Marriage is a big affair in Korea, as it is in the rest of the world too. But what makes marriages in Korea a little different is that a marriage is considered the coming together of two families, not just two individuals. Korean wedding traditions are also unique in their own way.
The event is called Taerye, meaning the “Great Ritual” and every family member is expected to participate in this ritual.
Before the wedding, there is a fun tradition that has evolved over the years. The groom is expected to give the mother of the bride a wild goose (it used to be a real, live one, but now even a wooden goose will do). The significance behind this ritual is that wild geese mate for life; so the gift is the groom’s promise to the bride’s mother.
Traditionally, the wedding gifts are brought to the brides’ house by the grooms’ closest friends. The friends are dressed in a costume, with their faces blackened and they sing their way into the brides’ home chanting “Hahm for sale, hahm for sale!” (The gifts are placed in a box called “Hahm”.) The family of the bride then welcomes the friends by offering money to buy the gifts.
An unusual bit about the Korean weddings is that the groom travels to the brides’ house for the ceremony. He is expected to stay there for 3 days before taking his bride to his family home. This is an unusual aspect of Asian culture.
Once the marriage is underway, the bride and groom bow to each other and seal their wedding vows while sipping a wine that is poured into a gourd grown in the bride’s garden. The ceremony for the vows is called Kunbere.
Although food is important to Koreans, during a wedding, the only must-have Korean dish is a noodle soup. Long noodles symbolise a long life and that’s why they’re a must.
A few days after the wedding ceremony, there is a small ceremony in the groom’s house where the bride offers her new in-laws dates and chestnuts. These are symbolic of the children the couple will have in the future. The parents then offer Soju in return, and to end the ceremony throw dates and chestnuts back towards the bride who is expected to catch them in her large wedding skirt.
The ceremonies are simple, traditional and tasteful. Korean weddings are about having a celebration with your family and closest friends. It is also considered a parents’ final duty and so the parents of both the bride and groom pay for the entire wedding and the honeymoon.
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