Kasalang Pilipino: Looking Into Filipino Weddings

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Like most Asian nations, the Philippines has its own rich and diverse culture spread out over its more than 7,100 islands. Known as Asia’s “Pearl of the Orient,” the country has numerous subcultures despite the numerous invasions and occupations of different countries that could have leveled the cultural disparities between provinces. (see Philippines - The destination with Islands of Beaches and Fun)

You can witness the cultural diversity of the Philippines in the differences in customs and traditions of various Filipino weddings.

Filipino Wedding Variations

Filipino wedding traditions
Filipino wedding traditions are rich in culture
Depending on which part of the country you visit, you can expect slight variations between various Filipino wedding ceremonies. While most urbanized parts of the Philippines already adhere to the traditional wedding route, meaning a wedding ceremony that mixes Western with Eastern practices, communities residing in the mountainous regions of the Philippines mostly follow their age-old traditions.

For example, there are some Igorot tribes in the Mountain Province region that still follow the old wedding practice referred to as the “trial marriage.” The Sagada Igorots have the “Dap-ay,” in which boys of the same age learn to live together under one ward.

The ward is connected to the “ebgan,” which houses young girls. These girls are often visited by their suitors from the “Dap-ay,” and once a connection between a young girl and boy becomes established, a trial marriage ensues and the girl usually gets pregnant.

The young man then courts the girl’s families, offering different gifts to her parents. When there are no bad omens that surface after the courtship and the sacrificing of the chicken, the wedding ceremony takes place.

The peso dance
The newlyweds dance as relatives pin money on them
The Aetas of Zambales have wedding practices in which the couple is expected to sit together and feed each other from the same plate. A bride price, called the bandj, is also given to the bride’s family before the ceremony.

Although monogamy may be the rule of thumb followed in Aeta culture, a man may marry more than woman if he can afford to pay both women’s bandj. The Aetas also practice divorce, but it is only permissible when the bride is the one at fault.

In Ilocos, Pagasinan and the Tagalog provinces, people usually engage in a Dollar Dance of some sort. Peso bills are pinned to the bride’s dress and the groom’s suit during the reception dance. The accumulated amount is then given to the couple to spend as they please.

Then and Now: Contemporary Filipino Weddings

The following are some common practices and traditions still practiced by couples in the Philippines:

    Wedding customs
    The groom showing respect to the father of the bride

  • Then: The groom and the groom’s family shoulder all the wedding expenses.
  • Now: Although there are some couples who still follow the above-mentioned tradition, a number of modern couples now believe in footing the bill themselves using their hard-earned savings.
  • Then: The one who pays most of the wedding bills has the final say on the guest list.
  • Now: Grooms, brides and their parents tend to figure out the guest list together.
  • Then: Catholic brides carried an heirloom rosary with their bridal bouquets.
  • Now: This old practice is being revived by a new wave of modern brides intent on paying homage to their Catholic beliefs and upbringing.
  • Then: Most couples offered the bride’s bouquet to favorite Saints, the Virgin Mary or the some departed love one’s grave.
  • Now: The Western bouquet toss prevails, although a number of brides deviate from this practice to follow the above-mentioned tradition.
  • The wedding symbols
    The wedding rings, bible and the arrhae

  • Then: When it comes to Catholic wedding ceremonies, expect the usual full mass to run about an hour or two. (For more information read The Guide To Catholic Wedding Programs)
  • Now: Expect the mass still.
  • Then: You had the ring bearer carry the rings, and the coin bearer carry the arrhae. The arrhae consisted of 13 pieces of either gold or silver coins that symbolized the groom’s promise to take care of his wife and children.
  • Now: The practice is optional, but most couples still follow this tradition.
  • Then: Filipino brides would go to their favorite seamstress or designer for custom-made wedding dresses.
  • Now: Some brides save money by simply purchasing wedding dresses from Divisoria and ready-made gowns from bridal boutiques.

Filipino Wedding Attire

The barong tagalog remains a staple in Filipino weddings. The barong is an embroidered sheer formal shirt worn by both men and women in the Philippines. An undershirt is usually worn with the untucked barong

Barong tagalog
Boys wearing the traditional barong tagalog
Bride and groom
The filipino bride and groom after the wedding
Maria Clara dress
A traditional filipina dress called maria clara

The traditional women’s attire, called the baro’t saya, rarely accompanies the barong during wedding ceremonies, since most brides today prefer Western wedding dresses over traditional garb. For brides who prefer to follow tradition, there are some contemporary Filipino designers who create beautiful baro’t saya inspired wedding gowns.

Check out Filipino wedding highlights by watching the videos below.

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wise_sword48 said on, October 12, 2008
What does the word "kasalang" means? I'm writing a paper about wedding ceremonies around the world, and I'm including Filipino weddings in it. Also, what's the difference between "Pilipino" and "Filipino?"

Gerard Andersen said on, October 06, 2008
Excellent read. Like Michael, I have a Filipina girlfriend who I love very much. She's lovely as a rose; almost all Filipinas are. If I'm lucky, she'll marry me, and I'll make sure our wedding will be the grandest Filipino wedding ever.

michael feler said on, September 18, 2008
Interesting article, thanks! This is very informative for me as currently, I have a Filipina fiancee and we are thinking of holding the wedding in her country. It's nice to know in advance what to expect.

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