We had another wedding today in Daglan, in the church near our home, which was quite different in tone from the wedding that I covered in my blog “Bang, bang — you’re married!” of August 14. Without in any way diminishing the previous wedding, this one was both quieter and very, very elegant.
When the bride and groom emerged from the church, to much applause, there was the ceremonial “pop” of small firecracker thingies (somewhat like the Christmas crackers in Canada). But that was it. The explosions didn’t go on and on, and the wedding party got down to the serious business of being photographed and congratulated. Which brings us to le bisou — the famous French kiss on the cheeks. As you can imagine, there are a lot of bisous after a wedding.
What is the “right” way to faire un bisou, you may ask? Here is what I have observed and what I’ve been told:
Who gets a bisou? First of all, it’s not for everybody you meet, by any stretch. Young children (like our two neighbour girls) are often told to give a bisou to older people. But primarily it’s for quite good friends and acquaintances. I’ve met English women here who will say “Oh, let’s do what the French do,” and proceed to kiss your cheeks. Sorry, ladies: wrong. French adults will shake hands when meeting strangers. To illustrate how complex this can be, I recently saw a young waiter at a brasserie approach a table of two men that he obviously knew well and give a light bisou to one man, and shake hands with the other.
Do you really kiss? Whether or not your lips actually touch the other person’s cheek seems to be a completely personal and casual matter. Sometimes you may, sometimes you just sort of touch cheeks, sometimes you kiss the air near the other person’s cheek.
How many kisses? One bisou is pretty casual, possibly a touch dismissive, and certainly what you might do with a good friend that you see often. Two (one per side) is probably the most common technique. Three is fine, but approaching “a bit much.” And four? Well that’s just excessive showmanship.
And how does it all look? Well, it’s quite lovely — when you have a bride this attractive. Here she is:
Here is she, getting ready for yet another congratulatory bisou:
Yet another bisou, and soon she and the groom are off to the reception.