Friday, September 3, 2010
Goin' to la Mairie, Cause We're Gonna Get Married
Thank goodness too for antibiotics, which allowed us to stagger out of our sick bed and attend and enjoy the fabulous wedding of our good friends M and G.
Weddings in France are civil events and all take place in the city hall of the town or arrondissement the soon-to-be-weds live in. In this case it was the perfectly Art Deco Mairie of Boulogne-Billancourt, just south of Paris. Before a waiting crowd of family and friends the couple drove up in a sleek black Bentley (handy to have a cousin who deals in luxury cars) and walked up the stairs, she looking like a resurrected Audrey Hepburn in a pink sheath and heels, hair piled on top of her head and carrying a ball of flowers from a ribbon in her hand. Him? Oh, he looked like a guy worthy of escorting Audrey.
What’s a French civil ceremony like? A little odd to American ears; the mayor, standing in front of the ever=present bust of Marianne, the symbol of the Republic, and wearing a blue, red and white sash, reads the statutes covering marriage, wishes them the best, et voilá. In this case, the mayor was joined by a friend of G and M, the deputy mayor of the next town over, who spoke about them, getting a few laughs and making it warmer. Bringing your own mayor is the way to go I guess.
(The face of Marianne, by the way, changes periodically, based on changing ideas of current beauty. Past models have included Brigite Bardot and Catherine Deneuve. I think the most recent one is Laeticia Casta.)
The reception that evening was anything but stiffly formal. Now in a glittering white gown, the bride greeted guests while champagne was poured in the warm evening air and Moroccan lanterns lit the pavilion. A blow-out that pulled together the couple’s various backgrounds by combining French, North African and Israeli style in the décor, the music and the food, we danced, drank and ate until the early morning hours. You haven’t lived until you’ve had henna applied to your hands for good luck and danced to the sound of Arabic instruments and ululating women in the midst of a crowd of happy people.