In the world of weddings, long-held traditions have always been constant in various countries. One of such amazing traditions can be found in filipino weddings. If you are a wedding guest attending a Filipino wedding, there are some filipino wedding traditions that to-be-weds may include on the day.
Traditionally, Filipino weddings are basically a celebration of two families coming together rather than just the two individuals. In fact, it is an impressive fusion of historic and modern customs. The alluring Barong and Filipiniana attire, strong family influence, and traditional Tinikling folk dance are just a few of them. Read on to know about 16 Filipino wedding traditions.
Filipino wedding traditions
Below is a list of 16 Filipino wedding traditions to be detailed in this post.
- Formal Introductions and Negotiations
- Wedding Announcements
- Making Arrangements
- Wedding Preparations
- Filipino wedding ceremony order
- Parental Blessings
- Filipino Wedding Sponsors
- Veil and Cord
- Filipiino wedding dress
- 13 Coins
- Filipino marriage culture
- Candle Ceremony | Unity Candle
- A Shower of Rice
- Rice Cakes
- Sharing of Food
- Wedding Performances
1. Formal Introductions and Negotiations
Formal introductions and negotiations are first on our list of filipino wedding traditions. In Tagalog, it is known as pamamanhikan, and acts as the first official step in a Filipino wedding. It usually takes place months or weeks before the wedding ceremony, and simply involves the groom’s family meeting the bride’s family.
This tradition symbolizes an official proposal to the bride and the bride’s family, thereby combining their families together. Specific traditions may vary by region: some involve playing drinking games and sharing sugarcane wine for the families to get to know each other; some present the bride’s parents with dowry and exchange symbolic items; while some share a small feast together and discuss wedding plans.
2. Wedding Announcements
Next is the wedding announcement. Before filipino weddings, the couple visits the homes of invitees to personally make their wedding announcements and give out official wedding invitations. This filipino wedding tradition is quite important especially when the couple asks prominent figures and elders of their community to be wedding godparents or sponsors, presenting them with small gifts and refreshments.
3. Making Arrangements
Making arrangements for the wedding is known as ‘the Bulungan’, meaning “whispering.” It takes place in the bride’s house and involves the bride and groom’s families (usually their elders) huddling together to quietly make plans, task divisions and budget allocations for the upcoming wedding. This is one of the common Filipino wedding traditions and the arrangements are all conducted with everyone whispering, so as to not attract bad spirits and misfortune.
4. Wedding Preparations
After making all necessary arrangements, the wedding preparations take place a day before the wedding and focuses on the Filipino concept of bayanihan, which involves performing small, heroic acts for the good of the community. Many in the bride and groom’s families and community can volunteer with cooking the wedding dishes, preparing the reception area, and clearing the route for the wedding procession.
However, some specific preparations vary by region, ethnic group, and religion: some hold traditional spiritual ceremonies; some also prepare a special sticky rice cake using specific wooden spoons and placements; while more metropolitan weddings simply hold something similar to a rehearsal dinner where attendees get to know each other.
5. Filipino wedding ceremony order
A number of Filipino wedding traditions are quite assorted with a majority of them being drawn from the Catholic religion. Since roughly 80% of Filipinos are Catholic, it has become customary for Filipino weddings to be held in a Catholic Church. There in the church, a number of rituals and readings take place.
Each ritual signifies the union of two individuals and the important values of marriage. This makes it the most sentimental and intriguing part of a Filipino wedding ceremony order.
6. Parental Blessings
During the wedding ceremony, the couple asks for blessings from their parents by either touching the back of their hands to their foreheads or kissing their hands. Depending on the religion of the families, the parents will utter phrases in return.
7. Filipino Wedding Sponsors
Wedding sponsors is another aspect of filipino wedding traditions that is common. Apart from the bridesmaids and groomsmen, the Filipino wedding includes many more important members that have been a part of the couple’s life. Filipino couples often honor these important guests with the title of Principal Sponsor. The number of sponsors can vary from a single couple to multiple couples and they are invited to join the bride and groom in the prayers of blessing.
8. Veil and Cord
One of the most visually recognizable elements of a Filipino wedding ceremony is the Filipino wedding traditions veil and cord. During the ritual, Godparents drape a ceremonial lace veil over the bride’s head and the groom’s shoulder. This symbolizes being clothed as one and protection for your marriage.
A ceremonial cord called a yugal is wrapped around the bride and groom in figure eight. This symbolizes an eternal bond of fidelity and unity. If the ceremony is Catholic, the yugal is an oversized rosary. If she’s not, then it is often a silken cord personally woven by the mother of the bride.
During this part of the ceremony, the couples Ninongs and Ninangs (godfathers and godmothers) are usually chosen to participate because of the strength of their marriage to help guide the new couple.
- 13 Coins
Also known as arras, the 13 coins is a tradition of exchanging 13 coins during a Filipino wedding ceremony. The arras is a symbol of providing and is usually handed from the groom to the bride as a symbol of prosperity.
