While our original travel dates were until the end of June, our plans changed when my childhood friend, Benjamin, informed me that he was getting married at the end of April in Grenoble, France. It was wonderful news and I had to be there for it! Also, this was going to be MuiMui’s first French wedding and it turns out there are some differences between French weddings vs. American weddings.
Me & Frenchie
French weddings vs. American weddings: A typical American wedding is made up of a civil or religious ceremony followed by a lunch or dinner reception, that may include some dancing. A typical French wedding on the other hand, starts with a civil ceremony at the Mairie (City Hall), and is followed by a religious ceremony (optional), then a vin d’honneur (mini cocktail reception), followed by a minimum 3 course meal, and then dancing.
Greeting The Bride
The most noticeable difference is the time everybody goes home. In the few American weddings I have been to, celebrations ended at 9 p.m., 11 p.m., and 2 a.m. (Las Vegas and Miami wedding). For Benjamin’s wedding in France, we went to bed at 5.30 a.m.! In a typical French wedding, people only stop celebrating when the groom and bride are done, which is usually between 4 a.m. and 10 a.m.
Husband & Wife Leaving The Mairie (City Hall)
The second difference in French weddings vs. American weddings is that French people tend to concentrate on having a fun time with all their friends and family while Americans try to have the most perfect and beautiful wedding possible. This leads to renting out a gorgeous venue, that is most likely expensive and explains why the place needs to be cleared out early.
Who Will Get The Garter?
Food wise, I found that it was as delicious in America as in France. Alcohol wise, France wins hands down. For instance, at this French wedding we had 2 aperitifs (starters), “Soupe de Champagne” (see below for Champagne Soup recipe) and punch. As I helped served drinks at the bar, I can tell that every guest had at least 4 glasses. Then during meals, a white wine is served to complement the appetizers and 2 additional red wines are served with the main dish. For dessert, there is an unlimited supply of Champagne.
One thing remains the same in French weddings vs. American weddings is that brides always look their most beautiful while the grooms look so-so. 😉 Congratulations Benjamin and Christel; we wish you a lifetime of happiness together.
Flower Girl & Boy
Champagne soup has become one of our favorite drinks. It doesn’t only have to be for weddings so try it at your next dinner gathering. Enjoy!
Champagne Soup Recipe
• 1 bottle of champagne (or sparkling white wine that has been kept cold)
• 1 ladle of triple sec (Giffard, Cointreau, or Grand Marnier)
• 1 ladle of lime juice (or lemon)
• 1 ladle of syrup of cane sugar
• Simply mix in all the ingredients in a large serving bowl.
• Serve right away (cold) with a ladle.
We couldn’t get any luckier with our timing into Sydney. Our awesome buddy, Zhi, who we know from San Francisco, just moved into a pretty phat place. Every day, it was just a short walk to Darling Harbour. [Zhi, if you are reading this, did we tell you how awesome you are.] While it is known to be a touristy area, it feels wonderful to walk through there. The city did a really great job designing the area with lots of interesting fountains, wide walkways, restaurants, bars, shopping mall, tourist attractions, and the overall modern architecture of the buildings. I liked coming here to enjoy my daily cup of Joe.
Great Place To Enjoy A Cup Of Morning Coffee
Kids Playing In The Fountain
Amex Building Reflection
While we didn’t plan this either, U2 was in town. We just couldn’t say no to that so with last minute tickets, we were jamming to Jay-Z and singing with U2 LIVE! It was a really great show and nice to be in an open stadium with fresh air.
As we roamed the city, everything about it was beautiful. The botanical garden puts all other gardens to shame. We saw so many interesting plants and flowers, but what topped our visit were the hundreds of huge fruit bats in the trees. They made so much noise and with so many above our heads, it was kind of scary.
Heart Shaped Flowers
I have seen many pictures of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but being there was definitely better. The city is very well laid out and everything, including the bridge, Opera House, parks, were all where they are supposed to be; it all just made sense. As we were walking through the park, there was a wedding taking place, people exercising, and others enjoying the views. After work one day, our buddy took us out for drinks at the Opera Bar and it was packed with professionals all dressed to impress. It was a great place for happy hour and to watch the sunset.
