Filipino weddings have come a long way from the straightforward ceremony they once were.
Before the advent of elaborate events, weddings in the Philippines were far much simpler and less complicated to plan. Today, however, Filipino weddings have evolved, and they are somewhat likened to a production–insomuch that it takes months of meticulous wedding planning just to pull off. However, even with today’s modern wedding trends and social media savvy world, traditional Filipino wedding customs are not lost on contemporary weddings. In fact, one might go as far as to say that weddings in the Philippines are an extraordinary fusion of modern and historic customs nowadays.
Filipinos, in general, are typically family centered. In this regard, events such as weddings are not solely about the couple but are more of a celebration of two families coming together as one. As the Philippines is a predominantly Roman Catholic country, it is inevitable for Filipino weddings to be so deeply ingrained with religious customs. As a result, it is customary for Filipino wedding ceremonies to be celebrated with a mass in a church where many rituals and readings take place. The act itself is somewhat symbolic as it signifies bringing and presenting your spouse-to-be before God. Each wedding ritual corresponds to an important value in marriage and the union of two individuals making a Filipino wedding one of the most intriguing and sentimental weddings in the world. After tying the knot at the church, Filipino weddings are typically followed by a grand reception where wedding guests are invited to partake in a grand feast.
On the whole, Filipino weddings are a mishmash of family, food and uninterrupted merrymaking. It is one of the Filipino events that call to mind just how deep Filipino values go and how incredibly tight-knit Filipino families are. So, if you are planning a traditional Filipino wedding or are attending one, here are some of the things you might easily notice:
Filipino weddings have an entourage much like any other wedding in the world. However, apart from the bridesmaid and groomsmen, Filipino weddings include wedding sponsors. These individuals are carefully selected by the couple to bear witness to their wedding ceremony. In the same way, these are the individuals who the couples look up to and may seek guidance and marriage advice from.
Aside from Principal Wedding Sponsors, Filipino Weddings also include four Secondary Sponsors (coin, candle, cord, veil) –all of which have a significant meaning. The number of sponsors can vary from a single to multiple couples depending on the bride and groom. During the ceremony, they are then invited to join the bride and groom in the prayers of blessing.
Exactly 13 Arras, or coins, are carried in a pouch and brought to the altar by the coin sponsors. This is then blessed by the presiding priest for the groom to gift his bride. This is symbolic in a way that the groom promises he will look after her and their future family’s welfare. Back in the day, the custom was that the promise is made solely by the groom.
However, modern couples tend to be mutually supportive in these days and as a result, both can make the promise. Contemporary weddings see the coins as an emblem of the bride and groom’s future children and before the church, the couple promises their love and care.
The Catholic Veil ceremony symbolizes two bonded individuals recognized as one. Veil sponsors are tasked with draping the veil over one side of the bride’s head and the other side just over the groom’s shoulder. This represents the couple’s unity as well as a wish for their protection and good health in their life as a wedded couple.
The catholic cord ceremony comes right after the veil ceremony. Similar to the veil ceremony, the Yugal or infinity shaped cord is placed on top of the couple by the cord sponsors as the couple receives their blessing. This symbolizes the couple’s bond and union.
The lighting of the unity candle is the last and final ritual. It symbolizes the bonding of two individuals and the union of two families. The two outer candles that are to be lit symbolizes their individual lives before their wedding day. It exemplifies the past experiences of the bride and groom and represents each individual family.
Together, both bride and groom (or the candle sponsors) will light the unity candle and then blow them out to demonstrate a figurative end of their past and the start of new beginnings.
While the money dance’s origins come from Poland, it is a prevalent practice and custom in Filipino weddings. During the wedding reception, wedding guests line up to pin money to the bride’s dress or groom’s suit and dance with either of them. This is symbolic of the showing of fortune on the newlyweds. At some weddings, this marks the start of the dancing portion of the wedding reception.
Traditional Filipino wedding dresses are distinct and quite unique–even with their modern iterations. Filipiniana dresses are often marked by their rather sizeable puffed or butterfly sleeves. Like any other wedding, it is customary that the bride should wear a white gown made with fine quality fabrics and intricate embroidery. However, modern weddings have compelled brides to wear modern iterations of the traditional Filipino wedding gown.
In lieu of the elaborate two-piece Filipiniana wedding dress, modern Filipino brides have opted for something that is much less extravagant but nonetheless, just as extravagant (depending on the bride’s preference).
In Filipino weddings, grooms typically wear the Barong Tagalog which is a traditional Filipino shirt commonly worn by male family members at formal events including weddings. Barong Tagalogs are still a favored staple among many Filipino weddings as they look formal without being stuffy. More importantly, it is lightweight and embroidered along the front in a U-shape pattern making it an appropriate attire for weddings. It is casually worn untucked over a white undershirt by the groomsmen and even the groom himself.
While weddings signify the union of a couple, attending them is also an opportunity to be thoughtful about the traditions you are incorporating into your union and the new chapter in life. As an attendee, it is an avenue to observe the wedding traditions commonly practiced as well as witness a couple’s love story.