I look like I lost my golf ball. I had to borrow this shirt because my supply of decent clothes is lacking. I might have accidentally bought women’s pants again. Black and blue running shoes not shown. Embarrassing.
On a perfect summer day last weekend I found myself at the wedding of Caleb and Celine in very rural northeastern France, an American/French wedding with a Prague theme, where they met as students. Their clothes were custom-made in Ivory Coast, where they just returned from teaching. Celine’s dress was only $120. (See, if I was a professional travel blogger, I would have a link to the dress maker in Abidjan and I would make 10% off future sales, but I am a complete amateur.)
As I understand it, the norm is to have the civil ceremony in the mayor’s office next door, and then the church wedding happens right after, but Celine and Caleb had the civil ceremony over a year ago, you know, to kick the tires, as we Americans say.
Usually during a wedding service my eyes glaze over as I wonder if there will be guacamole at the reception or I stare at the stained glass windows and imagine how long it took to make them, but this was different. I found it quite moving and powerful and I felt stronger about them as a couple, which there wasn’t much room for, because if they ever get a divorce, then there is no hope for any of us.
My table place setting. Guests came from different countries, so to facilitate communication, our languages were shown on our nametags. (What flag corresponds to Pig Latin?) To say I speak French is generous, but I’m telling you, don’t sleep on me becoming a fluent-for-an-American speaker; I pick up quite a bit every day I am here, and I am motivated.
I was on the verge of trashing the event hall for using the Spanish flag instead of the Cuban flag, but I took a deep breath and the moment passed.
The champagne supply (this was maybe a third or a half of it) was rivaled only by the cheese supply. Someone tell me again: how can French women be so thin with all this cheese and heavy stuff they eat? Bird-like portions? Smoking?
Several of us helped in the kitchen since they needed some extra hands. They had hired a girl from the village to work, but in true French fashion she tried to organize a union and go on strike before they had even cut the cake.
Celine’s badminton friends formed this canopy outside of the church after the ceremony.
Celine and one of her two beautiful sisters, an unmarried one! I was so caught up in the spirit of the wedding and struck by how pretty Celine’s sister is that I was about to get down on one knee and propose…that we become Facebook friends.
Celine’s sister maintained the momentum of the night deep into the wee hours as music DJ and dancing queen, racing back and forth to the console to start the next song. I was waiting for the right moment to ask for her Facebook hand, but then a better-dressed, better-dancing twelve-year-old horned right in, killing all hope. Devastated.
Caleb’s family doing their Abbey Road pose.
Bonded by a lifelong love of arson, Caleb and Celine gave everyone lanterns that blew far off into the night. It was a cool effect, but we Californians in the group remarked that in our bone-dry state this act would get 2 to 3 years in prison. An impressive fireworks show followed.
This was also Caleb’s face when I showed him the clothes I intended to wear at the wedding. This was part of a performance, a dance for each of the many places they lived. A lot of effort and planning went into the evening; there was one surprise after another.
Why don’t you stay with me? You can follow along with RSS, subscribe to an email feed, see what’s cooking on Facebook, pray that I’ll say something worth remembering on Twitter and if you are really slumming it, there’s always Google+. (I’ll follow you back!)
As the theme was Prague, this cake is a model of the Charles Bridge. This wasn’t a cake just for show either; the chocolate was high quality and the petites choux a la creme along the base were delicious. If only I hadn’t eaten a wheel of cheese by the time this came around. A paper Vltava River wound its way through the tables dotted with statues of Czech monuments. Czech cakes, beer and guests were imported.
I am likely to meet my future wife dumpster diving, which is going to make for an awkward display of banana peels and old yogurt cups strewn throughout the table at my wedding. Maybe I shouldn’t get married.
That place card is missing about six additional flags! No Danish? No Japanese? Fantastic post, Kento.
Maaaaan this looks like it was awesome. If only my wedding commitments hadn’t conflicted woth their wedding commitments!
Lisa, you know I am very modest about my MANY, MANY accomplishments and skills.
Stephen, you would have gained 5kg, but it was worth it.
I’m in the US, so the 5kg is assumed anyways. It could have been French cheese though, instead of Pecan Pie!
(…Actually, pecan pie isn’t so bad either. Bring on the kilos!)
grace à toi, I met Celine and Caleb in Abidjan. Very happy for them, and glad you got to go to the wedding, mostly so I could read this very entertaining write up of it 🙂