Weddings are a symbol of union, not just between two individuals, but between two families, and sometimes, two cultures. In multicultural Europe, bilingual weddings have become increasingly popular as couples bridge the gap between their diverse heritages. Planning a bilingual wedding, however, comes with its own set of challenges – the most evident being the language barrier. Here’s how to navigate the linguistic intricacies of your big day, ensuring both sides feel included and cherished.
▶️ Read also: Hidden costs in planning a destination wedding in Europe
Why consider a bilingual wedding?
Bilingual weddings are a reflection of the melting pot that Europe has become. With people from different countries falling in love, they are increasingly choosing to honour both cultures. Celebrating in both languages not only makes the wedding more inclusive, but also adds a unique touch, making the event more memorable. And we know what we’re talking about: our own wedding was in two languages, French and Russian!
How to plan it ?
Now let’s look at how to organise your bilingual wedding. Remember, the key word here is respect. Respect for guests from different cultures.
1. Choosing a location that suits both cultures
Europe is home to many breathtaking wedding venues. Whether you’re looking at the rolling vineyards of France, the scenic coasts of Spain, or the historic castles of Germany, you’re spoilt for choice. However, it’s essential to choose a location that resonates with both cultures. For instance, if one partner is French and the other Spanish, a coastal town near the French-Spanish border like Biarritz might be perfect. It symbolises a merging of both worlds.
If the families come from far apart, think of a destination that is halfway between them, and easily accessible for both sets of guests. For example, if one family comes from Spain and the other from Greece, Italy might be a good meeting point. Make sure, however, that there is an international airport not far from your wedding venue.
2. Incorporating bilingual elements in invitations
Your wedding invitation is the first glimpse guests get of your wedding. Making it bilingual sets the tone. For instance:
✉️ Front: Elena & Pierre
Le invitamos a celebrarnos
Vous êtes invités à célébrer notre amour
3. The ceremony: Including both languages
This is where the real challenge lies. Here’s a step-by-step approach:
- Hire a bilingual officiant: This ensures that the ceremony flows seamlessly. The officiant can switch between languages, ensuring all guests understand the proceedings.
- Vows: Saying your vows in both languages can be touching. One approach is for each partner to say their vows in their native language and then repeat in the other language. Alternatively, you could have a translator.
- Readings and music: Incorporate readings in both languages. Choose songs that resonate with both cultures.
4. The reception: Bridging cultures through food and entertainment
- Food: Europe is known for its diverse cuisines. Incorporate dishes from both cultures. If one partner is Italian and the other Greek, imagine a menu combining rich Italian pastas with the fresh flavours of Greek salads.
- Entertainment: Consider hiring bands or performers from both cultures. A flamenco dance could be followed by a traditional German waltz. If that’s not possible, try hiring a band talented enough to try out different styles. For the rest of the evening, a well-prepared playlist on a streaming site (Spotify, Deezer…) will do just fine.
5. Bridging the language gap amongst guests
- Seating: Mix guests from both sides. Provide small language guide cards at tables to break the ice. These can be fun conversation starters!
- Speeches: Encourage those giving speeches to prepare a short version in the other language or provide a brief summary. This ensures everyone is in the loop.
6. Hiring bilingual vendors
From photographers to caterers, ensure that your vendors are comfortable in both languages. This not only eases communication but also ensures they understand the nuances of both cultures.
A photographer, for instance, needs to know the critical moments in both types of ceremonies, ensuring no precious memory goes uncaptured. Similarly, a caterer must understand the palate and preferences associated with both cultures to create a menu that appeals to all guests.
The master of ceremonies (MC) and the DJ play pivotal roles in setting the mood. A bilingual MC can effortlessly guide all guests through the evening, ensuring no one feels left out. Meanwhile, a bilingual DJ can take song requests in both languages and understand the cultural significance of different tracks.
Tips for hiring the right bilingual vendors:
- Do your research: Don’t just go for a vendor who claims to be bilingual. Look at their portfolio. Have they handled bilingual weddings before? Reviews and testimonials can offer insights into their expertise.
- Engage in a conversation: Before finalising any vendor, have a conversation with them in both languages. This will give you an idea of their fluency and their grasp of cultural nuances.
- Share your cision: Clearly articulate the kind of wedding you envision. This includes sharing traditions, rituals, and specific moments that are crucial for both cultures. A good vendor will always be eager to learn and adapt.
- Clarify costs: Sometimes, bilingual services might come at a premium. It’s essential to discuss and understand any additional costs associated with hiring bilingual vendors.
- Plan bilingual contracts: Ensure contracts are drawn up in both languages to avoid any confusion or misinterpretation later on.
In multicultural Europe, where love knows no borders, bilingual weddings are a beautiful reflection of unity in diversity. By embracing both cultures, you’re not just hosting an event but creating memories that your families will cherish for a lifetime. We hope this short guide has helped you plan yours.