New Orleans is a favorite spot for weddings. Tradition has it South Louisiana could really put on a celebration for a wedding out doing even Mardi Gras.
Harnett T. Kane, a New Orleans journalist and author of, “The Bayous of Louisiana”, published in 1943 by Bonanza Books of New York, wrote, “The more I saw of this place and people, (Louisiana) the more I came to appreciate them.”
Mr. Kane once attended a Louisiana wedding and found: “Only one other South Louisiana institution can match the Mardi Gras in its semiregulated horseplay, and that is the French-style charivari.”
Kane said he was once surprisingly invited while visiting in Cajun Country to a charivari. A hurried man knocked at his door and asked if he wanted to see a charivari. On the way Kane was told that an old businessman after his first wife passed away married a young girl, and had returned with her from a private wedding in New Orleans. As usual a charivari developed spontaneously by men in the community. Kane said they stopped in a crowd on the road a short distance from the couple’s home. A loud procession went to the couple’s house but the noise grew louder upon reaching the home. For about 2 hours, the charivari noise went on out side the house. The rules were the group had to be invited in, the noise would go on until the invitation was given.
One man knocked the door of the old businessman’s home. After several discussions the husband came out. He knew the rules; there would be no end to it until the bride as well as the groom joined in the charivari. Reluctantly the husband fetched the bride.
They were urged to kiss and the husband then asked the question expected by the crowd. “Quoi vous voulez, mes bons hommes?” (What do you want, gentlemen?) The leaders of the charivari group, told him they wanted wine, beer, cake, sausage, cheese and whatever available, and they’d even wait for him to go get more food. “Entrez!” called the leaders. Thus the charivari begins. For the next hour music played, food was eaten and toasts made. “Que le Dieu benit les maries!” (May God bless the married ones.) “Que le Dieu benit les noces!” (May God bless the nuptials.) Eventually charivari ended and the couple left in peace. Only one celebration per marriage is allowed but for a Cajun any reason is good enough for an another party.
For further reading on Louisiana Cajun Customs of marriage and the actual marriage celebration see: Pouponne et Balthazar: Nouvelle Acadienne by Mme. Sidonie de la Houssaye; Librairie de l�Opion, Nouvelle-Orleans: 1888 a retelling of the “Evageline” story by a Louisiana Creole author of the time period. See also Cajun Country by Barry Jean Ancelet, et al. Paperback / Published 1991 ISBN: 0878054677.
Traditions are still made in many weddings in New Orleans and the local favorite Pirates Alley wedding tradition first thought to be done by a local pirate who now haunts the Alley. You can have one too, just contact Jerry Schwehm at http://www.figstreet.com/weddings
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