Thoughts on Philippine Weddings

I’ve been blogging for almost three years now. Seeing all these weddings everyday, plus attending my fair share of such joyous events, has really made me ponder on how weddings are created–especially here in the Philippines. And being a former bride myself, I was inspired to write my realizations in the hope of helping brides and grooms who are about to experience one of the best days of their lives.


It’s alright to go against the current. The Philippines has always been a very traditional nation. We love our culture and our people, and this is not a bad thing. However, this characteristic also gets the better of us. I noticed how some couples are afraid of doing something new, fearing that “It’s not how we do weddings here in the Philippines.” Or they ask the question “What will people say?” When I got married back in 2010, having beadless entourage dresses was unheard of–the concept seemed “not formal” enough for many. Everyone was telling me I should at least put a sprinkle of sparkle because that’s just the way it’s supposed to be. I am fortunate enough that despite opposition to the idea, everyone eventually supported it. And it was one of the best decisions I made for my wedding–not because it’s the way something should be done, but because it was more me. There are countless aspects of a wedding that can be done in a different way: how your wedding dress will look, what elements you will put into your program, the kind of bridal car you will ride, the flowers you will use, etc. Bottom line, you don’t always have to do things just because it’s the way it’s been done for the past decade. You can go against the current and still come out a happy bride (and groom).

Everyone noticed (and praised) the simple beadless chiffon dresses.


A lax program doesn’t mean it’s a boring one. Because Filipinos love to entertain, we feel that weddings should too. Our hospitality gene makes us responsible to ensure that our guests are never bored. It is simply forbidden that there is not a dull second on our watch. Because of this, our wedding programs are more jam-packed than ever, sadly leaving no room for our bride and groom to sit, eat, mingle, say sweet nothings to each other, and take a few minutes to just look around and gaze at the magnificent event happening around them. There is always something to do, a picture to take, a game to play, fireworks to see, a dozen video presentations to watch. Sometimes, all our guests want is to enjoy the scrumptious meal you provided for them, engage in good conversation with the new friend they made in table number 6 and clink the glass to see the beautiful couple gaze lovingly at each other (without time pressure). Again, it’s not about having a packed program or not (some people my actually thrive in such a busy schedule). But for many who feel that they just need to do ALL these things to entertain, really… you don’t need to. A lax program is also an enjoyable one.

Tip: Make your program as meaningful and personal as possible. Speeches from loved ones will be something that’s relevant to you. The crowd loved my dad’s speech , but more than that, I loved it.

We made sure that dinnertime was not busy. We also played soft music to allow our guests to talk and  enjoy good food and great conversation.

Instead of taking the usual photo op with all the guests, we just decided to go to each table, say our hellos, and chit chat with friends and family while our photographer took candid shots. This allowed us to really savor each moment with our guests.


Living the moment versus just creating it. Who doesn’t want a beautiful wedding? Who in their right mind would not wish for perfection? Besides, you only get married once! You will only get to wear that gorgeous dress for that one special day (unless you come to a halloween party as bridezilla), and you spend thousands of moolah to create the most beautiful ambiance you could ever dream of. SO NOTHING CAN GO WRONG! You make sure you maximize every minute of portrait-taking because you know you’ve never looked this beautiful… and you did book the best photographer in town. Ok, so, two hours of your wedding day goes to posing, understandable! But then at the reception, you have about 500 guests and you must go to each table and take photos with all your guests–that’s another hour gone in a flash. Simply because of the NEED to document. Then you meticulously make sure that the program goes smoothly and all the dance and singing practices pay off. Phew! At the end of the day, atleast you know the photo and video coverage will definitely rock right? Though this may be true, more often than not, couples get so caught up in creating memories that they forget to live it, right there and then–to just pause, breathe and take it all in. And as you watch the recap of your day, you tell yourself, “Where was I when that happened?”.

I will never assume that our wedding is better than anyone else’s. My point for sharing about our special day is to inspire you not to be pressured by external expectations and just be yourselves. At the end of this special day, the most memorable moments will be the spontaneous ones with the love of your life.

  1. Hi Janna. Thanks for sharing this. I especially appreciate the first paragraph because I’m also planning a simple wedding, and I’m asking my entourage to go bead-less too.

    Did you extend this to your principal sponsors?

