Filipino Wedding Traditions and Customs - Latest Guide

Filipino Wedding Traditions and Customs – Latest Guide

In the Philippines, a country rich in cultural diversity, Filipino wedding traditions and customs uniquely blend historical, cultural, and spiritual elements. Deeply rooted in tradition, these customs celebrate love and the rich Filipino heritage. 

Today, they continue to symbolise the unification of individuals and families, remaining integral to Filipino culture.

SponsorsFilipino weddings often include sponsors, similar to godparents, who are typically an older couple known to the bride and groom. Their role is to provide guidance and support to the couple.
Candle CeremonyThis involves lighting two individual candles, symbolising the couple’s individual lives, which are then used to light a single larger candle, representing their unified life.
Veil and Cord CeremonyA ceremonial lace veil is placed over the bride and groom’s heads, symbolising being clothed as one. A cord is also draped in a figure-eight pattern over the couple’s shoulders, symbolising their eternal bond.
Arras (Coins)The groom gives the bride 13 coins, known as arras, which represent his commitment to support her. The coins also symbolise Jesus Christ and his 12 apostles, reflecting the strong influence of Catholicism in Filipino culture.
BayanihanReflecting the spirit of communal unity and cooperation, this tradition can manifest in various ways, such as community members helping to set up the wedding venue.
Money DanceGuests pin money onto the clothes of the bride and groom, symbolising good fortune and financial prosperity.
Release of DovesThe couple releases a pair of white doves, symbolising a peaceful and harmonious life together.

Overview of Filipino Wedding Traditions

Filipino wedding traditions are a beautiful amalgamation of indigenous, Spanish, and American influences, each adding distinct flavours to the celebrations. These traditions are characterised by rituals that start long before the wedding day and involve the close-knit family structure typical of Filipino society. 

The customs vary significantly across different regions and families, but they all share a common goal: to honour the sanctity of marriage and the joining of two lives. In these celebrations, every element, from the attire to the ceremony’s rituals, holds significant meaning and reflects the rich Filipino ethos.


Old Wedding Traditions in the Philippines

Filipino Wedding Traditions and Customs - Latest Guide

Historically, Filipino weddings were deeply spiritual and community-centred events. One of the oldest traditions is the “Pamamanhikan,” where the groom and his family formally visit the bride’s family to ask for her hand in marriage. 

This meeting is crucial as it involves discussions about wedding plans and symbolises the coming together of two families. Another age-old tradition is the “Pang-along Pandanggo,” a formal gathering where the couple is introduced to each other’s extended families, marking the start of the wedding festivities.

In old Filipino culture, weddings also displayed one’s social status, with affluent families hosting lavish celebrations. The wedding attire, such as the “Barong Tagalog” for men and the “Maria Clara” gown for women, were adorned with intricate designs, symbolising wealth and status. The traditional wedding ceremony included:

  • Catholic rituals.
  • Reflecting the country’s strong Spanish influence, with a full Mass and the symbolic tying of the nuptial cord and veil.
  • Signifying the couple’s unity.

In answering who pays for the wedding, traditionally, Filipino culture dictates that the groom’s family bears the brunt of the wedding expenses. However, this has evolved, with modern couples often sharing the costs or planning the wedding according to their financial capabilities.

Regarding the duration of a Filipino wedding, in the past, it could last several days, filled with pre-wedding rituals, the main ceremony, and post-wedding celebrations, and each day had its own set of customs and significance, turning the wedding into an extended festivity. However, in contemporary times, while the essence of these traditions remains, the duration of the celebrations has been condensed, often fitting into a single day’s event or spread over a weekend.


Filipino Wedding Traditions and Meanings

The tapestry of Filipino wedding traditions is not just about the grandeur and festivities; it’s also rich in symbolism and meaning. Each tradition carries a deeper significance, contributing to the sacredness of the marital bond. 

