Here Comes the Bride – Wedding Terms in French Posted by Josh Dougherty on Aug 18, 2016 in Culture, Vocabulary
It’s so nice to dress up and celebrate the union of two of your friends. With just a few words and a kiss (and a LOT of behind the scenes preparation…), the two have sealed their fate together as a married couple. After the ceremony comes arguably the best part: the open bar, awesome food, and the Electric Slide. And as I’m pushing 30, I’m noticing I’m getting more and more wedding invites in the mail… That time of life, I suppose.
In my last post, I discussed a few wedding traditions in France. Some may have been similar to your own country’s traditions (my country does les 4 éléments, for example), but others may be new (like le pot de chambre). For this post, I thought I’d share a list of vocabulary related to weddings. You may have learned the verb to marry and the words for husband and wife in your introductory French courses, but there may be other words you’re curious about. How do you say bridesmaid? What’s the word for a garter? Below I’ve listed some terms to describe this jour plein d’émotions (emotional day)! There are also a few important cultural notes in there.
se fiancer à OU avec quelqu’un – to get engaged to someone
les fiançailles (f) – engagement
une demande en mariage – marriage proposal
demander sa main en mariage – to ask for her/his hand in marriage
une surprise – surprise
le mariage – wedding
la noce – nuptials
le marié – groom
le mari – husband
l’époux (m) – spouse; husband
la mariée – bride
la femme – wife
l’épouse (f) – spouse; wife
un couple – a couple
les jeunes mariés – newlyweds
la cérémonie du mariage – the wedding ceremony
le garçon d’honneur – best man
la demoiselle d’honneur – maid of honor
la petite demoiselle d’honneur – flower girl*
le garçon d’honneur – ring bearer*
le témoin – the witness
le célébrant – officiant
les vœux de mariage – vows
un baiser – a kiss
les alliances – the wedding rings
* In France, the bridal party is a little different than it is in the States. There aren’t bridesmaids or groomsmen who walk down the aisle before the bride – these people mostly just sign the documents as witnesses. The role of flower girl and ring bearer don’t exist per se, but these are the terms for the children in the bridal party. You may find a flower girl or ring bearer now, but it’s not traditional. Oftentimes, the groom will carry the rings in his pocket.
la robe de mariée – the wedding gown
un voile – a veil
la dentelle – lace
un costume – a suit
un smoking – a tuxedo
un nœud papillon – a bow tie
une cravate – a tie
un bouquet de fleurs – a bouquet
la jarretière – the garter
le repas de mariage – the reception
la pièce montée – the wedding cake**
le cocktail – cocktail hour
les petits fours – appetizers/finger foods
une coupe de champagne – a glass of champagne
les discours – speeches
la lune de miel – honeymoon
** Make sure to read Elizabeth’s post on la pièce montée. Traditionally, weddings in France don’t use the same kind of cake we do in Anglophone countries. That isn’t to say you won’t find other cakes, though.
With the supplied vocabulary or any other resources you may have, can you describe your dream wedding? If you’ve already gotten married, can you tell our readers what your wedding was like?
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