Filipino wedding traditions: Clothing, flowers, food and decorations
Kasalans, or Filipino weddings, though mostly Catholic in nature, have retained a great deal of native tradition throughout the years. Specific traditional elements govern the clothing, flowers, ceremony, food, and the reception.
Kasalans, or Filipino weddings, though mostly Catholic in nature, have retained a great deal of native tradition throughout the years.
Filipino brides traditionally wear their best gown, known as the traje de boda, to be married, usually preferring a custom-made gown to buying off-the-rack.
This gown consists of four parts. The camisa is a short blouse-type garment with sleeves attached. The alampay or panueol is a shawl worn over the camisa. The saya is a long, flowing skirt. The tapis, a short overskirt, is worn over the saya. The traje de boda is made from a hand-woven fabric made from pineapple leaves known as pina, or from jusi, a smooth fabric made from the combination of silk threads and banana leaves. This garment is normally festive in color and adorned with beadwork and embroidery. The bride also wears a long veil of tulle attached to the hair with beads or pearls.
Brides carry heirloom rosaries along with their bridal bouquets in honor of their Catholic heritage. Bouquets are most popularly made from orange blossoms, which are often also used to decorate the wedding facility. Instead of tossing this bouquet, it is usually given as an offering to the Virgin Mary or placed on the grave of a deceased loved one.
The men often wear barong tagalogs, the traditional formal wear of Filipino grooms. This light-weight, almost transparent shirt is made from one of two ecru fabrics native to the Philippines, jusi or silky pina. The barong is normally embroidered and worn loosely over black slacks with a light-colored t-shirt beneath.
During the ceremony, the bride and groom have special “sponsors” who act as witnesses to the union. The principal sponsors are normally godparents, parents, or confidants. Other attendants also help to perform the ceremonial rites. Besides the bridesmaids and groomsmen, there are three pairs of attendants who serve as sponsors for the wedding candle, the veil ceremony, and the cord ceremony.
The sponsor of the candle lights a flame at each side of the couple, symbolizing God’s presence inside the union of marriage. The veil sponsor drapes and pins a long white tulle veil to the shoulder of the groom and over the bride’s head, symbolizing the union of two clothed as one. The cord sponsor rises with a cord, known as a yugal, made of silk, flowers, or linked coins in the form of a figure eight, and loops it loosely around the necks of the couple to show the infinite bond of marriage.
The groom then presents thirteen coins, or arrhae, to the bride as a symbol of his dedication and to bless the well-being of their future children.
The wedding reception celebration features an elaborate feast. This multi-course meal traditionally begins with a cold vermicelli soup, followed by unlimited quantities of meats, such as stuffed capon, boiled ham, stewed goat, garlic-minced chicken, and fish. Lechon baboy, a large roasted pig, is one of the most popular meat selections. Salads are not normally served, but an array of garnishes such as olives, mango pickles, red peppers, or crystallized fruits are offered. Desserts follow, such as sweetened seeds of the nipon plant and meringues.
The reception features a traditional marriage celebration dance called the Pandango, during which guests pin money to the clothing of the newlyweds to help them in the expenses of their honeymoon. A pair of white doves is also released to signify peace and harmony in the union.