Wedding traditions in the Philippines became heavily influenced by Catholicism after the country was colonised by the Spanish in the 18th Century, meaning nowadays, Filipino weddings are an interesting combination of Christian-ceremonies dotted with superstitions and folklore.
To find out how this culture celebrates its traditions, I spoke with Jane Khouri, a first generation Filipino woman to shed some light and explain the origins on some of the more common customs.
1. They Know How to Party with a 3-Day Long Wedding Celebration
Jane: Traditionally, Filipino weddings would have a 3-day event and bring the family and guests home for a celebration. My Mother had her own 3-day wedding, so this is a tradition that is still around.
2. As Part of the Ceremony, the Priest Draws Blood from the Couple
Jane: The bride and groom would bring the priest to their home to do a blessing which involves the couple joining hands over a container. The priest then pricks the chests of the bride and groom and catch their blood in a container. We have a very religious culture and anything to do with superstitions is still absolutely important.
3. Family is Key in the Wedding
Jane: Family is absolutely important in a Filipino wedding. Instead of a bridal party, we have ‘sponsors’. 1st sponsors are close friends or family to the bride and groom and would be similar to the best-man and the maid of honour, these sponsors are chosen by the family of the couple.
2nd sponsors are generally three couples, who are similar to the bridesmaids and groomsmen. These sponsors each have their own duty at the wedding. One pair are chosen to light the wedding candles during the ceremony, another handle the veil and the third wrap the cord around the couple.
4. The Groom Should Pay-up to Prove his Devotion
The 1st sponsor, or the coin sponsor give the groom 13 pieces of gold or silver coins in a bag as a promise that the groom can look after the bride. This is a symbol of good luck.
5.The Wedding Candle can Predict Death
During the ceremony, the sponsors light a pair of candles, one on each side of the bride and groom. This is a Christian practice that has been introduced into Filipino culture. We have put our own spin on it, however, and have a superstition that if one of the candles blows out during the rite, the person beside it will die before their spouse.
6.The Groom Dons a Veil Too
As part of the ceremony, the 2nd sponsors place a veil over the bride and the groom which signifies two people becoming one.
7. The Cord and the Infinity Sign
After the veiling, 2nd sponsors will wrap a cord of material, flowers, chained coins or a rosary around the collars of the bride and groom in a figure ‘8’. This again, signifies two becoming one.
8. The Wedding Dress isn’t a Dress
Jane: Traditional Filipino brides wore a Baro’t Saya, which is a long skirt which sits high on the waist and a cropped box top with puffy long sleeves. Some modern brides still choose to wear the traditional dress and if this happens, the groom will usually wear a Barong Tagalog. My Father wore this to his wedding!
9. Never Buy a Set of Kitchen Knives for the Couple!
Jane: This is still true in modern Filipino culture. You should never buy the bride and groom sharp objects like knives and scissors as a wedding gift because it is bad luck.
10. Brides Pray for Rain on their Wedding Day
Jane: Rain on your wedding day is a sign for prosperity, so most Filipino couples would be happy to have bad weather.
11. Brides Stomp on their Groom
Jane: After the ceremony, the bride should walk ahead of her groom or step on his foot in order to prevent being dominated by him throughout the marriage. This is something that is still practised today.
12. It’s Bad Luck for the Bride to Try on her Wedding Dress
Jane: A bride should never try on her wedding gown just for the sake of trying it on. It’s considered very bad luck.
13. Don’t Drop the Ring!
Jane: If someone accidently drops the ring, the veil or the 13 coins, it’s a sign that the marriage will be miserable. The couple had best choose a wedding party who has steady hands!
14. Only One Wedding Per Year
Jane: Siblings aren’t permitted to get married in the same calendar year as it’s considered bad luck.
15. The Groom Still Asks the Bride’s Parents For Permission
Jane: Before a groom proposes, he would go with someone to the house of the bride’s family and bring a gift, as well some food as a gesture to say ‘yes I want to take your daughter’s hand’. Traditionally, the groom would come with some members of his own family, but if his parents didn’t