Sunday, July 16, 2006
The Wedding - part one
In France when there is a wedding the cars involved are decked with tulle ribbons. We tie ours to the aerials and wing mirrors and set off for Binic. By the time we begin to walk round the inner port to la Mairie, we realise we are attracting considerable attention. Cars swerve dangerously as their drivers turn to gawp at the four men in kilts and the piper – and she hasn’t started to play yet. Men shout greetings from cafes as we pass. We feel like celebrities and the rain has stopped. We meet more kilted amis in a bar, and le frere de l’lepoux et sa femme. (I’m sorry – there should be accents all over the place but I’ve forgotten how to do them and he who might tell me is still on his honeymoon). The piper strikes up outside the mairie and a small crowd gathers. Some of them are guests. I meet old friends – Eric, in his kilt, and Claudine and Christian, whose wedding we attended in Brittany several years ago. It is almost 3 o’clock. Ewan fiddles with his (self-tied) bow tie. At least the Travel Wash removed the blood from his wing collar (a handy tip, that, for all bridegrooms). The pipes play louder. The Deputy Mayor – a cousin of the bride – has arrived in her tricolour sash.
At ten past three a black 1939 Citroen appears, covered in bows. The bride looks stunning. She looks stunning in jeans, actually, but today she is wondrous. She has greenery and flowerbuds in her hair. We all sit in the front rows of chairs, and everyone else piles in behind, around, taking photos, gazing, talking. The ceremony is in French, but I can follow most of it. The mayor calls the bride “ma petite cousine”, which I find very touching. She struggles with the pronunciation of “Dunoon’ – but who wouldn’t? President Chirac looks on. No, he’s not a guest, but his picture is on the wall. More photos, rings exchanged – ‘tis done. We pile out to throw rose petals; the pipes ring out again.
The day becomes increasingly unlikely as we process round the port to the quay. The photographer will accompany the newly-weds on a boat trip. We scan the entrance to the port for a speedboat – it was to have been a sailing boat but there was a problem which my French isn’t up to divining. When the boat arrives, I find that I too am expected to board, along with the father of the groom and the mother of the bride. None of us falls in despite the slimy nature of the steps down to the water. The jolly friends whose boat it is help us aboard and off we go. The guests wave encouragingly. The newly-weds take turns to drive the boat. Mercifully it is calm and windless. We take pictures and return safely.
This part of the day ends with the vin d’honneur in a hall above the tourist office. There is a considerable quantity of wonderful champagne and some of the best nibbles I have ever tasted. (Caviar-like ingredients feature prominently) Every time the bride moves off, the piper plays. It is very splendid. Everyone is chatting; inhibitions over language are overcome by alcohol. My No1 belle-fille takes a bottle of champagne into the car which son No 1 will drive to the reception. Happily, there are two other passengers in their car. Everyone who can lay their hands of a ribbon of tulle ties it to their car, and we form a procession round the carpark. The newly-weds are in the vintage Citroen at the front as we set off out of town. We all hoot our horns. It is fun – a sort of carefree misbehaviour allowed by the spirit of the event. Other car drivers hoot and wave as we head for the motorway. The evening lies ahead. I hope the effect of the champagne stays with me until I can eat again.