Every culture has a unique way to celebrate weddings and marriage beyond. The French are no different. Or at least that’s what Jennifer and Lawrence Rouse found out during their own wedding. Here’s what to expect if you’re planning a French wedding or have been invited to one.
- La Voiture balai
This means “the broom car.” It is a car that drives behind the couple’s car to direct them and their guests to each location. La voiture balai tend to be decorated in funky patterns. They typically have a trail of cans tied to the back to make noise so that no one gets lost along the way.
- Les dragées
Les dragées are an old fashioned French tradition but are not seen as often anymore. The term refers to sugar-coated almonds that are given as party favors. The French consider it to be a symbol of everlasting love.
- La fontaine à Champagne
This tradition probably doesn’t need as much translating. It’s a Champagne fountain! The fountain is made out of many stacked glasses. Someone pours Champagne into the very top glass until it overflows down to all the other glasses. The fountain looks extremely fancy but be careful not to spill your glass when you take it.
- La soupe à l’oignon
Onion soup is very popular across France. No wonder that it appears at French weddings, too. The soup is served in the early morning to help guests who might have partied just a little too hard.
- Le cortège
The wedding procession is very different from an American wedding. The groom and his mother enter first (the father doesn’t “give away” his daughter). They are followed by their family or whoever else is in the wedding party. Children enter last. These are les desmoiselles d’honneur They will help hold the bride’s train or walk ahead of her spreading rose petals.
At a French wedding, you will also notice that there are no bridesmaids or the best man. They don’t even have a word for that! The temoins are witnesses for the ceremony. There is typically one each for the bride and groom.
- La jarretière
La jarretière is the bride’s garter. It is auctioned off during the wedding dinner. The man who wins gets to take it off the bride’s leg with his teeth.
A French wedding features a non-traditional wedding “cake” called a croquemouche. It is a pyramid tower of little choux cakes instead of the layered cake you may be used to from American weddings. These cakes are round eclairs filled with crème anglaise, which is a yellow custard. The pyramid is held together with caramel syrup.
- La mairie
The French don’t get married in a church. Why not? France has a strict policy separating the Church and the State. Couples are therefore not allowed to get married in any religious venue. They are required to have a civil ceremony in a town hall (or la mairie) instead.
- Pôt de chambre
This term is literally translated as “chamber pot.” Gross, right? The couple gets woken up by their friends in the early hours of the morning after the wedding. They then have to drink out of a chamber pot. There could be any combination of food or drink in the pot. It’s basically whatever your friends come up with. So be careful who you invite to your wedding!
- La noce
La noce encompasses all parts of the wedding event. One of the major parts is a car procession. This involves honking your car horn as loudly as possible. During the Middle Ages weddings were often conducted in secret so authorities required them to celebrate more noisily.
These traditions are time-consuming so be prepared to party until dawn. Have fun!