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Wedding Stressors in the Philippines

As I have mentioned in other articles about my Filipino family, we have two nephews and three nieces, who are siblings that are more like our children. The three nieces live with us as does the second from oldest when he is home from work on ships. The oldest male, Amar lives in Davao and has a decent job.

Amar has lived with his girlfriend/fiancée Janis for a few years. Since he and his brother supported their sisters through college, Amar put his marriage on hold. Now that two of the girls have graduated, he decided he could finally have his wedding. The wedding is going to be today, Friday December 18.

Well, now for all the stress. Elena who is the matriarch of the family had to be involved with everything. First, it was the location. Elena and Janis went to every hotel to get all the information of cost and facilities. Then the bridal shops to find the “perfect” dress. You will say “Bruce, that is the same as in America” but you do not realize all the traffic and taxi rides and of course the discussions. I was lucky, I was not asked for any opinions or advice. I was just kept in the dark until the deal was made.

Then the tour of printers to find the best deal for the invitations. Bargaining here is a way of life, once you find a place you like, you need to continue to find a lower price to use to bargain down the price.  Once the guest list, the wedding party member list was made and the invitations printed, they need to be delivered. If you do not know, the postal service here in the Philippines is a joke. There are not daily deliveries to all homes and at times, if there is only one item to be delivered to an area, they might wait a week to see if there will be more to be delivered. There are times items never show up at all. Because of this, every invitation had to be hand delivered to all invitees.

In addition, in the Philippines, besides a Groomsmen and Bridesmaids, there are Ninong (male) and Ninong (female, also known as Sponsors. They are a major role and have to sign the marriage license as witnesses.

I think, because of the poverty, many save a long time for a wedding and the whole affair is a huge event with as much pomp and display as possible. Peter, the second oldest and the main wage earner of the family offered a nice sum on money towards the wedding.  Because of his generous offer, the wedding is in one of the major hotels. There will be five Ninongs, five Ninangs, four each of Groomsmen and Bridesmaids, a ring bearer, and a flower girl.

For the past week or two, groomsman was canceling and replacements had to be found. A friend of the family was to be the reception planner and musician at the wedding. As time got close, we could not reach her by phone and a then we had to find a replacement.

As of Tuesday, family members started arriving from the provinces. As of now, there are 16 people at our house, three of which are young children. Meals have become more buffet style where each person fills a plate and finds a place to sit. The sleeping arrangements are more like find a spot and squeeze in.

One of our nieces from the provinces was the replacement MC and her little girl to be the flower girl. Tuesday evening this niece called to say she could not attend. She said she would send her daughter with her father to Davao so we have a flower girl.  But then the scramble was on again to find a MC.

Earlier this week was the running around for final fittings of the wedding gown, tuxedos and bridesmaids dresses. Today I had to pick up the groom and bride, fill the car with their items, then stop to pick up all the dresses and tuxedos and bring them to the hotel. Part of the deal they get a suite for the night before the wedding and the wedding night. The morning of the wedding all female members of the bridal party have to be at the hotel early to get their makeup and hair done, and then dressed. Later morning the groomsmen have to arrive to get into their tuxedos. Of course, the photographer will be there to document this part of the festivities.

Then about 2:30pm, all these people have to be transported to the church. The ceremony is to start at 3:00pm, but with “Filipino time” who knows what the actual time it will begin. After the ceremony will be the group photos. As I have seen at other weddings, this can go on forever with every combination of attendees grouped for the photos. Again, all the attendees need to be transported to the hotel for the reception.

If I survive, I will report on the day and hopefully have some photos to share.

6 Responses to “Wedding Stressors in the Philippines”

  1. Lonnie Carreau says:

    When I read stories like this, I appreciate my bride all the more. We did a justice of the peace wedding with no guests and did a studio photo shoot at Sears. After that, we got a small wedding cake and a bottle of cheap champaign at a grocery store and took some more photos at home. Later we sent out announcements that we were married. At times, my wife misses having lots of family close by, but there are times when it makes things easier.


    • Rick Levy says:

      I think that regardless of culture, small ceremonies are best. Big white weddings are ridiculous because they place more emphasis (as women tend to do) on the wedding itself rather than on the marriage.

      • Bruce says:

        I agree, but we are old now and like it more quiet, smaller and cheaper. My nephew and now niece are young and waited many years to be able to be married since Amar held off until he could afford a wife and not having to help support his sisters through college. I think they deserved a big wedding and even with my stress, I would never begrudge them.

    • Bruce says:

      I feel you are smart with the easier wedding and lack of reception. We married at the Hill of Justice by a Judge and had a reception at our house. The important thing is a good relationship and marriage. I wish you continued sucess in your married life.

  2. Michael Gantert says:

    Perhaps some of the men here are missing why they choose to find their beloved in the Philippines….Weddings are about the dream of the brides own White Knight….yes…many years from now they will still feel that sense of wonderment about that very special day as they look at their pictures…it is only a few days and of course the wedding day that they will look back with joy….Cmon guys let the girls have their special day.
    But it was great that Bruce shared so moments what it was like !

    • Bruce says:

      Here in the Philippines and the lack of power and poverty, big parties and weddings are for the friends and family as much as the bride and groom. As my reply to Rick, I would never begrudge these two who have accepted me and their family and as their father.

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