Wedding Traditions in France
Like most celebrations in France, weddings are filled with traditions. From the absence of bridesmaids, to partying the night away, the French have their own stamp on celebrating weddings. They are all about infusing contemporary style with long-held customs. Thankfully, some of the old wedding traditions in France have been left in history, including the bride drinking the mysterious contents of a chamber pot! Here are some of the wedding traditions in France that will take place during the day!
“Fiançailles”, or engagement, is a big deal in French culture. The proposal is a big event, and usually takes place in a place of historical significance to the couple. Post engagement is when the party begins, with engagement parties being used as an opportunity to bringing together the families, an important French tradition.
Bridesmaids and Groomsmen – or lack of!
Instead of bridesmaids and groomsmen, it is French tradition to have témoins or “witnesses” that stand next to them during the ceremony and sign the wedding registry. They are any age of gender, and not particular to either the bridge or groom!
The words “I do” are not a French tradition, as they don’t directly translate into French. Instead, couples respond to martial prompts with “je le veux”, which means “I want it”!
Guests at French weddings go for the classic style. Women wear dresses and men wear suits, however the degree of formality can vary based on the bride-to-be’s request! From casual suits to full on white-tie! It can also be a themed by colour, with women wearing hats or fascinators to suit the theme!
In times of old, the groom used to collect the bride to be from their home in a caravan, with a small procession following alongside the bride. Upon arrival at the chapel, children stretched out white ribbons to block the bride’s path, forcing the bride to cut through the ribbon to pass through, symbolizing the bride overcoming obstacles that they may face during the married life. However, this has since evolved to the cutting of a heart in a white sheet for the bride and groom to go through together.
Very few French couples opt for registries, with most opting to asking for money. Many weddings have “un livre d’or”, or guestbook, set up with an adjacent box for donations! If the couple does indeed have a registry, it is called a “liste de marriage”, but they are not very common.
All-Night Repas de Noces
In French, the reception is called the repas de noces, and it is a very big party! Typically, between 200 and 300 people turn up and they are there to have a good time! Dinner is served late, with the dancing starting around midnight, which has been known to go on until as late as 8am the following morning!
As you have read there are many wedding traditions in France that are particular to the country. Above all else, it is a fantastic party and a wonderful celebration of two people and families coming together!
Now you know how weddings are celebrated, why not discover about how new year is celebrated in France.