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6 Simple Ways To Add Filipino Traditions Into Your Non-Traditional Wedding

by Gelaine Santiago May 21, 2018

6 Simple Ways To Add Filipino Traditions Into Your Non-Traditional Wedding

If you grew up outside of the Philippines like I did, you probably don’t know much about Filipino wedding traditions or where to even start. But not to worry. With weddings, there are tons of ways to pay a nod to your Filipino roots while keeping it simple, beautiful, and hella meaningful.

While Jerome and I were planning for our wedding in Toronto, we both knew we wanted to incorporate Filipino elements into our day. As I was researching online for inspiration, all the suggestions I found just didn’t feel right. Filipino weddings tend to be large and lavish affairs, and Jerome and I wanted our wedding to be small, intimate, and non-traditional.

So what would a Filipino wedding like that even look like?

Here are six of our favourite ways to incorporate Filipino elements into your wedding day while keeping it light, casual, and super fun!  

1. Incorporate The Sampaguita

The Sampaguita is also known as ‘Philippine jasmine’, and is the national flower of the Philippines. It’s considered a symbol of fidelity, purity, devotion, strength, and dedication - all perfect symbols to make your wedding even more meaningful.

There are a ton of ways to incorporate this beauty into your wedding. Sampaguitas are simple yet distinct, making it the perfect addition to your bridal bouquet or centerpieces. Before blooming, the Sampaguita is made of beautiful white buds that make gorgeous garlands, whether for your aisle runners or hanging. It’s also know for its distinct fragrance, so you’ll love the smell as much as its look, too.

Sampaguita flowers make beautiful garlands for your wedding day


2. Dress in style with the Barong Tagalog

A wedding party wearing the barong TagalogA wedding party in Richmond, Virginia styled in barongs by Pineapple Industries. Photo by Valerie Demo


You’ve probably seen photos of the barong at some point in your life, but we can’t stress enough how beautiful the barong is in real life. Made of delicate pineapple fibers, the barong has seen a revival amongst Filipino millennials over the years as young brands like Pineapple have popped up, trying to inspire more people to tap into their roots through the barong.

Though traditionally made for men, barong dresses have become more and more popular too, which we think is a good thing because these garments make drop dead gorgeous bridesmaid dresses.

The barong dress
Barong dresses have become increasingly popular and make unique bridesmaid dresses. Here’s Rachelle Ocampo wearing the Rachelle barong by Pineapple Industries on the streets of New York City.


3. Choose Pieces ‘Made In The Philippines’

If your parents ever told you that products made in the Philippines meant ‘cheap’ or ‘poor quality’, it’s time to ditch that thinking. Filipino craftsmanship is some of the best in the world, with strong and vibrant communities of artisans who specialize in weaving, bag and shoe making, and silversmithing, among others.

Considering Cambio & Co.’s mission to change how business is done and to support Filipino craftsmanship, I am a huge advocate for purchasing fair trade and ethically made pieces by Filipino artisans.

Anita Clutch handwoven from abaca in the Philippines

For our wedding day, I’ve chosen the Anita Clutch by Habin. This clutch is handwoven by community artisans from the Bicol Region using an iconic Filipino material called abaca, a type of banana plant that only grows in the Philippines.

Malaya Pearl Necklace handmade in the PhilippinesRebecca Opal Bracelet handmade in the Philippines

I’ve chosen to wear the Malaya Pearl Necklace and Rebecca Opal Bracelet. Both are made in the Philippines by TAYO, an ethical jewelry brand that provides employment to women who have been rescued from sex trafficking near Metro Manila. The women design, handcraft, and sign every piece of jewelry. 

4. Bring The Candle, Cord, and Veil Into Your Ceremony

The ceremony is my favourite part of every wedding, and bringing The Candle, Cord, and Veil is the perfect way to pay respect to your Filipino culture. I love this Filipino tradition because each element has strong symbolism behind it, and it’s also a nice way to involve the most important people to you within your ceremony.

Traditionally in Filipino culture, the ceremony is very religious and the Candle, Cord, and Veil are no different. But if you feel that doesn’t reflect your relationship with your partner, then it’s easy to adapt this into something non-religious. Click here for inspo!

4. Embrace Filipino Words

Whether you speak Filipino or not, there are easy ways to incorporate the language into your wedding day. That could mean saying a small part of your speech in Filipino, playing some Filipino music (check here for inspo!), or just finding creative ways to bring in Filipino words,

While Jerome and I planned our wedding, we toyed around with the idea of using beautiful Filipino words as our table names rather than normal table numbers. We also thought of having coasters (our wedding favours) engraved with Filipino words on one side and French on the other (since Jerome is French-Canadian). There are tons of possibilities, so get creative!

5. And Lastly, Serve Filipino Food!

Is there any doubt this would be on our list? The possibilities are endless when it comes to Filipino food, whether your wedding is high-end and big, or small and intimate. We’ve even heard of people hosting kamayan weddings (where the food is beautifully laid out on banana leaves and guests eat with their hands).

Filipino Kamayan feast
Bettina Makalintal for NPR


The Kamayan phenomenon is not technically an age-old Filipino tradition and is more of a recent trend originating from Filipino chefs in the US, but so what?! And if kamayan isn’t your style, then opt for a simple menu of Filipino staples.

For our wedding, we’re serving our food family style with a menu inspired by Filipino, Quebecois, and Vietnamese cuisine (we got engaged in Vietnam). So don’t be afraid to do whatever you want - it’s your wedding day!

How have you added traditional Filipino elements into your wedding day? Share your ideas with us!


Gelaine Santiago
Gelaine Santiago


Gelaine is co-founder of Cambio & Co. – a brand on a mission to change how business is done and how people shop. Cambio & Co. showcases contemporary, conscious fashion made with Filipino soul - all designed and handcrafted in the Philippines by talented Filipino artisans. Gelaine is a proud Filipina-Chinese-Canadian living in Toronto, writing and learning about Filipino culture, travel, and conscious living. Find her on Twitter @gelaineyyy.

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