One of the many wonderful things about modern times is that when it comes to choosing a partner, we are much less constricted by ethnicity, religion or nationality than our parents were (thanks social media!) Our world has evolved into one big global community and this means that more and more, multicultural/bilingual elements are enriching weddings in intriguing and innovative ways. Including those elements, however, can sometimes be a logistical challenge. Anyone who has planned a bilingual wedding joining two or more distinct cultures knows that if you are not careful, more than the wedding colors may clash. And you thought shopping for your wedding dress was going to be the challenge.
It is not a simple task to seamlessly blend cultural, religious and geographic traditions into your own modern wedding, but it is not beyond the bounds of possibility either. Here are six practical tips to help you sketch out a bilingual wedding guaranteed to impress all your guests.
1. Hire the right wedding planner
One of the most effective ways to make sure that your bilingual wedding planning is seamless and uncomplicated is to work with a wedding planner who is fluent in both languages and familiar with both cultures. Such a wedding planner will be able to adequately communicate with your wedding guests and make sure that everyone feels more comfortable with the proceedings and customs.
2. Write in both languages
One language is traditional for physical paper goods (save-the-dates, official invitations, ceremony programs and menus), but your wedding guests should receive them in their native language. It goes without saying that they are not a necessity, but they can serve as a welcoming gesture. For that reason, make sure your physical paper goods are easily understandable to both crowds. You can either opt for one unique design that consists of the same message in both languages on the paper goods, or make separate sets – one in each language. Oh, and you do not have to have scruples about adding imagery or decorations from both cultures in your paper goods either.
3. Hire a bilingual officiant
Your wedding ceremony is the heart of your big day – but it can also be the most challenging to translate. Of course, you would want all of your multicultural wedding guests to howl their eyes out at your vows but you would not want to repeat every word twice, would you? In this case, hiring an experienced bilingual officiant would make sense. They will be able to seamlessly incorporate both languages at different moments in the most meaningful ways while keeping the wedding program coherent and succinct.
4. Incorporate clever signage
Your bilingual wedding is the perfect excuse for you to make your big day extra unique. You can set up custom signage in both languages to give your guests directions, showing the seating chart and/or pointing the way to the restrooms and details on where to catch your shuttle.
5. Keep speeches short
For the sake of keeping things simple and straightforward, let’s assume that anyone delivering a speech at your wedding is going to do so in their native language. While you cannot get rid of some amusing “What did he say?” moments, you can encourage the speakers to be concise so that the other half of your wedding guests does not feel lost or tuned out for more than a minute.
6. Honor your unique backgrounds
Food, music and dance are universal and just as good as words when it comes to understanding another language or culture, if not better. So, take advantage of your cultural differences by having both cuisines represented in your wedding buffet and infusing reception entertainment with your rich cultures. Maybe try to incorporate elements from both cultures in your wedding gown and your bridesmaids dresses. Even if a linguistic mash-up did not work at your wedding ceremony, this can help throw light on the wedding customs of each culture.
It is true that hosting a wedding for guests who do not speak the same language runs the risk of many people feeling out of the loop, but there is no point in pushing yourself to the limit trying to spell out every detail of your wedding in two languages. Keep in mind; the best parts of a wedding are the ones that need no translation – the hugs, smiles and joyful tears. So, plan well and let things go with the flow.