When I asked The Boy to marry me, we decided that if we were going to do this thing, we’d do it our way. That essentially involved taking the bits we liked (clothes, jewellery, party), leaving the bits we didn’t (sugared almonds, seating plans, speeches, name changes, wedding lists filled with fine china and solid silver salt and pepper pots) and making a few practical decisions (marriage contract – séparation des biens – at The Boy’s behest).
Nine weeks away from Jour J, things are on their way to being organised, although not half as much as the super-secretary I once was would secretly like. I have a dress. He’s ordered a suit. We have rings on order. I still need shoes (red, I think). The evening party venue – a house borrowed from a friend – is being renovated and is currently, ahem, not quite finished. We haven’t yet settled on a restaurant for lunch (although we are testing a candidate this evening) or worked out where to drink champagne beforehand. I have no idea who will tame my hair into a chignon at the crack of dawn so that I can get to the Mairie on time, and the invitations are still work in progress in photoshop.
To my horror, I’ve recently found myself having heated discussions with The Boy about petty things like wedding gifts, when it became evident that our mix and match approach was, in some respects, flawed. Our first instinct was to say that we didn’t want gifts at all. Until we find a new place to live (and frankly, right now, I have no time to look), we don’t have an inch of extra space. And we don’t really need anything. But then guests started asking about wedding lists, and I realised that they’d like to make a gesture. And in return for all the things we’ll be laying on, I grudgingly came to the conclusion that it made sense to let them.
‘Well, we could have an urn,’ suggested The Boy. ‘Or do the jarretière? Just don’t ask me to pick out knives, forks and spoons. Anything but that…’
I wondered how gifts and garters could be related. Google, as always, provided the answer.
It is customary, I read, for a French bride to wear a garter. Often a blue and white garter, as the something old/new/borrowed/blue tradition appears to exist on both sides of the English Channel. (I was planning to ignore this.) What I didn’t know was that there is a tradition involving male guests tucking money into said garter, in exchange, in some circles, for the bride raising her dress, just a little, in exchange for every donation. Sometimes the female guests will put in counter bids, thereby enabling the bride to lower her skirt before things get too graphic. The Boy seemed to think that the whole thing usually ends with one of the male guests – the highest bidder – removing the jarrettière with his teeth.
I suspect the boundaries of his own fantasies and French tradition became a little blurred at that point.
‘There is no way I’m performing some sort of wedding strip tease!’ I said indignantly. ‘And anyway, my skirt is already just above the knee, and you know how sensitive I am about my thighs.’
We settled on a honeymoon holiday fund at Printemps instead, that people are free to contribute to, or not, as they wish. And as for the garter, The Boy will just have to wait until Jour J to find out whether I’ll be wearing one.
But if I do, it will be for his eyes only.