11 French wedding traditions

11 French wedding traditions

Like most celebrations in France, weddings are filled with tradition, and from the absence of bridesmaids to the all-night-long parties, the French have a particular way of celebrating their big day

<3 Official wedding celebrations in France kick off with a fiançailles, a sort of engagement party when the two families spend a night or weekend getting to know one another and celebrating (and planning) the forth-coming nuptials!

<3 French weddings are less gendered and traditionally, when the bride-to-be receives an engagement ring, she gives her future husband a nice watch.

<3 Once all the guests are seated, it is traditional for the groom to walk down the aisle with his mother.

<3 Generally, there are no bridesmaids or best man. Instead the couple have one or two witnesses each. They do, however have children leading the way for the bride, the equivalent of flower girls and ring barers.

<3 Guests throw rice or confetti over the wedding couple as they leave the church in a custom that symbolises warding off evil spirits and bestowing prosperity and fertility on the newlyweds.

<3 On the drive from the church to the reception, all the cars in the wedding party loudly sound their horns. This tradition dates back to the Middle Ages when many people got married in secret and in an effort to counteract this the authorities required weddings to be celebrated as noisily as possible.

<3 The bride’s garter (la jarretière) is auctioned during the wedding dinner. The winning bidder then hands the money over to the happy couple before removing the garter from the bride’s leg with his teeth.


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<3 Sugar-coated almonds, known as dragées, are given to wedding guests, usually set next to each place at the wedding meal. In a tradition also often seen at weddings in the UK, the sweets are symbol of eternal love and fertility.

<3 The traditional wedding ‘cake’ is a pyramid tower made up of layers of small chou cakes (little round eclairs filled with crème anglaise, the yellow custard cream) held together with a coating of caramel syrup.

<3 The married couple may well be disturbed on their wedding night by guests entering the bedroom with a chamber pot containing a concoction of various drink and food products, known as the pôt de chambre, which the newlyweds must consume! This custom originates from Aveyron where in olden times, half of the young guests would help the couple to hide the morning after their wedding and the other half would try to find them. The idea was that they would always be found and must drink from the pot together with everyone present, thus marking their transition from single youth to married adulthood.

<3 While many American and British wedding budgets include things like chair covers, French couples spend money on food and drink for their guests and on keeping the DJ going until the small hours.

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