Filipino Engagement and Wedding Traditions
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ENGAGEMENT: It's been said that when a boy wanted to marry a girl in the Phillipines he would have to begin an engagement process. This process would involve him throwing a spear at the front door of the girl's home. By doing this he was staking his claim on the girl, and essentially publicly announcing that she was no longer available to other suitors. Once done, he would then return to the girl's home with his family to formally request the girl's hand in marriage.
WEDDING: Filipino weddings involve a great number of individuals; normally there is a bride and groom and a wedding party. In the Filipino tradition, there is an extension of the wedding party called Sponsors. Sponsors fall into two categories: The Principal Sponsors, and Secondary Sponsors. Principal Sponsors can be couples, or any individual(s) to which the couple deem important in their lives. Usually aunts, uncles, or other close friends of the family are chosen. The couple can choose as many Principal Sponsors as they wish. The role of the Principal Sponsors is to provide official witness to the marriage, and to provide support, guidance, and wisdom to the couple.
The Secondary Sponsors have a more active role in the wedding ceremony than the Principal Sponsors. The couple chooses 4 sets of Secondary Sponsors: The Coin Sponsors, The Veil Sponsors, The Cord Sponsors, and The Candle Sponsors.
The Candle Sponsors are usually the parents of the bride and groom; it doesn't have to be, but most couples choose their parents as the symbol that they have been the primary guiding force in their lives. A candle symbolizing the Light of Christ will be lit by both parents.
The Coin Sponsors are two individuals, or a couple that have been chosen by the bride and groom. They will present the coins (a symbol of prosperity and promise that the groom will provide for his bride and family) to the couple. The coins are called an Arras or Arrhae. During the ceremony 13 coins are presented to the groom. He in turn will hand them to his new bride. It's been said that if he were to drop any of the coins while handing them over, he was breaking his promise to provide for his wife and family.
The Cord Sponsors are again two individuals the couple has chosen. Their role in the ceremony is to place the cord (usually made from coins that have been linked and dipped in gold, forming an eight) over the shoulders of the bride and groom. The figure eight has no beginning and no end; it links both circles together. By placing the cord on the couple, it is a symbol that they have become one through marriage.
The Veil Sponsors like the cord sponsors are responsible for placing a veil over the couple. The veil is white and embodies purity. By placing the veil on the couple, the bride and groom are witness to the presence of God. They are unified under God's presence.
Another important aspect that is unique to Filipino weddings is the attire of the groom and groomsmen. Grooms in the Philippines wear what is called a Barong, and is considered to be formal attire. It is made of a very light weight fabric that is transparent and is embellished by intricate designs. The fabric of the barong is made from pina (fibres woven from pineapple leaves), or jusi (Chinese silk). It is a shirt that is meant to be worn untucked over an undershirt, and worn with black dress pants and shoes. To view a barong or order one for yourself, visit www.mybarong.com .