French Country Wedding

June 24, 2011

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Last weekend we went to a wedding. It was here in our tiny town and it took place in the town church. [A note on our geography: We live near Argentan. Argentan is a decent size town with a good hospital, 3 huge grocery stores and a quaint main street full of charming shops. Our kids attend school there. But we live outside of Argentan in one of several teeny, rural towns that surround it.]

We loved the wedding and thought we were so lucky to attend! When we arrived, the chapel was already full-to-overflowing, so we waited outside until the bride and groom emerged. The local fire brigade created an archway for them with a red fire hose (they practiced first to get it perfect). Isn’t that fun?

The weather was tricky that day and it started raining just as they came out of the church. The sea of umbrellas looked festive. Then, after the ceremony, the wedding party walked down the road to the community center for a reception.

In France, a person’s hometown means a lot. Many people attending the wedding had been baptized and married in that very same church. And their relatives are buried right outside in the church cemetery. We’ve noticed a strong, supportive community spirit in each tiny town.

Have you ever been to a wedding in another country? What was it like?

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rose June 24, 2011 at 3:54 am

Beautiful pictures….u guys so lucky to get the chance to attend the wedding..i bet it is a treasure for life!!

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2 Design Mom June 24, 2011 at 6:22 am

We really did feel lucky!

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3 Starr June 24, 2011 at 4:12 am

One of my “fluffly mood” books, Entres Nous, describes the authentic and lovely simplicity of a French wedding. It’s so neat to see your photos to provide the visuals for me.

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4 Kirsteen June 24, 2011 at 5:46 am

Aww, looks gorgeous. I love the fire hose archway!

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5 Design Mom June 24, 2011 at 8:07 am

Isn’t that so fun? I’m not sure if it’s a local tradition, or if the bride and groom are connected to the firefighters. But I love it either way!

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6 Claire June 24, 2011 at 9:04 pm

The groom was surely a firefighter himself, probably a volunteer firefighter too. It’s a custom in France to create a human arch with the bride or groom’s favorite hobby or job: Soccer balls hold by soccer players is a popular one.
How long did the wedding last in Normandy? 2 or 3 days?

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7 Meridith June 24, 2011 at 6:42 am

I went to a wedding in Japan once; it was really neat to see some western traditions blended in with the Japanese ones. The bride ends up wearing three different dresses: a white kimono, a red one, and a western bridal gown. I don’t know if getting to pick three dresses would make the decisions easier or harder.

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8 Elizabeth T. June 24, 2011 at 7:20 am

A dear friend who is French married a man from a “noble” family (not that it means much anymore, but she’ll be a Countess someday!) and the wedding was in his hometown in the Southwest of France, at an old Romanesque church. People in the town literally set up lawn chairs to watch the guests arriving — it was like a royal wedding, I guess! So fun, and the reception in the converted stables of the family chateau was also amazing! French weddings are beautiful.

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9 Design Mom June 24, 2011 at 8:09 am

Oh how fun, Elizabeth!

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10 Giulia June 24, 2011 at 7:40 am

I attended a wedding in Jordan – it was very different from anything I’ve seen before. A lot of pomp and theatre and food that could feed battalions. We had a great time.

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11 Kristen E June 24, 2011 at 7:44 am

That’s so cool! What a beautiful wedding. :) I was in Japan many years ago and saw a traditional wedding procession at the temple I was visiting – the clothing was amazingly intricate and beautiful. The bride was carried on a little platform to the wedding site, but I don’t remember if the groom was or not. I was only 10 years old at the time and I only had eyes for the bride!

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12 Design Mom June 24, 2011 at 8:08 am

I think I would absolutely love to attend a Japanese wedding. I’m picturing everything very formal, graceful and slow.

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13 Natalie C. June 24, 2011 at 8:43 am

I was in a friend’s wedding in France when I was 23- it was one of the most amazing parties I’ve ever been to- we danced until 3 in the morning, and because I was “the American” everyone assumed I could dance, so I literally danced all night. I also got to play the organ in her ceremony in an old chapel- your photos bring back so many memories!

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14 The New Diplomats Wife June 24, 2011 at 8:59 am

it’s always a treat to go somewhere for a wedding, even if its a production to get there – we once went to one on an island off the coast of africa and had to take two big planes, a little bitty plane, a motorboat and a donkey to get there. we did our own in poland and danced all night until seven in the morning.

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15 Tamara June 24, 2011 at 9:02 am

What a great experience! I love the fireman’s silver hats (do they have to polish those?) and the bridal party car prep (I wish we did things more like that here).

I married abroad myself and happened upon a wedding reception on a tiny island with 3000 or so people in 10 communities on Lake Titicaca, which was great. More modest, but beautiful in a different way. Woolen embroidered skirts and these shoulder drapes for women, men in black, dancing with hats on. The cultural universals were great too: music, drinks, little girls dancing around excitedly but shyly together in the corner, the older ladies serving drinks while observing, the younger women and men watching each other, huddled into groups on opposite ends of the dance floor.

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16 elz June 24, 2011 at 9:22 am

I’ve been to tropical destination weddings, but never a native wedding. The flowers tied on the pews are ADORABLE. Your kids are definitely going to have the best stories. I remember my time growing up in Europe fondly; they will thank you for this year later!

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17 Elizabeth June 24, 2011 at 9:45 am

So beautiful! I was married in the tiny Swiss village where my husband was born and where his mother and siblings still live. The church was exactly as you’ve described — his father was baptised, married to his mother and then buried there.

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18 kathy June 24, 2011 at 10:22 am

What is the red ‘hose’ tubing? Adorable as an archway for the bride and groom.

