petite anglaise

April 26, 2005

wedding bells

Filed under: misc — petiteanglaiseparis @ 11:36 am


At the parental home, in Yorkshire, I am discussing the arrangements for my upcoming wedding with my mother over a cup of tea. The date we have opted for is June 9th. I realise with a jolt that I have forgotten to send out any invitations whatsoever. We haven’t even decided whether to tie the knot in a church or a registry office. Or indeed booked anything. There doesn’t seem to be any doubt that it will be taking place in England though. An odd choice to have made, as I actually prefer the idea of a civil wedding in a mairie in France, me wearing a fabulous, but non-wedding like, frock, Mr Frog in a Hedi Slimane suit and Tadpole by our side, wearing flowers in amongst her curls.

Panic surges from my stomach to my chest and then flutters against my ribcage like a moth trapped in a lamp. OH MY GOD! It seemed such a long way off, and now, suddenly, the wedding is imminent. And NOTHING is ready!


We are discussing wedding catering with a sour-faced lady dressed in a pink viscose suit. The poor woman is trapped in the eighties: her suit even has shoulder pads. You can see a dent between where her shoulders end and the padding begins.

The catalogue she is clutching between chipped fuchsia fingernails reads “Pamela Keates’ Wedding Treats”. She opens her ‘portfolio’ (as she calls it) to a page showing a photograph of cheese and pineapple cubes on cocktail sticks, ingeniously stuck into a grapefruit covered in tin-foil.

I am inwardly weighing up the pros and cons of having a break in the wedding proceedings so that people can go out and buy their own dinner and then return later for a party. I can’t afford to feed everyone, and if I can’t do it properly, I say firmly to my mother, who has reappeared looking at least twenty years younger, then I’d rather not do it at all. There will be no cheese and pineapple on sticks at any wedding of mine. Although I quite fancy one now, if the lady has any samples on her.


I am sitting in a church wearing a horrible fluffy, meringue-like wedding dress in a cheap, white crinkly fabric. My legs itch. It looks like one I saw in a dodgy bargain shop I spied from a bus once at La Chapelle, where nylon wedding dresses and satellite dishes were sold side by side. A winning combination.

I can smell the familiar scent of my father’s pipe, so he must be around somewhere, waiting impatiently to give me away. The tobacco smell reminds me of car journeys when I was younger. I suffered from motion sickness, and the pipe smoke nauseated me even further. But it’s ten years since he’s touched that pipe, so he must be very stressed indeed today. Not a good sign.

From my vantage point seated in the choir stalls, I can see the vicar, who is motioning to me from inside the open vestry. I don’t understand what he is trying to tell me, so I smile and wave. I am feeling pleased because there are fellow bloggers in the congregation who have come to my weddding from afar and even agreed to do readings during the service. I do hope Anna won’t say “cunty” in front of my mum.

I resolve to get changed out of my dress as soon as the church part is over, mentally scouring my wardrobe for something suitable, but worried that the only nice things are probably in the washing basket or the ironing pile. As usual.

Suddenly I hear a jingle for the BNP bank playing over the speakers, with accompaniment from the church organist for added dramatic effect. I realise that the priest must have been trying to ask me whether I minded him playing ads over the PA system at the start and finish of his service. I cower behind my veil in shame and horror. I was under the impression that we had paid an extra fee so that there would be no commercial breaks.

I turn to Mr Frog to see if he is angry with me for allowing his profession to encroach on “our special day” ™, but actually the person sitting next to me is no longer Mr Frog, it is my first ever boyfriend. His skin hasn’t cleared up yet, so it must still be 1990. Which means that he must be seventeen, as must I. The church suddenly feels gloomier, the damp walls closing in. I am having trouble breathing.

* * * *

I wake up, to the sound of ambulance sirens in the street below and Tadpole chanting “Nee Naw Nee Naw Nee Naw” from her bedroom.

I turn to Mr Frog, still grappling to shake off the residual feeling of panic : “I had an awful nightmare.”

“What was it this time?” he murmurs, sleepily.

“I was getting married,” I say.

“Oh. Who to?”