View From Opera Bar
In the east part of the city called Surry Hills, we went out for drinks and had delicious Thai food. The Winery is a neat wine bar with funky decor, but what I liked most was that we were able to hear each other talk. This doesn’t happen at many of the other bars. While there is so much to love about Sydney, the only thing I did not enjoy so much was the young party scene.
The Night Scene @ The Winery
Overall, the restaurants in Sydney were yummy. Since I love my Asian food, we explored Chinatown a few times. I like it when I can have my classic Chinese dishes just the way they are supposed to be prepared. Just don’t have high expectations of the service at any of the restaurants in the city. As people in the food industry are well paid in Australia, tip is not expected and I felt service was somewhat degraded compared to what I’m used to. However, if you are under 30 and need a job or just a change, Australia gives one-year working visas and their minimum wage is $15 an hour. I’m not making this up.
Food For One @ Hurricane's Grill & Bar
Chinese Congee With Pork & Thousand Year Old Egg
Also a short walk from Zhi’s house is the Pyrmont Fish Market. To my surprise, I was expecting something bigger for Sydney. It was simple but filled with lots of great seafood. We went there for breakfast and had oysters and fish. This was also where I discovered these cute white flowers called Bouvardia. Brides, I think these would look great in a bouquet.
Sydney Fish Market
One of Boris’ old buddies from France, Alexis, has also been living in Sydney for a few years now. We joined him for a French gathering over a game of Pétanque, which is much like Bocce Ball. Afterwards, the boys played catch-up at a bar while stuffing their faces with some good old saucisson and Pastis.
Boris Playing Pétanque
Alexis Plays To Win
Just as popular as the Sydney Opera House is Bondi Beach. It’s located 30 minutes by public transportation, right out of the city. What a great deal for city and beach lovers; you don’t have to choose. As we strolled along the strip of beaches, each beach had a different vibe but they were all beautiful. When you didn’t like one beach, just walk over to the other one. What I most adored was how there were public infinity pools at most of beaches. Did I mention they were free?
Walk Along Bondi Beach
Lorikeet Parrots Along Our Walk
One thing I took notice of and definitely Boris was the amount of clothing, or should I say lack of, the females had on. We are talking about working professionals showing a whole lot of skin at the office. By the end of the week, there was very little of it left. So boys in the Silicon Valley, why live where the ratio is 1 female for every 15 males when in Sydney, it is the opposite! I mention this with no disrespect of course.
When there was no more to expect from such a wonderful place, the city was hosting their annual Christmas in the Park, also free. The place was full to capacity when we arrived. There were lots of children and families enjoying the live music, Christmas Carols, and dancing. Then Josh Groban came on stage and made me melt with that talented voice of his.
Carols In The Domain
Josh Groban Doing His Thing
Thanks Zhi for a wonderful time in Sydney. We still are having withdrawals.
Thanks Alexis for meeting up with us. It was great to see you again.
We couldn’t leave the states without seeing my old dear friend, Alin, who I have known since high school, walk down the aisle on her special day. We packed up our suitcases for the last time and headed for a wedding in Miami.
The weather was great even with the occasional down pour. While I have visited Miami numerous times before, it was new for Boris. He definitely enjoyed the weather, the feeling of vacation, and of course, the hot ladies.
My best friend, Jessica, and her boyfriend, Ismael, were our gracious hosts. We had delicious Cuban food, yummy creme brulee, and a tour of South Beach. Thank you!
Compared to my previous visits, South Beach was quieter than usual. The musical festival was the same weekend so I’m sure most folks were at Ultra. As Ocean Drive always delivers, there were many suped up motorcycles and cars (R8 … so sweet), one side ocean, the other side filled with restaurants each trying to lure you in, and spring breakers partying it up at the Clevelander Hotel. It doesn’t matter if it is beachwear or nightlife attire, everyone is dressed to impress.
Call it luck or perfect planning, but there was only pure sunshine on the big day. We boarded The Anticipation and as we cruised around Miami, we saw one phat house after another. There was definitely something in the air. The love, happiness, and laughter was all around us. Alin, the bride, looked absolutely stunning. Congratulations Alin and Clairmarc! We wish you both a lifetime of happiness together and are so happy we were able to share your special day with you and the rest of the Waltham crew. For the rest of the evening, I got my groove on with my honey. Thank you for the open bar.