"EDHEC Love Stories" : the wedding speech, by Christophe Collard, professor of law at EDHEC Business School

Published on 10/02/2021
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“EDHEC Love Stories”… September 2006: two young EDHEC students were getting ready to say “I do” in front of their families and friends. We knew each other well: I had followed them closely and they had put up with me during many long hours of teaching. Their classmates asked me to compose a text that would be read out to them on the evening of their wedding. I approached the task with great enthusiasm and took it seriously: true to my legal background, I chose a structure in two parts, but, mindful of the number of former prep school students that would be in attendance, I opted for a funnel-like progression: I first spoke of marriages between EDHEC students generally before focusing specifically on the happy couple. It is this text, which I have dusted off, that I share with you today …

“Dear Stéphanie, Dear Benoit, this is your professor speaking! Please do not be alarmed by the professorial, if not magisterial, tone of this text.

I have decided to address what seemed to me an apposite theme: that of inter-student wedlock, the endogamous phenomenon here at EDHEC. To be clear, I propose to describe and analyse in brief the phenomenon in which couples form within our dear School (this will be the subject of part one), before moving on (in part two) to the specific case of the couple formed by Stéphanie and Benoit.

  1. A typology of inter-student wedlock at EDHEC

Marriage, at least at the time of writing [the “marriage for all” legislation would not be adopted until 2013], presupposes the union between two persons of the opposite sex ... This may seem a trivial point, but it leads me to the point that the first woman to graduate from EDHEC did so in 1939, more than 30 years after the School was founded. Gender diversity quickly produced the effects one might well imagine, with Odette Pécheux (Class of 1942) and Fernand Jouniaux (Class of promo 1945) joining in matrimony during the Liberation, thus inaugurating what was to become a long legacy. Odette and Fernand had both entered EDHEC in 1939, but Fernand’s graduation was delayed when he was mobilised to serve the homeland ...

Since then, a lot of water has flowed under bridges, and beer from kegs …

Between 1942 and 2005, no fewer than 442 marriages between graduates have been recorded by the EDHEC Alumni Association. This figure is all the more impressive when one considers that it must be multiplied by two to obtain the number of people from EDHEC married to someone else from EDHEC. Through the magnifying prism of marketing, this gives us just shy of 1000 EDHEC graduates, whose ranks Stéphanie and Benoit are joining today!

Since 1990, an average of 20% of each class have found their better halves in our wonderful establishment. This figure of course fails to reflect the many furtive exchanges that may have taken place, whether in love or out of lust.

Statistically, lovers – true lovers – have met in the very same class: three-quarters of intra-EDHEC couples are from the same class or just one year apart. But for some, like Yves (Class of ’73) and Isabelle (Class of ’82), the gap reached 9 years.

This typology can be extended to the observation that the typical EDHEC–EDHEC couple is represented by Philippe and Isabelle: they were from the same class and married 3 years after graduating. The directory of graduates unfortunately does not allow us to identify the proportion of children issued from these couples who themselves go on to join EDHEC. May I nonetheless suggest that they be afforded a significant discount on their tuition fees?

But what might be the reasons for this matrimonial ardour that EDHEC students display towards their peers?

Here are some thoughts to initiate the discussion:

1) it is a reflection of what we refer to as the EDHEC spirit;

2) it is a choice of proximity, or the proximity of choice;

3) it is due to the quality of language classes;

4) it is an effect of the hot tasting sessions organised by Dyonisos ...

This latter reference [the young betrothed were both active members of Dyonisos] provides me with the perfect transition to address the specific case of the couple whose two parts have for some time been wondering what part two of this exposé has in store for them ...

  1. The Stéphanie–Benoit couple

In the world of EDHEC students, everything at first glance appeared to separate these two, in particular the label seemingly branded onto Benoit’s forehead that he had been admitted from university. For alas, many of those pupils who first attend prep school all too often and so very unjustly see the marker of university origins as a seal of infamy. It was no doubt in his struggle to bring these two groups closer together that Benoit moved closer to ... Stéphanie, who, observers noticed, also gravitated towards him, once her natural reserve had dissipated.

And so the formation of this couple marks a wonderful victory, a small “I do” before witnesses but a giant leap for diversity at EDHEC!

It was not long before this mixed-origin couple attracted attention, particularly from their professors, who were quick to compare them to the birds of the Psittacidae family poetically known as Lovebirds. They share a feature with these charming birds, whose bickering paradoxically reveals their perfect match, which is a certain tendency to gurgle, babble, chatter and even cackle more than seems reasonable ... behaviour which more than once caused me to call them to attention. I have no doubt they were mostly discussing the law, although theirs seemed more amusing than mine ...

And with that, I shall conclude, something I always find difficult, unlike Benoit, as he has so brilliantly demonstrated.

Long live inter-student wedlock! Long live the happy couple!”

 

Christophe Collard
Professor of law

15 September 2006
and 7 February 2021

Career change? Moving house?