  1. He’ll *never* ask you now, you realise!

    I love the way that everything gets muddled up in dreams.

    Comment by witho — April 26, 2005 @ 11:45 am

  2. How insightful of him, tho, since it wasn’t him at the altar!

    Sounds like your unconscious wants a French civil ceremony too :D

    Comment by Mathieu — April 26, 2005 @ 11:58 am

  3. Petite, I’m going to make a cheese and pineapple hedgehog thing and stick in the post in honour of your dream wedding… it’ll be there by friday.

    Comment by vit — April 26, 2005 @ 12:14 pm

  4. I promise you, Promise you, I would not say ‘cunty’ in front of your mother.

    The vicar, possibly. Mothers? never.

    Honoured to be invited, though. Honoured.

    Comment by anna — April 26, 2005 @ 12:15 pm

  5. I find the most frightening part of all to be that you actually found a picture of some foily-pineapple concoction. although at least it doesn’t look as if it is being served at a wedding…

    Comment by kim — April 26, 2005 @ 12:27 pm

  6. Vit – it HAS to be cheddar though. Do you get that in Portugal? If you do, I’m coming over…

    Kim – are you implying that I didn’t make them especially this morning and photograph them with my own fair hands?

    Comment by petite — April 26, 2005 @ 12:44 pm

  7. Oh god, I’m desperate for some cheddar. Can’t find it here to save my life.

    So I sort of sense that there’s something big weighing on your mind, hmmmm? ;)

    Comment by ViVi — April 26, 2005 @ 12:53 pm

  8. Any special reason for June 9th? or is it a subconscious brain thing? or something to do with Peter the Great?

    Comment by suziboo — April 26, 2005 @ 12:58 pm

  9. ah, no, it is related more to Tadpole the Great, actually.

    Comment by petite — April 26, 2005 @ 1:02 pm

  10. I can get cheddar where I live. If you girls ever make it down here I’ll hook you up.

    Weird, you’re dreaming and posting about a wedding, I wrote today about having a tadpole. Wanna trade lives?


    Comment by sammy — April 26, 2005 @ 1:22 pm

  11. Didn’t this post originally end with you saying:
    “We were getting married?”

    Or did I dream that?

    Comment by witho — April 26, 2005 @ 1:23 pm

  12. Ooh witho you do read fast, I was re-reading it after pressing publish and realised I had got the last bit wrong.

    In any case, I’m glad to see you are paying attention!

    Comment by petite — April 26, 2005 @ 2:49 pm

  13. Mais bien sûr!


    Comment by witho — April 26, 2005 @ 2:52 pm

  14. Hi Petite, love your blog and have been reading anonymously for a few weeks now. Don’t let the pressures of the modern wedding get you down. I say, if you do it at all, run off to the magistrate and then have a big party. My boyfriend and I talk about Vegas a lot and the more I think about poofy dresses and people I haven’t seen in years being forced into buying me presents, the more appealing the Little White Chapel appears.

    Comment by Leslie — April 26, 2005 @ 4:20 pm

  15. Sounds like you are stressed about the wedding itself… but how do you feel about the idea of MARRIAGE, and marriage to Mr. Frog? A lot of women focus on the ceremony without considering what happens afterward. If you are very OK about the marriage, then focus on THAT to help alleviate anxiety about the wedding ceremony and arrangements. Then again, if you’re not that OK about the marriage part… then that’s another column. Bonne chance!

    Comment by Lisa — April 26, 2005 @ 5:07 pm

  16. an Hedi slimane suit, very good choice with benoit méléard shoes ?

    Comment by stephan — April 26, 2005 @ 5:26 pm

  17. Petite, you know I’m gullible. Scene 1 got me all excited – ‘Mr Frog said yes? I must have missed that post… sensible to do it quickly in case he changes his mind, less stress too…’ – but in Scene 2 I began to get suspicious, and by Scene 3 I was laughing my socks off. (And thanks for the link, too!)

    Comment by Zinnia Cyclamen — April 26, 2005 @ 5:49 pm

  18. A male friend of mine who’s a bit of a player once tried to entice me back to his flat with the promise of cheddar and bacon, freshly bought on his trip to London. I could murder a bacon bap with cheddar right now…And ketchup.

