Diaries Magazine

Combining Cultures.

By Ellacoquine @ellacoquine
combining cultures.
Two countries, one big party, tons of cultural differences! Oh là là! Planning a Franco-American wedding has relapsed the culture shock that I thought was cured back in 2009. I know that each country does weddings their own way, but some of these differences have amazed even this seasoned expat.
It started back in January when a look of confusion and concern poured down the face of my future mother in law when I "announced" that we would not be offering pastel-dipped Jordan almonds in tulle sachets as party favors. I'm sorry but who are these a favor to? Half of the time, these little candies are stale, and biting into them could lead to chipping a tooth. No one attends a wedding for the favors, that's for sure, but I'd at least like to give something of use. My idea of a wedding meat pounder, something everyone needs but more often than not don't have, was vetoed. Diss.
After the ceremony at the mayor's office, a small cocktail reception followed by dinner and dancing will begin nearby at Séb's father and stepmother's garden. Sounds great, but what I didn't know about weddings in France is that everyone who is invited to cocktail hour (le vin d'honneur) is not necessarily invited to the dinner...which in our case, is at the same place. I shudder to think how this is going to pan out. So, what, we're all enjoying canapés and champagne cocktails, and then dinner is served and the b-list guests get shuffled out while the rest of us take our seats? What?! When running this by the French participants of the wedding, they looked at me with a shrug and gave me a "bah ouais". I'll be sure to make myself scarce when this expulsion is taking place. Every person invited from my list is included in all of the events, but apparently the French pick and choose who is important enough to stay for the entire party. I've even heard of guests being invited to just dessert and coffee. 
Speaking of cocktail hour, over drinks with our friends in Versailles who if forced to be honest, I don't exactly love. When we have to make plans with them I'm requested by Seb to not snap at the girlfriend, which for me is difficult because I find her profoundly irritating. As does he, but he is much more diplomatic than I am. Every time I see her she corners me with stupid questions and when I give her an answer that she's not satisfied with, she pushes. For instance, when I said I wasn't going to have an American-style bachelorette party with a penis cake, shots, tiaras and slutty outfits, she insisted that I must. Pourquoi pas? Mais c'est ta culture. Fuck. You. Acting like a lunatic before my wedding is not my culture, that's a tv series on the CW. 
I then made the mistake of sharing the menu with her, which left me vulnerable to comments and her wide variety of annoying facial expressions. In the states, cocktail hour consists of booze and savory nibbles like mini crab cakes, tuna tartare, and salty fare alike. Apparently in France, this concept is outrageous and no one consumes savory treats at 5 in the afternoon because it's goûte time. "This is not how we host a vin d'honneur in France," she said with her hand, surely for effect, gently placed over her clavicle. "No one eats shrimp at this hour, we only eat sweets like madeleines and fruit." So if this was a Franco-Lithuanian wedding, would she have said that we couldn't have shuba or Šakotis because that's not how weddings in France are? Highly doubtful. It's moments like these that I can't help but feel that American culture gets dismissed. Not wanting to entertain the battle of the cultures, and to lighten the mood because our cocktail hour idea seemed to gravely offend her, I assured her that the wedding will be French enough, because "Alexandrie Alexandra" has been added to the play list. She didn't laugh.
Good thing, Séb and I understand the importance of compromise and have met in the middle with all of our ideas and planning. For cocktail hour, we're going to do both salty and sweet. The Jordan almonds will make an appearance on the dessert table, and the Versailles couple will be sitting near the kitchen next to the speakers. 
But really, after a few drinks who cares? As long as cocktails are flowing, there's enough to eat, the music is good and my mom doesn't give a speech in French like she has been threatening, what more can you ask for?

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog