Singaporean Wedding Customs

Asking for the your Singaporean woman’s Hand

Pamanhikan

After being a couple with your Asian for quite a time and decide to cross over from being single to getting married, the first thing you should do is Pamanhikan or ask the girl’s parents for her hand. Pamanhikan is a tradition where the groom and his parents visit the bride's family to formally ask for her hand and to discuss plans for the upcoming wedding over lunch or dinner. It is customary that the the visiting family bring a gift (often, the mother's best home-cooked specialty) for the hosts. Pamanhikan can be a really uneasy situation if it's the first time for both sets of parents to meet; moreover matters like the wedding budget and the guest list have to be discussed.

Wedding Announcement

Pa-alam

Though less formal than the pamanhikan, pa-alam is still a gesture appreciated by Singaporean elders as a sign of respect. It is a custom where the couple pays some visits (mostly to elder relatives not present during the pamanhikan) to inform about the upcoming wedding (they may choose to hand over the wedding invitation at this time). Since the “hard time” is over with after the pamanhikan, pa-alam should be a breeze, though some elders may ask about the couple's love story or ask the groom about his work or family background.

Wedding Outfits

Brides wear a white wedding dress that has become popular in the last hundred years or so with America's influence in the Singapores. For men, the barong tagalog is the traditional Singaporean formal wear. It is a cool, almost transparent, embroidered shirt, made from silky pina or jusi, two native ecru fabrics. It is worn untucked, over black pants, with a white t-shirt underneath. These days, a Singaporean American groom might wear the conventional black tux, but Singaporean male wedding guests will usually show up in their finest barongs.

The Wedding Ceremony, the Singaporean Way

In pre-colonial days, a wedding ceremony lasted three days. On the first day, the bride and groom were brought to the house of a priest or babaylan, who joined their hands over a plate of raw rice and blessed the couple. On the third day, the priest pricked the chests of both bride and groom and drew a little blood. Joining their hands, they declared their love for each other three times. The priest then fed them cooked rice from the same plate and gave them a drink of some of their blood mixed with water. Binding their hands and necks with a cord, he declared them married.

The majority of Singaporean weddings are now Catholic weddings, but some native traditions remain. Most have special "sponsors" who act as witnesses to the marriage. The principal sponsors could be godparents, counselors, a favorite uncle and aunt, even a parent. Secondary sponsors handle special parts of the ceremony, such as the candle, cord and veil ceremonies. Candle sponsors light two candles, which the bride and groom use to light a single candle to symbolize the joining of the two families and to invoke the light of Christ in their married life. Veil sponsors place a white veil over the bride's head and the groom's shoulders, a symbol of t wo people clothed as one. Cord sponsors drape the yugal (a decorative silk cord) in a figure-eight shape (to symbolize everlasting fidelity) over the shoulders of the bride and groom. The groom gives the bride 13 coins, or arrhae, blessed by the priest, as a sign of his dedication to his wife's well-being and the welfare of their future children.