  • Veil Ceremony: Symbolises being clothed as one in unity.
  • Cord Ceremony: Signifies the couple’s eternal bond.
  • Coin Ceremony: Involves the groom handing the bride 13 coins (arras), representing his commitment to providing for the family and their mutual stewardship of resources.
  • Exchange of Rings: More than just a symbol of love, it signifies the infinity of marriage – a circle without end.
  • First Meal Together: Often shared from the same plate, emphasising the importance of companionship and mutual support in the couple’s journey.

Marriage Customs in the 21st Century Philippines

Filipino Wedding Traditions and Customs - Latest Guide

In the 21st century, Filipino marriage customs have embraced modernity while retaining their rich cultural heritage. Today’s Filipino weddings might integrate contemporary styles but still honor traditional rituals, creating a beautiful blend of old and new. 

The “Pamamanhikan” continues, albeit sometimes in more modern settings or even virtually for overseas families. “Paninilbihan,” where the groom serves the bride’s family, still finds its place, though it has evolved to suit modern relationships and family dynamics.

In urban areas, there is a noticeable shift towards more Westernised weddings, with influences in wedding attire, themes, and ceremonies. 

However, even in these modern adaptations, key traditional elements are often retained, preserving the cultural essence. The role of the extended family in decision-making and celebrations remains significant, underlining the importance of family ties in Filipino culture.


Customs of Marriage in the Philippines

Marriage customs in the Philippines are a beautiful blend of cultural, religious, and family traditions:

  • Bayanihan: Central to Filipino customs, bayanihan reflects the communal spirit of helping and supporting each other. This spirit is prominently seen during wedding preparations, symbolizing the community’s collective celebration of marriage.
  • Despedida de Soltera: This is a send-off party for the bride, marking her transition from single to married life. It’s a key custom that highlights the importance of this life-changing event.
  • Sindoor Ritual: In this significant ritual, the groom applies a red vermilion powder on the bride’s forehead. This act signifies her new status as a married woman.
  • Catholic Rituals: Given the prominence of Catholicism in the Philippines, several Catholic rituals are integral to Filipino weddings. These include the lighting of the unity candle, symbolizing the union of two individuals into one in the eyes of God, and the offering of the “arrhae,” a set of 13 coins that represent the groom’s commitment to the welfare of his wife and future family.


Exploring Filipino wedding traditions reveals a vivid tapestry of culture, history, and evolving social norms. These traditions, ranging from the rich ceremonial attire to the deeply symbolic rituals, form the backbone of Filipino matrimonial celebrations. Filipino weddings continue to be a vibrant, communal celebration of love and unity. They stand as a testament to the Philippines’ rich cultural heritage and ability to adapt and evolve while honoring its past.


What are the customs of marriage in the Philippines?

The customs include communal preparations, Catholic rituals, traditional attire, and symbolic ceremonies like the veil, cord, and coin ceremonies, reflecting a blend of indigenous, Spanish, and American influences.

What are the Filipino wedding traditions?

Traditions involve the “Pamamanhikan,” “Barong Tagalog” and “Maria Clara” attire, Catholic Mass, and unique rituals like the “Money Dance” and “Despedida de Soltera.”

Who pays for the wedding in Filipino culture?

Traditionally, the groom’s family would pay, but modern practices often see a shared responsibility between the bride and groom’s families or the couple.

How many days is a Filipino wedding?

Historically, weddings could last several days, but in the modern context, they typically occur within a single day or over a weekend.

How have Filipino wedding traditions evolved in the 21st century?

While retaining traditional elements, weddings now often incorporate modern aspects, reflecting global influences and changing societal norms. The roles in financial responsibilities and planning have also evolved.

What is the significance of the “Barong Tagalog” and “Maria Clara” in weddings?

These traditional attires symbolise Filipino heritage and elegance. The “Barong Tagalog” for men and the “Maria Clara” gown for women are emblematic of national identity and pride.

Are Catholic rituals still prevalent in Filipino weddings?

Yes, Catholic rituals play a significant role in many Filipino weddings, reflecting the country’s strong historical and cultural ties to Catholicism.

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