I’ve just returned from an amazing weekend away for my friend Alice’s wedding.
Like me, Alice was an au pair in Paris, which is how we met. She also got together with a French man, Jean-Luc, and on Saturday they got married in the English countryside. Despite their risky decision to get married in England in November, and despite the fact that up until the morning of their wedding day the weather had been awful, the sun came out and blessed them as they said their vows in the tiny church. (Hopefully this is a good omen for the rest of their marriage!)
The children Alice used to au pair for in Paris were the ring bearer and the flower girl respectively. I thought that was a lovely touch, but there’s no way the two little monsters I used to look after will be coming to my wedding!
Olivier and I have been to four weddings this year, but no funeral, touch wood! Two were in France and two were in England. One was entirely French, one was entirely English, and two were both French and English. When two people from different countries get married, it’s always interesting to see how they overcome the problem of which language to use for the wedding ceremony and speeches, and how to make all the guests feel welcome and included when some of them will be unable to talk to each other and parts of the proceedings will be in a language they don’t understand.
Olivier and I were in a better position than most to talk to people, since we both speak both languages, but initially it was difficult for us too, as we didn’t know anyone at the wedding apart from the bride and groom. However, once the ceremony was over and the champagne was flowing, we lost some of our shyness and started to get to know Alice and Jean-Luc’s family and friends. In the end it was a fantastic evening and we all had a great time.
One of the other couples on our table were from India and France respectively. They met in India, initially communicating in English. They now speak each other’s languages fluently and live in Belgium with their two children. Hearing stories like this makes me realise that my long-distance relationship with Olivier is really not all that difficult or complicated, and that when you love someone enough, you find a way to be together eventually. At least London to Paris is not very far.
By chance, the wedding was also in the same part of the country where I used to live until a few months ago. This meant I got to spend Friday and Sunday evening catching up with some of my other friends, and I even managed to squeeze in a visit to my amazing hairdresser! (I’m too scared to let anyone else cut my hair, and at least this way it’ll make sure I go back every few months to visit people.)
It was an exhausting but wonderful weekend, filled with love, laughter and sunshine. Saying goodbye to Olivier at the airport was as hard as ever, but I’m going to visit him next week, so at least we knew it wouldn’t be too long this time. I drove home listening to the cheesiest radio station I could find, still enjoying the warm glow that comes from spending time with the people I love.
All four weddings we’ve been to this year have been completely different, but each one has been special in its own way. It’s an amazing thing to watch two people declaring their love for each other in front of their family and friends, and to witness them setting out on their journey of marriage together. I feel incredibly thankful to all of them, and honoured to have been invited to share their special day.