French Wedding Traditions

French Wedding Traditions

French weddings are synonymous with romance and are renowned for their charming traditions. One such tradition is "Dormir Séparément," where the bride and groom spend the night before their wedding apart, adding a touch of mystery and anticipation to the start of their marriage. French weddings are also known for being well-planned and lavish celebrations. With a reputation for being the "city of love," it's no surprise that France is a popular destination for honeymoons and romantic getaways.

Traditions List:

Tour De Serviette

Before the Wedding

"Laure de Fiançailles" tradition

"Laure de Fiançailles" or the engagement ring is an important aspect of French wedding traditions. It is typically worn on the right hand by the engaged couple, until the wedding ceremony, where it is then moved to the left hand. The ring is usually given by the groom to the bride as a symbol of their commitment to one another. It is a cherished symbol of love and a reminder of the promise of marriage. The ring also serves as a symbol of the couple's intent to marry and is worn as a symbol of their love and devotion to one another.

"Dormir Séparément" tradition

"Dormir Séparément" is a traditional French custom where the bride and groom spend the night before their wedding in separate locations. This is believed to bring good luck and ensure a happy marriage. Additionally, the bride and groom also typically do not see each other on the wedding day until the ceremony begins, adding a sense of mystery and anticipation to the start of their marriage. It's also a way for the couple to spend their last night with family and friends before beginning their new life together.

"Livret de Famille" tradition

"Livret de Famille" is a family record book that holds a special place in French wedding tradition. It serves as the official marriage certificate and is a tangible symbol of the couple's union. It is a beautiful reminder of the love and commitment shared by the couple and the beginning of their new family. It's a sentimental keepsake that holds the memories of the couple's special day, the names of the witnesses, and the date of their marriage. It's also a document that will be cherished by the couple's future generations as a proof of their ancestors love story. It's a beautiful reminder of the love shared by the couple and the start of their new life together.

"Tenue de Ville" tradition

The "Tenue de Ville" is the traditional attire for the groom and groomsmen at French weddings, and it exudes elegance and sophistication. Typically consisting of a dark suit and tie, it's a timeless and classic look that will never go out of style. The groom and groomsmen will look dashing and debonair in their Tenue de Ville, representing the love and commitment shared by the couple. It's a symbol of the groom's love and respect for his bride and the importance of this special day. It's also a memory that will last a lifetime, as the couple and their guests will see the groom and groomsmen dressed in their formal attire, looking their best and celebrating the couple's love.

"La Fête des Fiançailles" tradition

"La Fête des Fiançailles" is a pre-wedding party that is traditionally hosted by the groom's parents and it is a special occasion where the couple is officially presented to the families and friends. It's a celebration of the couple's love and commitment to one another, and it marks the beginning of their journey towards marriage. The atmosphere is usually filled with joy, laughter, and excitement as the couple is surrounded by their loved ones. The Fête des Fiançailles is a perfect opportunity for the couple to show their gratitude towards their families and friends and to thank them for their love and support. It's also a time for the couple to bond with their families and friends before the big day, and for the families to get to know each other. It's an important step in the couple's journey towards marriage and a beautiful memory that will last a lifetime.

"Fiançailles" tratition

Fiançailles is a French wedding tradition that represents the engagement period before the wedding. It is a time of joy and excitement for the couple as they prepare to start their new life together. During this time, the couple is usually showered with love and well wishes from their family and friends. The couple also takes the time to plan their wedding and make important decisions together. It's a special time for the couple to bond, to dream, and to create the wedding of their dreams.

Fiançailles is also a time of anticipation as the couple looks forward to the big day. It's a time of love, excitement, and shared plans for the future. It's a period of time that the couple will look back on fondly as they remember the joy and excitement of the planning process and the anticipation of the big day. The Fiançailles tradition is a beautiful reminder of the love shared by the couple and the start of their new life together.

Dormir Séparément

The night before the wedding, the bride and groom-to-be sleep separately. The idea is that their reunion will be even sweeter and more heartfelt on their wedding day.

Ribbon Cutting

When the big day finally arrives, it is traditional for the groom to pick up the bride on the way to the wedding. A group of musicians takes the lead, followed closely by the bride and her father. The groom and his mother follow along at the rear. Upon arrival, children block the entrance using white ribbons so that the bride must cut them to make her way through. This tradition is used to symbolise the bride’s strength and ability to handle whatever hardships that married life may throw her way.

