By Marc Madi
Centuries old Wedding traditions and wonderful Philippine customs make Filipina Weddings (Kasalan) some of the most beautiful wondrous celebrations on earth. The Filipino culture's high regard for the sanctity of Marriage has given the Philippine Wedding Ceremony many customs and traditions that will be new to the American Gentlemen
Given the dollar peso exchange rate, if for no other reason it is a wise decision to have your wedding in the Philippines. Wedding Ceremony styles, Wedding Dresses, and receptions can differ widely in style and price, but all factors considered you will receive 10 times for your money what you could afford here in the United States.
In the traditional Filipina Wedding the groom is expected to burden all of the cost as opposed to American traditions were it is the Bride’s family that is responsible for wedding exspences. This has given way slightly to some couples sharing the cost as it has here also in the United States.
A few of the cost that will seem unexpected but are in keeping with Filipino Wedding traditions are
1. Hotel rooms for valued guest that journey from distant islands to attend your Wedding. In my case it was the VIPs such as her eldest brother and her Maid of honor
2. Transportation for all those who are to attend locally. We rented a large “Power Cruiser” (Bus) or what would be a fully customized bus complete with sound system and custom paint.
3. Bride’s Maids dresses and Barongs for the groom’s men are usually available for rent at the Wedding boutiques. Unlike here in the US where many of the Bride's maids will purchase their own dress to keep after the Wedding. Some will not be able to afford the exspence and instead opt to rent them
As customary with Filipinas she will be wearing her wedding ring on the right hand and not the left as here in the United States. For the Filipina, the Bible has stated “the Son sits at the right hand of the Father”. So she will sit on the left and wear her ring on the right. This tradition completely blindsided me as I had already presented my fiancé’ with a beautiful engagement set and placed it on her left ring finger. Just 4 days before the wedding she explained to me I would need to buy her a wedding ring now for her right hand.
Filipino Wedding Ceremonies have some very wonderful traditions different from the typical Wedding Ceremonies here in the United States.
There will be 3 sets of sponsors for the wedding couple, Ninang (male) and Ninong (female). They are usually successful well respected couples choosen by the bride. They will have many task and responsibilities during the actual Wedding ceremony.
The first set of sponsors are responsible for the pinning of the Bride's Veil to the shoulder of the Groom. This is to symbolize the wedding couple's clothes as one.
The second set of sponsors will place the ceremonial wedding cord to "Tie" the Bride and Groom together during the actual Wedding ceremony. This is to symbolize the spiritual bonding of the 2 souls.
Then the last pair of sponsors will light two candles on either side of a unity candle, which the wedding couple getting married light together.
Arrhae or 13 Golden Coin Ceremony
Lastly, the groom presents his bride the “Arrhea” also known as the 13 golden coins. The "Arrhae" has been blessed by the priest for a life of faithfulness and prosperity. The "Arrhae" and the Wedding Rings are usually carried by 2 small children, a boy and a girl during the wedding march. The Wedding Dress Couture or seamstres should also create 2 small matching pillows for the presentation of the Arrhae and Wedding Rings.
Do not worry about the cost of the "Arrhae" too much as I did. These are not actual Gold Coins. Often times token 13 golden coins "Arrhae" are provided almost free by the jewelery shop you buy the Wedding ring from in the Philippines
You will also find some Filipino superstitions associated with Wedding Ceremonies and Newlywed couples. The Bride will not wear her Wedding Dress before the ceremony or it will bring bad luck. Also if a bride wants her husband to agree to her every whim she will step on his foot on the way to the altar. This according to superstition will place him under her spell of“Lihi”.
One of the most distinctive qualities of a Filipina Wedding are the cathedrals. They are HUGE. Some capable of holding as many as 600 or 700 people. Often they are gigantic architectural wonders built of concrete and stone with huge arches and towering steeples some times 100s of years old. You would have trouble finding a comparable structure in the United States.
Wedding Receptions are also very affordable in the Philippines. My Wedding Reception included buffet catering for 75 persons, 2 cases wine, 4 cases soda pop, 3 Delux suites at the resort, banquet hall complete with DJ, a Lechon (whole roast pig) all at a luxury Beach front resort for less the $1000 Us dollars.
When we were finished with all the official toasting of the newly weds (about 3 hours), we simply asked the resort staff to move the whole party pool side where our reception lasted late into the night. Make no mistake about it Nothing can quite compare to Filipina Weddings and Wedding Receptions.
Marc Madi. Social researcher, author and publisher. http://asiangf.net