Filipino Wedding Customs



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Filipino Traditional Weddings 

"Kasal" means "wedding". 

"Ikasal" means to wed or to marry. 

"Kasalan" means the wedding ceremony. 

The traditional Filipino kasalan in the Christian community is unique in that it adds three more ceremonies into the basic wedding rites. These additional ceremonies are: the veil, the cord and the arrhae or coin ceremonies. The whole wedding thus takes just a little bit longer, and a few more participants are required.

The Wedding Participants

Wedding participants are the Priest, the Bride, the Groom, Maid of Honor, Best Man, Bridesmaids, Groomsmen, Flower Girl, Ring and Coin Bearer, Bible Bearer, Parents of the Bride, Parents of the Groom, Primary Sponsors, Secondary Sponsors.

Historical Background

Traditionally, the coin, veil and cord ceremonies were performed only in the wedding rites of the Roman Catholic church in the Philippines. Today, other churches have adopted it as well, and it is up to the bride and groom to request its inclusion from the officiating Priest.

The Spanish colonization period in the Philippines (1521-1898) brought the Roman Catholic religion to the islands. These special wedding rites were part of those which were brought by the Spanish friars to the Philippines, and similar wedding rites are found in Mexico today. Spain ruled the Philippines through Mexico, and a regular schedule of merchant galleon trade ships plying the Manila-Acapulco route joined the three countries' cultures in more ways than one.

The Wedding March

The Priest stands at the altar and the march begins. The best man leads the way, followed by the groomsmen. Then the groom follows. Marching with him, to his left side is his mother, and the right side is his father.

Behind the groom and his family are the primary sponsors, with the female sponsors marching to the left side of the male sponsors. Respectfully called Ninong (male sponsor) and Ninang (female sponsor), this is a position of honor. One cannot choose his parents, but they could choose their godparents. They are like second parents to whom the couple could depend upon encouragement and counsel in their married years to come.

Behind the primary sponsors, march the secondary sponsors, again with the female sponsors positioned to the left of the male. These secondary sponsors play a part in the wedding ceremony, and each couple has specific functions: lighting of the unity candle and putting on the veil and the cord over the couple. They are usually chosen from friends of the bride and groom.

The bridal party then follows in the following order: ring & coin bearer, bible bearer, flower girl, bridesmaids, and the maid of honor. The bride then follows along with her mother on her left and father on her right. All guests stand as the bride marches in.

Note that all the female members of the bridal party (with the exception of the bride), stand or walk to the left of the male members. This is in keeping with the oriental yin and yang principle. Female energy is yin, and therefore should be to the left of the male yang energy.

Order of Entry 

Officiating Priest  (Standing at the altar)


Groomsman - Groomsman

Groomsman - Groomsman

Groomsman - Groomsman

Best Man


Mother of Groom - Groom - Father of Groom


Primary Sponsor - Primary Sponsor

Primary Sponsor - Primary Sponsor

Primary Sponsor - Primary Sponsor

Primary Sponsor - Primary Sponsor


Candle Sponsor - Candle Sponsor

Veil Sponsor - Veil Sponsor

Cord Sponsor - Cord Sponsor


Ring & Coin Bearer

Bible Bearer - Altar Server

Flower Girl

Bridesmaid  - Bridesmaid

Bridesmaid  - Bridesmaid

Bridesmaid  - Bridesmaid

Maid of Honor


Mother of Bride - Bride - Father of Bride


 Standing at the Altar


Bridesmaids - Maid of Honor - Bride - Groom - Best Man - Groomsmen

Flower Girl - Ring & Coin Bearer

Seated on the First and Second Rows

Parents of the Bride - Parents of the Groom

Primary Sponsors & Secondary Sponsors

The Wedding Rites

The Bride and her Father marches to the altar. The Groom meets them, and all three will face the Priest/Minister. The question of who gives the bride away is asked, to which the bride's Father answers, "I do" . He then gives her daughter's hand to the groom, after which he takes his designated seat in the front row with his wife.

The Exchange of Vows follow.

Ring Ceremony

The Priest/Minister may, at this point bless the Bride, Groom and rings with holy water. He holds their hands together in unity, then they exchange rings.

Arrhae or Coin Ceremony

The Priest/Minister then drops 13 pieces of coins (silver or gold) called arras into the Groom's waiting hands, who in turn drops it into the Bride's hands. The Bride then puts her hand above the Groom's then drops the arras into his hands again. The Groom allows the coins to then be dropped into a plate held by an acolyte.

The metal tinkling of the coins being passed from one pair of hands to the other, is a distinctive reminder of the groom's promise to take care of his wife materially. The bride in return, by giving back the coins to his hands, convey that what they both earn become part of each other's. The trickling sound also signifies abundance and success in the couple's joint efforts. The husband gives his material earnings to his wife who manages, saves and invests the money wisely, as basic Filipino tradition dictates.

Veil Ceremony

In the Catholic ceremony, the Priest continues with the nuptial mass until the "Sanctus". When the bell for the Sanctus rings, it is also a signal for the veil sponsors to come up to the altar. In Protestant ceremonies, the Minister explains the veil ceremony to the congregation and this constitutes as the cue for the veil sponsors.

Together, they pin a veil from the groom's shoulders, extending it to cover the bride's head and shoulders. This is symbolic of the groom pledging his strength and protection to his bride - the wife who he promises to take care of, from this day forward.

Cord Ceremony

The Cord Ceremony follows immediately after. The Cord Sponsors come up to where the Bride and Groom are kneeling, and put a figure of eight cord over the veils that are on the heads and shoulders of the Bride and Groom. This cord symbolizes unity and infinity - a love together, forever!

Candle Ceremony

The Candle Ceremony is first and last. As soon as all the primary and secondary sponsors have been seated, the Candle Sponsors proceed to the altar where they light the two side candles beside the middle and larger (unity) candle. This represents the two lives and two spirits who will be joined together.

Towards the end of the ceremony, at a signal from the Priest/Minister, the Bride and Groom come up and approach the candles. They each take the smaller candles, and use it to light the middle unity candle. This means that from then on, their lives go together, kindled as one.

The Unity Candle is saved and kept by the couple, to be lighted on each wedding anniversary, as a reminder of this first day when they gave their promise to each other.

Proclamation of Marriage 

The rest of the wedding ceremony is the same as expected: the couple kiss after the priest or pastor introduces the couple for the first time as "Mr. and Mrs.", and the guests applauding them. The march out of the church is definitely faster and more spirited than the wedding march to the altar. Rice and flower petals are thrown gently to the couple outside the church door for luck, prosperity and marital bliss. In the USA, bubbles are blown.


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