How to plan a multilingual wedding?

April 27, 2020

You are a French ex-pat engaged to a foreign citizen? Or maybe you have two different backgrounds and your families don’t necessarily speak the same language? Your friends come from all over the world and are all multilingual, but your parents don’t speak English? There are many scenarios when you have to envision planning a multilingual wedding. Here are a couple of recommendations from a Latvian married to a French.

The most important thing when you plan a multilingual wedding is to make sure everyone feels involved. If you have a religious ceremony, you don’t necessarily have to have a translator. Because religious readings and prayers can’t be translated on the go, prepare a print-out that people can read.

Your vows exchange ceremony can be translated though by one of your bilingual friends or a professional bilingual celebrant. When you prepare your texts, avoid poems and use prose instead, as they are much easier to translate. Be sure to communicate your vows to a friend who will do a translation in advance. It is important your celebrant can familiarise himself/herself with the text. You might also want to translate the text yourself, to be sure to use perfect words.

It is common to have a bilingual ceremony where two officiants celebrate together in two languages. In that case, you will need to adjust the timing, as your ceremony takes twice more time. If your parents or friends want to tell a speech, ask them to communicate the text in advance to a translator. Being familiar with the text will help to avoid translation errors and misuse of some words and expressions.

I would recommend alternating languages every sentence, so that people stay focused. From the experience, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend your celebrants to pronounce more than one short sentence in a language he/she doesn’t speak. It might seem cute, but in reality, very difficult to understand.

If you use a friend’s help for translating guests’ speeches, make sure he/she has the schedule and know exactly when he/she is needed.

Do you have friends and family members that live in different countries, perhaps even on different continents? You plan a destination wedding and want to find out more about weddings in Paris? Feel free to book your free consultation with me here.

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