Thursday, October 13, 2011

How to do a bilingual wedding

Canada is a bilingual country (English/French) and so was my wedding. Well, my hubby is French so it was only fair to him and his family. I enjoying mixing the two traditions together for my wedding although I have to admit that I stressed over translation and including both languages in our wedding. If you are planning a bilingual wedding, read this. I have been there and here is everything that I did to make it a wonderful day for us.
  1. Programs: the ceremony will most likely be in one dominant language but print bilingual programs. Make sure that the process of the ceremony is written in each language and if any parts are read in the other language, write that. For example, we had English and French programs. In the French programs, we wrote all of the responses in English as they were said in English but the process was written in French so that they could follow. In turn, in the English programs, when there was a French reading we indicated that it would be said in French. Also be sure to have a sign indicating which programs are in each language when people pick them up.
  2. Readings: have one in each language during the ceremony.
  3. Vows: each person can say their vows in their maternal tongue. This may require some memorization as your officiant may not be bilingual. Or, you can just do them in the dominant language of the ceremony which is most likely the language that the priest or officiant speaks.
  4. Signs: have bilingual signs for the venue of the ceremony and reception. I also made little bilingual signs for the guest book and other activities around the reception and ceremony.
  5. Master of ceremonies: we were very lucky to have a bilingual master of ceremonies. This can be anyone that you know very well that speaks both languages and believe me, it's extremely helpful. It doesn't interrupt the flow of the event at all and keeps everyone laughing at the same jokes.
  6. Speeches: do not expect for your family and friends to do bilingual speeches. If they want to attempt it, they are welcome to and your guests will appreciate the time and effort that they make but it is not an expectation. This is what a bilingual MC is for!
  7. Slideshow: we had a slideshow at our reception and we made sure that all of the captions were bilingual. It was consistent too, with the French // English text. Everyone enjoyed it!
  8. Menu: if you have a menu card, make sure that it is in both languages.
  9. Favours: make them without text so that you don't have to translate. One thing that I did was I stamped my candy packages with both English and French thank you stamps so I didn't have to worry about who got either language and where they were sitting.
  10. Families: don't worry about both families meeting at the wedding. Try icebreaker games that don't require language. You could also make up word lists between the languages and send them out so that people can pick up on certain words when they hear them that day. We played the shoe game which was translated back and forth by our MC.
  11. Guest book: make sure that it is blank so that people can write their comments in either language.
  12. Translation: if you are bilingual, or your partner is, then when people talk translate back and forth so that everyone knows what is going on and everyone can have a share in the laughs. We did this for the day and everyone got along very well (despite the language barrier).

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