Croquembouche and Dragees, Traditional French Wedding Details – And Endangered Species?

Yesterday the BBC reported that French couples increasingly are abandoning traditional French wedding customs and adopting American and British-style wedding details. I find this alarming.

As a champion of small weddings, I like to know there are pockets of the world holding out against the big, bridezilla-inducing wedding machine. Traditional French weddings are intimate and elegant. Until recently, French couples typically have forgone bridesmaids, groomsmen, and the budget-straining trimmings that have become customary for American and British celebrations. That the French in particular, who generally are known for taking pride in their national culture, would now abandon their long-standing allegiance to elegant simplicity seems a fair reason for concern.

The BBC credits last year’s wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton for making the first significant cracks in the cultural defenses of France’s brides. When those blushing mariées saw Kate’s wedding dress of English lace, they deserted their silk dresses. Since then, French couples have been waving wildly in welcome as save-the-date cards, personalized wedding favors, and tiered cakes veritably march in victory along the Champs-Élysées.

Surely, this development is a net positive for France’s wedding vendors and the British vendors who are marching on Paris to take advantage of the trend. But couples around the world who want a small, elegant wedding are losing a style ally.

This was going to be the paragraph where I compared the traditional French wedding to an endangered species and made the case for the importance of preserving biodiversity in our wedding planning ecosystem. But at this point, I think we all want to move on to the pretty pictures.

So, like scientists who gather and protect species in danger of extinction, let us preserve here the details of a traditional French wedding, so they can be enjoyed by future generations — even if not in their native habitat.

Traditional French Wedding Details:

Silk Wedding Dress, Alexandra King Bristol, England, United KingdomWedding Dress: Silk.
(Source: Alexandra King on Etsy, Bristol, England, United Kingdom.)
Le Vin d’Honneur: A mini reception directly following the ceremony. Many of the ceremony guests, such as work colleagues and friends of the couples’ parents, attend this vin d’honneur but not the main reception. The expected beverage: Kir Royale.
Drinks: Champagne, coffee. Croquembouche French Wedding CakeDessert: Croquembouche
(Source: Fancy That Wedding Cake. Oxfordshire, England, UK)
Flowers: Roses Sugared Almonds Wedding FavorsFavors: Dragées (sugared almonds).
(Source: Milena Bertarelli, MilenaSupplies on Etsy)

Bridesmaids/Groomsmen/Save-the-Date-Cards: No/No/No.

Related: Our 100 Favorite Backyard Wedding Themes

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3 Comments

Filed under Wedding Cakes, Wedding Decor, Wedding Dress, Wedding Reception

3 responses to “Croquembouche and Dragees, Traditional French Wedding Details – And Endangered Species?

  1. Pingback: DIY wedding dress in Kate Middleton style from Butterick Patterns | Backyard Huppah

  2. I’m an American wedding planner in Paris, and was quoted in the BBC post. As someone who has worked in this industry, in this Country, for over 7 years, and specializes in intimate ceremonies as well, I think that your statement about couples looking for small, intimate weddings losing an ally isn’t true at all. French brides aren’t throwing aside their own style and traditions, they’re adopting, incorporating and redefining traditional UK/US styles into their own. They aren’t, in any way, “abandoning their long-standing allegiance to elegant simplicity”, they are simply looking for fresh, contemporary elements that will bring the French wedding industry into the 21st century. For instance, until a few very short years ago, there were NO OTHER options to French brides besides dragées for wedding favors. While that may seem very quaint and traditional to someone living in a country with access to places like Michaels or Target and who CHOOSE to have dragées- imagine if you were a bride who wanted something else? What if your wedding was EXACTLY like your sisters/cousins/aunts/mothers/grandmothers/great-grandmothers, and you had no other choice to make your wedding unique ( besides the flowers in your centerpieces)? France is already a very traditional country- so traditional, that ( I think) it often cuts off its nose to spite its face- Its extremely difficult to get fresh, innovative business ideas off the ground here ( the attitude is, we already have xyz, why would we need abc from YOU?.) Its not at all encouraging to entrepreneurs. So if there WERE any French artisans who came up with French alternatives to the dragées, for instance, undoubtedly they would have to fight to get their project off the ground. So, of course, in the age of pinterest, etc., young French brides are seeing whats going on in other parts of the world, aren’t finding it here, and so are going out and bringing it back!

    I don’t think it’s fair of you to imply that we wedding vendors are circling like vultures ready to “take advantage” of French brides. First of all, French brides aren’t naive, they just want options. Secondly, French brides are still stylish, elegant and SAVVY, so the elements that they are attracted to must be tasteful and of high quality- theyre not just grabbing any old junk off the shelves because its from the US/UK. French wedding traditions aren’t in danger of becoming extinct, they are just evolving so that future generations can build from them.

    • Hi Kim,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I hope you caught that my tone was intended to be a bit tongue-in-cheek. I encourage everyone to check out the BBC article and your work!

      All the best,
      Maria

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