Wearing the traditional Korean hanbok at a very special wedding

Korean Wedding Hanbok

My son and his beautiful Korean bride in traditional dress on their wedding day

We recently attended a very special wedding in South Korea where our son married his beautiful Korean bride. As the mother of the groom, what an honour it was to wear the traditional national dress of Korea – the hanbok – during the wedding ceremony, alongside the mother of the bride.

 

I went shopping for the hanbok with my daughter-in-law and her mother and sister to carefully choose the colours I would wear. Colours chosen for a wedding hanbok are traditionally vibrant and often incorporate the five elements of Ying and Yang – white (metal) red (fire) blue (wood) black (water) and yellow (earth). It is possible to rent a hanbok for all occasions but mine was made to measure.

I wore the dress with bloomer style underpants, a net underskirt, traditional socks and shoes and a matching handbag. The voluminous dress (the chima) was topped with a neatly fitted jacket (the jeogori) which was decorated with ornamental pins and accessories. I’m told the original garment design represents softness and elegance and comfort and was established during the Goguryeo Kingdom (37 BCE – 668 CE) and has remained relatively unchanged to this day.

On the day, we had hair and makeup done and posed for family photos.

It was a fabulous day shared with family and friends. The formal ceremony was conducted in the Korean language and during this time there was lots of bowing to show respect. Our son, who teaches English and has lived in Korea for over six years now, said his marriage vows in Korean. Although he wore a western-style suit for the ceremony, and his beautiful bride wore a white wedding dress, they both wore traditional Korean clothes at their wedding reception and during the Korean tea pouring ceremony.

With the formalities over, there was singing, a fabulous meal, and an after-party at the family home during which our son had his feet beaten in a very strange and traditional Korean apres-wedding ritual!

Beating the groom’s feet – and the beaters are rewarded with a drink by the bride’s mother!

Beating the groom’s feet! His groomsmen and family members took great delight in binding his ankles with rope and removing his socks so they could take it in turns to beat his feet with a stick! Traditionally, the beating of feet ritual is meant as a test of the newly wedded husband’s strength and character and it used to be done with a dried fish! I have to say that it was all done with great amusement and laughter (including our son’s).

Have you ever worn a traditional costume to a wedding?
Have you ever encountered a strange wedding ritual?
I’d love to hear from you!

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10 comments

florence -

Hi Janice, was just browsing to know more about the Korean culture with regards to wedding.
My son will be having a Church wedding on Dec 14th, 2019 with his Korean girl. is it a must to wear the traditional hanbok? if so, is it possible to get it tailored outside Korea and how long would it take to make?

I live in Singapore and will only be in Korea on Dec 12th.

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JANICE HORTON -

Hi Florence – thanks for finding my post and website. It’s hard for me to answer your question fully as I only have my own experience with my son’s wedding in South Korea. But as with all weddings – I’m pretty sure that what you wear is a personal choice and for non-Koreans it is perfectly acceptable not to wear the hanbok. I don’t know if there is a place in Singapore to have one made or how long it might take but maybe that is searchable on the internet? Wishing you well with your preparations and a happy day for your son’s wedding in December. Love, Janice xx

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Mildred A Alvarez -

My future daughter in law asked for my measurements to have a hanbok made for her wedding. I am afraid it may not fit.

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JANICE HORTON -

The hanbok is not a closefitting outfit – the shoulder and chest measurements for the jacket and the skirt length I’d say are the most important to note. I hope you enjoy wearing your hanbok and congratulations on your son’s wedding in South Korea. I’m sure it will be fabulous. Janice xx

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Mildred A Alvarez -

Thank you for your reply. Looking forward to wearing the traditional dress!

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julie -

I am attending my son’s weddingin korea inApril and not sure what ihaveto do. Any help gratefully appreaciate

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JANICE HORTON -

Julie – congratulations on your son’s marriage! April is a beautiful time for a wedding in South Korea. You have nothing to worry about regarding the ceremony as Korean people are so nice and so proud of their traditions and culture that they will be very happy to help and advise you. So don’t hesitate to ask what might be expected of you to do. Have a wonderful and special time. xx

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alida jansen -

thanks so much, comeing back to me, i feel more at ease after what you told me, yes we are so exited, we waited a long time, for happiness for our son, of 33years. I will for sure let u know, how everything went, it is good to know there is a mother of the groom, that went through the same, may your son be very happy in his marriage, and that your daughter in law cherish him. be blessed. alida

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Alida Jansen -

so glad, to read a bit about the wedding, me and my husband are from South Africa, and our son is marrying his korean girl in the city Seoul, it is very new to us, and i will like to know all do”s and don”ts , what to suspect at the wedding. he is a year there, also teaches english, i send my measurements to my future daughter in law, i know that i have to wear the hanbok, the marriage is in February 2019, will appreciate your experience of it there. Alida

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JANICE HORTON -

Hi Alida – how excited you must be about your son’s wedding and congratulations to the bride and groom. Seoul is an incredible city – international and cosmopolitan. February will be cold in South Korea but I’m sure you’ll no doubt find the hospitality and people warm and welcoming. I felt it was such an honour and a privilege to wear the traditional hanbok and I’m sure you’ll feel the same way. Tradition and culture is very important to Korean people – there is a lot of low bowing to show respect to all parties. But you really don’t have to worry about not knowing what to expect or what to do as they will very kindly direct you in their wedding expectations and procedures. Enjoy your fabulous Korean wedding experience!

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