7 Filipino Wedding Traditions

A Filipino couple at their wedding.

Every culture has their own set of wedding traditions, and the Filipino culture is no exception to that rule! Here are some common traditions this Asian culture celebrates when a couple ties the knot.

1. An Engagement Celebration

The Filipino wedding traditions start before the big day. In fact, they begin as soon as an engagement occurs! While this tradition has changed over time and differs from one place to the next, it’s still practiced in some form by most participating in Filipino culture. Here, there is an engagement party between the families of the bride and groom. Previously, this served as more of an introduction between the families of the bride and groom. In modern times, the families usually already know each other by this point, so the introductions are not as necessary.

2. Parental Blessings

Filipino weddings practice the tradition of parental blessings during the ceremony. The couple will ask for blessings from their parents by either kissing their hands or touching the back of their hands to their foreheads. In return, the parents will reply with a phrase, which usually depends on their exact religion.

3. The Passing of 13 Coins

A Filipino couple passing coins at their wedding ceremony.

Another tradition is the exchanging of the 13 coins. This is known as “Arras” and it’s a symbol of providing in the Filipino culture. These coins are usually handed from the groom to the bride as a symbol of prosperity and of one’s oath to provide for one another throughout their marriage. These days, it’s also common for the groom to pass this to the bride and then she gives it back to him, which exemplifies their commitment to providing for one another. Ring bearers usually have the responsibility of bringing the coins to the bride and groom.

4. Veil and Cord

The godparents mentioned in the previous tradition play a role in this part of the ceremony at Filipino weddings. These individuals drape a ceremonial lace veil over the bride’s head and the groom’s shoulder to symbolize being clothed as one in marriage. The cord is called a “Yugal,” and it’s wrapped around the couple in the shape of a figure eight. This wrapping symbolizes the eternal bond of fidelity that the couple is to share. The cord is typically made of silk and often is personally woven by the mother of the bride. If the ceremony is Catholic, couples may use an oversized rosary.

5. Naming Godparents

Many Filipino weddings include “sponsors” for the bride and groom, who are called godparents. These individuals help pay for part of the wedding and are part of the wedding party. They’re appointed by the bride and groom.

6. Rice Cakes

A rice cake at a Filipino wedding.

Filipino newlyweds are served a small plate of sticky rice cakes, known as “Kalamay.” This symbolizes the couple sticking together throughout their married life. These rice cakes are typically given to the couple wrapped in palm leaves. A chosen “bidder,” which is usually an aunt or close friend, will bid off the rice cakes for them. Guests at the wedding and family members will drop money into a bowl on the table as the bidder encourages them to give higher amounts. The newlyweds give packs of wrapped rice cakes in exchange for the cash.

7. Filipino Wedding Superstitions

There are a few unique superstitions surrounding Filipino weddings. First, it’s believed that siblings shouldn’t get married in the same year as it’s considered to be bad luck. Additionally, no one should buy the couple knives or sharp objects as a wedding gift, as these are known to symbolize quarrels and bad luck. Rain on the wedding day is known to be a symbol of prosperity in the Filipino culture. Finally, dropping the ring, veil cord, or arras is believed to be a symbol of a miserable wedding.

These are just some of the Filipino wedding traditions in this culture that are unique and fun to both practice and witness!

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