Paebaek Details + History
Paebaek is a Korean wedding ritual where the bride is formally accepted into the groom's family. Traditionally, the wedding ceremony would take place in the bride's home town where all of the town's people were invited to a huge feast to celebrate the union of the couple. After the ceremony, the married couple would travel to the groom's home where the Paebaek took place. Therefore, the Paebaek traditionally was only shared with the groom's family. However, in modern times, relatives on both sides of the family are invited to participate and offer their blessings to the couple.
Paebaek: Preparing the Bride and Groom
The bride and groom enter the room together in their ceremonial Korean wedding attire. The bride wears an elaborate topcoat with flowing sleeves over her hanbok. A ceremonial coronet called jokduri (쪽두리) is placed on her head and a bee-nyuh (비녀) is placed through her tied hair. Red dots are placed on the bride's face which symbolizes her youth and pureness.
The groom's outfit closely resembles those worn by the ranking officials during the Chosun Dynasty. As marriage represented the most important event in a man's life, the groom was allowed to wear this uniform, even if he did not hold any position in the palace.
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Paebaek: The Ceremony
Family members, starting from the groom’s parents will take their turn sitting in front of a table filled with various edibles and alcohol to receive their bow from the couple. It is also customary for distant relatives to receive bows. The bride and groom will serve wine to each set of parents and relatives after the bow. In turn, the elders offer the couple words of wisdom and blessings. They also present white envelopes filled with money to start the new couple on their way. The parents will throw dates and chestnuts which the bride and groom will attempt to catch with the bride’s apron. According to legend, the number of dates and chestnuts caught signify how many children they will bear in the future. The chestnuts represent boys and the dates represent girls. As a public display of the groom’s strength and happiness, he piggy backs his bride around the table which concludes the Paebaek ceremony.