After a lovely wedding on the weekend we thought we would share a few of the French wedding traditions from the day. A lovely French couple in a beautiful French Château: What to expect at a French wedding.
The words "I do" in the context of a wedding do not directly translate in French. Instead, couples respond to marital prompts with "Je le veux" which means, "I want it." There is something about this connotation that feels poetic and romantic. French couples have two ceremonies—a civil and a symbolic service. The civil ceremony is still particularly important in the French spirit and it is the only ceremony that makes the marriage official. The civil ceremony is generally held the day before the rest of the wedding celebration with only close family and witnesses attending. The wedding is the day after and has more meaning whether it is at a church or just a more symbolic, secular ceremony.
Instead of bridesmaids and groomsmen, French couples have témoins or "witnesses" that stand next to them during the ceremonies and sign the wedding registry. When les jeunes mariés, or "the newlyweds" leave the church, they are generally showered with grains of wheat, rice, or flower petals, which can be considered symbols of prosperity and fertility.
Before the wedding meal, there will be sort of un aperitif, with drinks and food called the Vin d’honneur and after all this food, more food!
It is traditional to have a seated meal and among the traditions are “les dragées“. The dragée is a candy-coated almond, and an extremely popular sweet at French weddings. At weddings, they are gifted to guests in fives—each dragée symbolising the health, happiness, longevity, fertility, and wealth of the couple.
If it is a seated meal, there will be a caterer – un traiteur – to serve the meal. It is going to be a big meal, so be ready to stay at the table for quite a while as most French weddings go on until the early hours of the morning. During this meal, it is highly likely that you will have a show: a PowerPoint presentation of the newlywed’s lives is to be expected. Embarrassing pictures of them as kids and some friends and family members may sing a song or may even dance.
The meal will end with a wedding cake. Traditionally in France, it is “une pièce montée,” with custard filled puff pastries and “nougatine”- a mix of honey and nuts.
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If you enjoyed reading about Daniele and Frits’ French wedding and would like to consider The Impeccable Pear to plan your big day, please get in touch.