Monday, June 23, 2008

Juliette's Wedding


A very cool weekend! The French sure know how to do a wedding!! Saturday morning I took the Eurostar to Lille (90 mins) where Juliette's cousins Berenice and Cyprien met me, took me home for lunch and to get ready for the wedding. Off to the old old church which was packed and overflowing and as we were a little late we didn't get seats but managed to perch fairly near the front. Of course the ceremony was all in French so I didn't understand any of it anyway! There was a lot of singing interspersed throughout the service with the old organ playing--a very traditional type service I think. After the ceremony all the guests leave the church first and crowd around the church steps to await the bride and groom emerging from the church. We had bubbles to blow at them too as they walked out to loud cheering and whistling!  We then drove to the reception venue which was a very nice restaurant venue in the country with a large garden surrounding it. There was champagne and nibbles in the garden until the main reception started at 8pm. At one point a girl said to me, "Are you Dave?" It was Helene, a girl who had worked in Blenheim on the same program as Juliette in 2004 and she had stayed with me and gone down the sounds with us. So it was cool to see her again! Juliette has a very big family with many cousins. A lot of them speak some English so we had much fun talking and interpreting each other! Then at 8pm we went into the seated reception. I was at a table with some of Juliette's cousins and others who spoke good English. When Juliette and Alexandre entered they played loud music and everyone stood up and waved their serviettes around over their heads!! Lots of whistling and cheering as the couple ran a lap around the room in and out of the tables waving their serviettes! Speeches were made by the groom, brides father, and the grooms father and all were followed by serviette waving and cheering! Juliette's Dad mentioned me in his speech although I was unaware he was talking about me coming from New Zealand until her cousin sitting beside me grabbed my hand and waved it around so people knew who I was! (He was saying how people had come from far away and how good that was) Then we ate the first course which was a beautiful fresh fish with a scallop on top and a very nice sauce-reminded me of NZ fresh cod! Then Juliette's brothers and sister did a tribute with pictures of Juliette's growing up and talked about her--again not much for me to understand but there were pictures of her time in NZ and music from Lord of the Rings in the background! Dinner followed which was chicken and asparagus and potato and beans wrapped in bacon. More family member then made more tributes and comments--it is normal for the dinner part to go till about 11pm. We had dessert around 11:30 I think! Part of the dessert was a mountain of cream puffs which they stick together with toffee in a giant pyramid. They then paraded it through the room to the main table and then back to the kitchen with giant sparklers stuck in it burning and loud music and cheering and more serviette waving!! More guests arrived for the dance which began just before midnight. Rock and roll dance is the main dance and everyone seemed to know how to do it very well. Of course I don't so that along with not speaking much French were my two hindrances of the weekend! Thankfully they also played some non rock and roll music for some more normal dancing later on. However my ride left at 3am when the dancing was still going strong (they finished around 5am which is normal for a French wedding!) And the bride and groom stay all nite dancing with everyone too! Much more fun than the NZ/English wedding where everyone is in bed by midnite! So to my hosts house for the night (one of Juliette's uncles and aunts). One of her cousins lives in London and they offered to give me a ride back to London as they were driving Sunday nite so that meant i could miss my early Sunday train and sleep in and then go to a very nice lunch back at the reception venue for all the close family and those that had travelled. Again it was a very nice time--all the family were so nice and friendly. 6pm we headed off to Calais (I slept in the car), drove onto a train to go thru the Chunnel and then drove back to London and was home 5 hours later. An  amazing weekend and quite possibly the best wedding I have been too!

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