Weddings, weddings, weddings! It’s wedding season all over the world, but especially in France where the short summers mean an even smaller gap for outdoor celebrations. I unfortunately had to miss a couple of really special weddings in the U.S. this year, but I was very glad to be a part of two French weddings this month…two weekends in a row!
The first French wedding was for A’s cousin Aurelie two weeks ago in Geneston, a tiny town near Nantes in the west of France. It was a classic French country wedding…not necessarily the most glamorous wedding I’ve attended, but I think that a more laid-back atmosphere = more fun! I’ve had a few French wedding experiences already, so this time I was prepared for what can only be described as an endurance challenge.
As a whole, French weddings don’t differ from American ones THAT much. Since most French people are Catholic (a word I use very lightly), wedding ceremonies here are almost always in a church. There aren’t bridesmaids or groomsmen who stand up with the couple, but there are witnesses (usually close friends) who sign the official documents with the newlywed couple.
A lot of French weddings include both the civil ceremony at the “mairie” and the church wedding in the same day, which was the case for Aurelie and Cyril. The day started with the civil ceremony at 11, then everyone walked across the street for the religious wedding. After that it was across the street again to the town’s only municipal hall for the reception.
By “reception,” I mean drinks, a 5 hour dinner (appetizer + fish + entrée + cheese with sorbet in between), dessert, coffee, digestifs, more drinks, dancing, brioche, and finally onion soup around 2 a.m. Even though I know what to expect, I was definitely exhausted!
The late-night brioche dance, where everyone holds hands and dances around a huge brioche before taking a piece, and the onion soup thing are traditions local to the area. Traditionally, the day after the wedding, the couple’s close family and friends gather at their house to wake them up with onion soup. How…nice? The tradition has grown to include serving onion soup to all the wedding guests at the end of the night. I can’t complain!
Needless to say, on days like this it’s next to impossible to keep up a perfectly healthy eating routine. I’ve seen plenty of articles with tips on “how to survive a wedding and not get fat,” but to me that’s a bit sad…during a time of celebration, who wants anxiety about what they can/can’t eat?
My strategy is simple: 1) don’t fill up on hors d’oeuvres, 2) skip the bread (there’s plenty of other food!), 3) don’t eat EVERYTHING on the plate if I’m not hungry for it, and 4) drink mostly water and keep the wine to a minimum (a good idea for anyone, especially around their in-laws!). Sure, I’ll have a few extra calories that day…but I know I’ll work it off during the week!
How do you enjoy celebrations without giving up your healthy eating routine?