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Miyoung and Bill's Wedding:
|Miyoung and Bill's Wedding:
||A Korean Wedding Ceremony
When radio journalist Miyoung Lee and her fiancé Bill Tereposky organized their wedding last summer, they incorporated the traditional Korean wedding ceremony known as Pae Baek.
In the past, this ceremony served as the formal introduction of the bride to the groom’s family. Historically, the bride’s side of the family was excluded, but now that women are considered equal to men, the bride can choose to include her family in this ritual.
“Of course I chose to exercise that option,” Miyoung says.
Traditionally, Koreans hold the Pae Baek ceremony in a small room with only the immediate family attending. Bill and Miyoung wanted to share the moment publicly with all their wedding guests.
Bowing to Elders
Everything about Pae Baek, from the way the couple holds their hands to the way their feet are positioned, is quite specific.
The man and woman bow in unison, one full bow and one half bow. While bowing, they avoid eye contact with their family because it is considered disrespectful.
Traditionally the bride has assistants, members from her family to help her up and down as she bows. This is because of the complexity of the many layers of wedding clothes that she wears and the footwork that is involved.
After bowing, Miyoung and Bill present the family with an offering of alcohol. In this case, Miyoung’s parents opened a bottle of ginseng wine that they brought with them from South Korea.
“It was 35 proof and more than 30 years old,” says Miyoung.
The family signaled their approval of the match by accepting a drink.
A Playful Event
As part of the ceremony, each member of the family tosses chestnuts and dates into a large white sash that is wrapped around the bride and groom’s hands. The more they catch, the better omen it is for fertility and for savoring the sweetness of life. Apparently, Miyoung’s mother caught 20 chestnuts and dates on her wedding day. Of course, Miyoung was just as lucky.
The setup for the ceremony is simple but meaningful. The bride and groom sit on one side of a low table while the groom’s family sits on the other side.
The table itself is arranged with a variety of foods and usually rice wine called soju, but for their wedding ceremony, Bill and Miyoung shared ginseng wine. The wine was placed in a symbolically significant way on the table.
The dates that are tossed during the ceremony are placed on the east side of the table (where the sun rises), symbolizing that the newly married couple will rise early, work hard, be productive and be reproductive.
The chestnuts are placed on the west side of the table to ward off evil spirits.
Dried meats are placed as an offering to the mother-in-law, with wishes that she take her new daughter with kindness.
What They Wore
During Pae Baek, traditional Korean outfits are supplemented with robes and headdresses. The brighter the colors, the better, as they are worn during life’s watershed moments that call for brightness of spirit.
The bride’s outfit or hanbok includes a short jacket with long sleeves with two long ribbons that are tied to form a bow. She also wears a full-length, high-waisted wraparound skirt.
The groom’s attire includes a loose-sleeved jacket, roomy trousers and an overcoat.
“To keep the laughter to a minimum, we opted to allow Bill to keep his tuxedo pants and shirt on for this part,” says Miyoung. “And luckily he didn’t have to wear the traditional boat-shaped shoes. Unfortunately, the Korean tailor did not stock shoes big enough for Bill’s size 13 feet!”
“When it came time to bring the Korean wedding service together, my mother was the best resource,” says Miyoung. “She was amazing in finding all the traditional bits and pieces, including my Korean dress.”
“My planning advice to brides is to get on bridal online chat rooms and talk up a storm. Go through the magazines and cut out pictures of what you want. Having a photo with you to help describe what you want to your baker, your decorator or your caterer makes life so much easier and you are much more likely to get what you want.”
Balancing a full-time job and planning a wedding can be tough, with a lot of late nights.
“Creating a wedding binder with tabs for different themes—food, music, flowers, ceremony, clothing, bridesmaids, photographers, and so on—made organizing my thoughts easier, so I spent less time,” Miyoung says.
“I also had a huge box that I could throw the binder, receipts and anything into. If I didn’t have time to go through it all, it was OK because it was all in a box, out of the way and not cluttering my house.”