Traditional Korean weddings are based around and centered on traditional Confucian values. Every aspect of the wedding, from the arrangement of the marriage to the ceremony and post celebrations, had important and elaborate steps to go along with them. In traditional Korean culture, like many traditional cultures, marriage between a man and a woman were decided by the bride and grooms elders. As in Confucian values family and the customs of a family is placed above all. Marriage is considered the most important passage in one's life. This is not only the union between two individuals but two families. Additionally, a marriage was a way, particularly among elite families, of developing and/or maintaining a social status. For these reasons, a significant amount of time was spent in preparation before finally performing the actual wedding ritual.
The first step is called the Eui hon, or ‘matchmaking’, this is when both the bride and grooms families discuss the possibility of marriage. Various factors are taken into consideration such as: social status, personality, appearance, academic and/or agricultural (industrial) achievements, as well as material harmony as predicted by a fortuneteller."In general the Eui hon is determined when the bridegroom-side sends a proposal letter of marriage and the bride-side sends a reply letter which permits this marriage." Once the response from the bride is sent back to the groom, if agreed, the groom then sets up a date for the ceremony. This second step is called Napchae, or ‘date setting’. The grooms year, month, day, and hour (according to the lunar calendar), which is known as Saju, is written on a paper and wrapped in bamboo branches and tied with red and blue thread. Lastly, the package is wrapped with a red and blue cloth and sent to the brides family. The birthdate of the groom is sent to a fortuneteller which sets the date based on the Saju. That date is then sent back to the groom.
The last step in pre-ceremonial traditions is called the Napp’ae, or exchanging valuables. Once the date is set the groom then sends a box to the bride which is known as a Ham. In the Ham there is typically three items. The Hanseo, the Ch’aedan, and the Honsu. Of the three the most important is the Hanseo, or marriage papers. This is given to the bride in dedication to wed only one husband. The wife is expected to keep this paper forever; upon death the papers are buried with the wife as well. The Ch’aedan is a set of red and blue cloths which is used to make clothes. The red and blue is a representation of the Yin/Yang philosophy. Lastly the Honsu, is a variety of other gifts given to the brides family. This can include household goods, jewelry and clothes.