embroidered initials on white unity veil with appliqués over couple's shoulders

How to Use the Filipino Unity Veil in Wedding Ceremonies

There are many ways to physically represent unity of a bride and groom on their wedding day: the unity candle and unity sand being the most popular choices.

But there’s one unity ceremony you may not have heard of… the unity VEIL.

In Filipino and Catholic culture, a unity wedding veil holds great significance. Wedding sponsors carry the veil to the church, where it is then placed over the couple's shoulders, symbolizing the cloaking of blessings upon them. 

Since this ceremony is not as common as some of the other unity ceremonies, we are going to dive deep and explore some of my brides' frequently asked questions about the unity veil.

What does the Unity Veil Symbolize?

The unity veil embodies the protective mantle that love and family provide. As the veil is placed over the bride and groom, it signifies the couple's willingness to face life's challenges together, with the support of their families and community.

Since the unity veil ceremony is often used in Catholic weddings, there is also a strong Biblical symbolism of the veil. The veil can be a symbol of God's presence in the same way that the cloud was a symbol of God's presence.

The Old Testament describes it like this: 

“the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night.” Exodus 40:35

As the couple embarks on this journey called "marriage", they need God's direction and protection. This veil symbolizes the couple's union and being “clothed as one”.

filipino bridal unity veil being placed over couple's shoulders for catholic service

What do the Filipino Cords Mean?

After enveloping the couple in the veil, the sponsors will then place chords over the bride and groom's shoulders. This cord is not merely a physical object; it carries profound symbolism, representing the intertwined lives of the bride and groom as they embark on their journey together.

Just as the cord is composed of interwoven threads, the marriage itself is a fusion of two distinct individuals, now bound by a common purpose and shared dreams. It is a powerful declaration that the couple is no longer two separate entities, but rather, they have become one in their new life together. This act is a testament to the strength and depth of their commitment to each other.

But do you want to know what is even stronger than a strand of 2 cords? A strand of 3 cords! 

"Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." Ecclesiastes 4:12

The cord, therefore, also represents how God is the foundation stone of this new marriage. In essence, the act of placing the knotted cord over the couple's heads is a poignant and beautiful representation of the merging of two lives into one with God as their help and foundation.

 unity veil with cords over couple's shoulder for traditional catholic ceremony

Who puts on the unity veil?

During the ceremony, the veil is often held by the wedding sponsors, who are typically chosen for their strong and enduring marriage. This gesture emphasizes the wisdom and guidance that the couple seeks as they embark on their own marital journey.

bride in lace gown and blush long bridal veil sitting with her dad wearing an updo

The Veil's Material

The choice of fabric is significant. Often, the veil is made from a durable and elegant material, like lace or silk, symbolizing the endurance and beauty that a strong marriage can attain.

The Unity Veil as a Family Heirloom

Many Filipino families consider the unity veil as an heirloom, passing it down through generations. This practice not only adds a layer of sentimental value but also reinforces the idea of continuity and connectedness.

mother of the bride in blush gown with bride in sleek updo and blush wedding veil

The Filipino Veil in Modern Weddings

While the symbolism remains deeply ingrained, modern couples often incorporate personal touches into the unity veil ritual. Some choose to embroider their initials or significant dates, making the veil uniquely theirs.

embroidered unity veil with couple's initials and wedding date

In the Filipino wedding ceremony, the unity veil is a cherished tradition that bridges the past, present, and future. It is a testament to the enduring power of love, family, and community, encapsulating the essence of what it means to embark on life's journey together. As the veil is placed over the couple, it is a moment of profound significance, a promise of unity, and a tribute to the cultural heritage that continues to shape Filipino weddings today.

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