French Wedding Ceremony Traditions

French Wedding Traditions

Two Ceremonies

The French strictly abide by the separation of the church and government. Hence, a priest can marry a couple in the eyes of the church, but it is not legally binding. So French weddings will traditionally consist of two ceremonies. First, a legal ceremony in the town hall (La mairie), and second, a symbolic or religious ceremony in church.


Bridesmaids and groomsmen do not exist in French weddings. Instead, the couple each choose one or two ‘witnesses’ to be present. These witnesses can be either men or women for both the bride and groom.

French couples do include children in the ceremony. They are usually aged 5-12 and take up roles of flower girls and ring bearers.

Dress Code

The dress code for guests at French weddings is classy, formal, and conservative. So, nothing too tight or low-cut!  While women have the option to wear a hat, men do not. It is also traditionally taboo for a female guest to wear a white dress.

Walking down the Aisle

The groom and his mother enter first. Then, children either lead the way with flower petals, or follow behind the bride to hold the train of her dress. The bride and groom then sit on red velvet chairs as they declare their vows.

Saying “I Do”

Instead of saying “I do”, French couples respond with “Je le veux”, which is translated as “I want it.” Something about this overt proclamation is the expressed desire for the union, rather than mere compliance, feels extremely poetic.

Loud Weddings

Another custom is for the guests to trail after the bride and groom as they make their way between the various wedding and reception locations. They do so with the sole purpose of making as much noise as possible to show off the newlywed couple. These days, instead of walking through the village, a parade of cars follows the bridal vehicle as they honk their horns, yell, and play loud music.

Wedding Reception

Le Vin D’Honneur

French weddings are highly organized. They even practice a tiered invitation system! A small reception with drinks and canapes is held for those guests who attend the ceremony but are no more than acquaintances. This gesture is an attempt to accommodate everyone since only close friends and family receive an invitation to the dinner reception.


"Tour De Serviette" or Napkin Twirling Tradition


In French wedding traditions, the "tour de serviette" or napkin twirling is a playful and romantic gesture often performed by the bride and groom during the wedding reception. The tradition is said to have originated in the 17th century as a way for the bride and groom to show off their dance skills and express their love and devotion to each other. During the reception, the bride and groom will take turns twirling their napkins, often accompanied by music and cheers from the guests. The napkin twirling is seen as a symbol of the couple's love and commitment to each other, and it is a playful and light-hearted moment that adds to the overall festive atmosphere of the wedding celebration

Buy the Garter

Though this is a less practiced tradition, it apparently still happens at some French weddings. Instead of being tossed, the garter is auctioned off. After the bride throws her bouquet, a jar is passed around the room. The lucky guest who bids the highest amount gets a chance to take off the bride’s garter. Oh la la!

The Brioche Dance

At some point after dinner, the newlyweds bring out a large round brioche. They then hold it up over their heads while the guests dance around them and duck underneath the platter. This carries on until everyone has had their turn.

Wedding Cake

Traditional French wedding cakes sound absolutely delightful. Instead of a white fondant cake often associated with weddings, the French serve a tower of crème-filled profiteroles called a Croquembouche. The balls of pastry are coated with crispy caramel or toffee and held together with some form of icing or ganache. A more modern and increasingly popular version of this is a tower made of colorful macaroons.

Like many modern wedding traditions in France, this is actually derived from an older tradition that was popular during the Middle Ages. Those attending would each contribute a small confectionary item, and they would be placed on top of each other in a stack. If the couple could steal a kiss over the mass without making it topple over, they were to share a long and happy life together.

A Hangover Cure

French people like to party, and weddings often run late into the night or even until the sun comes up. So, towards the end of the celebrations, guests are served La Soupe a l’Oignon (onion soup) to help them recuperate.

Le Pot De Chamber

This is definitely one of the more bizarre and less modern French wedding traditions. Apparently, the wedding party goes on a quest to find the newlywed couple after the celebrations are over. The unfortunate couple are then made to have a sip from a chamber pot containing a medley of booze, cake, sausages, and even toilet paper! We should probably mention that the chamber pot used for this little ritual will be brand new, and it does seem that this tradition is more commonly practiced in the countryside than in the cities.

Les Dragées

Another characteristic of French weddings is the offering of sugar-coated almonds for the guests to take home with them. They traditionally symbolize everlasting love.