Philippine, the country is made up of over 7,000 islands with a diverse range of people and customs, there is no one pattern for a Filipino wedding. Individual customs, on the other hand, express a strong sense of family and community. After the country was colonized by the Spanish in the 18th century, Philippines dating wedding traditions in the Philippines became heavily influenced by Catholicism, resulting in today’s Filipino weddings being an interesting blend of Christian ceremonies laced with superstitions and folklore.
Long before the Spaniards arrived, the native wedding was a three-day extravaganza filled with folk rituals such as the blessing of rice grains, the drawing of blood, and the symbolic binding of the couple by cord. While celebrations have become more simplified in recent years, many of these pre-colonial customs have persisted, flavored with more Hispanicized and Americanized traditions. There is no single template for a Filipino wedding because the Philippines is an archipelago of over 7,000 islands home to a diverse range of peoples and cultures. Every unique tradition, however, reflects a strong sense of family and community.
Here are some of the most common wedding traditions in the Philippines.
Historically, there were customs known as bulungan and bayanihan, but Sales explains that neither of those customs is regularly observed by modern couples. Previously, the bulungan was known as the whispering and dealt with budget allocations as well as a discussion between families about how the wedding would be paid for. “This is a dated ritual,” Sales says. Because many modern Filipino weddings are paid for by the couple and not necessarily by the family. This tradition is often established between the couples, along with a budget that works for them.
The ‘whispering’ is more about not telling people what you’re up to and being secretive about your finances so you don’t come across as mabayang or a show off.” In addition, the bayanihan was tasked with performing small and heroic acts in the community in advance of the wedding. Bayanihan, like whispering, has largely fallen out of favor. “This is a dated tradition from a time when wedding planning was more of a family and community task than something you could hire for,” Sales says. “Weddings in the Philippines have become more westernized in recent years. The bayanihan, or community spirit, for kasalans has been more modernized in terms of support and input, rather than doing it yourself.
The parental blessing is a tradition that is still very important in modern Filipino weddings. “Honoring your elders and parents is an important part of the Filipino wedding ceremony. It is usually done during the wedding ceremony with blessings and by giving those people seats of honor throughout the celebration.” According to Sales, seeking parental blessing during the wedding is customary “about accepting who you will marry and also as a sign of respect for your parents It’s commonly done with the man (or raising your parents’ hand to your brow), but for the most part, this is now a hug or kiss before they give you away to your partner “at the wedding ceremony
Formal courtship and engagement, known as Panliligaw and Pamamanhikan in Tagalog, were historically the first official steps in a Filipino wedding. These pre-wedding rituals are less formal in modern Filipino weddings and serve as a general celebration of the impending nuptials between families. “While the pamamanhikan may still be a part of the rituals in the Philippines, particularly in rural communities,” Sales explains, “modern urban couples in the Philippines, the United States, and elsewhere have really modernized this tradition to become more of an engagement celebration between the families.” “Most modern families in the Philippines, the United States, and elsewhere already have relationships with each other’s families, so this tradition has morphed into more of a celebration of the engagement,” as opposed to ” in place of the formal introduction it once was.
Previously, there was often a naming of sponsors at Filipino weddings, but Sales explains that this is no longer the case “What we no longer see is the naming of sponsors for the candle, veil, and cord. This was previously used because they were individuals or couples who helped pay for a portion of the wedding.” However, naming Ninongs and Ninangs is still very common.
The cord and veil are two of the most visually appealing aspects of a Filipino wedding ceremony. “The veil and cord is still a tradition that we see today,” Sales points out. The couple will be draped in a lace veil and white cord during the ritual. “The veil represents oneness and protection for your marriage, whereas the cord represents eternity and unity. This is usually part of the ceremony in which your Ninongs and Ninangs (godfathers and godmothers) participate, and they are usually chosen to help guide your own because of the strength of their marriage.”
