Philippine Wedding Practices
According to Filipino writer Tetchie Herrera,
wedding practices in the Philippines differ from region to region
or from one ethnic group to another within the same region.
The Ilocanos, Pangasinenses & Tagalogs
The Filipinos in Luzon such as Ilocanos, Pangasinenses,
and Tagalogs share an interesting wedding practice. This is the
pinning of peso bills on the bride’s gown and the groom’s
suit while the couple dances. A contest is held between the bride’s
family and the groom’s family as to who pins the most money
on whose clothes, the bride’s or the groom’s.
After the dance, or series of dances, they
unpin the money and figure out who won, and loud applause goes to
the winner. The money is then combined and given to the couple to
spend as they wish.
Many Western practices, however, have been
adopted in Filipino weddings. These include the couple cutting the
wedding cake and giving each other a bite, letting loose a pair
of doves and tossing the wedding bouquet to unmarried women as a
way of predicting who the next bride will be. In some instances,
the ceremony of the groom removing the bride’s garter from
her thigh and tossing this to the bachelors is done to see who the
next groom will be.
The Aetas of Zambales
The Aetas of Zambales, also in Luzon, have
a totally different set of wedding practices. In the wedding ceremony,
the couple eats from the same plate and they take turns feeding
Although monogamy is the rule in the Aetas’
culture, a man is allowed to have more than one wife if he can accumulate
enough "bandi" or bride price. This bride price
may include arrows, bows, bolos or large knives, cloth, and money.
The wedding day can only be fixed when the bride’s family
is paid the bride price.
The Aetas practice divorce. The bride price
is returned to the man if the bride is at fault. However, it is
forfeited if the man is responsible for the marital break-up.
The Igorots of Mountain Province
The Igorot tribes of the Mountain Province
have a wedding practice called the "trial marriage." The
Sagada Igorot, for instance, have a ward or "Dap-ay"
where boys at an early age live and sleep with their agemates. This
ward is connected to one or more girls’ dormitories called
"ebgan" used for courtship.
In this dormitory, the girls gather at night to sleep and to be
visited by their suitors. When a boy develops a real attachment
to a girl, they live together in a trial marriage until the girl
The young man then sends gifts to the girl’s
family. Chickens are sacrificed and omens are read. When all the
signs are favorable, the wedding ceremonies take place. In these
ceremonies, the couple drink from the same cup, eating rice together,
and make rice offerings.
The Bataks of Palawan
The Bataks of Palawan also practice different
sets of wedding arrangements. At the actual wedding ceremony, the
couple sits on a mat laid on the ground. Between them sit a dish
of cooked rice, a coconut shell filled with water, and two cigars.
The bride’s maid and the best man take
turns handing handfuls of rice shaped into balls to the bride and
groom respectively. The couple then feeds each other and drinks
from the same cup and smokes the same cigar. The marriage is thus
solemnized and the wedding follows.
The Muslims of Mindanao
The Muslims of Mindanao, like in many other
Oriental cultures, pre-arrange marriages. A betrothal is arranged
by a man from the boy’s side. This man visits the girl’s
parents and informs them of the boy’s honorable intentions.
If the girl’s parents agree to the union,
the village headman is informed and he relays the news to the boy’s
parents. The headman then presides over the negotiations for the
settlement of the dowry. The dowry includes money, clothes, and
The engagement period and the actual wedding
ceremony begin and end with a lavish celebration highlighted by
a feast, a parade, music and dancing.
To this day, the wedding practices of Ilocanos,
Pangasinenses, Tagalogs, Aetas, Bataks, Muslims, and Igorots continue,
handed down from their ancestors.
Now here is a trivia question: Why
does a bridegroom have a best man at his wedding?
According to Pinoy trivia master Bong Barrameda,
the practice is believed to be rooted in ancient pre-historic marriage
by capture, when a man seized a woman and carried her away by force.
He would logically, under such circumstances, select a faithful
friend to go with him and ward off attacks by the woman’s
kinsfolk or perhaps by her other suitors. The term "best man"
is of Scottish origin and came into popular use in the 18th century.
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For more information about the different courtship,
wedding & marriage practices in other regions in the Philippines,
read Courtship and Marriage Rites in the Philippine Provinces.