Among the things that most websites/blogs tell you to do before 30 is to go and live abroad for some time. For me it came naturally since I decided to move when I was early 20 to study a specific branch that was not available in my country of origin. That was a very big and good excuse to come and live in France since I have always been charmed by French culture.
It goes without saying that this country is beautifully special. Everything here is done in a different way than the rest of the world. Everything here is simply done the French way !
Ok, now let’s make something very clear. I am not getting married soon or even planning a wedding. But, last weekend I was in an exhibition about French weddings and everything related to them. It was completely out of curiosity since I never been in a French wedding before and I don’t think that I will be in one soon. I always loved weddings ! Since I was a child, I loved weddings! I loved being at them, I loved dancing at them, I even loved wedding food. For some reasons I find that they taste different. Anyway, in my country weddings last for several days with several parties and usually synonym of summer holidays, long summer nights with a lot of dancing and big family reunions with people that I didn’t even know they were family !
This is a very brief and general idea of what weddings mean to me in my country and the only idea that I had built about occidental weddings comes from American movies (and Disney princess stories :p). Of course, by living in France for few years now and even though I have never been in a wedding party here before, I learned about some traditions that the French do at their weddings.
1- La mairie:
La mairie is the French town hall and is responsible for civil registers. Here only civil marriages held at La Marie are legally valid. In other words, there is a legal obligation to perform the wedding ceremony by Le Maire ( the Mayor) at the town hall. French government is very strict about this point because it has an historical background that goes back to the time of the French revolution and the French law on separation of the church and the state. This is basically it. Couples are officially married after that and actually the wedding can end there. But since here (we) the French love to party hard, other festivities after Le Marriage à La Mairie can begin and last for the entire day and even the night. Of course this didn’t go without French food and hours of being at the table ( Yes! The French love eating for long hours and I enjoy that too) and as you already know, there is no French food without French wine.
2- Le Vin d’honneur:
I think that this is the equivalent of the cocktail. Usually, everyone that attended the ceremony at La Mairie is invited to it. This is the occasion for the couples to share their happy day with everyone and even not that much close ones like colleagues or parent’s friends who are not invited for the dinner. Commonly newly-weds parents pay for the Vin d’honneur as a gift for their children. For the Vin d’honneur, wine, sparkling wine and Champaign are served with canapés.
3 – No bridesmaid (or best man):
I believe that this is one of coolest fact about French wedding because I think (always according to American movies) it’s really a complicated part of the American wedding. Choosing the bridesmaid puts a lot of stress on the bride. Even more, choosing the bridesmaid dress ! I mean , the bride is busy enough finding her own dress and she still have to choose someone else’s! There still witnesses in the French wedding, 4 of them maximum, but no special costumes required.
4 – No wedding cake:
What the French call a wedding cake is a tower of buns filled with custard cream, known as La Pièce montée. But since I am not really a big fan of choux pastry balls I still don’t get why they don’t simply serve regular layered cake with topping. In the other hand, I think that this is a practical way to serve dessert for a large number of people. Nowadays, we can see Pièce montée of Macarons and also some couples choose both options for their weddings: the traditional Pièce montée and another flavoured cake with the white icing.
5 – Les dragées:
Traditionally are sugar coated almonds offered to the guests as a souvenir of the wedding. There are also other alternatives, as chocolate dragées, praline dragées , nougat dragées and many others. While they are going a little bit out of fashion nowadays, I still like this French tradition. First , because these confectionaries come in a very creative presentation that goes with the main theme of the wedding. Second, well, for the fact that they are souvenirs for a happy day and symbol of the love that the newly-weds are celebrating and sharing with their close ones.
Have you ever been in a French wedding before ? How did it go and how did you find it ? Also let me know about other wedding traditions from your country , or countries you visited.