you're reading...
Just stuff (things on my mind that aren't to do with writing)

All the happiness in the world

becs and sylvain

We went to a wedding on Saturday, in France. It was funny and joyful but poignant too. Rebecca, the bride, is the daughter of our oldest friends, and three years ago Becca’s brother Josh was killed in a motorbike accident.

I never thought I would see Trudi and Robin, their parents, ever look properly happy again. But, on Saturday, Robin came beaming down the aisle with his arm through Becca’s, while family friends and flautists Atarah Ben Tovim and Julien Grossias played Here Comes The Sun. Almost as amazing was the fact that Robin, whose idea of formal wear is wearing a T shirt with his shorts, was sporting a jacket, shirt and trousers.

The wedding was held at the Salle de Mariage in La Force, in the Dordogne. The adjoint, who conducted the service, wore a sash of red white and blue, and on the table in front of him was a vase of flowers and the bust of Marianne, spirit of France. He held his papers and cleared his throat as Becca and the bridegroom, Sylvain, took their seats in front of him, but at that point someone in the congregation shouted out, ‘You can’t start, Julien and Caroline aren’t here!’

The adjoint opened his mouth, but it was too late, Becca and Sylvain had already turned round, looked at their assembled friends and relations and then got up and approached each of us in turn, kissing us and shaking hands. By the time this was done (and believe me, everybody was kissed and shaken) Julien and Caroline, and their children, had arrived, plus a few more latecomers, and after they too had been welcomed and shown to their seats, the couple turned back to the adjoint who, having neither been kissed nor hugged, was now standing by a window staring resignedly at the rather stunning view of mediaeval rooftops.


Called back into service, the adjoint grasped his papers once more, cleared his throat again and then proceeded to read out the the French Civil Code, Articles 212, (Spouses owe each other respect, fidelity, support and assistance) 213 (Spouses are responsible together for the material and moral guidance of the family. They shall provide for the education of the children and shall prepare their future), plus articles 214, 315 and 371-1 (we get the picture, ed). After this, he read out the names and occupations of the couple and their witnesses, asked the pair if they wanted to marry each other, and when they both answered, ‘yes’, declared them man and wife.

And that was it. Job done. Nothing about just impediments, or forsaking all others, or any of the other questions that you get in Britain. Apparently, according to one fellow guest I spoke to later, in big cities they can turn round a wedding in 10 minutes flat; so fast, in fact, that no guests, other than the witnesses, are allowed to attend because it would take them too long to get in and out. In these cases, the reception takes place several days after the wedding.

But this was not a big city; this was the French countryside and, at every point, formality is subverted. As everybody posed outside for photographs, (more kissing and hugging) the adjoint took off his sash, and with the help of one of the witnesses, began to sweep up the confetti.


There was only one more thing to do. And this was where Josh came in. Becca had insisted on using his old BMW to get to the reception. ‘If he can’t be there,’ she said. ‘At least his car can.’ Robin had spent hours restoring it to gleaming perfection. The only thing left to do was for them to get in it and lead a convoy of hooting cars to a very happy party.


About elainecanham

I started blogging because I'm a writer, and I thought I ought to. Now I realise that I blog because I lwant to; even when I can't think of much to say. I do a lot of work for local businesses - get in touch if you like my style.


23 thoughts on “All the happiness in the world

  1. I think it was Johnny English said … “Aaaaa, the French! They have savoir faire, n’est ce pas?” which for all I know blew his stock of French (certainly bankrupted mine) but many a truth is reflected in humour. Observed in humour? Displayed in humour? Bugger, you know what he meant …

    Okay. You win. I’ll follow …

    Posted by Argus | July 4, 2014, 10:00 am
    • merci beaucoup! and I think it was George W Bush who once said, ‘the trouble with the French is they have no word for entrepreneur.’

      Posted by elainecanham | July 4, 2014, 12:37 pm
  2. That is sad and wonderful all at the same time. I like the way they get married in France. We should’ve tied the knot there… New Jersey is just….. Not so much.

    Posted by naptimethoughts | June 27, 2014, 4:05 pm
    • It’s pretty damn quick, all the same. I think some might find it a bit bemusing, (what, it’s over already???) but this one was jolly just because all the people made it so. Thanks for dropping in!

      Posted by elainecanham | June 27, 2014, 4:23 pm
  3. Nice reading about you
    Thanks for visiting my blog. Be in touch. Browse through the category sections, I feel you may find something of your interest.

    Please visit my new blog, hope you like it 🙂
    thank you so much dear 🙂

    Posted by Ajaytao2010 | June 25, 2014, 9:33 am
  4. (second attempt to leave a comment – hope it doesn’t come thru twice) It sounds like it was a wonderful wedding and I can’t think of a more beautiful setting to say one’s vows. I hope the party was a tad longer than the ceremony, but regardless, it appears to have been a marvelous time.

    Posted by peakperspective | June 25, 2014, 1:20 am
    • I think that was what stunned me; there weren’t any vows. It was all very practical and legal. Church weddings, where you would have vows, have absolutely no legal significance in France. The party lasted all day. I had to creep off for a nap in the middle.

      Posted by elainecanham | June 25, 2014, 8:27 am
  5. So pleased they have a little sunshine, at last. It must have been a tough few years.

    Posted by Jools | June 24, 2014, 4:24 pm
  6. That is quite possibly the most charming wedding story I’ve ever heard. I hope the couple leads just a charming a life together! Thanks for sharing the wonderful day.

    Posted by Nan Sampson | June 24, 2014, 4:08 pm
  7. Looks like a beautiful day for the event. Very cool.

    Posted by Charles Yallowitz | June 24, 2014, 11:48 am
  8. It looked a great occasion, I’m sure you had a wonderful time. Could you just nip back over and borrow ( on a permanent basis) that bust of Marianne for me.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    Posted by davidprosser | June 24, 2014, 11:32 am
  9. What a lovely day you must have had! Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Posted by annabutlerfiction | June 24, 2014, 11:09 am
  10. Félicitations au nouveau couple !

    Posted by Bruce Goodman | June 24, 2014, 11:05 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


Follow on Bloglovin

Follow me on Twitter

%d bloggers like this: