By a marathon, I mean a French wedding, and by running, I mean surviving. I was at a wedding this past weekend, and while I love the couple completely, the ritual surrounding matrimonial union in France is the most exhausting, and physically challenging that I have ever been through…multiple times. Hubby and I have mastered the art of coming up with ways to avoid bits and pieces to help us survive the event; this last wedding for example we had to escape to take Crazy to the hospital. Okay, it was part excuse and part actual parental concern for Crazy who was of all things calm. Note: Crazy is just fine, it was just a double eye infection that completely knocked him on his ass.
Step one: The Legal Marriage.
To be legally binding in France, a wedding must be performed in the city hall of the city/town/village where at least one of the partners lives. The civil ceremony is without romance, in a small, often over heated, overcrowded room where there is the equivalent to no seating. The mayor reads legal text describing the roles and responsibilities of each person to each other and to their often fictitious children. Then papers are signed and that’s that.
Step two: The Church Ceremony
I will avoid too many comments out of respect for the religious, but let’s just say I am not Catholic and France is. Not to mention an hour long ceremony in a church with children is a very BIG challenge, one to be honest, I have never successfully completed. I usually end up taking them outside to avoid ruining the ceremony for the couple in question. It is a bit of a mood killer when a stray child runs up the middle aisle and rips the veil off the brides head. Crazy has never actually done this, but I have seen him contemplating things that are just too awful to mention.
Step three: Food Food and More Food
The standard meal offering at the French wedding is a seven course meal that is served over 8 to 10 hours. I shit you not, this past Saturday we ducked out just after course #6 that was served at 2:20 am.
The thing that makes it so hard is that you are going to city hall and the church all afternoon, so you are hypoglycemic by the time course one is served which naturally includes wine or champagne, as this is after-all a celebration. FYI, an empty stomach, finger foods and alcohol do not make a good mix.
Step four: Dance Until the Sun Comes Up
There is of course dancing between each course, a practice that really helps the digestive system, but once that final course is served, its dancing nonstop until the sun comes up. At our French wedding, Hubbys 80+ year old grandmother was still there when the music shut off and the lights came up. Beyond my own wedding where I was sort of obligated to participate, I have never made it to the end of a wedding.
Step five: Recover For Days
As a young couple, it took us days, as a slighter older couple with kids, it takes us a week to recover. The question I have asked myself on numerous occasions and for which I’ve never been given a straight answer is…do the French really enjoy this?