The Filipino Wedding Traditions and Customs
The Philippines is dubbed the only Christian country in Asia. Ninety percent are Christians but there are several sectors of the Christian community. However, when we talk about weddings, most Christian sectors do have similar ceremonial traditions and customs.
Although there had been several modifications or shall we say variations because of the influence of different cultures, the basic elements of a Filipino wedding are still alive.
Why is that so? This is because, in a Christian wedding, Christ is the main center. The wedding ceremony reflects the way the couple commits to how a family is designed by Christ. Every part of the ceremony has meaning and interpretation. Let's look into these things.
But way before the wedding, traditions already come into play. Marriage proposals as what we call "Pamanhikan" or the parental proposal where the man and his family come to the bride's home bringing food and ask for the woman's family's consent on the matter.
Once the parents and the entire family approve, they can then talk about everything about the wedding, finances, roles, dates, and others. On the wedding day, these are the traditions and customs.
White is a sign of purity. It has been designed that the bride is pure before the wedding. The veil is there as a sign that the bride is modest, this also claims to keep the bride safe from the evil elements.
It is a belief in the country that if a bride fits her wedding dress before the wedding, there's a huge possibility that the wedding will not pursue. So most brides would just wear it on the wedding day.
It is a custom for both the soon bride and groom to be separated before the wedding day. It means enjoying their time being single together with their family.
This continues up to the church where the groom arrives an hour before the ceremony basically to welcome guests and entertain their families who start arriving at the church. Usually, the groom stands just at the church door as he greets the guests. But there's a greater meaning about this, the groom arrives early and awaits the bride as a sign of how Christ has been our covenant initiator.
As the ceremony starts, the bride gets out of the car and takes her time for the bridal march. This will be the only time that the groom sees the bride once again.
There's a belief that the couple needs guidance and support in their new venture so the sponsors are there to assist them in their relationship, pray for them and provide them Christian-based advice and support them may it be in counseling or even to the point of the finances.
Individuals who are selected as their sponsors become a huge part of their lives, they don't just appear to be witnesses during the event but they are considered their godparents too.
During the Filipino wedding ceremony, there are certain ritual objects which has important symbols as the couple starts their married lives.
Unity coins - Pieces of either gold or silver coins wrapped in a bag symbolize that the groom can support and look after his wife. More importantly, it is a sign of good luck.
Candles - Two candles stand beside the groom and the bride while a bigger candle is at the center. During the ceremony, these two smaller candles stay lit and the center candle will be lit up by both the groom and the bride.
This is a symbol of coming together for both parties, uniting themselves and giving their light to Christ who is the center of their marriage.
However, there's also another belief that if ever one of the candles goes out during the ceremony, it can be understood that the individual dies before the other.
Veil and Cord - The veil and cord have a huge part in the unifying of the two bodies. The bride and groom are now being tied together. The veil embodies that they are now one together in holy matrimony.
On the other hand, the cord which has the shape form of the number 8 can be illustrated as infinity. That they are bound together for infinity, for forever. The cord loops are placed into each other to the everlasting fidelity of the couple, the Christian family has been designed that way by Christ, to become one until death do they part.
Bible and Wedding Rings -Wedding Rings are their sign of love and faithfulness. When a person has a ring in his hand, it means he or she has already committed her life to someone, in short, he or she is already married, fully submitted, and devoted to his or her partner.
The Bible as well is not just a symbol but a necessary item for the couple's marriage to be focused and guided by the love of Christ who had unified them.
There are four important events that should occur after the wedding ceremony at the church.
Releasing of Doves - Two white doves specifically are released by the couple as a sign of harmony and peace. These doves can be caught by any of the participants of the wedding and can be kept with them too.
Cake and Wine - The couple will then share their sweet and bitter experiences in life. The cake stands for the sweet ones while the wine for the bitter ones. It makes their wedding theory vows for better or for worse into action.
Money Dance - To help the couple to get their marriage life started, they'll have the dance floor, a slow dance to give the guests, and their sponsors time to pin their monetary gifts to each couple. The pinned envelopes or even real money will be kept by the maid of honor.
Opening of Gifts - Tradition has it that the couple selects the biggest and the smallest gifts. They will be opening the gifts in front of everyone.
There might be weird traditions listed here and some of you might feel like some are not necessary but that's how the Filipino traditional wedding usually happens. If you get invited to a Filipino wedding, expect any of the above list to happen one way or another.
Let me know your thoughts, and also share your traditions and customs during weddings too!
Check out my previous articles as well:
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