No matter the language you speak, there is one universal language, the language of love. A wedding is a way to share that language with those near and dear to you. It is not only a joining of two people who wish to share their lives together, but also a joining of two families – and often a joining of cultures and traditions.
While most interracial couples share a common understanding of a shared language, that may not be true for extended families. There may be family members that are traveling from afar for the wedding and may have a difficult time understanding the ins and outs of the wedding ceremony, and what to expect – all due to a language barrier.
Without being properly prepared, these can be issues can, at best, make for an awkward wedding, and at worst foster feelings of resentment between families. Since a wedding is supposed to be a happy and joyful event, we want to share a few ways to make sure everyone feels the love and is included.
Tips for Planning a Bilingual Wedding for your Guests
Print all documents in both languages. Set the tone from the very beginning by printing out invitations in both languages. You can either have two versions of it or have them be double-sided. This is an inclusive way to show respect to all your guests, of both families’ languages. Do the same for any menus and programs. Some other documents may include directions to the venues and information packets on the area of your wedding.
Incorporate both languages. Go beyond just wedding invitations and programs — use language for inspiration when it comes to toasts and readings. It will go a long way if the groom learned and recited a prayer from their bride’s family or vice versa. However, make sure you do not overdo it and look like you are going out of your way to pander — it can be tempting to translate the entire evening for you non-English speaking family members and guests. Repeating everything in both languages will significantly extend the wedding ceremony and can be a logistical nightmare.
Make the most out of your wedding website. You can personalize your wedding website as an essential communication tool. On a website, you can easily inform your guests in any language about the essential information about your wedding. You can provide information about the ceremony, reception sites, and where to stay and what are the attire requirements. You can also use your site to educate your guests about the different cultural traditions and rituals that may be included in your wedding ceremony.
Invite your guests to be part of the process. Bilingual ceremonies provide special opportunities to include a close family member in your celebration. Invite them to share a reading or give a toast in their native language. This will give them a special role and send the message that everyone is welcomed. If there are wedding traditions that you like to include, invite your guests to be part of that moment and include simple explanations in both languages to embrace it further and to ensure that everyone stays on the same page.
Don’t be afraid to hire an interpreter. The interpreter could help greet guests at the hotel, attend the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner to help speakers feel more at home with the proceedings, and help family members feel like a part of the celebration and better understand what is going on.
There is more to breaking the language barrier than just reading a couple of translated words and passing pamphlets. It is encouraged that couples include familiar items that will make guests feel at home. For example, you can include food and drink from both cultures, or add a cultural twist to certain foods. Your extended family members will appreciate the cultural exchange, and your in-laws will appreciate you going out of your way to ensure that they experience foods that they have grown up with.
If you need help planning a Bilingual wedding, please contact, we can help!