Filipino Wedding Traditions


Filipino weddings are a beautiful interweaving of modern and traditional customs. Historically, Filipino weddings are a celebration not of two individuals joining together, but two families.
Family unification, gorgeous attire like the Barong and Filipiniana and traditional folk dances and music are just a few unique of the many special Filipino wedding customs. Let’s take a closer look at these traditions and more:

The Filipino Wedding Ceremony

While there’s a large assortment of Filipino wedding traditions, the majority are culled from the Catholic faith. About eighty-percent of Filipinos are Catholic, which means Filipino weddings are held in a Catholic Church. The Catholic Church, in and of itself, is an institution steeped with rituals. Every Catholic ritual represents the important values of marriage and the union of two individuals. Hence, the wedding ceremony is the most sacred and sentimental part of a Filipino wedding.

Filipino Wedding Sponsors

A Filipino wedding includes many more significant, ancillary members than the bridesmaids and groomsmen. Filipino couples often honor many people that have been a part of their lives. They will give these individuals the titles of Principal Sponsor or Secondary Sponsor. There can be a single couple chosen as sponsors or several. During the Filipino wedding ceremony, all of the sponsors are invited to join the bride and groom in prayer.
Additionally, there are four sets of secondary sponsors. These other sponsors include Coin
Sponsors, Veil Sponsors, Cord Sponsors and Candle Sponsors. Most likely these sponsors are aunts, uncles and other extended family members important to the couple. Their designation as sponsors will be incorporated throughout the wedding ceremony during various rituals,

Catholic Coin Ceremony (the Arras)

The coin sponsors carry 13 coins (or Arras). They are carried in a pouch and brought to the altar. Then, they are blessed for the groom to gift his bride as he promises to provide for her and their future family. While this promise was traditionally made by the groom, today’s modern Filipino couples often make the promise together. The Arras are also an emblem of their future children.

Catholic Veil Ceremony

Veil sponsors have the job of draping one side of a white veil over the bride’s head and the other side over the groom’s shoulder. This special act is as a symbol of unity. The draping of the veil also represents a wish for good health and protection during their lifetime together as husband and wife.

Catholic Cord Ceremony (the Yugal)

The cord sponsors place an infinity shaped cord call the Yugal on top of the veil draped on the couple. The Yugal is as a physical representation of the couple’s bond and union.

Catholic Candle Ceremony (the Unity Candle)

Candle sponsors have the duty of helping facilitate the lighting of the Unity Candle. This candle is a very important Filipino marriage custom because it symbolizes the bonding of two individuals and two families. The two outer candles represent the bride and groom’s individual lives before the wedding day. Together the bride and groom will blow out the single candles (symbolically extinguishing their pasts) and light the large unity candle (symbolically joining
together their families and their beings).


Traditional Filipino Wedding Attire Filipino Wedding Dress (the Filipiniana

Traditional Filipino wedding dresses – called Filipiniana - are extremely beautiful and ornate.
They are often a two-piece dress with exaggerated butterfly sleeves and vibrant colors. A traditional Filipino wedding gown is made with the finest quality fabrics and painstaking, embroidery by hand. Over time, Filipino wedding dresses have evolved into elegant white gowns with a slight nod to elements of the Filipiniana. Today, most modern Filipino brides choose white gowns that still show-off elaborate embroidery, but have smaller butterfly sleeves.

Filipino Groom Attire (Barong)

A traditional Filipino groom wears a Barong – a customary shirt worn by Filipino men at formal events. Common traits of the Barong are: lightweight, embroidered along the front in a U-shape pattern and handmade. Typically the Barong is casually worn untucked and over an undershirt.

Filipino Wedding Reception Traditions

The many traditions for a Filipino wedding don’t just end with the ceremony. Many unique and beautiful customs are showcased and celebrated at a Filipino wedding reception too.

Filipino Food

Aside from the bride and groom, food is the showpiece of any Filipino wedding reception. Some traditional ethnic foods you may find at a Filipino wedding include: Beef Steak, Kare-kare,
Pinakbet, Tortang Talong, Pancit, Laing and Langka.

Filipino Money Dance

Many cultures include a money dance in their wedding reception plans and the Filipino culture is no exception. Also known as the Dollar Dance or the Apron Dance, the Money Dance is a fun and festive time to lavish the bride and groom with wishes of good fortune. At the start of the dance, the DJ will ask the men and women to line up in separate lines, grab a pin and wait their turn to dance with the bride and/or groom. Money pinned onto the bride and groom during the dance is seen as a sign of impending good fortune (and a nice financial boost as the couple starts married life).

Filipino Folk Dances

An essential part of a Filipino wedding reception is music and dance. Filipino heritage includes many classic folk dances that remember and celebrate the history of the Philippines and her people. Philippine folk dances hail from five major suites: Cordillera, Maria Clara, Muslim, Lumad and Rural. Each of the suites involves a repertoire of folk dances derived from different locations in the country. These folk dances include the Itik-Itik, the Sayaw sa Bangko and the Pantomina.