The marrige of Kaz and Ilsu
Welcome to the wedding! Our wedding took place at the Korea House in Seoul a favorite spot where traditional Korean weddings often occur. The building shown below was constructed in the general architectural style of the Joseon dynasty and in particular a design influenced by the Jagyungjun Hall of the Kyongbokgoong Palace. The building was once the private home of Bak Paeng-nyun a famous scholar-politician. Within the house there are many rooms, an extensive kitchen, dining area and a large garden where the wedding ceremonies are performed.
As the wedding starts we begin the "chinyung" (bridal reception) which is composed of 3 rituals or movements which are collectively called the "chorye".
The first ritual is the Junan-nye where the groom offers a goose to the bride’s family. Historically the groom delivered a live goose to the bride’s family however; today the groom offers a wooden goose as part of the wedding ceremony. Due to the concept that geese mate for life, the goose is symbolic of the pledge made by the groom to be faithful for life.
The next ritual is the Gyobae-rye which traditionally was a very dramatic moment due to the bride and groom having never seen each other. Needless to say it was not as dramatic for us however; getting married was still dramatic. During the Gyobae-rye the bride and groom perform grand ceremonial (big) bows to each other. Due to women being associated with yin and even numbers, and men being associated with yang and odd numbers, the bride bows twice to the groom and the groom bows once to the bride furthermore, the process is repeated one more time.
The next ritual is the Hapgeun-nye where the bride and groom exchange ceremonial toasts to each other using a gourd as the vessel of the toast. The symbolic idea is that the gourd was split in two pieces however due to the bride and groom both passing and drinking from the same gourd halves we symbolically unite both the bride and groom into a single whole being. This is the moment where the bride and groom stand and face the audience as husband and wife.
The next two pictures zoom in on the front door with the banner announcing our wedding.
A little closer …
The sign translates as: "Our beautiful vintage home welcomes and congratulates you on your wedding."
Here is the video of the entire Korean Traditonal Wedding.
Here are the traditional corsages that are donned by the parents of the bride and groom. Unfortunately my parents were too elderly to make the trip and Ilsu’s father passed away so her mother was the only parent present. However, Ilsu’s father was represented by her cousin Hongee as a surrogate.
Here is a pre-wedding shot of the happy groom.
And here is the pre-wedding photo of the beautiful bride and two of the bride's maids.
The shot below is of the wedding band knockin out some beautiful traditional Korean wedding music.
Before we continue with the wedding ceremony, let me first talk about the picture below and the man in the yellow on my left. I first met him in the dressing room of the “Korea House” as I was putting on the wedding shoes, coat and hat. There were no wedding practices or rehearsals and this man told me in his broken English that he would run through the whole thing with me once. Just once?... my heart started to pound a little faster as I imagined the embarrassment of fouling up the whole wedding. As I was starting to sweat he broke my catatonic stare by saying, “All you need know is big bow and little bow. He then clasped his hands together, bent over a tad and made a motion with his arms as to draw a giant circle in the air starting below his waist, then out in front of his shoulders, then over his head, then below his chin and finally he went to his knees with his unclasped hands on the floor in front to balance him as he put his head on the floor. He then stood up putting his hands on his knees to adjust his composure. He then said in a very confident voice, “That is big bow and now for little bow.” For the little bow he when through the beginning motions of the big bow drawing the circle in the air however afterward, he brought his clasped hands to his waist and bent ninety degrees from the wait and then back up straight. I knew these moves already from a student experience with a monk who is a friend of Ilsu’s and I. However, I must admit, it was good to practice some more.
He then took me outside to the garden where the wedding ceremony would take place and he ran through the thing just once (like he said) explaining it to me and my groomsmen. Fortunately one of the groomsmen spoke a bit of English and we tried repeating it over and over to drill it into our heads.
You can not see the “Wild Goose Steward” in the following picture however, he just handed me the “Wild Goose” which you can see in my hands. Furthermore, you may also notice an appreciative glance that I passed in his direction. My procession then continued on to a spot symbolic of the bride’s house where I sat the goose down.
