For many brides and grooms, acknowledging their ethnicity during their wedding ceremony is a way to pay homage to the family that’s come before them. Here in the United States, where we enjoy a melting pot of ethnic and religious backgrounds, the opportunity to bear witness to the traditions of other cultures is highly accessible, providing us with a multitude of ways to celebrate our heritage – especially if ours is a mix of several different cultures.
According to “Brides Magazine,” 12% of US couples will include customs from their ethnic background in their weddings. Additionally, more will include customs that aren’t necessarily from their own backgrounds, but from cultures they find personally meaningful.
If you’re looking to include some French customs or traditions into your wedding celebrations, why not consider the following:
In many smaller French towns, the groom will meet his betrothed at her home on the day of the wedding and escort her to the ceremony. Across the road, children stretch white ribbons which the bride cuts as they proceed towards the chapel.
You might choose to emulate this custom by having white ribbons strung across the center aisle of the temple or church. (Guests can be seated using the outside aisles.) Then, as you proceed down the aisle towards your husband-to-be, you (or a small child) could cut the ribbons with silver-handled scissors.
Use laurel leaves instead of rose petals to line the path towards the altar.
Some French bridal couples choose to serve a croquembouche instead of a wedding cake. This tasty desert is a pyramid of crème-filled pastry puffs that are drizzled with a caramel glaze. You might consider having one instead of, or in addition to, a regular wedding cake. You might also request your baker to create a cake in the shape of the Eiffel Tower or another famous French landmark.
You could recite part of your vows in French, then repeat them in English – or have the translation be a part of your wedding program.
Another tradition you could incorporate into your wedding celebration is that of “beheading” a bottle of champagne with a sabre specially-made for the occasion. Begun as a means of showing off their skill on horseback, the Hussards under Napoleon’s command celebrated their victories by ‘sabring’ off the top of a bottle of champagne. As legend has it, these skilled horsemen would ride on horseback at a full gallop while brave (or foolhardy!) ladies would hold up the bottles. With over 100 lbs. of pressure per square inch in a bottle of champagne, the sabre must strike the neck at exactly the right angle.
Today, celebrants can purchase decorative replicas of these sabres that have been faithfully recreated by artisans in Thiers, France – the French capital of cutlery and use them at their own wedding feasts. (You can view one of these specialized sabres by clicking on the related link at the top righthand side of this page…)
In France, during the reception the couple often uses a toasting cup called a “Coupe de Marriage.” (In fact, the origin of giving a toast began in France when a small piece of toast was dropped into the couple’s wine to ensure a healthy life. Hence the reference to lifting your glass in a “toast.”) Instead of lighting a unity candle, you might consider sipping from a Coupe de Marriage once the ceremony is complete, thereby signifying your new status as a couple. Use your favorite search engine to help you locate one of these special wedding cups online.
Undoubtedly, whatever way you choose to celebrate, your wedding ceremony will be as unique and filled with love as you are!