It’s a good day for a wedding!
In the municipality of Valderrama in Antique, Philippines, a makeshift arbor is adorned with white crepe flowers with pink and gold garlands. A pattern of red roses has been imprinted on the backdrop. The tone is over-the-top cheesy, but just right for the occasion: roughly a hundred couples sharing one wedding on Valentine’s Day — the most romantic of days.
One big party
Though the timing is a nice touch, a hundred Filipino couples exchanging “I do’s” at the same time in the same place doesn’t just happen on Valentine’s Day. Kasalan ng Bayan is a mass wedding service provided by local government units to couples who have been waiting to tie the knot.
The long-standing initiative aims to inspire a culture of family living and targets the country’s immense Catholic population. Many of the couples who avail of the services hosted by the cities’ Civil Registry Office have already been living together prior, or have families deemed “illegitimate” by the country’s family code. Some even cite wedding costs as the reason they postponed it for so long.
The ceremonies are usually held in churches, gymnasiums, or concrete spaces with pink and white as the color scheme of choice. The engagement is always short and sweet because applications sometimes run as quickly as a week before the wedding. Apart from church or venue fees, the government also waives all marriage license fees that can cost an average of PHP600.
After the ceremony, the service culminates with a big catered party that is usually open the rest of the municipality for a small fee. In true fiesta fashion, long tables are set for the newlywed couples, who sit side by side in a sea of white dresses and barongs.
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Upcoming Kasalan ng Bayan events will also be held in other areas, including Olongapo City in Zambales on March 3.