As the only country in the world that has not legalized divorce, the Philippines goes all out during wedding festivities. Whether you’re from the Philippines or you want to incorporate Filipino wedding traditions in a different setting, this culture has beautiful beliefs and customs around marriage.
With some of these marriage celebrations lasting up to three days, many modern couples are choosing to honor their love in a Western fashion while personalizing their events with Filipino traditions.
If you and your significant other are thinking about hosting a traditional Filipino wedding but are unfamiliar with the customs of this Southeast Asian country, have no fear!
We’re here to help with our list of wedding rituals from the Philippines!
What Are Wedding Traditions in the Philippines?
Filipino wedding customs are greatly influenced by the country’s history as a Spanish colony for over three hundred years. Many of these cultural practices are shared with Mexican ceremonies and receptions as well.
Find a Filipino marriage tradition for your romantic celebration today!
Attend the Pamamanhikan
The Pamamanhikan, roughly translated as “climbing in love” from Tagalog, is a Philippine wedding tradition that involves the families of the bride and groom.
The groom visits the bride and asks her family for a blessing towards their traditional Filipino wedding while bringing food and other gifts.
This practice is most popular among rural communities. The Pamamanhikan isn’t required to host a Filipino marriage celebration but many suburban and urban couples use this time to formally begin the planning process.
Choose Your Sponsors
During the wedding planning process, Filipino couples will honor the important guests invited to their special name by naming them as Principal or Secondary Sponsors.
Principal Sponsors are usually part of the bridal procession and hold their hands during the prayer of blessing.
Your Secondary Sponsors are involved with lighting the unity candle, adorning the veil and cord, and giving the 13 coins.
The number of Filipino wedding sponsors varies from couple to couple. You can choose immediate family members or your aunts and uncles for this role.
Light The Unity Candle
After a couple exchanges their vows during a traditional Filipino wedding, their mothers or another close family member lights two separate flames.
These family candles are passed off to the Filipino bride and groom. They will light the candle of unity together as a symbol of their families coming together as one.
Unlike other wedding traditions in the Philippines, the practice of lighting the unity candle is not rooted in Christianity. Many couples still interpret the flame as a representation of the Holy Spirit.
Adorn The Veil and Cord
When guests attend Filipino wedding ceremonies, they usually remember this heartwarming tradition.
The godparents of the couple will drape a lace veil over the groom’s shoulder and the bride’s head. A white cord, known as a yugal, is then wrapped around them in the shape of a figure eight.
These practices symbolize the eternal bond of the couple while showing how their individual lives are coming together as one.
Give 13 Coins
The exchanging of 13 coins is one of the Filipino wedding traditions that is still practiced among contemporary couples.
Known as the Arrhae, the coins are typically made out of gold and silver. A priest blesses the money as a symbol of Jesus Christ and his 12 apostles.
A Filipino bride typically receives these coins from her spouse as a sign of prosperity towards their future relationship.
Wear Traditional Attire
If you and your significant other have talked about planning a traditional Filipino wedding, your attire should also reflect the culture of this Southeast Asian country.
Although Western fashion has grown in popularity among the younger generations, a Filipino bride typically wears a baro’t saya. This ensemble involves a lightweight blouse, scarf, long skirt, and overskirt.
When attending Filipino weddings, grooms usually wear a barong tagalog. This embroidered tunic is made of pineapple fibers and is usually styled with an undershirt and dark pants.
Incorporate Filipino Words
The languages spoken throughout the Philippines have been greatly influenced by the country’s history as a Spanish and American colony. Tagalog has become one of the easiest languages for native English speakers to learn!
If you’re organizing a traditional Philippine wedding, get creative by incorporating some Filipino words into your decorations. Replace your table numbers with isa, dalawa, tatlo, and so on!
For Filipino couples who are writing their own vows to each other, feel free to embrace this Southeast Asian language.
