I’ve just got back from photographing a wonderful wedding in the South of France. Weddings in France, as I discovered, are quite different to those in England. There is no traditional first kiss, or walk down the aisle, no early Wedding Breakfast or expected bridal party. Instead the day is separated out into three parts – depending on whether you decide to have a religious ceremony. In this case, the bride and groom met outside the Hotel de Ville on the morning of their wedding day and took photos with family and friends as they arrived – and were photographed themselves by many passers-by enjoying the neighbouring market and flower stalls.
Accompanied by around 50 guests, the pair entered the Hall for a 10 minute ceremony in which they were legally married by each uttering just one word, “Oui.”
The guests poured out and from that moment on, the groom could call for his wife.
The Church ceremony began three hours later, in the northern-most part of Aix. More guests arrived – almost 120 in total – to a breathtaking Temple surrounded by mountains and nestled by a castle. To most Brits, this was more familiar territory. The bride walked down the aisle with her father – although the groom had already spent the morning with his wife and they considered the second part of their day a blessing, rather than the marriage itself.
Two hours later, the bride, groom and their guests drove south to a beautiful reception venue to commence ‘Cocktails’ – the three-hour segment of the wedding day devoted to drinks, nibbles and catching up.
8pm sounded the beginning of the Wedding Dinner, which included five courses and many performances for the bride and groom between each course from their friends and family. The festivities continued well into the night with the cutting of the cake – a hollow tower of profiteroles set alight with sparklers – and the first dance at 2am.
I can honestly say that was the longest wedding I have ever photographed, but it was great to see such a different culture of weddings and see that no matter where you are in the world, sharing a wedding day with a bride and groom is one of the greatest jobs around.