Let’s continue our journey back in time when our elders were touched by Cupid’s arrow!
After receiving the “bague d’arrêt”, the future bride could start preparing her wedding trousseau because it was up to the young girl to provide her own clothes as well as all the household linens. The bath towels and handsewn bedsheets would be nicely embroidered with the couple’s initials. On each occasion, until the wedding, the young girl would be offered something for her trousseau! The mother’s mission would be to ensure that her daughter was a perfect housewife by teaching her, among other things, to cook and keep a house!
Then came the engagement day which would be grandly celebrated at the future bride’s home, with all members of the extended family present. A beautiful event that allowed the respective families to meet around a nicely decorated table where a cake and glasses of champagne were displayed. The belle would now wear the engagement ring offered by her future husband. This step would give the engaged couple the right to start going out. Mind you… morning cinema sessions or other outings would never take place just the two of them! Don’ t even think about it! Their siblings would be present on each outing. The eldest brother or sister served as chaperones each time the couple would go out, leaving absolutely no freedom to the engaged couple! The couple had to be quite creative to be left a little bit alone, some even going as far as bribing the chaperone! They just had to be aware of their weak point: a pack of cigarettes or some candies would sometimes made the deal!
Needless to say, how eager the engaged couple were to reach their wedding day, as the engagement time could usually last a year or more. They just had to pray that no elder would die in the meantime as the period of mourning, which could last for months, would certainly delay the wedding day. And here we are, on this much-awaited day of celebrations where relatives, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances would be invited. The party would be sumptuous at the end of which, the newlyweds would finally go home just the two of them. It was then rare for the bride and groom to go on honeymoon, except for some lucky ones who spent a week in a “campement” (villa) by the sea. The day after the wedding, each family will drop a piece of cake and a wedding announcement card to those who were not invited.
A party called “retour de noces” was organized a week after the wedding with the close family members, this time. This party was intended to extend the festivities, a tradition which consisted of celebrating with the bride and groom their return from their wedding night!
If these practices made you smile, do not fail to ask your elders about their own anecdotes so as to perpetuate all these precious gems, an essential part of our family’s legacy.