After I gingerly placed the goose down in front of me, I gave the goose a big bow to honor my pledge of fidelity. After I performed the bow, Ilsu’s Mother stepped out of the shadows, picked up the goose and disappeared whence she came.
The following picture shows my procession and I leaving the area where I offered the goose. What I did not realize was that Ilsu and her procession came out of the shadows and followed me for a few steps and then when behind the stage to where she was to begin her part of the Gyobae-rye. I continued to the spot where I was to begin my part of the Gyobae-rye. (Ceremonial bows)
Before Ilsu and I started the Gyobae-rye we were required to wash our hands with the help of the Bridesmaids. After I washed and dried my hands (with the help of the bridesmaids which are my sister in-laws), I slowly spun around to face the crowd and took a little bow.
The following picture is taken from Ilsu’s side of the stage across the Chorye-sang. (Wedding table) The wedding table included the following essential items: Red and blue candlesticks, a rooster, a hen, a bamboo branch, a pine branch, red beans and black beans, chestnuts and jubilees. Everything on the table has symbolic meaning for example the Hen and Rooster are symbolic of fertility therefore the married couple should be prolific. Furthermore on each side of the table are smaller tables that hold a gourd decorated with red and blue thread as well as a bottle of wine. The two pretty ladies in the picture are my sister in-laws – on my right is Kyongsook the wife of my new brother Daegee and on my left is Ilsu’s sister, Okkee.
The following photo gives you my vantage point of the wedding however, I was too nervous and focused on my part to look around much.
The next picture gives you the vantage point of Ilsu where she said her thoughts were of losing her place in the Min family and her new status of not being single.
The next picture gives you an overview of the garden where the wedding is taking place. I would like to point out that the “master of the ceremony” is the man in the grey attire with the tall hat.
The following picture is taken from my side of the stage across the Chorye-sang. (Wedding table) looking at Ilsu while the bridesmaids are preparing the Hapgeun-nye (ceremonial toasts).
The next four photos are shot during the Hapgeun-nye (ceremonial toasts). It is during this ritual that we are being bonded together into one being. The drinking from the two halves of a whole gourd symbolizes the bonding of two individuals into one whole being. It is at this moment that we are being married.
In the photo below you can see us being presented to the crowd. At this moment the master of the ceremony says, “I present to you these two people are now a couple!” … Wow! We are married!
AND THE CROWD GOES WILD … Ok … not really … however it was an exciting moment for us.
The wedding was over and now time to take pictures of the family and friends. The following picture is of the entire family for which I am honored of their presence.
The following picture is of the immediate family.
On the top row from left to right: Ilsu’s brother Daegee; Ilsu’s sister’s husband Jung Joong Ook; and Ilsu’s brother Soolgee;
Next row down from left to right: Daegee’s wife Kyong Sook; Ilsu; myself; Soolgee’s wife Eun Hee; Okkee’s oldest daughter So Young; Ilsu’s sister Okkee.
Next row of munchkins with grandma: Daegee and Kyong Suk’s son Kyong Bien and their daughter Chae Young; Grandma; Soolgee and Eun Hee’s two sons Kyong Jin and Kyong Young; and finally Okkee’s youngest daughter Soo Min
The next picture is of Ilsu and I posing with Ilsu’s Oldest cousin Hongee who was gracious enough to sit in for his father who was to be the surrogate for Ilsu’s father during the wedding ceremony.
The following picture was of our friends who were at the wedding. Everyone in the picture is a friend of Ilsu except the one western man who was my friend that I met in McDonalds three days previous. (See the Seoul Insa Dong section)
It seems the wedding ceremony is not quite over yet, there is one more tradition to be upheld. The next part of the wedding ceremony is called the Pyebaek. The Pyebaek traditionally was a part of the wedding where the parents of the groom meet with the bride on the following morning after the wedding. However, these days the ritual is done immediately after the wedding. Unfortunately, my family could not attend so we improvised the best we could. Generally the bride gives deep ceremonial bows to the grooms parents and family. What Ilsu and I did was give ceremonial bows to her brothers and sisters.