Long before the Spaniards set foot on Philippine soil, the native wedding was a three-day event complete with cultural rites such as the blessing of rice grains, the taking of blood, and the symbolic joining of the couple by cord. Many of these pre-colonial practices have now been simplified and flavored with more Hispanicized and Americanized traditions. A traditional Filipino wedding nowadays includes a variety of rituals such as candle lighting, coin blessing, veiling, tying of the nuptial rope, and rice grain flinging. During the candle ritual, the godparents would light the couple’s candles, followed by a larger, central candle as a symbol of oneness. The three candles, on the other hand, serve as a reminder that this is a special occasion.
A three-day ceremony was typically led by a tribal priest or priestess. Their home was the focal point of the wedding ceremony. During the ceremony, the priest would pierce their chests and extract a small amount of blood, which was then placed in a jar and mixed with water. Jane: The bride and groom would invite the priest to their home to perform a blessing that entailed the couple joining their hands over a container. The priest then pricks the bride and groom’s chests and collects their blood in a container. We have a very religious culture, and superstitions are still very important to us.
A tradition known as arras involves exchanging 13 coins during a Filipino wedding ceremony. “The arras is a symbol of providing,” says Sales. “It is typically passed from the groom to the bride as a symbol of prosperity and a promise to provide for one another. While this was traditionally passed from the groom to the bride, it is now being passed from the groom to the bride and back to the groom as a symbol of each other’s commitment to providing for one another. A coin bearer, similar to a ring bearer, usually brings up the coins.”
Couples will frequently light a unity candle together during traditional Filipino wedding ceremonies. “The unity candle represents the coming together of two souls and two families,” says Sales. “The mother or a designated family member light two separate flames or candles. The bride and groom are given two candles to light one unity candle, and then the two flames are blown out.”
Handaan are Filipino wedding receptions. Traditionally, rice cakes were a major part of the reception menu; however, modern Filipino weddings frequently include a variety of foods “Filipino wedding food has been westernized, and couples are simply looking for good food. Some Filipinos continue to honor their Chinese heritage by hosting a Chinese banquet as part of their wedding day, but for the most part, the wedding banquet is similar to what we see at many weddings, with the addition of Filipino desserts. Rice cakes are traded on a regional basis. When completed, the rice cake tradition represents a couple sticking together.”
The first dance of a couple is usually the money dance. Guests use tape or pins to attach money to the newlyweds’ clothes. Guests may pin bills or red envelopes (in the case of Filipino-Chinese families) and small purses filled with money, depending on the region or ethnic group. This is thought to be a way to help newlyweds get started financially.
Rice grains are thrown over newlyweds as they exit the church, symbolizing bounty and rain—commonly interpreted as a sign of good fortune. In some areas, the newlyweds are showered with rice again as they walk through the door of their new home or reception venue. Rice is one of the Philippines’ most important crop staples, and it has a sacred status—in ancient times, weddings were officiated by priestesses holding the couples’ joined hands over a mound of rice grains, which were later cooked and eaten by the newlyweds as their first shared meal.
While wedding cakes are a Western tradition, Filipino brides and grooms will occasionally share their first slice with their parents and elders. This broadens their shared responsibilities and authority over the newlyweds. In some areas, small portions of the wedding dishes are served to deceased relatives in a solemn ceremony held immediately following the wedding feast or the day after the wedding.
Traditional Filipino brides dressed in a Baro’t Saya, a long skirt with a high waist and a cropped box top with puffy long sleeves. Some modern brides still choose to wear traditional attire, in which case the groom will typically wear a Barong Tagalog. Brides in modern weddings are more likely to wear westernized wedding gowns. When it comes to wedding attire, Sales points out one superstition to avoid: “It’s bad luck for the bride to try on her wedding dress before the wedding.”
There are a few other Filipino wedding superstitions to be aware of aside from the bride not trying on her wedding gown. “It’s considered bad luck for siblings to marry in the same year,” says Sales. “Additionally, if the unity candle burns out, the person closest to it will die; don’t give the couple knives or sharp objects as gifts as they symbolize quarrel or bad luck; rain on your wedding day is a sign of prosperity; and don’t drop the ring veil cord or arras as it symbolizes a miserable wedding.” Above all wedding is always a precious ceremony as it is bond two hearts together. So Filipino tries to make everything auspiciously for this ceremony. To meet singles Philippines never forget to wish good luck to the couple!