bilingual wedding

Tips for a bilingual or multilingual wedding

Weddings of couples from two or more languages and cultures are becoming more common. A bilingual or multilingual wedding planning needs a special attention to the variety of their guests language skills.

Some couples opt to have a wedding celebration in each of their native countries. However you should count with the extra costs and organization. If it isn’t feasible to have two weddings, another option is to have one ceremony and include as much of both cultures in it as possible. But hosting a wedding for guests who don’t speak the same language runs the risk of many people feeling outsiders.

To keep everyone engaged and make all guests feel included in a bilingual or multilingual wedding you need to consider some aspects. I am listing here the main ones.

Wedding invitations

You have mainly two options: Create bilingual invites, or make different invitations for each language. It can be paper based or, if you are less concerned with formality, you can send an on-line invitation in two or more languages.

The bilingual invitations may make the use of icons and draws that everyone understands instead of text. But if you are going for different sets of invitations make sure you don’t mix up the different specimens.

Check here my tips for a bilingual wedding invitation.

Bilingual wedding invitations

Ceremony

I know the party is usually the most awaited part, however there is nothing to celebrate without your wedding ceremony! It is the heart of the event and it gives meaning to the celebration. That is why none of your guests should feel lost.

If you both understand one another’s native language, you can say your vows in your native language or in your future husband or wife native language.

For ceremonies which are primarily in one language, if they are short you can try to translate it to the other language. If you try to translate everything it may become to long and heavy. You can decide to translate only the main parts and/or intersperse it with poems, songs or readings in a another language.

One option, or add-on, would be to have a detailed translated ceremony program that may be followed by the guests of the second, third and so on languages. If needed you can use sections where the wedding traditions of each culture are explained . 

Short celebrations make it easier for you to make understandable in two or more languages.

Party translations

There will come some toasts, speeches and even maybe some slide presentations and vídeos. Some of them are planned by you and others may be surprises for you.

Try to translate or let someone interpret what you are planning and tell your guests about your preference to have everything understood by all guests. So, if they are planning on surprising you, they will count on the translation too.

…but don’t overdo it! 

It can be tempting to translate every little thing, but think about how long it will be if everything has to happen twice (or trice, or more…)! Also, small and sweet speeches will be more receptive. So try to make your speeches short and to the point.

Here 3 ways you can use to translate speeches, slide shows and videos:

  • You can simply make a pause on the speech or the original sound and say it in the other language. This option has the disadvantage of making everything longer. However, if you have a friend who could help you or hire an interpreter, you don’t need to translate it before hand.
  • The second option is to produce paper based handouts with the speeches, or other texts’ translations.
  • The last, and my favorite, is to project subtitles. You may translate the speeches and project the subtitles in a second language (or more) while the speech goes on. Add subtitles on a slide show (using power point for example) or on a video (using windows movie maker for example).

Hidden interpreters

If you are a multi-language couple, the probability for you to have multi-language friends is quite high. Don’t be shy and ask those friends who speak two or more of your “needed” languages to support your “one-language” guests during specific moments.

bilingual wedding, the bride is reading something in her mother tongue to the groom

Seating plan

Your guests are the most important family members and friends for you two. So it is tempting to mix-up guests so they get to interact with each other. However, in a bilingual or multilingual wedding you should also take into consideration their specific language skills and comfort with trying to communicate without knowing a common language.

Learning some vocabulary

Human beings are naturally curious about foreign languages, and it is fun to learn one or two words or sentences in an unknown language. Give this opportunity to your guests at your wedding. You can hang cards with words, do small handouts with typical sentences and basic conversational phrases, or even use some of those buzzwords in your speeches (as love or cheers in other languages). They will have the learning feeling and use it right away to connect with each other.

seating table on a bilingual wedding

Food, drinks and music

There is more than just language, make use of your cultural diferences and celebrate them. If you have a traditional dessert from your country or a special drink that you and your relatives often drink, put those on the menu. Those will not only make some of your guests feel more at home but also be excuses to break the language barrier between guests from different mother-tongues.

It is also not a bad idea to translate the menus and drinks cards.

Do the same with music, plan a small list of some loved music on the other language. Like this all guests can learn about the cultural features of each other.

pastel de nata wedding cake on a bilingual wedding

Icebreaker activities

Try to plan everything for your wedding one or two days ahead so you have time to host an event like a barbecue or picnic on the day before the wedding. It will boost even more the bonding if you plan for some common group sports, card or board games. Those will help guests to get to know one another and on the weeding day everything goes much smoothly.

I hope this post eased your bilingual or multilingual wedding planning!

2 Comments

  • hgf

    Hey are using WordPress for your blog platform?
    I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to
    get started and set up my own. Do you need any html coding knowledge to make your own blog?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    • Margarida

      Hi! I am using the Bard theme of wordpress. I have very basic html knowledge but with wordpress I do not need it. I hope this helps you!

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