    Can you suggest how to ask our ninangs to do the same thing? I’m worried that they will place gigantic flowers and all sorts of beads on their gowns because this is what’s usual for ninangs’ gowns, but I also don’t want to offend them.

    1. Lorraelena,

      For your Ninangs, it will be a bit trickier. Out of respect, you can say something like “Thank you for giving us the honor of being our godparents, we appreciate your guidance and wisdom tremendously…etc etc” then go on to saying. “We give you the privilege in coming in an attire you are most comfortable in, but should you be looking for some guidelines, the rest of the entourage are going to be in elegant non-beaded gowns.”

      Don’t expect that they will do non-beaded gowns though. If you’re not paying for the dresses it will be hard to dictate a new trend in replacement to what they have been accustomed to.

      Personally, my ninangs came in their preferred attires, some beaded and some not. I didnt even give them fabric, I just gave them swatches of the rest of the entourage and gave them a free hand on deciding what color to wear (as long as it was close enough to the color scheme). I loved the outcome cause the variety of fabric, styles, colors, and designs actually took away that old school ninang look 🙂

      Hope that helps!

      1. Thank you so much Janna. That helps a lot. 🙂

        Bride and Breakfast is really my favorite local wedding-related blog! Your posts are always beautiful, and helpful.

        Congratulations on your first editorial. Looking forward to reading the full post.

  2. Actually, I love all of your tips. It’s really reassuring me that it’s okay to make the wedding a little bit more about us as a couple and less of a show for everyone else. Hopefully, when the guests see that everything we’re doing is the best way to represent us, then they’ll appreciate it too. 🙂

  3. Hi Janna, just like everyone before me, much thanks for posting these tips.

    I’m actually helping my sis plan her wedding and we are regular visitors of your wonderful site. We do have a question and was wondering if you can help us since you seem to have attended several types of weddings and your knowledge on such topic is extensive.

    Having commented here gives you my email address and I was wondering if we may continue the correspondence off site? 🙂

  4. I stumbled across your blog as I was uploading images from my wedding today here in Sydney. I’m a Marriage Celebrant (Officiant) and I marry many Filipino couples here in Sydney. Reading your comments were like a breath of fresh air, as many Filipinos try to keep everyone happy by adhering strictly to Philippine traditions. This often results in not expressing truly who they are; their aesthetic, style, values. It doesn’t mean that couples have to be rebellious, but to incorporate their own personal choices with tradition. As you said, “not to be pressured by external expectations and just be yourselves”

  5. i think the fact that Filipino weddings tend to become more about the guests than the couple themselves is sad. 🙁 experiencing it right now and i just think to myself, this isnt all about you, is it? sighhh… but im glad you shared your experience 🙂 especially the part about “a lax program doesn’t mean it’s boring.” i actually dislike all those games coz sometimes its abt making other guests uncomfortable for the sake of everyone else’s “entertainment”. and your post made me more confident not to do photobooth just because everyone is doing it now. i actually think photobooths distracts and disrupts the program (at least based on my experience.)

  6. Thank you for this! I have been stressing time and again that the day should be about the marriage and not just the wedding, which has become more of a pageantry than authentic celebration these days. I also have some more questions but will message you privately for it. 🙂

  7. It’s 2016 and this still rings true! I invited one of my married friends to our wedding next year and she offered for her baby girl to be the flower girl. I said that my niece is already the flower girl and she said that you “should” have more than one because “that’s the way things are done in a wedding.” Her child, by the way, is barely two years old. I knew that she meant well though and I learned a lot of dos and don’ts when we talked about weddings. I just laughed it off because I know what I want: an intimate celebration of love with the people we love.

    More than the pressure to follow tradition, I think it is the actual cost of a wedding versus your dream wedding that makes some weddings a little stressful. I know some couples who had to take out a loan to achieve their dream wedding, while some couples eloped with only a few witnesses, because let’s face it. Getting married is expensive.

    Whatever style couples should want to get married in, luxurious or completely laid back, I think it’s best to invest more in the marriage than in a wedding.

  8. Thank you for this! Does anyone know if you can combine the ring/coin/bible bearer? and what the usual combination is? I’m thinking about combining the coin and the bible together but I wasn’t sure if this is okay. Thank you in advance!

      1. I’m so glad I came across your blog. Though it’s been some time since this was written it is still relevant today. I’m also planning for a low key wedding in 2018, without the traditional “bling” & over the top reception program. Thanks for your tips. 🙂

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