CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to France Magazines today CLICK HERE

11 French wedding traditions

PUBLISHED: 16:01 03 February 2017 | UPDATED: 16:56 03 February 2017

The traditional French wedding cake is known as croquemouche ©Thinkstock

The traditional French wedding cake is known as croquemouche ©Thinkstock

Adrien Roussel - Fotolia

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.

Confetti petals are sprinkled over the newly married couple open leaving the churchConfetti petals are sprinkled over the newly married couple open leaving the church

<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.


Related articles

Behind the scenes of a luxury wedding venue in France

Planning a wedding in France: the paperwork

A guide to getting married in France


<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.

The traditional French wedding cake is known as croquemouche ©ThinkstockThe traditional French wedding cake is known as croquemouche ©Thinkstock

<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.

More articles you might like:

Wedding belles

Tax rules for unmarried couples in France

Civil partnerships and estate planning in France

8 things you need to know about dating etiquette in France

The best (and worst) French chat-up lines

Article by Living France Living France

More from Travel

Friday, December 7, 2018

These welcoming and wonderful Christmas markets are just a short trip across the Channel away, so what are you waiting for?

Read more
Thursday, December 6, 2018

When it’s cold outside, indulge your love of French food and drink at one of these stylish pop-ups and events closer to home

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Discover the Christmas delights of northern France with our top five Christmas markets in the region

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

From lakeside jazz festivals to chestnut fairs, get stuck in with these events taking place across France in December 2018

Read more
Thursday, November 22, 2018

You can ditch the airport queues and long drives, and hit the rails instead, says Daniel Elkan. The French Alps has an abundance of ski resorts that suit families, easily accessed by train.

Read more
Monday, November 19, 2018

Budget travellers can pay nothing to stay at bed and breakfasts around the world during Barter Week in exchange for manual, creative or teaching activities

Read more
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Find out when your favourite French ski resort opens and closes this year and start planning your ski trip to France

Read more
Winter trips
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Find out what events are taking place in France to commemorate the Armistice centenary.

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

The full route of the 2019 Tour de France was announced in Paris on 25 October

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

From hot air balloon gatherings to scallop festivals, there’s always something fun and unique going on in France in November

Read more
Subscribe for

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

France Forum

Questions about France? Visit our free France forum to get help and advice from thousands of other Francophiles and expats. Topics include: property, tax, law, travelling, pets, education, healthcare and much more.

Join the forum

Most Read

Join us on social media

France magazine
Living France magazine
French Property News magazine

Enter our competitions

Win books, DVDs, travel and even holidays in France in our great competitions! Take a look at our latest competitions…

Enter now