In the past, it basically involved passing the 13 coins from the groom to the bride. However, it is now being passed from the groom to the bride and back to the groom as a symbol of each other’s oath to provide for each other. The coins are usually brought up by a coin bearer or ring bearer.”
Depending on the region, the 13 coins or arras are either handed over individually by the wedding sponsors and godparents, tucked into a handkerchief, or trickled from the groom’s hands into the bride’s cupped palms. The coin ceremony is one of the filipino wedding traditions inherited from Spain and is common in both Hispanic and Catholic wedding ceremonies around the world.
10. Filipiino wedding dress
Filipino traditional wedding dresses are quite unique! The Filipiniana is often a two-piece dress with enormous butterfly sleeves. It is worn by the bride and is made with fine quality fabrics, vibrant colors, and impeccable embroidery. Over the years, modern Filipino wedding dresses have evolved into the elegant white gowns often seen at weddings, but with a slight resemblance to the Filipiniana. The majority of Filipino brides choose white gowns with smaller butterfly sleeves and elaborate embroidery.
Filipino Groom Attire | Barong Tagalog
The filipino attire for the groom is commonly known as the Barong, a traditional Filipino shirt that is expected to also be worn by the male family members at formal events. Barongs are commonly lightweight, handmade, and embroidered along the front in a U-shape pattern. They are also casually worn untucked and over an undershirt.
11. Filipino marriage culture
Just like many other cultures, Filipino marriages are dedicated to celebrating the new Mr. and Mrs. Family. Afterward, friends join the newlyweds for a night of delicious foods, emotional speeches, and infinite memories.
There cannot be a Filipino wedding without Filipino food. Although there is no set menu for Filipino weddings, a Filipino caterer is selected to make tasty dinners as a treat for wedding guests. Longganisa, Lechon, and Kaldereta are just a few options for a tasty dinner.
Filipino Money Dance
The Money Dance is also known as The Apron Dance or The Dollar Dance. This filipino marriage tradition is a fun one that many cultures choose to include during their reception. It begins with the DJ asking the men and women to line up in separate lines, grab a pin, and wait for their turn to dance with the bride and/or groom.
Money is received during the dances and it is perceived as a sign of good fortune and financial assistance as they begin their journey as husband and wife.
Filipino Folk Dances
The rich Filipino marriage culture includes a unique collection of classic dances that pay tribute to Filipino history. These traditional dance performances are commonly included during dinner or at some point throughout the reception. Some of the folk dances include The Sayaw sa Bangko, The Itik-Itik, and The Pantomina.
12. Candle Ceremony | Unity Candle
The candle ceremony or unity candle is the final ritual symbolizing the bonding of two individuals and the two families. The bride and groom couples will often light a unity candle together. The candles exemplify all that the couple is from their past experiences and represent each individual family. On the other hand, the two outer candles represent their individual lives before the wedding day.
Two separate candles are lit by the mothers or the designated family member and then given to the bride and groom to light one unity candle, After that, the two flames are blown out. Together, the bride and groom will light the unity candle, blow out the single candles, and figuratively extinguish their past.
13. A Shower of Rice
Showering rice to the newlyweds is another important part of filipino wedding traditions. As they exit from the church, grains of rice are thrown over newlyweds symbolizing bounty and rain—commonly interpreted as a sign of good blessings.
In some regions, the newlyweds go through another rice shower upon entering the reception venue or the threshold of their new home. In the Philippines, rice is one of the foremost crop staples, and it holds a sacred status—weddings in ancient times were officiated by priestesses holding the couples’ joined hands over a mound of rice grains. The rice will later be cooked and eaten by the newlyweds as their first shared meal.
14. Rice Cakes
During the wedding, the newlyweds are served a small plate of sticky rice cakes or kalamay to symbolize sticking together through their married life. The rice cakes will be wrapped in palm leaves and placed at a table where a chosen bidder—usually a favorite friend or aunt—bids off the rice cakes for them. Sponsors, godparents, and guests drop money into a bowl on the table as the bidder playfully chides them into giving higher amounts. At the same time, the newlyweds give packs of wrapped rice cakes in return for the money.
15. Sharing of Food
Though wedding cakes are more popular in the Western world, a wedding cake may be arranged for a Filipino wedding and the bride and groom would sometimes share their first slice with their parents and elders. This extends the parents and elders their shared guidance and responsibilities over the newlyweds. In some regions, a solemn ceremony occurs immediately to offer little portions of the wedding dishes to deceased relatives immediately after the wedding feast, or the day after the wedding itself.
16. Wedding Performances
Last on our list of Filipino wedding traditions is the wedding performances. In some Filipino weddings, the newlyweds would perform traditional dances such as Pangalay and the Salidsid for their guests. Pangalay is a colorful and elaborate wedding dance performed in some Filipino-Muslim weddings, while Salidsid is a playful courtship dance by the Kalinga people of the Northern Philippines.
And that’s it. The 16 Filipino wedding traditions you need to know. From the Formal Introductions and negotiations to the wedding performances by the bride and groom, Filipino weddings are quite amazing ceremonies.
If you have got any Filipino wedding tradition that interests you the most, let us know in the comment below.