to Philipino Marriage Information Site
Gone are the days of "pikot"
(shotgun marriage) and "kasunduan"
(arranged marriage by parents) where both the bride and groom
had no choice but to comply. Traditionally though, even at
this day and age, "ligawan" (courtship) still exists.
"Harana" (suitor's serenade) use to form part of
this ritual but nowadays, it's usually love letters (or emails
;-), flowers, chocolates or simply, dating! But when do they
officially become a couple? Decades ago, a girl may be expected
to say 'Yes' first just so that the guy would know that she
agrees. Nowadays, well...they just know.
After going on steady ("magkasintahan") for quite
a time and the couple wants to crossover from being single
and get married, then the following are some points to consider:
Philipino Marriage Pre-Wedding Traditions
Pagtatapat ( the marriage
"Will you marry me?" or variations of those four significant
keywords signals the possible beginning of a much-awaited grand
celebration. After all, nobody wants to get married without first
being asked. For would-be-grooms who may be lost for words, below
can do the talking for them...
Singsing ( the engagement
Normally, an average Philipino man is wary on giving a ring as gift
on ordinary occasions for he's concerned that his girlfriend might
get the wrong impression because a ring (especially those of the
gemstone-laden species) tend to speak of a deeper commitment. Really
says a lot even without saying a word. The engagement ring is not
a requisite to marriage but more of an option (that most brides
surely wouldn't mind). It is both an adaptation of the western culture
and a modern incarnation of an pre-colonial practice by giving dowry
to his future wife (and her family) to signify his intentions. The
ring is usually given simultaneously with the proposal (note: guys,
don't give it until she says 'Yes'!) in a romantic ambiance. Popular
choice for the 'rock' is diamond for it is the hardest wearing gemstone
but a ring with her birthstone will do (read more about diamonds
and other birthstones). Some traditional and sentimental Philipino
families even insist and have their son offer a treasured family
heirloom as an engagement ring to symbolize her acceptance and approval
of his family. In cases such as the latter, it would be better to
hand in the ring on the pamanhikan.
Pamanhikan (the asking of
the girl's parents' permission to wed the affianced pair )
The 'blueprint' of the wedding plans are drawn or made known on
this occasion. The pamanhikan is often hosted by the bride's family
where the groom and his parents set to visit the bride's family
to formally ask her hand in marriage and discuss plans for the upcomming
wedding over lunch or dinner. This can be a real uneasy situation
if it's the first time for both sets of parents to meet. The groom-
and bride-to-be may feel a little awkward (nervous even) seeing
and listening to each parents consult each other face-to-face on
matters like their wedding budget, guest list and the likes. It
is customary that the the visiting family bring a gift (often, the
mother's best home-cooked specialty) for the hosts. Others may opt
to hold the meeting on a 'neutral ground' (a restaurant is a likely
choice) or invite a mutual acquaintance to the gathering and help
ease the first meeting. Why bother with all the trouble? Philipinos
seek their folk's blessings for a happy and hassle-free marriage.
Afterall, pamanhikan is a treasured Philipino heritage which, first
and foremost, avoids an awkward situation having the parents see
each other as strangers come wedding day.
Paninilbihan ( service
rendered by the man to woo the girl's family's approval )
Paninilbihan is said to be a long forgotten tradition where the
marrying man attends to some daunting chores for the family of the
bride to show his worth, fortitude and responsibility. The fact
is, it is still sub-conciously practiced by the modern Philipino
society in a much simpler scale (thank goodness!). Since Philipinos
parents prefer to see their daughter's boyfriend pay a visit in
the house than date elsewhere, he is more-or-less considered a part
of the household than a guest. So it comes as no surprise when the
family members ask simple favors from him such as driving the mom
to the supermarket or fixing busted lights in the kitchen. Come
to think of it, future sons-or-daughters-in-law are expected to
run some simple errands for their would-be-in-laws if he/she seeks
some approval. These little favors forms part of the paninilbihan
process still deeply imbibed in the Philipino psyche.
