Since 2015 I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing a number of incredibly special stories, with couples who certainly had a good number of frequent flyer miles between them.
I myself am half of a bilingual couple and we also have many bilingual couples as friends. Add to that being an expat and living in a country where the native language is neither of our own, I know the challenges of planning a multi-lingual wedding all too well. You want to keep everyone happy and make them feel included, but you also have to adhere to any legal regulations in the country where you are getting married.
I believe your native languages are something to celebrate on your wedding day. They are a special part of your unique story. And being able to incorporate them into your wedding celebrations is a wonderful way to honour where you come from.
But if you don’t want to have to make announcements in multiple languages and have a ceremony that goes on for days, here are some fun ways to plan a bilingual wedding.
Planning A Bilingual Wedding
1. Send Out Your Information In Each Language
Whether you’re sending out invitations, creating a wedding website or both, create information in each language. For our own wedding, we thought it would be fun for our own wedding invitations to be in English on the front and Dutch on the reverse so that our guests could enjoy trying to decipher the other language. And even though all of our Dutch guests understood the English text without a problem, everyone commented on what a nice touch it was to have both languages.
2. Create A Wedding Programme
If your wedding ceremony is being held in the local language and the majority of your guests are not fluent speakers, create a wedding day programme for them so that they can follow along. Include an explanation of the different aspects of the ceremony or special words that they should look out for so they know what is happening throughout.
3. Include Traditions From Both Cultures
So this isn’t specifically about language per-say, but being able to throw in a few small touches from your own cultures, or local customs where you are getting married can give the wedding a real international flair. This could be through your menu choices, music selections or perhaps even a few games at the reception. For example, a fun game for at the dinner tables is to give guests a selection of buzz words in each language to learn, such as hello, goodbye, thank you and of course, I love you.
4. Keep Speeches Short & Pick A Common Language
If you’re planning on having readings or speeches during the day, try to keep them as short as possible. In many cases, there will a language that the majority of the guests understand, such as English. Try to do as much of the day in that language so that most people can follow along and feel included.
5. Have Someone In The Wedding Party Who Can Translate
If you have a member (or members) of your wedding party that are bilingual, ask them to keep an eye on the guests who you think might get a bit lost during the proceedings.
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