Mon dieu! Did you know that brides wearing a white gown on the wedding day is one of many customs that began in France? Or that the traditional bridal hope chest, otherwise known as the “trousseau” in French, also originated in France? They are just two French wedding traditions that are still used today and have been adopted into North American weddings. If you’re obsessed with all things French and are curious about incorporating more French wedding traditions into your special day, you might want to learn more about romantic French wedding traditions that definitely have that je ne sais quoi factor. Below are some of our favorite French wedding traditions—prepare to be inspired!
1. The bride isn’t the star of the show
There are no bridezillas at a French wedding. Instead, the big day is seen as a celebration for the union of the two families. Similarly, the groom is looked upon as having an equal role in the festivities. For example, when the bride receives an engagement ring from her beloved, she typically gives him a watch in return. Additionally, it’s custom for the bride and groom to have an equal number of groom and bride witnesses. So, basically, a French wedding is truly a symbol of union between both the bride and groom equally.
2. The wedding procession
Traditionally, the groom picks up his bride on the morning of their wedding ceremony. The procession is led by musicians followed by the bride with her father. On the way to the church, children block the path of the procession with white ribbons, stretching them across the road. It’s up to the bride to cut the ribbons as she passes through, proving that she’s ready to overcome any challenges married life might throw at her.
3. La Mairie
This is part legal document, part tradition as there is no other way to legally tie the knot in France. The marriage ceremony must be performed by the mayor at the town hall as a public event with the doors remaining open. This is to allow anyone who opposes the marriage to do so. If couples want a more spiritual element to their wedding, they will have a religious ceremony afterwards.
4. No bridesmaids or best man
The French don’t have a typical wedding party (or one that we’re used to seeing in North America). Instead, the bride and groom can have one or two witnesses each for the ceremony. However, they do have children in the procession, similar to a flower girl and ring bearer.
5. The entrance
Once the guests are seated, the groom will walk down the aisle with his mother, followed by the flower girls scattering petals and the ring bearer. The bride is escorted by her father. The bride and groom are seated on red velvet chairs when exchanging their vows.
6. The cake
Instead of a traditional wedding cake, the French have a croquembouche, which is a dessert made up of small vanilla cream-filled pastry puffs placed in the shape of a pyramid and covered in glaze. The dessert stems from an old tradition where guests would bring small cakes to the reception and place them in the middle of a table.
7. It’s an all-day affair
If you’re down for a long party, then you’ll love a French wedding since it lasts all day and into the next! Typically, it begins with a civil ceremony (La Mairie) in the morning followed by a religious ceremony. Next is an intimate cocktail reception (known as “vin d’honneur”) followed by a four- or five-course meal, and then dancing, with no signs of winding down until four or five in the morning, or even later!
8. Leaving the church
The bride and groom are showered with wheat or rice as a symbol of fertility as they leave the church ceremony. They will also walk on laurel leaves that have also been scattered outside of the church, which symbolize “achievement.”
9. La Soupe à l’Oignon
The traditional French soup is served in the early morning hours after the wedding to help cure a hangover and nourish guests after a long night of partying.
What’s not to like about these divine French wedding traditions? From an extended celebration to a unique wedding cake, there’s a lot to adopt into your French-inspired wedding. C’est si bon!