    Comment by EasyJetsetter — April 26, 2005 @ 5:54 pm

  19. sorry, I freaked out after scene 1! june 9th is my parent’s anniversary… had to read the post in two goes… ok, now i’m fine….

    Comment by chaton — April 26, 2005 @ 6:03 pm

  20. I was waiting for the scene where your mum tells you about your wifely duties on the wedding night.

    Comment by Bob — April 26, 2005 @ 6:19 pm

  21. How many of us would have had such a LOVELY wedding if only we could have slipped our respective mothers into cryogenic stasis until the blessed event had been concluded.

    Comment by Aj — April 26, 2005 @ 9:11 pm

  22. After the first sentence I had to skip immediately to the end to see if I had missed The Important Announcement.

    After that dream, the mairie sounds ideal. Now to convince Mr. Frog…

    Comment by Bluegrass Mama — April 26, 2005 @ 9:58 pm

  23. How awful! Just realized that when I visualize M Grenouille I see Melvil Poupaud, the actor who played the perfidious Charles-Henri in “Le Divorce.”

    Comment by R J Keefe — April 26, 2005 @ 11:34 pm

  24. Personally I think a wedding’s not a real wedding unless somebody uses the word ‘cunty’ inappropriately. Go Anna.

    Comment by JonnyB — April 27, 2005 @ 12:12 am

  25. Vegas was invented for a reason, you know.

    Comment by Sarah — April 27, 2005 @ 2:50 am

  26. Dream weddings…I think you’ve got the tactic all wrong… writing it in the blog will never convince him. You need violence… please, tie him up and force feed him marmite until he proposes… it’s getting sadistic.

    on another note, I got married in the Mairie of the 20ème, no parents invited, on a Monday afternoon, with a small rabble of friends. The party rocked, and I only stayed up half the night before making the food, while hubby got drunk at Karaoke in Pigalle. Needless to say, I looked better. But, long story short, the Mairie is a great idea. So is leaving the parents out of it. So is leaving food out of it (or get Clothilde to help!)… after all, everybody’s just there for the champagne and drunk random smooching permitted at these affairs.

    Comment by nardac — April 27, 2005 @ 3:10 am

  27. Much as I love my hubby & wanted to get married, I was terrified of the wedding and swore I wanted to do the Vegas thing & tell everyone afterwards. It actually turned out to be a lot of fun cos we planned it carefully and did what WE wanted. Not traditional (the photographer and best man spent most of the honeymoon with us) but great to get to spend some relaxing time with friends and family some of whom we hadn’t seen in a long time.

    Comment by Susan — April 27, 2005 @ 3:10 am

  28. I second Nardac’s coments about the Mairie (we did the registry office thing in the UK) and about leaving the parents out of it. We did actually invite them, but not until we’d made all the arrangements. “Hey mum, how d’you fancy going out for lunch with us on March 22nd? What? Oh, yes, we’re planning on being in the UK, and btw you’ll want something nice to wear cos we’re getting married.” She was actually surprised we’d invited them & not just told them afterwards. (She knows me well!)

    Comment by Susan — April 27, 2005 @ 3:14 am

  29. Vivi, How can you miss cheddar ;-) ???
    I miss French cheese so bad and I’m sick of 1kg package of cheddar in the supermarket…

    Petite, I belive French men rarely propose. It’s more like an adult discussion and mutual decision. It is not very romantic but it is the way it’s done now (the way I did it and many of my friends). So don’t wait for him to go down on one knee…!

    Comment by Maurine au bout du monde — April 27, 2005 @ 4:18 am

  30. Petite – I’m going to be the depressing cow who throws a wet blanket over this joyous discussion…sorry!

    Why are we women so obsessed with the idea of obtaining that little piece of paper that legally joins us with another human being?

    The truth is that you and Mr Frog are in a happy (I assume) relationship. You’re a couple and a family. You have share a home, a child…a life. A marriage certificate won’t change anything.

    Except, should the awful happen sometime in the distant future, and you decide to seperate, then you have to face the French divorce courts.

