M&A's Paebaek: A Korean Pre-Wedding Ceremony. Bolger Center, Potomac, MD.
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Friday, August 15, 2014
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The day before M&A’s Persian-Korean wedding at Potomac, Maryland’s Bolger Center, family of the bride & groom gathered for a Korean pre-wedding ceremony called the “Paebaek.” This was a first not only for me as M&A’s Korean wedding photographer, but also for our Persian groom, and even for A., who, despite her Korean heritage, had never before witnessed a paebaek, much less been the center of attention in one! Originally, the purpose of the paebaek was to introduce the groom’s family to the bride, and for the bride to pay her respects to her new family, with whom she would live. Of course, nowadays, since newlywed couples don’t usually live with the groom’s parents, today’s paebaek ceremony typically includes both the groom’s family and the bride’s family.


And so, M&A, both adorned in traditional Korean wedding garb called “hanbok,” performed a series of bows to parents and elder family members seated on cushions in front of a painted screen. Parents and elders, after drinking tea, give their bit of advice and best wishes to the couple, ending by throwing chestnuts and dates (symbolizing male/female children), which the couple tries to catch with the bride’s wedding “skirt.” The number of dates and chestnuts caught is supposed to indicate the number of children the couple will have!


But my favorite part of this Potomac, Maryland Paebaek ceremony? The piggyback riding at the end!


Want a professional wedding photographer who might just be more excited than you about the interesting cultural elements of your multi-cultural wedding?

During the Korean pre-wedding paebaek, the bride & groom and parents/elders are positioned on opposite sides of a low table that is decorated with dried fruits and nuts. Usually, the table includes dates (so that the couple rises early and works hard), chestnuts (to thwart evil spirits), dried meats and sweet things (so that the mother-in-law welcomes her son’s bride with generosity and kindness), and gingko nuts (such that the groom has eternal faith).

M’s mom and dad throw chestnuts and dates at the couple, signifying the number of children they’d like to see.  How many did M&A catch at their pre-wedding paebaek?!!

Towards the end of the paebaek wedding ritual, the groom places a date in his bride’s mouth, and they kiss, each biting off half. Legend says that whoever bites off the seed will have the power!

The piggybacking at the end of the paebaek wedding tradition is for the groom to show off his strength!


I love photographing ethnic weddings because of all of the fun and interesting traditions!

Posted In: Korean Weddings, Wedding Photos, Weddings.

Tags: bolger center, ethnic weddings, korean wedding, korean wedding photographer, maryland, photographer, potomac, wedding, wedding photographer
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