couple.
During the ceremony the bride and groom bows and pours tea or wine to the parents and often other members of the family. Then in turn the parents and family members impart words of wisdom to the couple. During this ceremony the bride and groom are bowing, pouring wine and the groom even gives the bride piggy back rides around the table. This symbolizes the journey of the new life ahead. The groom may also give piggy back rides to the mothers and grandmothers. Plenty of cash and words of wisdom are provided for to the new bride and groom.
Last fall, I had the pleasure of attending my cousins wedding and Pae Baek ceremony. It was a beautiful fall wedding. The Pae Baek was held at my aunts home, the mother of the groom. The Pae Baek ceremony was set up by a company that was hired to bring all the necessary items. While they were setting up I was able to take some photos of the table prior to the ceremony and during the ceremony as well. The wedding was held the day after the Pae Baek which made it easier for everyone. My poor cousin was sweating bullets during the Pae Baek ceremony. Be prepared, the Hanbok is not light or breathable. I love that even though we are here in the US, we are able to incorporate our cultures traditions. How do you plan to honor our Korean Wedding traditions?