    I’m currently going through a French divorce and even with the new divorce laws, it’s the most heart-grinding, soul-destroying thing I have ever (in my 39 years of travelling and living in many countries) experienced.

    For anyone who’s contemplating marriage, especially in France, all I can say is think twice and then think again…and again.

    France is wonderful but heck, the only good thing to come out of this mess has been my 15kg weight loss.

    (Having said that, the wedding itself is a lot of fun.)

    Your blog is great and has inspired me to start my own and your humour has cheered up the last few dull, rainy days. ( I only ‘found’ you 10 days ago.

    Thanks – you’re an inspiration!

    Comment by Sea Urchin — April 27, 2005 @ 8:05 am

  31. It doesn’t look as though the French Nationality campaign is going to plan!! Maybe the bureaucratic route would be less of a nightmare!!!!

    Comment by Keith — April 27, 2005 @ 9:08 am

  32. The French nationality thing will go ahead, but, as the Préfecture’s opening hours coincide nicely with my working hours, I’m pondering how to actually get there without having to pull a sicky/use up my v. precious holiday.

    And, er, it was only a dream people. Mostly about cheese. I’ve given up on the other thing.

    Comment by petite — April 27, 2005 @ 9:38 am

  33. For now at least :wink:

    Comment by petite — April 27, 2005 @ 9:49 am

  34. Aah – Petite is blogging at work. Unless, like me, you don’t work Wednesdays. What is this (very strange)thing about schools being closed in the middle of the week.

    Comment by Sea Urchin — April 27, 2005 @ 10:42 am

  35. But no – if you had Wednesdays free you’d be haunting the prefecture. Haunting being the operative word….says one who has, in the past, spent many hours there.

    Comment by Sea Urchin — April 27, 2005 @ 10:48 am

  36. I was walking across ile de la cite the other day through the plant market and noticed that the line outside the prefecture went around the block, and they’re BIG blocks. What’s going on? Is there a census? I thought they extended the tax deadline? Is it always like that and I just didn’t notice before?

    Comment by EasyJetsetter — April 27, 2005 @ 12:00 pm

  37. I just got married to Mrs “CuppaTea” – now Mrs Frog – a couple of weeks ago and this is in fact my first day back in the office after our honeymoon (under the sun, very nice). It was a lot of work and stress but at the end of the day, it was all worthwhile and we had a wonderful day (and from the feedback I have received so far, it seems that everybody else did as well).

    We decided to do it in England rather than France, purely on the fact that it was easier to organise for us. We had a civil ceremony, because neither of us is particularly religious, and even if we were, I’m technically Catholic whereas my better half is technically from the Church of England. My family have found that the civil ceremony in England has more “soul” than in France, where it’s just a matter of going through the legal proceedings.

    Petite, as you pointed out, we couldn’t afford to feed everybody, so we opted for only inviting a small number of people (which was one of the major stress causes with difficult familty relations). I found that even so, it was a lot of work running around to “chaperon” my family who didn’t have any transport and for most of them, couldn’t articulate more than two or three words in English.

    Anyway, it was wonderful but I’m glad it’s over. I wouldn’t like to have to do it again!! Good luck, if Mr Frog ever decides to pop the question…

    Comment by Froggie — April 27, 2005 @ 2:33 pm

  38. Cheese and pineapple on cocktail sticks? And you eat them together?

    Comment by pauline — April 27, 2005 @ 4:40 pm

  39. Christonabike!! What can happen when you’re away sick…until I read further down of course and realised I hadn’t missed out on the proposal post. Why don’t you ask him to marry you?

    Comment by Claypot — April 28, 2005 @ 9:52 am

  40. He wouldn’t take me seriously.

    I think whatever mental block he has about it will have to lift first, and then he’ll want to take the initiative.

    I just hope it’s before I’m too old and wrinkly to buy my posh frock!

    Comment by petite — April 28, 2005 @ 10:01 am

  41. He needs to hurry himself up.

    It’s only a couple of quid to get a flight to Paris.

    Comment by Watski — April 28, 2005 @ 10:15 pm

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