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French Wedding 

Wedding the French Way

Whether you want to have a lovely French wedding or you want to incorporate some elements of France into your wedding ceremony, it always makes things more interesting if you looked back at French traditions to make things look authentic.

France is a top-rated destination for weddings, but still, you can have a similar experience while in the US. The country has venues, cuisines, locations, vistas, and good weather that can make you get a perfect French wedding experience.

French Wedding Traditions

Before you conduct your wedding, you have to announce it. You’ll send out a formal letter (“un faire-part”) to your guests to inform them of the marriage and your expectations. You can also send a special card called “repas de noce,” to invite them to the meals. The meal card normally accompanies the letter. If there's going to be a religious ceremony, the letter will specifically indicate that the guest is invited for a church service, like a mass.

Traditionally, the bride’s parents are to pay for the wedding. However, many people no longer follow this requirement strictly; anyone can contribute whatever they can.

At French wedding ceremonies, the focus is usually on the families of the bride and the groom, and not on the couple itself. Just from the beginning, weddings are not so gendered. As the bride receives the ring, she gives the groom a unique watch. The couple has a mix of female and male witnesses and no bride zilla.

The Dress Code and Wedding Party

The big difference between the French wedding and that in the US is that in France, there are no best-men and bridesmaids. There isn’t even a name to refer to them. There are only flower boys and flower girls, aged 5 - 12 years, who usually dress in the same fancy outfits. Both the bride and the groom must have one or two witnesses. The witnesses sign the registries, and must, therefore, be adults. The witnesses will have to choose the design of their outfits.

The bride wears a fancy white dress, which makes her look like a princess. She may also adorn a veil (un voile), and hold a bouquet. The groom wears a suit - a tux or un costume. The guests are to dress nicely - men cannot wear hats in church, but women can. Compared to Americans, French people have a more classic dressing style. They prefer fancy fabrics and wear conservative cuts - no low or too clingy cuts. Traditionally, women guests are not allowed to wear white dresses.

On the wedding day, the groom collects the bride from her parent’s home just before the ceremony. They move in a procession to the chapel together with the bride’s father and with musicians in the front. This is the most beautiful part. The children use white ribbons to block their way. The bride is to cut these ribbons to make way for the procession. This symbolizes that she’s be able to overcome obstacles in her married life.

Wedding Armoire and Trousseau

Trousseau means a bundle of clothing and linen. The bride comes with the bundle, which may contain linens, lingerie, dresses, etc. for her future use. These items are carefully chosen and embroidered by the bride’s mother or the bride herself. They usually contain the bride’s married initials, and she would keep them in a wedding Hop Chest or Armoire carved by the father of the bride.

Grand Entrance

The guests are supposed to get seated before the bride arrives. The groom comes with his mother and walks down the aisle. The bride’s team then follows with the boys having the ring and the girls spreading petals. The bride usually arrives together with this team and in the company of her father. The bride and the groom will have red velvet chairs to sit on, and that’s where the exchange of vows takes place.

The Cake, The Champagne, and The Food

The reception can take place in different places, depending on the size of the congregation. Surprisingly, there are no wedding cakes at French weddings. Instead, they have a croquembouche, which are balls filled with vanilla and made into a pyramid shape.

In a French wedding, only Champagne and wine are acceptable. A caterer uses a saber to open the Champagne bottle romantically before serving it. And it is a tradition in France to have a meal while seated. The seats are assigned, so you must look for one with your name tag. What do you expect at the table? There will some almonds coated with sugar and some gift for the guests to carry home. There will be a caterer to serve the meal.

One thing that never misses in a French wedding meal is onion soup. It as its unique place at the table and can be accompanied by coq au vin, and beef burgundy. For dessert, you may expect a Poire Belle Helene, creme brulee, and mousse au chocolat.

Dancing and Entertainment

In France, people like to dance. So you’ll expect some dancing at the end of the meal. The dance floor is opened by the newlyweds, followed by their parents. After that, everyone else can join in. Some of the songs you expect at a French wedding include:

  • La Mer
  • La Vie En Rose
  • Parlez-Moi d'Amour
  • Pour Que Tu M'aimes Encore
  • Etrangère Au Paradis
  • La Rumeur
  • For Me Formidable

If you wish, you can have a live band performing at your wedding. The dancing can go on up to 5 am when the newlyweds and guests are free to leave.

You can choose a real French wedding if you want to go the traditional way. You may also try to experiment with a few things here and there that you can borrow from the American traditions or even from modern practices.

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