Wedding Traditions Of France

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Wedding Traditions Of France


The wedding traditions of France are often thought of as very old traditions and a far cry from what we know of today. However, some traditions have either been changed or have been given different names. In either case, you might find yourself surprised at how similar the customs are with today’s society.


White Wedding Dress


Back during the renaissance and medieval times, wedding dresses were simply just the best dress that they owned. The dresses had no particular color and only included a few things such as ribbons, tassels and jewelry which made the dress more ornate. Since there was no standard dress color, it was also not out of the ordinary for the bride to wear a black dress if she was a widow. It has only been more recently that brides began to wear white as a traditional white dress, as they believe it represents the bride’s purity.


The all white wedding dress in French custom was first worn by Ann of Brittany, who was the daughter of Francis II. It was her third marriage and she wed Louis XII of France in 1527. The all white wedding dress of France did not become popular until the nineteenth century. The traditional French wedding dress from then would consist of an all white dress with some silver or gold embroidery, while the modern dresses of today are said to have been copied after Empress Eugenie when she married Napoleon III in 1853. Her dress was considered very ornate and elaborate.


Hope Chest


Have you ever heard of a hope chest? The tradition is thought to be known that it is given to a young woman to put certain items inside that she would like to save for after her wedding or items that she hopes for like getting married. In traditional French custom it was called a trousseau, which would include such items as everyday dresses, embroidered linens, lingerie and her Sunday’s best dress, which is meant for her to prepare for her future family. The trousseau, or as mentioned today’s hope chest, was a wood chest that would have been carved with symbols that represent prosperity and wealth. It would have been made by the young woman’s father and given to her while she is young so that she could begin to fill it with her hope items for her future home. This way, after she marries, she could take it with her and already have the things that she will need in her new home. The traditional French trousseau is said to have inspired our custom of a bridal shower.


Wedding Procession


One of the first thoughts you may have when you hear the word wedding procession is a wedding party that includes bridesmaids and groomsmen walking down the aisle along with the flower girl and ring bearer just before the bride. The traditional French custom of a wedding procession, which is still practiced in some French towns, would consist of the groom calling up his bride in the morning on the day of their wedding. The groom would go to the bride’s home and walk her to the church. In front of them would be musicians playing, while behind the future couple would be their family and friends.


The children would try and block the future man and wife when they were on their way to the church by tying white ribbons so that the future bride would have to cut them to get by. Sometimes the beggars would also block the path of the future bride and groom causing the couple to give something to move. It might seem a bit silly, but it all has a symbolic meaning in that in their lives together will have obstacles to overcome and that they will go through them together.


The French wedding would begin with a church that is filled with flowers and incense. The bride and groom would be under a silk canopy, which is now been turned into the veil that brides wear today. The fabric was held over them as they did their vows with the priest. The fabric was said to protect them from bad omens. Outside the wedding guests were ready to shower the couple with either rice or wheat, which would represent fertility and prosperity. As they walk to leave the chapel they would either walk on laurel leaves or through an arch that has been covered with flowers. Guests would toss the children dragees, which is an almond candy.