I went to a wonderful wedding recently in France. Actually in the South of France, and it was a perfect time of year for it, in September, with gorgeous balmy weather, and I don’t think I’ve ever been to a wedding which touched me more. People had come from all over the world for it, from Japan, Vietnam, India, the US, and all over Europe. And the wedding was held in the medieval town of St. Paul de Vance in the South of France.
The festivities began the night before, with a fun dinner at a local bistro for all 150 guests, many of whom were children, who were included at all the events. So everyone got to meet, greet, eat, and hang out together, enjoy a great dinner, and see old friends, and meet new ones. As with all weddings, everyone was excited and happy to be there. (I came from San Francisco for it, through Hurricane Irene in New York, where I got stuck for several days, and made it to Paris just in time to pick up my suitcases and head for the South of France. And others had come from a lot farther than I did, so we were ALL excited to be there).
And the next day was the big day. We were to meet in the public square in St. Paul de Vance, which is about half an hour inland from the coast of the French Riviera. And the old part of the town is for pedestrians only, and the church is on top of a hill. All l50 wedding guests walked the bride and groom up the hill to the church, up narrow (about 5 feet wide at most, and sometimes only 4 feet) cobbled, stone paved streets (we had been warned not to wear high heels, fortunately, and those who hadn’t heeded the advice, wound up taking off their shoes, and walking up the hill barefoot). It was about a ten or fifteen minute walk, as locals lined the street and smiled as we went by.
The church was exquisite and tiny, filled with beautiful flowers, and the church service (a traditional Catholic mass) was very touching. Members of the family read from the Bible, and there were scores of adorably dressed children in the church. The French don’t have adult bridesmaids, they have children in the wedding. And almost all the wedding guests were wearing beautiful hats. The bride looked beautiful, and both the bride and groom cried during the service, as did many of us. It was just perfect and very touching.
After the church service, several locals in ‘Provencal’ costumes were waiting outside (with aprons and caps), little children with the same costumes, and drummers to announce the good news, as people cheered along the narrow cobbled street as we made our way down to the public square again. There, a Southern treat had been set up, a special oven to make something local called ‘Soca’, which is a bit like pizza, made with chick peas. It was delicious!!! And after that and a lot of champagne, some people went off to fancy lunches, and others went back to their hotels to relax (I was one of those, the Soca was enough for me, and it was yummy).
I spent the afternoon relaxing, and the wedding reception was that night, at a beautiful beachside restaurant with a private beach and a dock. Cocktails were on the dock, dinner was in the open air restaurant, and the kids were playing on the beach (until the music started). There was a fabulous buffet, lots of speeches, fascinating guests, and the music and dancing were terrific!!! One of the family members (the bride’s mother) even sang “La Vie en Rose” to the bridal couple. And everyone had a ball on the dance floor. I think people danced til 4 am. I didn’t get back to my hotel until 4:30, so it was a lively group, and it was one of the best weddings I’ve ever been to. I talked, danced, and laughed all night. And I was told that after I left, the remaining guests went swimming, so they went home even later.
We were all back at the same spot at noon the next day, for a massive buffet lunch, more swimming, and chatting with the other guests. I left the party around five in the afternoon, as I had to change, pack and catch an 8 pm plane back to Paris.
It was an absolutely wonderful weekend, and a truly beautiful wedding. And unlike a lot of weddings (which can be incredibly dull, but this one sure wasn’t. Even the guests were great!!), I had an absolute ball. So I wanted to share it with you. It was one of the best weddings I’ve ever been to!!!!