9 Korean Wedding Traditions You Need to Know


Paebaek

This is one of the most important—and often, most enjoyed by wedding guests—moments of the Korean traditional wedding, emphasizing the importance of family to Koreans. Historically, only the groom’s parents would be with the bride and the groom for the paebaek, but now both sets of parents are invited. This was previously only a private ceremony for those family members, but now, many modern couples hold the ceremony during a cocktail reception hour so that all guests can view the paebaek, and the moment can be photographed. Both sets of parents sit behind a low table full of food from the original wedding ceremony table. Nowadays, families try to incorporate as much food as possible on the table to make it look as lush as possible, but traditionally it was only three platters of food: a tower of chestnuts and dates, flat beef jerky, and a third platter of eight little appetizers called anju.

Paebaek foods are often plastic and merely for photographs. The couple enters, bows, and pours tea. They receive blessings and monetary gifts from their parents. The bride and groom do a grand bow, and then a half bow, then sit down. Holding a white fabric with flower embroidery, they catch dates and chestnuts that the two sets of parents throw. The number of dates and chestnuts the happy couple catch in the cloth represents the number of children they will have, with dates representing sons and chestnuts representing daughters. Then, photos are taken and the groom may or may not piggyback the bride once or twice around the table. If the groom is feeling confident, he may carry his mother and his mother-in-law around the table as well.

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