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Being a wedding photographer here in Orange County, we have a great opportunity to take part in many weddings that are Asian influenced. One particular cultural group are the Filipino Weddings. Just like many other cultures, the wedding traditions of a Filipino Wedding has transformed and has brought more modern traditions to the forefront. That being said, a Filipino traditional wedding is steeped in its history and you can often find these traditions instilled into today’s wedding ceremonies and receptions. Three16 Photography honors Filipino Wedding Traditions as well as all wedding traditions throughout the world.

Although today’s traditions may come from American influence, the majority of their traditions have been around since the 1500’s with a heavy influence from Spanish colonialism. Maybe one of the more unique aspects of a Filipino Wedding is that it’s not just the joining of the couple, but the joining of the two families. And although, the wedding ceremony takes on a more serious tone, the receptions are as festive as anyone’s. It’s amazing as the whole community comes together to welcome and celebrate the newly married couple.

The Bride’s Clothing consists of the old traditional wedding gown, which is very vibrant in color and is often custom made and unique. The dress, known as Filipiniana, is typically a two-piece dress that includes very large butterfly sleeves. The fabric is of high quality and amazing embroidery work. Modern Filipino wedding dresses has leaned more towards the western culture of the white gown, but still has a similar look of a Filipiniana, to keep the Filipino tradition alive. The butterfly sleeves, however, have been reduced in size.

In some cases, women will wear the traditional baro’t saya, which is a white, embroidered airy blouse. The old tradition of not wearing your dress prior to the wedding day is still in play today as it is believed to bring bad luck to the bride. Wearing pearls as your jewelry, is looked at as a bad omen.

The Groom’s Attire is a little easier than the bride’s, as in all weddings. He will wear the traditional barong tagalog. This is a white, long-sleeve sheer button-up shirt that is untucked. The shirt is embroidered and is worn over a white t-shirt, along with black pants.

As mentioned, the Filipino Wedding Ceremony is taken pretty seriously. And since approximately 80% of Filipinos are of the Catholic Religion, the ceremony will include a full Catholic mass, which includes the communion. The ceremony can last anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half. Guests that are not Catholic can attend the ceremonies but cannot take part of the communion.

That all said, the ceremony begins with The Processional. It tends to be longer than your typical wedding processional as it is not unusual to include anywhere from 20 to 50 people. The processional will consist of the primary sponsors, which is usually either the grandparents or the godparents, and they will stand with the bride and groom throughout the ceremony to serve as the witnesses. Very much like a best man and maid of honor does.

After the primary sponsors come the secondary sponsors. The secondary sponsors are the ones chosen to carry in the coins, candles, as well as the veil and cord portions of the ceremony. Next will be the bridal party, which alone is about 8 to 12 bridesmaids, as well as 8 to 12 groomsmen. Lastly, the bride and groom will walk up the aisle. Typically, the couple will be escorted by their parents, but they do have the option to include their grandparents or the groom may choose to walk in alone.

In addition to the Cord and Veil, the secondary sponsors will enter carrying Coins and Candles. There are 13 Coins, known as Arrhae, and will be given to the bride by the groom as a pledge to her of his dedication to the future welfare of their children. They also represent wealth and prosperity for each month of the year. These coins will be blessed by the priest, then given to the groom before he presents them to his bride.

The Candle will also be blessed by the priest and serves as a Unity Candle. In non-Filipino weddings, the Unity Candle represents the bonding of the groom and his bride, but in the Filipino culture when the Unity Candle is performed at a wedding, it is the bonding of the two families. Filipino culture is very family orientated. The candles will be lit by either the secondary sponsors or a designated candle sponsor after the priest’s blessing. The candles will remain lit throughout the ceremony until it is time to unite the bride and groom as one. They will each take a light from each candle and light one candle together.

Other traditions that are interesting to know:

• Sharp Objects, such as knives, are not a good idea for a wedding gift. Sharp items as wedding gifts symbolizes that the marriage will end up broken.
• They say rain on your wedding day is good luck and for a Filipino wedding, that is still true. Considered lucky, raindrops are looked as bringing happiness and prosperity. Thus, the tossing of the rice represents rainfall.
• It is considered bad luck if the bride arrives to the ceremony before the groom does.

Like in any other ceremony, the Exchanging of the Rings will take place. After the rings have been exchanged and the vows are done, they will be announced as husband and wife. Then the couple will kneel to the ground, allowing the sponsors to wrap, then pin, the veil over the bride’s head and wrapped around the groom’s shoulders. Then the Cord, which can be a string of flowers, a silken rope or links of coins are looped to resemble a figure 8, which is the symbol of infinity and that they will walk through life together as equals. The veil and the cords together symbolize the new husband and wife coming together as one.

When it comes to the Invitation of Family and Friends, Filipino weddings are usually larger than most weddings as the can average between 200 to 500 guests. For a Filipino wedding, the general dress code for those invited is generally semi-formal to formal, but it’s a good idea to keep your shoulders covered.

A Filipino Wedding Reception is a festival all in its own right. There is a large spread of food, plenty of drinks, a lot of dancing, which all leads to some great fun. Sometimes a Filipino wedding reception will last until the next day.

Things to consider for a Filipino Wedding Reception would include:

The Bouquet Toss, as the modern world knows it, is tossed out to single women in hopes to be the next to marry. But in a Filipino Wedding Reception, they don’t actually toss the bouquet at all. Instead, they offer the bouquet to either a photo or statue of the Virgin Mary, or their favorite saint, or they may just to choose to lay it on the gravesite of a loved one.

In terms of Traditional Foods to be Served at a Filipino Reception, you are most likely going to be served as a sit-down meal or as a buffet, which is what most receptions are. The difference is at a Filipino Reception there is an abundance of food and it can literally be served all night. And more than likely you will be served Lechón, which is a Filipino dish of roasted pig. This dish can be part of the dinner meal or as late-night dish.

The rest of the evening is spent with A Lot of Dancing. The Filipino culture is rich in their heritage that includes some very unique dances that are designed to pay tribute to their history. Don’t be surprised if these dances are incorporated during your dinner or later in the evening. The more common folk dances are The Sayaw sa Bangko, The Itik-Itik and The Pantomina. Also, expect at some point a money dance with the new couple.

All in all, if you have never witnessed or were involved in one, you are missing out on a real treat.

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