Au revoir a la vie de jeune fille
– that’s a hen party in UK English. I don’t think we’d say that in US English anymore. Not PC enough. I must admit, I don’t much like the phrase, Hen Party, suggesting as it does a flock of mindless, fluttering pin-headed cluckers, but "good-bye to your young woman’s life" has some pretty morose undertones. Hardly appropriate to the bride in this case, who is into her 60’s, and getting married after 22 years of living with her partner.
Cathrina is providing her big, rambling, old farm-house for the occasion, as well as a main dish, and everyone is bringing salads and dessert to go with it. JP, who is an amateur of wine, in the French sense meaning "lover", is selecting the wine., The men are spiriting Sven away for his "au revoir a la vie de jeune homme", dinner at a table d’hote in Mons, under strict orders not to get him drunk. Men and women both are meeting at Cathrina and JP’s house, Le Mas de Cailloux.
Some of us run up to Mons for the "vernissage", or private viewing, of a friend’s art exhibition before the party. When we come back, the men are straggling out into cars leaving an empty bottle of rose wine behind. The women arrive in twos and threes, loaded with plates of food, and in contrast to the men, actually forget to open the aperitif wine for at least 20 minutes.
- Once we get going, though, the rowdy songs begin, one in particular called La Petite Charlotte would make a sailor blush, and in general we send Lise back home with no advice – although most of the women there are in long-term marriages – but lots of laughter and hugs.
The Big Day – 070707
Sven’s last name is Bond, and so is associated with 007. Lise and Sven swear that the date has nothing to do with the name, nor with the good luck associated with 3 sevens. It was just the best day to do the job, they say. I believe them.
The day dawns bright and beautiful. Yesterday was a perfect day. This should be another one. I have agreed to help with flowers, so I arrive at 10:30 AM. Three of Lise’s four children are there, as well as Sven’s son Christian and his boy, Leo, 3-l/2, and daughter, Wilma, 8. Lise and I walk down the hill to the field to gather wild flowers, including some Chardons, which are very prickly but a beautiful lavender color. Lise says they will be symbolic of her. Or did I say it? It is blazing hot in the sun, so we are happy to sit down in the shade of her veranda and drink a cold glass of water when we return. But I don’t think the wildflowers will suffice.
I have decided to have the wedding bouquet made by the florist, so I’ve gone to order it, and when I return, Sarah has arrived with armloads of roses to supplement the wildflowers and the bunch of daisies I’ve brought. Gregg and I start arranging the flowers in vases, then the phone rings and the bouquet is ready. The flowers are arranged anyway, so I go to collect the bouquet, and go back to Le Mas for a quick lie down. I fall briefly asleep, but it is enough to delay my departure.
I arrive with the bridal bouquet at 4:15. The wedding is scheduled for 4:30 but is literally minutes away. Nobody home. In a panic, I rush to the Centre Ville, where I find the entire party walking towards the Mairie where the ceremony will take place. I thrust the bouquet at Martial, park my car, and arrive, puffing and sweaty, just in time. It is a civil ceremony, not terribly romantic. The officiating person, a woman, knows Lise so they exchange greetings. She is wearing a tri-color sash over her shoulder. At the end of the ceremony Lise ties a tri-color ribbon around Sven’s neck in lieu of a wedding ring
(Alliance, in French), and everyone laughs.
Their children sign the witness book.
- Wedding for the Weekend – -07-07-07
- The Wedding Reception