Love transcends all languages. And as our world grows more connected, multi-cultural couples are more common than ever. And what better way to celebrate the beautiful merging of backgrounds than with a wedding that fully celebrates both? Planning a bilingual wedding might seem like an daunting task. Especially when you know there will be guests who will run into a language barrier. But with a few thoughtful tricks below you’ll ensure all of your guests are engaged and enjoying every part of your big day.
Planning Your Bilingual Wedding – A How To Guide
Hire the Right Planner
If it’s possible, hiring a planner who speaks both languages is ideal. Not only will this give your guests an authority to direct questions to (that isn’t you) but your planner will also be able to communicate effectively with all of your vendors.
Start with the Invitations
Most stationers will be happy to work with you on designing bilingual wedding invitations. And there are quite a few ways you can do this creatively. One option is to print them double sided, with each side being a different language. You could also provide a translation in italics below each line of text (don’t worry, your designer will help you create a look that is seamless). Or you can go ahead and send out two separately designed invitations. Whichever way you choose, you will want to ensure your guests receive an invitation in their native tongue. As it will foster an immediate sense of welcoming and inclusion.
Translate Your Wedding Website
Similarly to your invitations – provide your guests with a translated website. There are so many free template options out there that it may be easiest to just use two different ones entirely. Or you could just duplicate your important tabs (travel information, accommodations, important dates, etc) in both languages. Either way, make sure all of your guests are privy to the SAME level of information and can get their questions answered easily.
Inform Your Guests about Cultural Etiquette
If you’re having a destination wedding, or a lot of guests are coming in from a different country, consider adding a “customs and traditions” tab to your wedding website. Here you can inform your guests of each other’s cultural norms, including greetings, food, attire, etc. This gives them a fun way to interact before the big day, and will help make everyone feel understood and welcome.
Provide Programs for Both Languages
Just like your invitations, give each guest a program in their own language. However you choose to design them is up to you, but it’s much easier to follow along with a ceremony if everyone feels included.
*Don’t* Translate the Entire Ceremony
That said, don’t feel the need to repeat your entire ceremony out loud, twice. Instead find ways to incorporate both languages. Have a reading done in one and a song played in another. Include little snippets of both when you are writing your vows, or include a translation in the programs of the big moments (your vows, pronouncement) in the language the ceremony is not being spoken in.
Signs posted in both languages will help everyone find the guestbook, the bar, and your Instagram hashtag with ease. And all of our custom signs are super easy to order in any language! Find them here.
Make a Game of It
A great idea to get your guests mingling is to plan some sort of icebreaker game at their table. Provide them with funny phrases in each other’s languages and have them guess the meaning. Or give everyone little cards with simple sentences and words to use with each other to help them connect and communicate! And you can always include common board games like chess, checkers or dominoes on the tables for people to play. They need very little translation and it keeps everyone having fun!
(Pro Tip: A tech savvy way to help your guests get to know each other is to have them download the Google Translate app on their phones. They can speak into the microphone in their own language and it will be automatically translated on the screen for the other person to read and respond to).
Enlist Help of a Bilingual Guest (if possible)
Are a few of your guests also bilingual? Great! Ask them (well in advance) if they would be willing to be an ambassador of sorts on your wedding day. They can help guests make connections, find their way, and just have another friendly face to chat with. Give them a button or ribbon to wear so people know who to ask for assistance.
Alternate Speeches (and keep them short)
Let’s be honest. Regardless of whether you are having a bilingual wedding or not, sometimes speech time can go on much longer than anticipated. To help keep everyone engaged, consider alternating speeches by language. And request that they are kept to a 5 minute maximum (and hold them to it!) This way nobody has time to completely zone out and everyone has time to say something meaningful.
Celebrate the Differences!
Include little nods to both cultures in your food, decor, and design! Celebrating what makes us different, and then coming together for a beautiful union, is what your bilingual wedding day should be all about.
And don’t forget to share your images with us using #marrygrams on Instagram! We can’t wait to see how you incorporate these tips on your big day. Felicidades!