Filipino Wedding Traditions

Wedding is a very important part of the Filipino culture. That’s why it’s not surprising that many traditions were attached to it. And since the Filipino culture is a sort of a hotpot, our wedding traditions are mixtures of Chinese, Spanish, American, and distinct regional influences.

During our wedding preparations, and even on the wedding itself, we encountered many Filipino wedding traditions. Many of these are logical but some made me scratch my head in wonder.

1. Marriage Proposal

Engagement Ring
(Source: Bridal Guide)

Our wedding preparations began when I asked Lei’s hand for marriage. After five years of boyfriend/girlfriend relationship and subtle hints from Lei, I decided to put our relationship to the next level. With a ring in hand, I proposed to Lei in Sonya's Garden.

I think that the concept of marriage proposal came from the Americans. Since time immemorial, the Filipinos concept of marriage proposal is the pamamanhikan.

2. Pamamanhikan

Pamamanhikan is a very important Filipino wedding tradition since it involves the couple's parents. Even before the Spaniards came to colonize the Philippines, Filipinos practice pamamanhikan. This is where the parents talk about the wedding and, also, of the dowry.

Our parents didn’t talk about the wedding during our pamamanhikan. It turned to be the first meeting between me and Lei’s parents. We brought food, including my father’s special laing. Our pamamanhikan is very important to my mother-in-law because it proved that I’m serious in marrying her daughter.
Since, pamamanhikan is a serious Filipino wedding tradition, couples should prepare for it. Bridal Book has good tips for pamamanhikan.

3. Groom and Bride Not Seeing Each Other Before the Wedding Day
Lei’s mother was aghast when I entered their room in Copacabana Apartment Hotel just few hours before the wedding ceremony. She said that I am not allowed to see my bride because it will bring bad luck to our marriage.

I had no choice that time because I was the wedding coordinator and the groom at the same time. It was my duty to check if the bride and her family were doing fine.

I can’t get my head around this Filipino wedding tradition. Oh well, the deed was done so we'll just wait if “bad luck” will come our way.

This superstition is not unique since many Europeans and Americans follow this prohibition. The source of this wedding tradition is a mystery.

4. Pinning Bills
Lei said that she want the guests to pin bills on our clothes during our first dance. I think that the person who invented this Filipino wedding tradition is very clever. This tradition pits the guests against each other in pinning the highest amount. In short, the newlywed couple wins.

5. Showering the Newlywed Couple with Rice
Filipinos cannot live without rice. We eat it during breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even at merienda. Thus, rice became the symbol of prosperity. Rice is showered to the newlyweds to bring them good fortune.

Our wedding church prohibits this Filipino wedding tradition. A shower of rice, petals, and confetti means paying additional fee. What we did is to use bubbles instead of rice.

6. Veil and Cord Should not Fall to the Ground
The wedding ceremony was interrupted when the matron of honor approached us to prevent the veil from falling off. Good thing that our priest was good-natured and let the interruption pass.

Lei's sister, who is the matron of honor, said that their two aunts never ceased in bugging her about the veil. They said that bad luck will happen if the veil falls. Thanks to my sister-in-law, another reason for bad luck was averted.

7. Plenty and Delicious Food
The Filipino wedding is expected to be a feast. Our pre-Hispanic ancestors celebrated weddings for many days. It is still the same in these modern times. Filipino wedding is the event where the best dishes, especially the secret recipes of the clan, are prepared.

Guests will forget what happened during the wedding ceremony but they will never forget the dishes served during the wedding reception. This is the reason why many couples are more worried about their wedding reception than the more important wedding ceremony. The food must please the VIPs, the relatives, friends and all the guests lest you hear the hushed criticisms.

The issue of food is where Lei and I had a major confrontation. Lei want to save as much money as possible but I want to serve the best dish that we could have. It was balancing act that ended successfully. I'm very glad that the marketing staff of the Chinese restaurant were we held our wedding reception was very understanding. We managed to set a menu that is excellent although we spent a little over the budget.

There are more Filipino wedding traditions that I didn’t include in this post. There’s the breaking of plates (which we never did) to avert bad luck and other superstitions that would either bring good luck or bad luck. Since the space is not enough, I hope you, Dear Reader,  will share the Filipino wedding traditions that you know in the comment box below.

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  1. We also have No. 3 (Chinese tradition) and of course, No. 7. We had No. 5, coloured yellow with tumeric...and sometimes we put in little coins for the kids to scramble and pick...but we do not do that anymore. The church here would not allow as that would make the grounds dirty and they would have to sweep up the mess. I think if my daughter gets married, I would insist on that - and promise I would get someone to sweep it up after everyone has left. We had that at all weddings in the past.

    1. Maybe the church in your place can do what our church is doing. They ask additional fee from couples who want the throwing of rice, petals, etc.

      Now you're thinking of your daughter's marriage. ;-)


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