So last week we were all Americana for the 4th of July and this week, we are all about France. Bastille Day falls on Saturday and we will take any opportunity to stay a week in France! One of most popular posts of last year was Irish Wedding Traditions and we even produced a styled shoot based on these traditions for Patrick’s Day this year. My brother got married in France a few years ago and it was a real treat for us how they incorporated many French wedding traditions throughout their day so I thought I’d start this week by sharing a few with you today.

Trousseau and Wedding Armoire

Some of you might already be familiar with the french word “trousseau” which comes from the french word “trousse”, literally meaning a bundle of linens and clothing. It would contain things like Sunday wear, day dresses, lingerie and linens that the bride or the mother of the bride to-be would have embroidered with the initials of her future family. The wedding armoire or a hope chest was used for a bride’s trousseau and would have been hand carved with symbols of wealth and prosperity by the father of the bride when she was a child. This would have been given to her in her teenage years to fill with important pieces that she could take with her to hew new home. In the 18th century, wedding armoires were also manufactured by craftsmen and given to a newly married couple as their gift.

Nowadays, the concept of the trousseau is still kept alive in the form of the bridal shower in the States where brides receive gifts for the home from friends and family to start her married life. Even though hope chests are still made and sold today, they are usually only purchased as furniture for the home but what about using them at your wedding to display important family heirlooms, photographs or as a guestbook station perhaps? Or even these simple beautiful flowers.

French Wedding Traditions

Wedding Procession

This is a tradition that is still practiced in small villages in France today where the groom calls to the home of his bride-to-be on the morning of their wedding. The procession is headed by musicians and followed by the bride with her father. The guests and family follow behind them again with the groom and his mother at the very back of the line. As the wedding couple make their way to the chapel, village children stretch white ribbon across the road that the bride must cut as she passes.

French Wedding Traditions

French Wedding Tradition Ideas

Wedding Ceremony

The wedding ceremony held in the church is decorated in white. It is custom in France for the groom to walk his mother down the aisle when the guests are seated. The groom and bride are seated in two red velvet chairs and exchange their vows. They receive their final blessing beneath a silk canopy known as a “carre”. On leaving the church, they are showered with grains of wheat and rice – symbols of prosperity and fertility.

French Wedding Ideas

French Wedding Traditions

Wedding Reception

Another old tradition that I came across was one where the guests would bring small cakes to the wedding and pile them as high as they could in the centre of the table. If the happy couple managed to share a kiss over the pile without knocking the cakes then they would live a lifetime of prosperity. The French cake is known as Croquembouche and is made up of small creme filed pastry puffs stacked high into the shape of a pyramid. I remember the Croquembouche being wheeled out at my brothers wedding covered in sparklers and loud fan fair music. It was great! In the south of France, it is customary to serve sanglier (spit roast wild boar), a local delicacy.

Wedding Traditions in France

La Coupe de Mariage

During the reception, it is custom for the couple to use a toasting cup called a “Coupe de Mariage”. Ever wondered where the phrase “would like to raise a toast” came from? Well, the origin of giving this toast began in France, when a small piece of toast was literally dropped into the couple’s wine to ensure a healthy life. The couple would lift their glass to “raise a toast” and as you know, it is still one of the most common customs today.

Sabrage

I’ve seen this done once or twice before and basically it is when a bottle of champagne is opened using a sabre. The saber is slid along the body of the bottle toward the neck and the force of the blade hitting the lip breaks the glass to separate the collar from the neck of the bottle. The cork and collar remain together after separating from the neck and it certainly has that ahhh sort of effect but definitely not one to try with a shaky hand!

Wedding Traditions in France

Dragée

Another old French wedding custom is to give 5 dragée’s to each guest at their wedding symbolising Health, Wealth, Happiness, Longevity, and Fertility. Dragée’s are sugar or chocolate covered almonds and are still given at French weddings today (sometimes they are even thrown to the children after the church ceremony) but more often than not, guests get more than 5 each!

French Wedding Traditions

Le Charivari

Chiverie is a fun prank that still has it’s place today at the more boisterous wedding where guests gather outside the newlyweds bedroom after the reception to bang pot’s and pans and make lots of noise in general until the bride and groom reappear. They are then invited in and offered more champagne, food and treats in exchange for some peace and quiet later on so they can enjoy their first married night!

What do you think? Would you incorporate any of these traditions into your wedding day?

Images sourced from; Anne McElwain via Green Wedding Shoes | Sophie Delaveau | Claire Eliza |4 & 5 Nicolas Chauveau Martha Stewart | Caroline Alexander | Ed Peers

3 Responses

  1. Monique

    Most memorable traditions for a beautiful happy once in a lifetime union. Thank you

    Reply

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