French Wedding Traditions Posted by Transparent Language on Aug 15, 2009 in Cooking, Culture
I was doing a wedding menu (menu mariage) translation today and I came across the word pièce montée, otherwise known as croquembouche. I have to say that I hadn’t specifically remembered this dessert from the French wedding I attended back in the summer of 2003, but it is all sort of a blur now anyway. I do remember however how the wedding took place in the city hall; then they held a separate, short ceremony right after that at the local church and then everyone moved on to a château some miles away for the reception and dinner.
The city hall ceremony is required in France as the church and state are strictly separated. The wedding vows at these ceremonies have been set in stone by the government since Napoleon times. A typical French wedding often lasts all day with the ceremonies, cocktails, four and five course meals, late night snacks and into the next with a day-after breakfast, a Sunday brunch or even continue on until Sunday lunch.
Just like the wedding I attended, many couples choose to hold their reception at one of France’s many, many beautiful chateaux. The staffs at these castles prepare everything from the appetizers, to the meal, to the cake, to the photographer and much, much more. Often times, these events include caricature artists who create and give guests free caricatures, gypsy dancers, magicians, children’s entertainment with babysitters, clowns, fairies and even videos and of course the dance entertainment may be provided by DJs, live orchestras or jazz musicians, just to name a few. The dancing often begins between the meal courses so guests can work up an appetite for the next course.
Finally, the bride and groom can choose to have a traditional wedding cake or a pièce montée, which is a cream puff pastry that takes the form of a pyramid, basket, horn of plenty or dishes. Bride and groom figurines are placed on top. Some of them even feature lighted sparklers. Tradition goes that the bride is to cut the first piece. She can be assisted by her groom if she chooses. The story goes that if this tradition was not kept, the bride would not be able to have children. Also, it is supposedly bad luck if the figurines fall down.
Reportedly, Eva Longoria had her pièce montée flown in to her Paris wedding from Los Angeles in first class accompanied by a body guard for just over $15,000.
Have any of you ever been to a French wedding? We would love for you to share your experiences with us by writing a comment!
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