French wedding traditions can vary depending on the region and religion of the couple. In general, though, French weddings are elaborate affairs that require a lot of planning and preparation to ensure that everything goes smoothly on the big day. Some of the most common traditions include wearing bridal gowns with long trains, exchanging rings as part of a formal ceremony, and having the marriage officialized in a religious or civil ceremony. Some of the most popular French wedding traditions include:
1. Choosing a bridal gown with a long train.
One of the most iconic elements of French wedding ceremonies is the bride’s long, trailing bridal gown. This tradition dates back to medieval times when it was believed that the longer the train, the more blessed the union would be. While today’s brides may not necessarily believe in this superstition, many still choose to wear a gown with a long train as a way to pay homage to French wedding tradition.
2. Exchanging rings during the ceremony.
In most Western weddings, couples exchange rings as a symbol of their eternal love and commitment to one another. In France, however, couples often exchange rings during the actual wedding ceremony as part of the exchange of vows. This tradition is believed to date back to the days when it was more common for couples to marry by proxy, with someone else standing in for the groom or bride. By exchanging rings during the wedding ceremony in person, it was thought that couples were ensuring that they were truly committing to each other for life.
3. Getting married in a church or civil ceremony.
In France, it is common for couples to have their marriages officially recognized by either a religious authority or the state. For some people this may seem unnecessary – after all, isn’t a couple’s love for each other enough? – but for many French couples it is an important part of getting married. Not only does it ensure that their marriage will be legally binding, but it also allows them to share their vows with friends and family in a more public setting.
4. Serving a multi-course meal at the reception.
In France, it is customary for couples to serve their guests a multi-course meal – typically consisting of at least four courses – at their wedding reception. This tradition dates back to a time when weddings were more like grand parties than the intimate affairs they are today, and it is still seen as a way to show your guests how much you appreciate their presence on your big day.
5. Dancing the traditional wedding dance.
At most French weddings, couples will take to the dance floor for the traditional wedding dance known as the quadrille. This dance dates back to the 18th century and was originally performed by four couples who would link arms and dance in a square formation. Today, the quadrille is typically performed by the bride and groom with their parents and grandparents, but anyone can join in on the fun.
6. Giving gifts to the bridal party.
In France, it is customary for couples to give gifts to their bridal party – typically consisting of the maid of honor, best man, and bridesmaids – as a token of their appreciation. This gift might be a simple trinket or jewelry, but it is always something that the couple picks out specifically for each person rather than buying everyone the same item.
7. Throwing rice at the newlyweds.
In many Western cultures, guests traditionally throw rice at the newlyweds as they leave the ceremony. In France, however, guests often throw wheat – which is seen as a symbol of fertility – instead. This tradition dates back to pagan times when it was believed that the gods would bless a couple with many children if they were showered with wheat.
8. Giving the bride a bouquet of wheat.
In addition to throwing wheat at the newlyweds, guests in France often give them a bouquet of wheat that is tied with ribbon, flowers, or herbs. These bouquets symbolize fertility, prosperity, and health – all things that every couple hopes for on their wedding day!
What to expect at a typical French wedding?
A typical French wedding will usually involve a large number of guests, all of whom will be expected to attend the ceremony and reception. The bride and groom will usually exchange vows in front of a priest or other officiant, and then share a kiss to seal their marriage. After the ceremony, the guests will often head to a nearby restaurant or other venue for the reception, where they will enjoy a meal and dance the night away.
The dress code at a typical French wedding tends to be fairly formal, with the bride wearing a white or off-white gown and black shoes, and the groom wearing a tuxedo. The guests will usually also wear formal attire, often including dresses for women and suits or tuxedos for men. A French wedding is typically an elegant and sophisticated affair, with traditions that have been carried down through the ages. Although there may be some variations from one wedding to another, most French weddings follow this basic formula for success.
If you are planning to attend a wedding in France, it is important to understand what to expect so that you can prepare accordingly. You will want to make sure that you are dressed appropriately and that you understand the basic etiquette of a French wedding before you attend. By doing so, you can ensure that you have a wonderful time at this special event.
Do French weddings have bridesmaids?
French weddings do not typically have bridesmaids, but some couples may choose to include them if they are close friends or family members. Some couples also choose to have flower girls in their wedding party, which are young children who carry flowers down the aisle and hand them out to guests. Additionally, it is common for couples to have groomsmen, who are typically friends or family members who assist the groom during the ceremony. Finally, many couples choose to have a best man, who is usually someone close to the groom, such as his brother or best friend. Regardless of these details for French weddings, it is important for couples to discuss these options and decide on which parts of the wedding are important to them. This can help ensure that their wedding is customized to fit their unique preferences and it will also help make the planning process more enjoyable for both of them.
What is a French wedding cake?
A French wedding cake is a very specific type of cake that is not typically found outside of France. It is a tall, multi-layered cake with elaborate cream-filled flower decorations on top. These cakes are often decorated in a haphazard way, and can also feature other sweet treats such as macarons or colorful candies. French wedding cakes are typically served at very formal weddings, and are often cut into thin slices so that everyone can enjoy a piece.