Thursday, May 27, 2010

A big fat French wedding

When I hear that one of Remi’s friends is getting married, my first reaction is happiness that they’ve found that special someone and are ready to commit to them. My second reaction is usually a groan because we’ll probably be invited to the blessed event that will last until 3 or 4 in the morning. And I really hate staying up late. Or rather, I hate that feeling like I’ve been run over by a semi the next day because I’m lacking sleep.

So you can understand why a few days before the wedding, I was secretly hoping bride or groom would get major cold feet and call the whole thing off. Or a massive stomach bug that would have them stuck in bed. (Let me say they’re both lovely people and I really do wish them the best!) I was also nervous because since we couldn’t find a babysitter we’d be bringing our not even two-year-old along with us. I had no idea if she would be able to sleep or what the set-up would be. To add just a bit more spice to the whole situation, Remi would be working the day after. So at one point there was talk of us getting a hotel the night of the wedding then driving back to his parents’ the day after so he could work and I could walk around like a zombie chasing JuJu. Luckily in the end we just decided to drive directly back to our town, a two-hour drive, so at least I could just sleep in Sunday!

So here are the highlights or our French wedding experience:

7:30 pm. We arrived at the reception site, a complex of lovely old buildings in the countryside, where bride and groom and guests were still milling about outside for the champagne and hors d’oeuvres. After four minutes of shyness, Juliette discovered her legs and wanted to walk/run everywhere, more or less, mostly less, holding my or Remi’s hand. She only slowed down slightly when she met another toddler or baby. Yes, that was my child screaming as I picked her up when it was time for a group picture which took excruciatingly long. Yes, that was her again screaming when I had to remind her not to walk behind the serving tables.

8:30 pm. We made our way to the reception hall and luckily met up with other friends who had a baby. They were going to put him in one of the hotel rooms of the complex where a friend was staying that night. So we could safely have Juliette sleeping in her playpen in a controlled access area and not just next to the dance floor. Phew.

Juliette took her bottle as we discovered the menu for the night’s meal and admired the skewered bread. My mouth started watering as I learned what we’d be eating…

9:30 pm. I put Juliette up in the room where she didn’t protest at all. Then I went back downstairs to see the cute appetizer that had been set at my place at the table. It was what they called a medaillion, a tiny piece, of lobster in a buttery sauce. Remi and I started making conversation with our tablemates. They were all interested to know what I thought of France and where the heck Alabama was. (I gave them the pat answers about how France is far from my family and that’s tough to deal with.)

The hours rolled by along with the other courses. An entrée of sole and little langoustines (some type of shrimp) in a sweet sauce with finely cut vegetables. The main course was a very nice cut of beef with what appeared to be a small slice of foie gras on top, though I didn’t eat that, as the meat was rich enough. And a sauce apparently made with truffles, but I’m no connoisseur to really know the difference. Of course, followed by cheese, nicely presented on a platter with a shot glass of cider.

In between there were a few events to pay tribute to the bride and groom like a slide show of pictures of them as kids and up to the present. A song sung by a group of their friends. We continued chatting with our new acquaintances. I noticed how husbands and wives are on their best behavior at weddings. All decked out in their finest, remembering their own wedding memories, you’d never guess how much they bicker over who’s going to do the dishes or why there is dirty laundry in every corner. At least that’s my own case!

1:00 a.m. And then there was the pouring of champagne over a tower of glasses by the bride and groom and my favorite part- dessert! Lucky for me there were loads of strawberry desserts and also some very chocolately things. Sorry, didn’t take any pictures of those this time. The couple christened the dance floor with a traditional waltz (Remi and I did this too at our wedding, and I think our lack of practice, er, none at all, really showed). It was followed by some songs that Remi and I didn’t deem danceable. Then we ventured out to do that French favorite, the “rock” something like a rockabilly dance style that involves lots of hand turning and spinning. Neither of us is formally trained in this and I mostly just follow Remi’s lead. Of course they would start playing the really cool music just as we were leaving, like Kylie Minogue’s Can’t Get You Out of My Head.

2:30 a.m. We scooped Juliette up and started our long drive back home. Fell into bed at 5 and went to sleep thinking as far as big fat French weddings go, this one wasn’t so bad. But I think I’ll need a year to recover till the next one.


Lindle said...

In spite of your worries, it sounds like you enjoyed it (and survived). These Big Fat Weddings are quite a trip. I've never been to anything that equaled the all-night wedding celebrations--but maybe they are very common in certain cultures. I'll never forget the flower-covered car we rode in to your reception-party, the many funny dances and conga lines, the tons of food, the French onion soup served at the END of all that food, and of course--my beautiful daughter--the bride. (I won't mention all the dishes we had to do the next day :) Great memories.

Crystal said...

sounds like fun, although I admit that I hate the staying up til all hours of the morning part. Last Saturday, I went to my best friend's wedding and I was home and in bed by midnight! But the service started at 3 so I guess leaving around 11 or so seemed appropriate. I've only been to 1 French wedding (not including my own which was very small) and we ate and danced all night but I remember being sooo ready to leave just after the dinner!

Jenenz said...

Amazing food (skewered bread! I've never seen that) and the incredible champagne glass fountain. How wonderful there was a place for Juliette to nap, so that the adults can enjoy the experience of fine dining and celebration of the newlyweds. Thanks for sharing the experience with us. I felt like I was there in France!

Anonymous said...

Wish I had been there. I love that you take pictures of food!