Intercultural weddings are increasingly common, with lovebirds from different backgrounds trying to tie their respective heritages into the big day. As a result, they may have relatives who do not speak English, or perhaps a bride or groom is bilingual and wants to include that aspect of their life into their wedding. Of course, there will also be many guests – and members of the bridal party – who are monolingual. Making sure everyone feels included and understands the bulk of what is happening during the ceremony, and even part of the reception, can be a difficult task. The following tips should help make it easier.
Photo by Perez Photography; Floral Design by Bella Flora of Dallas
- Programs can feature multiple languages, and can also be used to help explain various cultural customs.
- Consider choosing shorter readings, so that they can be read in each relevant language. This is also a great opportunity to honor multiple loved ones at your wedding.
- If you are reciting traditional, religious vows, consider having one of you say them in the primary language (likely English) and the other one say your vows in the secondary language. Bonus points if the person who doesn’t speak the language learns how to say the vows. Who wasn’t touched by Michael reciting his vows in Spanish on Jane the Virgin?
- Have bilingual signage. If you want everyone to “choose a seat, not a side,” that message should be clear to everyone.
- If a bilingual (or multilingual) officiant is available, that might help to keep everyone in the loop. While you don’t need to have every line translated, carefully switching between the two languages can be beautiful and inclusive.
- Try to have toasts either be short enough to translate, or alternate between languages so everyone understands a bit of what is being said.
- The parent dances, if you have them, are a great way to incorporate cultures and languages important to your respective families by way of music and dance styles.
- A hired translator complete with wireless headsets may seem extreme, but it will guarantee everyone can follow along without much extra work on your part.