Pa-alam (wedding announcement
- the Philipino way )
The practice of pa-alam (to inform) should not be confused with
the Pilipino word "paalam" (goodbye). Though less formal
than the pamanhikan, pa-alam is still a gesture appreciated by Philipino
elders as a sign of respect. This is a practice of visiting important
personages (mostly elder relatives not present during the pamanhikan)
prior to the wedding. Couples may go out of their way to visit the
person to inform about the upcoming wedding (they may choose to
hand in the wedding invitation at this time) or approach the person
in a social event (say, a family reunion) to formally let him/her
know of the recent engagement. If the altar-bound couple will be
visiting a prospective ninong or ninang (godparents of principal
sponsors) for the wedding, it is customary to bring a little something
for the person to be visited (a tropical fruit basket is a popular
choice). Since the 'major hurdle' is over with after the pamanhikan,
pa-alam would be a breeze. Though some elders may ask about your
love story while others might give a 'litany' about married life
or ask the groom-to-be about his work or family background. Basically,
the practice is just a round of casual diplomatic visits to the
people who matter most to the couple and inform them of the wedding
and secure their blessings.
Despedida de Soltera (farewell
A send-off party held close to the wedding date in honor of the
daughter of the house hosted by her family. This celebrates her
family's consent to the marriage and bestowal of her folk's blessings.
The groom, his family, close friends & relatives from both sides
and the wedding entourage are invited to meet and get to know one
another before the wedding. The occasion may serve as the formal
introduction of the two families or clans to each other. This affair
can be anywhere from a formal sit-down dinner to a casual get-together
Kumpisal ( confession before
This is more of a moral obligation than a tradition that should
be observed by every marrying Catholic couples. A few days prior
their wedding, couples should have their final confessions as a
single person with a priest (not necessarily the one who's going
to marry them) since they will partake in the bread and drink the
wine (the Body and Blood of Christ) during the wedding ceremony.
The confession will serve as a spiritual cleansing for the sins
committed during singlehood and a commitment and devotion to their
Beautiful Women of the Philippines
Philipino Marriage Facts and Trivia
Traditionally, wedding expenses are paid for by the grooms
family in the Philippine setting unlike in some western culture.
But more and more couples give their share from their hard-earned
savings. Other couples even shoulder the entire wedding expenses
themselves. It normally follows that whoever foots the bill has
the final say on how big will the wedding will be and has the 'majority
stake' on guestlist.
The bride holding an heirloom rosary with the bridal bouquet
during the nuptial mass was a practiced tradition. It is now being
revived by some brides to honor our Catholic heritage and respect
the solemn occasion.
Instead of a bouquet toss, some Filipina brides opt to offer
the flowers to a favorite Saint or to the image of Virgin Mary at
the church. Some even go out of their way to offer the bouquet on
the grave of a lost loved one.
Using rice grains as confetti are discouraged in most churches
in keeping with the austere times.
Marrying couples have a few pairs of ninongs & ninangs
(godparents) to stand as principal sponsors/witnesses in the ceremony
much like the practice observed during a child's baptism.
Philipino Marriage Folklores and Superstitions
Philipinos still adhere to numerous widely-held folk beliefs that
have no scientific or logical basis but maybe backed-up by some
past experiences (yet can be dismissed as mere coincidence). Below
are just a few that concerns weddings. Some are still practiced
to this day primarily because of 'there's nothing to lose if we
comply' attitude while the others are totally ignored for it seemed
Brides shouldn't try on her wedding dress before the wedding
day or the wedding will not push through.
Knives and other sharp and pointed objects are said to be
a bad choice for wedding gifts for this will lead to a broken marriage.
Giving arinola (chamberpot) as wedding gift is believed
to bring good luck to newlyweds.
Altar-bound couples are accident-prone and therefore must
avoid long drives or traveling before their wedding day for safety.
The groom who sits ahead of his bride during the wedding
ceremony will be a henpecked husband.
If it rains during the wedding, it means prosperity and
happiness for the newlyweds.
A flame extinguished on one of the wedding candles means
the one on which side has the unlit candle, will die ahead of the
Throwing rice confetti at the newlyweds will bring them
prosperity all their life.
The groom must arrive before the bride at the church
to avoid bad luck.
It is considered bad luck for two siblings to marry on
the same year.
Breaking something during the reception brings good luck
to the newlyweds.
The bride should step on the groom's foot while walking
towards the altar if she wants him to agree to her every whim.
A bride who wears pearls on her wedding will be an unhappy
wife experiencing many heartaches and tears.
An unmarried woman who follows the footsteps (literally)
of the newlyweds will marry soon.
Dropping the wedding ring, the veil or the arrhae during
the ceremony spells unhappiness for the couple.