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Multilingual weddings: how to organize it?

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We all know that love has no boundaries. And we definitely support multi-cultural weddings. However, organizing multilingual weddings requires not only a good knowledge of how to deal with different cultures and traditions but also some doses of creativity to make all the guests feel comfortable and integrated.

The wedding planner Alexandra Wales has a wide experience when it comes to organizing multilingual weddings. “My target market is international couples, and most of the weddings I plan are bilingual. I got used to managing these weddings without complications, as I speak several languages (Russian, English, German and French), and understand a couple quite well (Spanish and Italian), I can communicate with both sides and thus can comprehend the bilingual couples and their wedding expectations and desires perfectly”, says Alexandra Wales.

Aurélie Olartey y Roman, a wedding planner from France, is also used to work with multilingual weddings. “On October 2016, we had an American bride, but she speaks French well, which helped. On the other hand, more than half of the guests speak English, especially the witnesses, but this was no problem. The main challenges when you are working with multilingual weddings is to respect the traditions of the two families and manage the surprises of the guests – sometimes they are very original ”, she explains.

Alexandra Wales agrees with that: “I guess the main challenge could be respecting origins and sometimes different mentalities of each side, with their unique wedding traditions and expressions used during weddings in their native language”.

Set your strategies to work on multilingual weddings

Wedding planner: Aurélie Olarte y Roman | Photo: The Quirky

When working with multicultural weddings, it is important to have in mind a few strategies to make everything work. The first step, according to Aurélie and Alexandra, is to respect the different traditions of each family equally.

“They usually have different habits. When you are working with French and Americans, for example, you have an issue – French people are not used to having wedding planners, 80% organize their own wedding. For the decor or the food, there are also some differences – so, there are a few adjustments to be made”, Aurélie explains.

Hire an interpreter

Hiring an interpreter or someone who can understand all the languages is also important. “Depending on a wedding, I either act as a wedding officiant or Master of Ceremony performing in both languages myself or hire an interpreter or two to support the guests in conversation with each other during the whole wedding day”, tells Alexandra.

Aurélie mentions that on a wedding that she’ll organize for June 2018, there will be a trilingual assistant to be sure to understand everyone well and also make us understand.

Mixed languages ceremony

Wedding planner: Aurélie Olarte y Roman | Photo: The Quirky

The ceremony is an important part of the wedding (if not the most important one!) and when you have a multilingual wedding, you might consider having a mixed languages ceremony.

“It depends, of course, on the couple. I firstly offer them to decide whether they would like the ceremony to be held in two or sometimes three languages (here in Switzerland people speak 4 national languages, and guests often attend from each corner of the country). Then I either create a unique multilingual speech and perform myself or hire a bilingual officiant. When we can’t find an officiant to perform in both languages, an interpreter helps. Sometimes there are just a few guests of different languages. In this case, we either place an interpreter next to them to translate the whole ceremony, or print the text of the ceremony in their language – all upon the decision of the couple”, explains Alexandra. Aurélie uses the same strategy: “If there is a lot of discrepancies (for example 80% English and 20% French not speaking English), I suggest to make their ceremony in English and to make a book of the ceremony in French just for the non-English speakers”.

According to Aurélie, it’s a religious ceremony, they prepare for the foreigner and meet the priest just before their wedding in France. If it’s a secular ceremony, I offer them a bilingual officiant or it’s often one of their relatives who’s in charge of writing the texts.

A little help from the stationary and videos

Wedding planner: Aurélie Olarte y Roman | Photo: The Quirky

The stationary might also give a little help to deal with different languages. “I advise them to make the booklets of ceremonies in both languages, similar to the card shop (to share, invitations to dinner and/or brunch, etc …) so that the guests can feel integrated into the wedding”, says Aurélie.

Alexandra agrees that bilingual stationary helps a lot. “It could be either double-sided invitation, menu card and so on (as we recently sent Russian-German save the dates, Invitations and RSVP cards for a wedding), or a nice note in two languages addressed to each guest, or even a little booklet listing wedding related words (like bride, groom, ceremony, cheers! and bottoms up! and congratulations etc) in both languages placed on each table – you can’t believe what an ice breaker and conversation starter that can be!”, suggests Alexandra.

In case of there is a video or slideshow exhibition during the wedding, Aurélie recommends adding the subtitles.

Why not doing a bilingual game?

Alexandra tells that one of her clients came up with a game for their reception, that would suggest the guests read phrases in opposite language and try to guess the meaning. “Entertaining, somewhat educating, uniting and fun!”, she concludes.

First photo credit: Wedding planner – Aurélie Olarte y Roman | Photo – The Quirky

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