French Wedding- Umbrella Tradition


BM: “One of the wedding traditions still in play in the Brittany region and in the Loire region is the tradition of the umbrella.  And it is not because these regions are also famous for frequent rain. Referred to as the ‘dance of the umbrella’ this is a beautiful tradition which takes place during the evening of the wedding banquet.  It is also called the Umbrella of Happiness.  When the newlyweds open the wedding ball, the couple must dance a slow dance under a large white umbrella while the wedding guests throw streamers at them.   The streamers which stay attached to the umbrella represent each year of happiness awaiting the young couple.”


The informant is a 64 year old woman from France who married an American, although she still often resides in France. She has been to multiple weddings with this tradition being practiced.


This practice is very symbolic. The umbrella being white is an important element that implies a brighter future, versus the more somber quality a typical black umbrella would provide. Dancing under the umbrella perhaps is representative of standing together “rain or shine” in marriage, and the streamers being thrown remind me of rice being thrown as couples exit a chapel. An element of luck is involved with how many streamers attach to the umbrella– in essence, this stands for how there are elements of life the couple cannot control, no matter how dedicated they are to each other.