Photo: Annamarie Akins Photography
Getting married to someone of a different nationality or having guests travelling from other countries to assist at your wedding is one of the main reasons why couples would like to offer a bilingual ceremony and have a bilingual wedding. So, today I would like to help you plan a bilingual wedding sharing some of my ideas.
Ideas for a Bilingual Wedding
As a bilingual wedding celebrant I have assisted many bilingual weddings and I can assure you that your guests will highly appreciate it if they can understand the ceremony and can find some details in a language they understand. So here are some tips for planning a bilingual wedding:
- First of all, it is a very good idea to prepare your wedding invitations in two (or more) languages. Prepare a list of guests according to their language and you will know how many invitations you need in each language. This is very important since it is necessary that your guests understand when and where your wedding will be.
- Welcome signs. When you start thinking about the decoration elements for your wedding, keep in mind that it would be great to create welcome signs and even indicator signs in both languages.
- Create a website for your wedding. One idea that I love is creating a website for your wedding. You can write all the information in both languages and send it to the guests. In this way, when they have doubts about the details of your wedding, they can always go to the web and find the information in their own language.
- If you book a wedding planner to help you with the organization of your wedding, try to find a team or a person who speaks both languages. It is very normal that your guests want to ask questions to a waiter or any other question and it is always very satisfying to have a person to help you with the translation.
- Incorporate on the menu, if possible, meals from both cultures. I always think that it is very enriching to be able to taste the flavors of other cultures, and where better than in a multicultural wedding?
- For my own wedding I ordered Belgian chocolates from my home town as wedding favors. They were a success! I think very few chocolates survived the night. I love it when guests don’t have to come home and put their wedding favor in a drawer.
- Another great idea is choosing the songs for your wedding in both languages. If you have booked live music it may be a bit complicated but surely they can play something in everyone’s universal language: English. An example is choosing an English song for the entrance of the groom and a Spanish song for the entrance of the bride,…
- At the banquet, guests will need to recognize their seats. Well if language can be a problem, use pictures (or numbers) instead of words as part of the seating plan. This solves a lot, yes.
- Of course try to group the guests of the same language during the banquet. Make small groups and assign them to sit at the same tables.
How to Organize a Bilingual Ceremony
And now, let me share with you some great ideas on how to plan a bilingual wedding ceremony. Having a bilingual ceremony is very important in my opinion since it is the most important part of your wedding, this is the moment you are getting married! Family and friends will want to understand what is going on and on the other hand, sitting at a ceremony and not understanding a word just doesn’t feel right.
- A great idea is to create the wedding program in both languages. You don’t need to translate the entire ceremony, but you can prepare an outline for them. For example: Welcome by the celebrant, introductory text that talks about our love story, first reading by sister of the bride, reading of the civil code, second reading by a friend of the couple, I do’s and personal vows and final kiss. In this way your guests will be able to follow all the steps of the ceremony and it will help them a lot.
- Book a bilingual wedding celebrant. Try to find a wedding celebrant who speaks both languages. I know perfectly well how difficult it can be to find this person but at least try it, it will contribute a lot to the ceremony. In case your are getting married in Seville, Cádiz, Huelva or close by, don’t hesitate to contact me. I offer bilingual weddings in Spanish, English, Dutch, French and German.
- Another great idea is to find a translator to do a simultaneous translation or to sit among the guests (this can only be done if there are few foreigners) and do the translations.
- When having a bilingual ceremony, it is not necessary to have this 100% in both languages. You can alternate the language and have the celebrant change fluidly from one language to another. What I do recommend is that at important moments like the “I do’s” or symbolic rituals, the celebrant makes sure everyone understands.
These are my personal tips which I want to share with you. If you have more ideas or you would like to share your own experience, I would be very happy to read them in the comments below.