guide to Filipino weddings

I recently told an engaged friend marriage is not 50-50.

No I'm not off my rocker.

No, my math skills aren't No, I don't need to double check my abacus.

It's 100-100.

Marriage is hard work. And if you're only in it part of the way, you're not in it at all. Both partners have to be in the union completely. 100-percent.

So when I read this article on Korean American weddings, it made me laugh. Laugh not in a demeaning, racist way. But I lamented on how much work my own guests had to put forth to understand parts of our ceremony.

I can only imagine what some of my own guests thought. Half of the nearly 450 people in attendance were not of Filipino descent. Extra veils and seemingly spare change were introduced at the ceremony.

So if you're invited to a Filipino-American wedding, here's a quick explanation of the traditional Filipino wedding rite.
  • The veil ceremony: The veil signifies God's love. And His love shields and protects the couple, safeguarding them from life's many challenges. The bride and groom kneel, and the veil is placed over the woman's head and around the man's shoulder.
  • The laying of the cord: A cord made of three interwoven strands symbolizes the union of the bride and groom with God. The cord is placed over the veil.
  • The lighting of the candles. This one isn't specific to just Filipinos, but I know a lot of Pinoys that incorporate it into their ceremony. Two candles symbolize Christ and the desire of the couple to be guided by His light.
  • The exchange of coins. The coins symbolize earthly prosperity and the desire of the couple to provide for each other's needs.
All of the above rituals are performed by Ninongs and Ninangs - Godfathers and Godmothers. Similar to those you have when you are baptized, Godparents at a wedding look after the couple and act as role models in their marriage. Godparents take a special interest in the couple, encouraging them and building a special relationship with them. I had four sets of Godparents. I've known other couples to have as many as 20.

I've learned one important thing 11 years after my wedding. Dad2Amara have far from a perfect marriage. And how I view Dad2Amara has changed over the last decade. But we've gone from young and madly in love to newlyweds to becoming parents and seeing each other broadly as "family." But what hasn't changed is my math. It's still 100-100.

If you're not all in, marriage doesn't work.

Calculus and Algebra were always my strong subjects. So here's hoping my calculations remain on course.

And if you're ever invited to a Filipino wedding, hopefully you'll hear the coins clanking around and think about the basic math skills in your life too.


  1. You're so right - it is alot of work but so worth it. btw, the church we got married in would not allow us to do the cord, money.

  2. Jen - Wouldn't allow it? That's so surprising to me. It's such a cherished tradition for Filipinos. But I'm sure your wedding was perfect nonetheless!


Post a Comment