From the nostalgic sampaguita (jasmine) to the regal waling-waling (orchid), Philippine flowers are a sight to behold at any wedding. Yet, if you’re looking to bring the natural beauty of the Philippine Islands to a wedding outside of the country, you’ll have to get a little creative.
Flowers are an essential motif of a wedding. They’re carried down the aisle by the wedding party. They’re elegantly woven into the venue as decor. And, after the bouquet toss, they’re a trophy in the hands of one lucky guest.
With thousands of flower species native to the Philippines, local weddings are an extravaganza that reflect the country’s colorful, tropical biodiversity. If you take a trip to Dangwa, Manila’s fresh flower market, you’ll see lanes of chrysanthemums, roses, orchids, ylang-ylang, and gerberas. Or perhaps, you grew up with a family garden lush with sampaguitas, calachuchi, and santan.
Indeed, wedding flowers perfume the air with romance and symbolize the blossoming of a couple’s new life together. Having Philippine flowers, specifically, incorporated into your wedding is a grand gesture to honor your heritage.
But what if you’re somebody about to get married outside of the motherland, yet you still want to have Philippine flowers at your wedding?
Having flowers flown in just for your nuptials is a difficult and costly ordeal. Here at Sinta & Co., we’ve come up with ways you can incorporate your culture’s floral heritage into your wedding without breaking the bank.
Philippine Flowers On Your Wedding Invitations
Give your guests a sneak peek of your wedding day, and its many Philippine-inspired motifs, through your wedding invitations. One of the simplest ways to do so is to have your invites decorated with native flora.
Perhaps you’ll consider illustrations of the sampaguita, which is the Philippines’ national flower and got its name from a vow (“sumpa kita”). To complement your floral theme, you can also use colorful stationery to convey a sense of warmth, romance, and festivity.
Do you have a bigger budget? Why not splurge on specialty paper: cotton rag, clear acrylic, or even paper pressed with dried Philippine flowers? Your guests will be delighted as soon as they open them!
Philippine Flowers In Your Wedding Arrangements & Decorations
A couple during their unity cord & veil ceremony, standing underneath an arch of flowers, including star jasmine which resembles sampaguita. Source: Jenelle Santos
You can substitute sampaguitas and gumamelas (hibiscus) with varieties local to you. As much as possible, try sourcing flowers in-season and in your region. Here’s what we recommend for couples getting married in temperate zones, depending on the time of year.
- Spring: peonies, carnations, and snapdragons
- Summer: star jasmine (resembles sampaguita and thrives in warmer American states like California) and ixora (also known as santan or West Indian jasmine, which grows in areas like Florida)
- Fall: dahlias, zinnias, sunflowers, and chrysanthemums
- Winter: winter jasmine (to substitute for sampaguita) and Vanda orchids (related to waling-waling, “The Queen of Philippine flowers”)
- Perennial: hibiscus and heliconias (known as lobster claws, found in states like California, Hawaii, and Texas)
Some of the above, like peonies and carnations, don't seem typically Filipino. But, they've become popular in the country for weddings and anniversaries. At the end of the day, you want flowers that convey the cheerful and colorful aesthetics of Filipino culture. You get to define that for yourself!
As an alternative to fresh flowers, you can commission artisans to craft your wedding arrangements and decorations!
Crepe paper has the same delicate texture as flower petals. In skilled hands, it can be shaped into life-like blooms. For bigger pieces, abaniko (a woven hand fan) can be painted and arranged to look like an orchid!
These creations will effectively last you longer. They even make for beautiful home decorations after the wedding.Having a tropical floral aroma at your wedding won’t be a issue either. You can light scented candles and diffuse essential oils. Ylang-ylang and sampaguita are sweet florals. Meanwhile non-flower scents, like calamansi (a type of Philippine citrus) and elemi (gum resin collected from a native evergreen tree), are energizing touches.
Philippine Flowers On Your Wedding Attire
What you wear during your ceremony can make a strong statement: “Not only do I have impeccable style, I also take deep pride in my cultural heritage.” Even this is symbolic as you carry your identity, culture, and experiences into a new season of your life.If you’re planning to wear a barong tagalog, know that most are already embroidered with intricate floral details. You can take it up a notch—modern barongs have featured flowers blooming among native parrots and pamaypays (folding hand fans).
Now you know anything’s possible, why not opt for a custom barong or terno?
Pineapple Industries creates high-quality, made-to-measure barong tagalog and barong dresses for all. They designed the barongs with parrots and pamaypays, and they can make a custom pattern just for you.For a modern Filipiniana gown, you can call on Jillian Joy San Juan! The Toronto-based bridalwear designer is passionate about Filipiniana, specifically the modern terno dress. From a minimalist, romantic gown to a Cheongsam-terno hybrid, Jillian tailors each dress to your unique style.
Philippine Flowers On Your Wedding Jewelry & Purses
Once your formalwear is sorted, how about your accessories? Love is in the details and when it comes to floral accessories, you’ll find plenty from the Philippines.
Earrings, necklaces, rings, and even purses—you can wear your Filipino heritage from head to toe.
Filipino artisans draw inspiration from the landscapes, materials, and wildlife of the islands. Picture this: elegant yet striking capiz shell earrings shaped to mimic sampaguitas in full bloom. Freshwater pearls dangled from opulent gold rositas. Gardens beaded onto elegant handwoven bags.
Philippine Flowers In Your Wedding Menu
Your invitations have been accepted. The venue has been transformed. You’ve walked down the aisle. That leaves your wedding feast!
Flowers can be so much more than idle centerpieces on your dining table. They can actually feature on your plate.
Let’s start with the star of your menu, your wedding cake! If you can, adorn your wedding cake with edible flowers to give it a rustic feel. Blossoms like blue ternate (butterfly pea) add a pop of color as well as nutritional benefits.
Icing and fondant flowers will look less delicate than actual petals, but will allow you to have more whimsical floral arrangements on your cake.
Sapin-sapin, which is a colorful layered rice cake, can be shaped into a tropical flower. Source: Taste of Pinas YouTube
For other items on your menu, you can serve them as flower-shaped works of art. We especially recommend these for your desserts, particularly softer rice and rootcrop-based sweets like the multi-hued sapin-sapin.
Philippine flowers can also make for lovely floral teas. You can host a Filipino-style afternoon tea for a garden wedding reception. Sourcing these might also be easier as tea is dried and local variants are fairly accessible.
Here are our recommended floral teas and their flavor profiles:
- sampaguita or jasmine is mild with a subtle sweetness and bitterness
- blue ternate or blue butterfly pea has an earthy and woody flavor
- gumamela or hibiscus is sweet and tart, often likened to cranberry
- chrysanthemum is subtly sweet, more delicate than chamomile and with notes of honey
Floral arrangements always lend a magical touch to a wedding. When it’s done with Philippine flowers, it can feel like home. But, as you may know, home can look many different ways.
With a little creativity and diskarte (resourcefulness), you can make your vision of a Filipino floral-inspired wedding come to life.
It’ll be more magical than you could have initially imagined. It’ll be like coming home.
Are you ready plan the Filipino wedding you’ve always wanted?
Visit our Vendor Directory and discover a variety of invitation, decor, catering, and fashion businesses to help you get started.
Cover photo & featured sampaguita buds bouquet by Loi Floral Sense by Serge Igonia
Lawrence is a writer and digital creative from Manila, who's passionate about advertising, books, and fashion history. While working on getting certified as a digital marketer, he's usually binge-watching Heartland and RuPaul's Drag Race on Netflix. You can get in touch with him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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