The photo below is of Ilsu’s mother sitting at the table where my family would have sat had they been there. The empty seats in the photo are the places for Ilsu and me to sit.
The following picture is where Ilsu and I exchanged deep ceremonial bows to Ilsu’s brothers and sisters.
The following photo is of Ilsu’s mother with Ilsu and I at the table with the bride's family offering to my family. You may notice all the food on the table is an offering to my family had they been there.
The picture below is a part of the Pyebaek ritual where the parents throw jubilees into the brides scarf symbolizing the number of children we are to bring into the world. (There were seven ... ha!)
The next photo is of Ilsu and I leaving the Pyebaek ritual room to go outside for our trek to the dinning hall.
The next photo is of Ilsu and me posing after the Pyebaek.
The wedding is over and the next three pictures show Ilsu and I strolling over to the dining area for the wedding lunch provided by the Korea House for all who attended the wedding.
I love the winter bamboo
Here I am basking in the afterglow of the wedding.
The next two shots are of my beautiful bride.
I wanted a closer shot of my new wife so I grab the camera and shot this one.
You may have wondered why the groom’s hat in the wedding ceremony has such a tall cylinder on top of it. Traditionally men had long hair and tied it up on top of their head, and thus interfere with the hat if it were not for the cylindrical cavity on top.
It happens that I have very long hair as well furthermore; if I would have worn my hair in the normal style of the twenty first century pony tail then my hair would have interfered with the wedding hat as well. Therefore, I was all in favor of the wedding hair stylists tying my hair up in the traditional Joseon fashion. Ilsu said that it would be fine but that I should take it down after the wedding because it looked goofy. If you know me, then you already know that I am naturally goofy so a sumo style hairdo is not out of character. However, Ilsu told me that she wanted it taken it down.
After the wedding festivities, Ilsu and I went back over to the hairstylists to take the hair down. The hairstylists delivered an argument and convinced her that it looked great and that I should wear it the rest of the day. They got there way and I continued with my hairdoo throughout the day. There were a few people who told me that I looked like Steven Cigar. In fact when we were at the Sheraton for the honey moon many folks walked by and gave me the thumbs up. Hey I can dig it!
Here is the family chowing down at the wedding lunch … It looks like Soolgee wants to take a photo of me taking a photo of him.
When I first met Ilsu I noticed that she and her friends always gave the “V” victory sign with their hands when they posed for a picture. I guess it’s a Korean thing … anyway … the following picture is of the darling little Chaeyoung giving us the “V” victory sign while we were at the Sheraton Hotel having coffee with the family.
The Sheraton is where Ilsu and I spent our first honeymoon night, a gracious treat from Daegee and Kyongsook. The Sheraton Walkerhill Hotel overlooks the Han River, is located on an ancient Silla Dynasty fortress in Seoul, and I am told is one of the finest Hotels in Korea. (I am not going to argue)
Ilsu says that she hates the following picture because the traditional hair style makes her look ugly … gimme a break … I think she looks great so I vetoed her.
Here is a family picture at the Sheraton after our coffee excursion
Here is a shot of the Han river looking west from our room at the Hotel
The honeymoon trip would take us to Yang Yang, Sokcho, Andong and Kyongju however, we spent our first night of the honeymoon at the Sheraton Walkerhill with Dinner and a show. We went down from our room to the dinner theater and was given one of the two best tables in the house, right up front almost on the stage. The first show was a traditional Korean dancing and drumming skit that was overwhelming in its beauty. The drumming, dancing, all the spectacular choreography, the stage design itself, beautifully colored fans coordinating the stunning silk clothes to the stage and the composition and use of color within the aural/visual design … It was a spine shivering world class experience. It was during this first show that I sat amazed at how lucky and fulfilled my life has been … how is it that I have been to be able to experience something of this magnitude? … coming to Korea to marry the girl I love and to experience its wonderful culture in all its splendor … What a lucky and grateful man am I!
Festivities and Wedding Min Ilju and Kazmier Maslanka
Festivities and Wedding Min Ilju and Kazmier Maslanka
If you have any questions or comments I would be happy to answer them. You can contact me by the link below.