This is finally the time to read the last part about French weddings. If you have missed the first part, you can find it here. And without further ado, get your French dictionaries and c’est parti! ?
La Réception (The wedding breakfast)
After a couple of hours enjoying drinks during the “vin d’honneur”, it is now time to start the reception. This is the moment where the guests who were not invited to this part of the event will leave. All guests will enter the reception room and wait for the newlywed couple to do their big entrance! Once everyone found their table and seat, the meal can start. Depending on the couple’s choice, the meal can either be a buffet or a served service with waiters. Similarly to this, it is up to the couple to decide how many courses they want to include. Also, let’s be honest, cheese is usually not forgotten when making the decision ^^. For some weddings, the vin d’honneur is the starter of the meal and when all guests gain their table, the main course starts.
In France, and more specifically when it’s a big occasion like a wedding or even Christmas where a lot of food is involved, there is a little something to help. This is generally called “le trou Normand” but the name can vary in a different part of France. What is it? It’s simple, in between two meals (up to you to decide if you want it between the starter and the main or the main and the dessert) you will be served with ice cream – usually lemon or apple sorbet – accompany with a liquor pour on top of it. It helps the digestion during heavy meals. Many variations exist where you have different liquor or sorbet.
La pièce montée (The Wedding cake)
The traditional wedding cake in French is a tower of croquembouche made of tiny “choux” filled with a delicious pastry cream all wrapped in golden caramel. It will not be unusual to see 2 or 3 tier cake at a French wedding but la pièce montée is usually the preferred choice. Because the meal would have been pretty heavy, it is also no uncommon to see multiple small piece of cakes
Like every weddings, music, dance, video of the newlyweds and game organised by witnesses are also common in French weddings. Note that French weddings are celebrated very late in the night, until early morning (7am).
Today I would like to talk to you about traditional entertainment that you can see at French weddings. It’s called “le jeu de la jarretière” (the Garter’s game). The game is simple and can be associated with a friendly auction, where the prize is the Bride’s garter. This is a bidding game where men and women are against each other. The bride is standing on a chair or a table in the middle of her guests while the bid starts. To win the garter, men have to bid enough for the bride to show her garter until it’s completely revealed. On the other side, women have to refrain men from seeing the garter by bidding more than them. Each time a man bids, the bride has to lift her dress a little and has to continue until a woman outbids.
In short, a bid from a man requires the bride to lift her dress and a bid from a woman allows her to lower it. If no bid is higher than the last one made by a woman, the bride can keep her garter. However, if the garter is completely revealed, the higher bidder gets to take it off the bride with his teeth and can keep it as a prize. All the money from the game goes to the newlywed couple. Because of the way this game is played, not every bride feels confident to do so and therefore prefers not to have it as part of the entertainment.
Le pot de chambre (The chamber pot)
One of a famous tradition in French weddings is called “le pot de chambre”. This consist of the closest guest filling a big bowl – usually bought and decorated for the newlyweds – with everything left from the reception such as wine, champagne, meal leftover and cake pieces. Once ready, the next step is to find the newlywed couple who is sleeping in their room kept secret from people and make them eat/drink it. The aim is to perk them up after this long night of celebration. You have two schools, one who prefers to do this in the morning and one who prefers to do it at the end of festivities. Being a tradition at weddings, alternatives in the mixture is possible to make is less… distasteful ^^.
Le brunch du lendemain (Sunday brunch)
French weddings are usually celebrated over the weekend with the ceremony and reception on Saturday. As the venue is rented for the weekend, it is not uncommon to have close family and friends coming back to the venue on Sunday to do an improvised brunch with all the leftover from the reception. This is a good way to extend the festivities with close guests only.
Les cadeaux pour les invités (Wedding favours)
To thank every guest for coming to the wedding, the newlywed couple prepared small gifts for them. Traditionally it involves what we call “dragées” (sugared almonds filled with chocolate) but this can vary with more local gifts such as soap, lavender branch, small bottle of olive oil, small bottle of local liquor etc.
French weddings no longer have secrets for you! I hope you have learned some things that you did not know before. Don’t forget to check the first part if you missed it. It can be found here.
Stay safe and take care of yourself and your loved ones!
With love, Savannah xx