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19 Bobbi June 24, 2011 at 10:50 am

At the end of our third year of living in Germany, our neighbor asked our 3 children to be a part of her wedding. Our 10 year old daughter was the ring bearer, while our 8 year old son and 5 year old daughter were the flower children. The bride’s mother made our girls’ dresses (and gave me the leftover fabric for me to make one for our one year old baby girl). We were invited to the friends’ shower, which included a tradition of all bringing old crockery dishes, etc. that the bride and groom had to toss on the pavement to break, and then sweep it all up. Of course, the joke is to bring a lot of dishes so they have lots to clean up! It is a symbol of tossing out the old patterns of life as a single person and starting over with new dishes and a new life together. Cecily, our oldest, also had a part in the wedding luncheon afterwards. The bride’s mother had made a pair of dolls for her future grandchildren and written a lengthy poem to accompany the gift. She had Cecily memorize the poem (very common in German schools) and present the gift at the luncheon.The wedding was lovely, and we were delighted to be a part of it!

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20 Katielee June 24, 2011 at 2:58 pm

I attended my cousin’s wedding in a small town in Sweden (southern). Like this wedding, it also started raining just as the bride & groom came out of the church. We Americans started to feel sorry for them, but the locals assured us that it was very good luck to have rain on your Wedding day. I love that tradition!

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21 Sandra Gonzales June 24, 2011 at 8:47 pm

I like photo #5. I wonder what Ralph and Maude are discussing. It’s so sweet to see siblings chatting. And then there’s little Betty doing her own thing. Too, too cute! God bless you and your sweet family!

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22 Caroline June 25, 2011 at 12:28 am

I recently was in a family wedding in Brasil. It was stunning – so much attention paid to little details. But my favorite part (besides my 18 month old son walking down the aisle with a gaggle of flower girls of course) was really observing the differences and similarities to weddings I had been to in the states. It was a beautiful night for a wonderful couple. You can read more here: http://allorahmm.com/2011/06/05/a-magical-evening/

Love reading all your posts!

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23 My Traveling Troop June 25, 2011 at 12:43 am

What a beautiful wedding! I just love the fireman arch. It adds such a fun, unique and memorable moment to the occasion!

I married a guy in the US Navy, so we walked through an arch of swords. I’ll never forget it! :)

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24 Tanya D June 25, 2011 at 11:02 am

The wedding looks so beautiful and romantic. I’ve been to a few weddings in Switzerland and it’s interesting because everyone has to get married in city hall (church weddings are not legally recognized), then some have a separate ceremony in castle or church (one had the after-party in a chalet on top of a mountain where everyone spent the night). Fortunately, the city halls are usually quite old and beautiful and the officiator tries to make it special (with rose petals and candles) even though it’s a government office. I was the photographer for one of the Swiss weddings (a few pics here http://beenlostonce.blogspot.com/2011/03/my-amateur-hour.html). It’s been fun to see how different weddings are in different lands.

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25 Sarah June 25, 2011 at 7:16 pm

I was at a wedding in Israel once, very casual with a lot of dancing. But the best was being a bridesmaid in two Indian weddings (both in the States), one Sikh, one Hindu. It was so interesting to be a part of all the different ceremonies. And, it was amazing to get all dressed up in traditional garb. I still have my lenga and sari, and I LOVE them.

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26 Krystle June 26, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Great pictures! I totally love the bride’s veil!! So pretty.

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27 Dina June 26, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Beautiful and so quaint. We are flying to France this week as my sister-in-law is getting married this coming weekend in Normandy! And I was married in Brittany 6 years ago (after our American wedding). I can’t wait to party!

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28 Sandy June 26, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Oh my. I went to a wedding in China in April. I expected it to be beautiful and traditional and fascinating, but it was mostly just super-tacky. The trend in China right now is toward Western styles, and this really was. It was bad news. The only traditional thing they had at all was the red dress the bride changed into after the ceremony. Glad I went, though. Here’s a link to my academic blog and the entry about the wedding: http://sandyinfuxin.blogspot.com/2011/04/chinese-wedding.html

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29 Rebecca June 27, 2011 at 10:30 am

Wow, so quaint! What lovely pew decorations :)

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30 Di June 27, 2011 at 10:46 am

It looks like a fantastic day! I’ve been to many weddings overseas the – majority between 2 different nationalities so always with unique blends of each culture, such as the bagpiper at the Scottish/Guatemalan wedding in Guatemala, or an Irish/Italian wedding, a Greek/German wedding, a French/Italian wedding, a French/Scottish wedding, an Italian/American wedding…the food in Sardinia and Sicily were highlights – the best have been the Sicilian, the Greek and the Guatemalan weddings. In France it surprised me that it is normal for the bride and groom to get dressed up in their wedding finery in the days before the wedding to get their photos taken. In parts of Germany it is customary for the friends of the bride to “kidnap” her in the days and to go from pub to pub whilst her husband to be tries to find her, or in Sweden for the guests to provide entertainment…..thank goodness I didn’t have to get up and “perform”!

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31 Monica July 7, 2011 at 8:02 am

That looks so festive and lovely. The setting of a wedding makes it so much more special.

I was fortunate enough to be a maid of honor at my cousin’s wedding which took place in Austria (she lives there), and the party was held at a nearby castle (check it out here http://www.rosenburg.at ) including a falconry show and fireworks at night….incredible. This just brought back so many memories!!!

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32 patty July 6, 2013 at 9:52 am

What a lovely, simple but beautiful wedding. So different from the “bridezilla” weddings you often see here.

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33 Justina November 15, 2013 at 1:42 am

Today, I went to the beach front with my children.
I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and
said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the
shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely
off topic but I had to tell someone!

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