In Korea, the marriage between a man and woman represents the joining of two families, rather than the joining of two individuals. As such, the event was often called Taerye (Great Ritual), and people from all over participated. Steeped in traditional Confucian values, the ceremonies and events surrounding the actual marriage were long and elaborate, from the pairing of the couple to the rituals performed after the ceremony.
Professional matchmakers paired up likely candidates for marriage, with the new couple often meeting for the first time at their wedding! The families considered many factors in the decision, consuting with fortune tellers for predictions about the couple's future life together. During the Chosun period, people married in their early teens, with the girl often being several years older than the boy.
The groom usually traveled to the house of the bride for the ceremony, then stayed there for 3 days before taking his new bride to his family's home. The actual ceremony involved many small rituals, with many bows and symbolic gestures. The participants were expected to control their emotions and remain somber.
Although Koreans have kept several aspects of the traditional ceremony, most modern ceremonies resemble Western marriage ceremonies more than traditional Korean ones. However, many folk villages and museums across the country regularly perform ceremonies to keep the traditions alive.
from source: http://www.lifeinkorea.com/culture/marriage/marriage.cfm?xURL=ceremony on April 4, 2012
|The day of the celebration finally arrives. Members of both families and the local villagers come out to watch the ceremony. The various aspects of the ceremony each have deep meanings and symbolism.|
Ch'inyoung (Wedding Parade)
Traditionally, weddings took place at the house of the bride's family. The groom usually rode a horse or pony and his attendants or servants would walk to the bride's house, or wherever the wedding was to take place. The attendants often played musical instruments to make the mood more festive, although the groom had to remain grim faced and hide his emotions.
|Jeonanrye (Presentation of Wild Goose)|
During the procession, the Girukabi (person leading the way) held a single wooden kireogi (wild goose). Upon reaching the bride's house, the Girukabi gave the kireogi to the groom who then placed it on a small table. After bowing twice to his future mother-in-law, she would take the kireogi into the house.
This often marked the first time that the bride and groom saw each other. The groom and bride each had two attendants who helped them throughout the ceremony. First, the groom walked to the east side of the wedding table. Then the bride walked to the west end. The groom's helpers spread a carpet or mat out for the groom, then the bride's helpers did the same for the bride. The bride and groom then faced each other across the wedding table. The helpers washed the hands of the bride and groom. The washing of their hands symbolized cleansing themsleves for the ceremony.
With the aid of her helpers, the bride bowed twice to the groom. With the aid of his helpers, the groom bowed back once to the bride. The bride then bowed two more times to the groom, who bowed back once more. They finished by kneeling down and facing each other. The bowing represented the promise of commitment to each other.
This part of the ceremony had two main variations, due to regional diffferences. The first variation had the couple drinking from the same cup, with their assistants passing it back and forth between bride and groom. The second variation had them drinking from separate halves of a gourd. The drinking signified the destiny of the new husband and wife, as well as their harmony together. Using two halves of the same courd further symbolized that the bride and groom each made up one half and only together could they be considered whole.
First, one of the helpers poured alcohol into a small cup for the groom, who then drank it. Another helper poured for the bride who sipped it or only pretended to drink. The groom's helper then poured into the cup again (or used the gourd in the other variation) and the groom drank again. The bride's helper poured again, with the bride sipping or pretending to drink again. Finally, the grrom and bride joined together and bowed three times: once to their parents, once to their ancestors, and once to the guests.