Time for the traditional Filipino wedding. So, you’ve finally had her say yes. Both of you are already ready for a married life. But it isn’t an easy-peasy thing. After all, the proposal was just the beginning. Filipinos are known for being excessively family-oriented. A traditional Filipino wedding basically revolves around being able to meet and talk with each other’s relatives. In the Philippines, family and relatives can also be hands-on when it comes to the wedding preparations. Oops.
What is the traditional Filipino wedding?
After the proposal, the man needs to go to the house of the Filipina to formally ask for her hand in marriage. Pamamanhikan is basically introducing yourself to the woman’s parents as her husband-to-be, and asking for their blessings.
If we trace it back in history, it stems from the pre-colonial practice of native Filipinos where the male goes to the female’s house and offers a “dowry” – property, money or other possessions in exchange for their daughter. Thank heavens it is not the case at present anymore.
In pamamanhikan, you just need to present yourself, preferably with your own parents coming along too. This way, both families meet and discuss the wedding plans too. This step is a must before proceeding to any other wedding preparations.
Now that you are already done with the pamamanhikan, it’s time to sit down with your fiancée to discuss the major sponsors and the entire entourage crew. As the Philippines is Catholic in the majority, expect that your wedding ceremony includes an hour-long mass and other rites. Couples carefully pick who among their friends and family will have a special role during the entire ceremony.
Let’s start off with the godparents (ninongs and ninangs). It’s usually 5 godfathers and 5 godmothers who may be your closest uncles and aunts. Next, aside from the usual best man, maid of honor, bridesmaids, etc., there’s also what we call secondary sponsors who are in charge of lighting the candle, putting the veil and cord around you during the ceremony. It’s usually a pair/couple for each object. You can choose from your friends or relatives who are most likely within the same age range as you.
Another ritual object that may not be familiar to you is the arrhae. It is made of 13 gold coins presented in an ornate box, which represents the groom’s promise of prosperity to the bride. Among the ring bearer and flower girls, the arrhae is usually brought in a cushion by a child.
After the church wedding, the newlyweds are expected to release two white doves to symbolize marital harmony and peace. It can be done in front of the church or at the reception venue. The doves are either in their hands or are placed in a cage where a ribbon to be pulled for release is tied.
Another thing to note is the Money Dance. As the couple dawns the stage for their dance, guests can come to the center and pin or tape monetary bills to the clothes of the couple. This tradition is a way of gift-giving for the couple to help them start with their new life.
Lastly, the young women should line up at the back of the bride. She then will throw her bouquet backward and whoever catches it is believed to be the next one to marry. Aside from these traditions, the wedding party can vary with different modern games for the couple and the guests.
A Filipino wedding is more or less the same with a Western one, but there are also a lot of unique customs and traditions to take note of. There are also some ritual objects that may be foreign to you. It’s best if you familiarize yourself with it ahead of time. But if there is one thing, it’s that a Filipino wedding is nothing short of fun with these customs.
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