As promised, here is my story about a French wedding. I will apologize up front for a large amount of pictures that are included in the story. It was just impossible to give you a good understanding of the wedding events and all they encompassed without them.
But first, let me introduce you to the happy couple. This picture was taken the day we arrived. Don’t they look happy?
A French Wedding
The day before the wedding is all about preparation. We, along with most of their family and a good many friends, descended on the reception hall to set up the room for the next day. First we started with an empty room. Tables, chairs, all the coverings, dishes, glasses etc were there. It was up to us to transform the room into a beautiful place for a wedding reception.
So what’s the plan? Charlotte had it all figured out.
After SEVERAL hours, it was done. It was fun to be a part of it all.
We headed home for dinner, and to get some rest for the next day.
The morning of the big day had arrived, and we were all in a bustle. We departed very early for Charlottes’s Dad’s flat and then off for make-up, hair and a manicure. If you look closely at the photograph, you will see me in the mirror taking this picture.
Here comes Mom. Doesn’t she look happy and excited?
Once that was done, we started getting dressed at Charlotte’s Dad’s flat. It was a blast.
Here, is a picture of what Charlotte calls her two Moms. I was very touched and honored to have been there to help her get dressed.
Dad was nervous and needed help from his son. It was very sweet.
Once Charlotte was ready, she was just stunning.
She wanted me to include this picture. She was so happy I was there, she missed Rod, but she was please that Elsie had come with me to share her special day.
Everyone was ready, and now we were waiting for Guillaume to come and present his Bride with the Bridal Bouquet.
Everyone was anxiously looking out the window to see Guillaume come down the street towards the flat. It was all very exciting.
He arrived and saw his bride for the first time and then offered her the Bridal Bouquet. Of course, she accepted it.
We gave them a moment. He told Charlotte he loved her, and she was beautiful. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
Don’t they look happy?
Now we were off to the magistrates for the first ceremony. We gathered our things (and an umbrella). The wedding party, family members and close family friends started the walk to the magistrates. As is the tradition, the father escorted his daughter to the magistrates to be wed. We were walking not very far behind. Charlotte’s Dad was so very proud.
We were all crossing our fingers that the weather would hold. It was threatening to rain.
When we arrived at the magistrates building, we had to wait our turn before we could proceed into the magistrate’s chambers. Many wedding ceremonies were going on that day.
It was finally our turn. We were escorted to the side door of the building. We were now in the magistrate’s chambers to start the first marriage ceremony.
The magistrate then preformed the ceremony where Charlotte and Guillaume were asked if they choose to be married to each other. It was all done with such grace. It was very touching for all who attended.
The next thing that happened was all the witnesses then signed the Marriage Certificate, two witnesses each, for both the bride and groom. Then Charlotte and Guillaume signed, and lastly, the magistrate made it official. It was a very nice start to the marriage day.
After the ceremony, we left through the front door. Charlotte and Guillaume were now married according to France.
Watch your step.
We headed off to lunch while Charlotte’s Dad and the Photographer took them to a local garden for pictures.
After a delightful lunch at the flat, we headed over to the Church were Charlotte and Guillaume would now to be married in the eyes of God. That was when it started to rain. In fact, it poured.
Once the wedding guests were in their seats for the ceremony, the priest came down the aisle, signaling everyone that the marriage ceremony had begun. First came Guillaume with his Mom, followed by Charlotte’s Mom and Guillaume’s Dad.
Then came Charlotte and her Dad followed by the Flower Girls.
The vows were then performed.
Then the guests left the church and waited outside for the bride and groom to follow.
Here, they are on the steps of the church. And it was raining. It was a good thing there was an overhang.
We now headed to the reception hall for the cocktail party. There would be upwards of 350 guests that would attend the cocktail party. At the wedding reception dinner, there would be around 150 guests. Not everyone is invited to both. The rain had subsided for a bit, so the party got started without a hitch.
Everyone was having such a great time, and Charlotte’s Dad was in very high spirits.
But alas it started to pour again, but spirits were high making it not a problem at all.
Once the cocktail party was over, the invited dinner guests headed into the main reception room for a five-course meal with wine and Champagne to go with each course.
In the front entrance of the reception hall, Charlotte and Guillaume had set up a guest book with the opportunity to create fun photos to include in the book. This was all done in the theme of the USA. If you look closely, the map of the USA has the tables and assigned seating for the dinner guests.
Everyone had fun with this, especially Charlotte’s Dad and her brother.
Dinner was fantastic. Then came dessert. Their traditional wedding dessert is called a “Pièce-montée.” It is like a “Croquembouche”, but a bit fancier. Charlotte had set the wedding theme as the USA so she also included a cupcake tower, as well.
Charlotte had a very hard time finding someone to make cupcakes for her wedding reception. She was able to locate a British pastry chief who agreed to create the cupcake tower and the cake topper for their wedding. Charlotte and Guillaume had to explain the cupcake tower to their guests.
Once the Dinner was over, Champagne toasts were made, and the Cafe’ was served it was a little after 12 midnight. That was when the entertainment began. It’s all about what happened at the bachelor/bachelorette parties. Bachelor parties are very different in France then they are in the US. The bride and groom are whisked away, separately, by their witnesses and friends, for a few days. They are required to dress up and do fun and humiliating things in public. They collect money from the passers by who are willing to pay them for their performances or costumes. It’s kind of like being a bad (or good, depending on who you speak to..LOL) street performer. Their experiences are recorded in pictures and videos. The newly married couple then compares who did better, and collected the most money at the reception while they view the videos and pictures of each other. It was really fun to watch.
Then Charlotte and Guillaume preformed for each other. In their case, they were cheerleaders and did a cheer for each other. It was a magnificent time for everyone. The last part of the entertainment was a game show with facts about the US that Guillaume and Charlotte were required to answered, and of course, it was tallied up to see who did the best.
Then the party began in earnest. They started the dance around 2:00 am. Elsie and I gave up the ghost around 3:30 am. The party didn’t end until well after 6:00 am.
The next morning we headed back to the reception hall at around 11:00 am for the wedding brunch. It was another party.
Of course, the food and wines were fantastic. Would you expect anything less?
Then everyone helped clean up after all the festivities.
The party was over.
The very next day we did sleep in. There were just a few things left that needed to be taken care of, but for all intents and purposes, the wedding festivities were done. It was an amazing experience, one I shall never forget. Before I end this story, I will leave you with one last picture.
It was a rainy day. We were all feeling a bit lazy. I was taking some pictures of the rain. Some of the flowers from the wedding had been left outside. I couldn’t help but capture this image of the last vestiges of a wedding I will never forget..
Ah, it’s not over yet. The flower and food posts are coming very soon. To be continued…
Life’s journey continues…
If you enjoyed this article, check out the other “Trip To France” articles: Week 1, Week 2, Flowers in France, and Pineau des Charentes 2010. They are full of pictures from the many places we visited. It will indeed give you a feel of France and all that we experienced.