Kari and I approached a shopkeeper leaning in a doorway, looking expectantly at the old church dominating the square. We asked him what was going on. He explained that the daughter of the owner of Chateau Cheval Blanc (one of the top two wine chateaux in the region) was about to wed. Her father (Albert Frere), we later learned, was one of the wealthiest men in Belgium at a worth of approximately $1 billion. The Bordeaux Society Wedding of the Century! Right here! Right now!
The townspeople (dressed in their Sunday best) converged around the church courtyard, so we joined them. And then the spectacle began.
The hats! Bigass hats! Loud hats. Hats with feathers. Hats with veils. Hats with rhinestones. Every woman flaunted a hat, apparently the more ostentatious, the better. The display ranged from gorgeous and sophisticated to white trash and trannie. And the jewels! As big as the bigass hats!
There stood Kari and I snapping away with our cameras like Japanese tourists, giggling, and commentating on everyone’s outfits á là Joan and Melissa Rivers (Rives). Let me be clear that we were no fashion plates ourselves: I wore a wrinkled Banana Republic t-shirt, and some sort of mom-jeans-slash-clamdiggers that I thought would be ‘comfortable’ for traveling and sensible, low-heeled walking sandals. Kari hadn’t done much better.
A sweet, elderly village woman adopted us, pointing out France’s most eminent personalities: Madame Chiraq (wife of the then prime minister) and Bernard Arnault (pretty much owned the entire country).
The bells chimed promptly at five o’clock and the Mack Daddy of Rolls Royces, bearing the bride and Pere Frere, rolled into the courtyard. The paparazzi swarmed the vehicle in a frenzy. The bride stepped out confidently: she was approximately five-foot eleven, blond, thin, impeccably dressed in a custom Dior gown, and stunning.
We hated her!
THE DAY AFTER
Kari and I spotted our friend from our hotel, The Front Desk Guy, among the onlookers from the previous day, so we made a point to talk to him. We needed the inside scoop on who the bride and groom were, etc. He didn’t have much dirt on the couple for us, but he was eager to share that Madame Taittinger, matriarch of the champagne clan, was also staying at our hotel (he had chauffered her to the wedding). The best part: he had brought her bags to her room earlier in the day and she had opened the door in the nude.
The Front Desk Guy then produced an article on the Bordeaux society wedding from the local paper, and if you squint your eyes and look slightly above the bride’s perfect right ear, you can spy Kari and me standing (arms crossed, head cocked) in an obvious ‘what’s she got that I don’t got’ (everything, it turns out, except a bunch of debt) stances. The article stated that no less than the Prince of Belgium, the Prince of Luxembourg, the Prince of Lichtenstein, and the L’infante of Spain were among the guests (I didn’t even know what a l’infante was) but I was still impressed.
So that was the day that I attended (to use the term loosely) the Bordeaux Society Wedding of the Century (or Decade) (last decade). All in all, a good day.