Include the word “kilig” to describe the excitement that you feel around your significant other. Substitute “maganda” for beautiful or “tinatangi” for cherished one. “Dayang” is a great word to use in place of “darling.”
Decorate With Sampaguita
When finalizing the floral arrangement for your Filipino marriage festivities, don’t think twice about including the Philippine national flower.
Also known as the Arabian Jasmine, the Sampaguita symbolizes good fortune and purity. This simple yet striking flower will definitely contrast well with the other colors of your wedding palette as simple centerpieces, hanging decorations, and more!
The Sampaguita is known for having a distinct aroma so make sure that none of your wedding guests will be bothered by the fragrance.
Plan A Money Dance
When it comes to weddings in the Western world, newlyweds have their first dance together with a romantic song as background music.
A traditional Filipino wedding will involve a money dance instead. Male guests will pin dollar bills on the bride while female attendees will do the same for the groom.
In the same way as the 13 coins, this Filipino marriage practice symbolizes how the newlyweds will thrive in their marriage together.
Serve Filipino Food
A Filipino wedding reception, known as the Handaan, isn’t complete without serving the local food. You have plenty of options whether you’re hosting an intimate nuptial or a larger celebration.
Even if your guests have never attended Filipino nuptials before, they’ll definitely enjoy every minute of eating adobo.
This savory meal is typically served as white rice and boneless chicken thighs cooked with soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and bay leaves. Feel free to substitute the chicken with other meats like pork, turkey, and more for your Filipino marriage celebration.
Pancit is another common dish that is served for the guests of a Filipino bride and groom. This tasty meal consisting of glass noodles, celery, carrots, and onions will definitely win everybody over!
Give your guests the full experience of a traditional Filipino wedding by providing lumpia as an appetizer. These pork spring rolls include black pepper, parsley, and cabbage.
Sinigang never fails as a delicious food for a Filipino wedding reception. This pork soup is prepared with taro, okra, tomatoes, and snake beans in a sour broth!
If you and your spouse are planning a wedding day with Filipino traditions, keep in mind that both of you should be following superstitions. Many of these beliefs originate from colonial influences and native cultures.
In the same way as Mexican wedding traditions, a Filipino bride should not wear pearls with her attire. This superstition originates from the idea that pearls are symbolically the tears of oysters.
While American brides and grooms tend to view rain as bad luck on a wedding day, Filipino couples would see this weather on their wedding day as a sign of prosperity.
For anybody attending a traditional Filipino wedding, guests should be aware that they shouldn’t buy sharp objects for the newlyweds. Knives, scissors, clippers and others are a sign of misfortune.
If a glass is broken, Filipino wedding traditions state that another one must be shattered to cancel out that bad luck.
After the ceremony, a Filipino bride typically walks ahead of her spouse or “accidentally” steps on his foot. This superstition means that she won’t be dominated by her husband throughout their married life.
Request Filipino Music
Bring your Filipino wedding dreams to life by curating your playlist with songs from this Southeast Asian country.
The older members of your wedding party will appreciate listening to classic songs like APO Hiking Society’s “Panalangin.” The title translates to “prayer” and speaks to the appreciation that somebody feels towards their spouse.
If you’re searching for a stripped-down song for your Filipino marriage celebration, Victory Worship has got you covered with “Ligtas.” This track, which means “safety” in English, will echo the Christian faith of you and your significant other.
Moira Dela Torre and Jason Marvin’s “Ikaw At Ako” is a solid choice for any Filipino bride or groom who prefers a contemporary sound over the classics. This sweet song talks about the happiness that a couple experiences after finding each other.
Filipino nuptials are fun and unforgettable for guests of all ages!
Be sure to leave us a comment about the customs that you’ll include during your Filipino wedding ceremony and reception! Filipino wedding culture is rooted in Christianity, so don’t be surprised if you see similar traditions in a Catholic wedding.
Don’t hesitate to tell us about any Filipino wedding traditions that we may have overlooked when creating our list of suggestions!
This page may contain affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we'll earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you.