Weddings depend on culture, and it’s no different for us in the northern part of the Philippines. Couples plan their wedding according to the knowledge and rules passed down to them by their ancestors. Here are the stages of an Ilocano wedding:
A formal courtship starts with the introduction of the bride or the groom to the other’s family. It is assumed that at this stage, the actual proposal part is over, i.e., the man has asked the woman. Now, it’s time to meet the family, and the engagement begins. During this stage, the couple live apart, but can visit each other and go out. They are often seen attending family events together, as a way of introducing themselves as a couple to the clan.
2. Pamamanhikan – At this stage, the elder relatives, along with the bride and groom spend time together to map out the wedding details, from the actual date to who will pay for what. Traditionally, this event is held in the bride’s residence. This part of the wedding process should not commence if the bride and groom have not introduced the other to their respective families as talking about money matters may feel uneasy, especially if it’s the first meeting.
3. Secret Wedding (optional) –
A way of easing tensions regarding the shelling out of cash for the actual wedding (“church wedding”) is to have a secret wedding, in which only the parents and close relatives of the bride and groom are present. The ceremony is performed by a judge, thereby making it a “civil wedding.” They dine on home-cooked specialties and gifts that each party brought. However, the couple will not yet sleep under the same roof as they are only married in the eyes of man, not in the eyes of God.
Because they are technically married with no possibility of breaking up (thereby wasting the resources already spent on wedding preparations), the elders are more comfortable investing on the lavish Church wedding.
4. Despedida de Soltera – this is an event that is for the bride’s family to send off the bride usually a week before the wedding. This hen party is where married females bequeath sage advice to the new bride. Female members of the groom’s family are also invited. A male-attended counterpart of this event is usually held at the groom’s residence.
5. The Church Wedding – This is the big day! Everyone’s attending and on their best behavior. Superstitions abound on what to do if the sky is cloudy (put an egg on the roof to prevent rain from falling) and when someone breaks a glass (break another one, so that they’re a couple of broken glasses).