In this case, the official was the groom’s father, so obviously the ceremony was a bit different than your run-of-the-mill affair. But after the touching and funny speech, it was time for the legal elements. Unlike any Anglo wedding I’ve been to, the French ceremony includes a reading of the legal texts defining marriage and the spouses’ responsibilities. There was a lot of emphasis on Republican values – as in the values of secularism, liberté, égalité and fraternité of the French Republic, not as in promising to honour God and guns. A lot about having and bringing up children as well, although I suspect at least some of that was snuck in by the potential future grandpapa. The reading out of the full names, occupations and addresses of the spouses and witnesses was also more legalistic than I’m used to – although this provided some more comedy as Aurélien’s poor sister (who did a stellar job of providing the English translation of the speech, I must point out) had to struggle through some unfamiliar American street names.
Legalities done (although not quite, since as I only discovered on Ella’s blog, the bride and groom were held up inside due to a paperwork snafu), it was back to the reception on foot in the rain. (I never actually made it into my heels until we got back to the garden party, thankfully enough as it turned out, since the little town hall was crammed with well-wishers and I had to stand for the marriage ceremony. Then I promptly sunk into the wet grass, but bravely kept my heels on for the vast majority of the evening nonetheless.)
I was having too much fun catching up with the Lancelots and Mary Kay and family under a tree (for reasons of rainyness) to even notice that apparently beverages were not being consumed, but once I found the cocktail and snack tent, I didn’t stray too far from the yummy themed cocktails while chatting to blogfriends and many of Ella’s lovely friends from America and Aurélien’s French (and non-French) mates. (Surprisingly, my favourite was a cosmopolitan – I would have gone with the mojito if you’d told me I could only have one.)
|Enjoying a cosmo with some of Ella's friends|
This got me into a bit of trouble, however. As the afternoon wore on and the cocktails kept rolling, we were having a lovely discussion about poetry and other literary matters with a couple of Ella’s friends (genuine poets!) and a few of Aurélien’s friends. At some point, it was remarked upon that the punch bowls were getting a bit empty and we set ourselves the challenge of finishing the cocktails before moving on. Now, I did realize that things had emptied out a bit in the garden, but if there was a formal announcement that dinner was served, we missed it and, well, you just don’t issue a drinking challenge to a Kiwi chick. In my much younger days, I was known for such party tricks as “opening my throat” and pouring a specified amount of booze down in one. I once bested a 6-foot-something man built like a brick sh!thouse at a challenge which involved drinking half a bottle of peach schnapps (ugh) each in the shortest amount of time possible. Then I probably demonstrated how I can fit my whole fist (well, up to the knuckles) in my mouth. Because that’s how classy Gwan rolls. Or rolled, I don’t tend to engage in competitive drinking anymore, but you can probably still persuade me to put my fist in my mouth after a few beverages, if no-one has a camera handy.
|Some of the cocktails in question|
Long story short (actually, the above was more a case of making a short story long, and unnecessarily filled with embarrassing drinking stories from my youth), before too long the handful of others had also drifted away and only myself and one of Aurélien’s friends were left finishing up our cocktails in the tent.
I only realized that quite a bit of time had passed when I got a call from Ella’s phone asking where I was. I should have figured something was up when my jokey reply to "Where were you?" (I answered, "We were in the bushes", obvs) was met with an excited squeal and a "Who's 'we'?!?". But I really wasn’t expecting to walk into the dining tent a) to find that everyone was not only seated, but had *finished the first course* and b) to a round of applause from the assembled guests. Hugely awkward, especially since I didn’t even know where I was sitting so couldn’t flee to my seat as quickly as I’d have liked! The rest of the evening, I had people coming up and saying (hopefully at least half-jokingly) that they’d heard I’d been “otherwise engaged” in the bushes while they were tucking into their entrées. Cringe! The end result was that the young gentleman and myself kept well away from each other and any suspicious bushes for the rest of the evening…
This post is getting long already, so I’ll just say that the rest of the evening was fab. I’ve never seen a bride and groom actually boogie on down in their first dance instead of doing a sedate shuffle, and I did plenty of my own moving and shaking as well. (Seriously, I dread to think of the millions of photos probably floating around of me with what was uber-fluffy hair and probably more cleavage than anyone was comfortable with.) As well as being my first French wedding, this was also my first New York wedding, so I even got to participate in a Jewish chair dance (sorry, I’m sure there’s a proper name for that). I was right next to the bride and groom when the call went out, so ended up being the only girl to take a leg of the chair. Turns out that holding up a chair with a fully-grown man (even a slim one) is hard, so I drafted in a replacement man about halfway through and joined the circle of dancers instead.
It really was a fun evening, and I loved getting to chat with some awesome people (including meeting the lovely Grenobloise for the first time). All in all, it was a great party and félicitations to the happy couple!
|Balloons of good fortune (or something). Grenobloise and I were a tad concerned these might end up setting one of the tents on fire|
|Ella didn't specify, but I suspect this shot of yours truly is courtesy of Camille Collin|