Sunday, 12 August 2012

White Lace and Satin

I love weddings. All that fuss and white fluffy dresses, young girls in what they consider to be their finery, middle aged ladies in their full glory and old ladies with hankies and tears. I am happy to wait outside any church for the bride to come out, just to see the the young couple even if they are complete strangers to me. So imagine my excitement when we came back from shopping the other day to find a wedding invitation in our letter box ! Our first French wedding.

Our neighbours (I use that term loosely, as our nearest neighbours are one kilometre away) had invited us to the church service and a “vin d’honneur” for their daughter's wedding. Only one hitch, the wedding was at 15.30 and we had gîte guests arriving. The Dutch are not a problem as they arrive late, but we had French guests too, so I crossed all my fingers and toes and waited. The French gîte guests turned up early 14.20 to be exact and after showing them around, I rushed around to get dressed and we were soon on our way into Cormatin. Not a parking place to be found, but we squeezed our car into a gap and were at the church on time.

The groom and his mother, then the bride’s mother and the groom’s father came down the aisle followed by the bride and her father and doesn’t she look just lovely ! A nice traditional wedding march was used, Mendelssohn’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, and the service was on a roll. I was surprised at how many people talked through a lot of the processional and it was a good job the priest had a microphone or we wouldn’t have heard the opening words at all.

Whether is a Catholic thing, a French thing or a modern thing I don’t know, but I do find it difficult to follow a French service. As an Anglican I am used to the Book of Common Prayer whereby you follow what’s going on, but here, you get handed a printed sheet that fills in the pertinent details (bible readings, special prayers and fortunately this time Our Father in French), but anything the priest is saying is either left up to him to make up as he goes along or it is deliberately left a mystery, so there was no:

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today in the sight of God and in the presence of these witnesses to join this man and this woman …. If any person can show just cause why they may not be joined together – let them speak now or forever hold their peace.” And after the traditional pause “Who is here to give this woman to be married to this man?

Partly I suppose because the young couple were in fact already married, they had just come from the town hall which is the only place you can actually get married in France, but I really had the feeling that the priest actually had an enormous amount of freedom to say what he wanted, even the vows were significantly briefer than an Anglican wedding, but the biggest difference, I have noticed before (when hanging around outside churches to see the bride) the guests leave before the couple, which I find most peculiar. At the end of the service we all kind of sauntered out of the church and when we had all gone, the couple finally came out to very loud applause, throwing of lavender and blowing of bubbles. Sadly being too far back, the photos of this were not very effective which is a pity as it was a lovely sight. There was also an interesting twist to the traditional recessional music, they chose Bob Marley’s “One Love” followed by “Is This Love”, very nice walking music though.

Before we headed off into the French countryside to get to the “vin d’honneur” venue, we were given a lace bow to tie to our car. I have seen these for years in France as ex-wedding guests leave the lace on their car until they fall apart - the bows that is, not necessarily the cars. I am so excited that I am now the proud owner of a French wedding lace bow and it will stay attached to the drivers’ door for as long I can keep it there.

La Tuilerie Website

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