Philippine Traditions: Weddings

The Philippines, I must tell you, has so many wedding traditions and I only realized it at my ma's and da's wedding. Weddings. Our marriages here are mostly God-centered and Love-bound, Fidelity and Monogamy are emphasized because we're mostly a Christian nation. Our Muslim lot do things differently I guess but I wouldn't know because I've never been to a Muslim wedding (will someone please invite me?)

Anyway, there's this thing -- like a marriage proposal thing -- that our traditional lot do. It's called "Pamanhikan" and my clan hosted one a while back when someone asked for my Aunt's hand in marriage. It's very formal, the parents of groom-to-be go to the bride-to-be's house to formally ask for her hand in the presence of well, their families. If it goes well, preparations will be discussed then and there. Here in the Philippines, the whole family is involved in the planning. Because marriage isn't just joining two people, it's joining two clans. Anyway, I like the concept of pamanhikan. It's one of my favorite traditions, aside from harana (serenade), ligaw (courting) and maƱanita (singing early in the morning to birthday boys and girls--adopted from Mexico & Spain, as many of our traditions are). Where are the engagement rings? Well, they weren't that popular before so this came after the reign of pamanhikan.

But before I begin to talk about traditions (too late), it's definitely fitting for you guys to know the requirements of being wed:

  • Legal capacity (Must be single!). Eighteen years old and above (Yay for you forty-somethings!). Male and Female (I'm sorry, people in the inbetween). Without impediment to get married
  • Consent freely given in the presence of solemnizing officer.
  • Authority of the solemnizing officer (only incumbent member of the judiciary; priest, rabbi, imam, or minister of any church or religious sect duly authorized by his church or religious sect and registered with the civil registrar general; ship captain or airplane chief, military commander of a unit to which a chaplain is assigned, in the absence of the latter, during a military operation only in marriages at the point of death; and consul-general, consul or vice-consul only between Filipino citizens abroad are authorized by law to solemnize marriage). Huh. I didn't know that a ship captain and an airplane chief can wed people! But in my mother's case, we asked our Bishop / Spiritual Leader and Family Friend, Rev. Bishop Geneis T. Udang, to do the honors.
  • Attend this Family Planning Seminar. I wonder if mom and dad had to do this. O_O
  • Present the CENOMAR, or the certification of no marriage record. But see, my mother's first marriage was annulled so they had to present this annulment certificate something too. I am not very sure how it all went down, I was at school mostly when they did this.
 Anyway, moving on to the ceremonials!


The Arrhae
The arrhae is a symbol of his "monetary gift" to the bride because it is composed of 13 pieces of gold, or silver, coins, a "pledge" that the groom is devoted to the welfare and well-being of his wife and future offspring. 

The Wedding Candles
It embodies the presence of God in the union. Three candles are lit, one in the hand of the groom, another in the hand of the bride. The third candle represents God. When both the candles of the wed-to-be's are out, God is there to be their light and strength.

The Wedding Veils
This isn't the veil worn by the bride. It's a different veil.
After the ritual of lighting candles, a pair of secondary sponsors known as the veil sponsors will pin the veil(s) on the couple. Two forms of this tradition exist, with either one long, white-coloured veil draped over the shoulder of the groom and above the bride's head, or pinning two separate veils, one on the groom's shoulder and the other on the bride. The veiling ritual signifies the clothing of two individuals who have become one due to the ceremony of marriage.

The Wedding Cord
After the veiling ritual, the pair of secondary sponsors, known as the cord sponsors, will then drape a cord over the shoulders of the groom and the bride. This decorative cord is called the yugal and is customarily shaped or looped to form the figure 8 (or alternately, the infinity sign), to symbolize "everlasting fidelity". Each loop of the cord is placed around the individual neck-and-shoulder area of the bride and the groom.


White Doves
The couple will make two white doves kiss, themselves kissing whilst they do this and release the doves. They symbolize harmony and peace.

Gala - Money Dance
The couple will dance with their guests and the guests will pin cash gifts ob the bride and groom's clothing. It's not so common anymore, but we did it last night at my parent's wedding.

Bouquet and Garter
I'm pretty sure the West has bouquet throwing. I'm not sure about the garter though. Anyway, the lucky guy who manages to catch the garter will put the garter on the gal who managed to bag the bouquet. Last night, we did a little variation. Instead of throwing the bouquet to the mercy of some willing, but mostly unwilling singles, we formed a circle and passed it around until the music stopped. We were unwilling because of the blessing curse belief that's associated with the bouquet. They say the one who catches it will be the next to get hitched. And at eighteen, you can imagine my dread.

Party Favors
Giveaways are given at the reception, given to everyone who came and celebrated with the couple.

Well, I think this is it for the ultimate Philippine wedding experience. We followed most of this and added the Western touch like "Something Old, Something New". My granma--dad's mother--gave mom this ancient 50 years-ish necklace with a simple cross pendant to wear on her wedding day. She wore it to her own wedding with granpa half a century ago. It's so cool. My mother said the first to get married among the three of us will get the necklace. Whee. Abby's not to eager to get married just yet.)


  1. Weddings are really wonderful :) Exchange of vows always make me teary eyed :D

  2. Someday I'll have my own dream wedding with my dream man and that is...

  3. ohh niceee... i didn't even know half of these things. xD



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