Are you a bi-lingual couple looking to arrange a bi-lingual wedding ceremony in the Lake District? It may be that you are bi-lingual but not all of your guests are so having a bi-lingual ceremony for your Lake District Wedding will be a beautiful way to allow everyone to share you special moments. Your wedding is the perfect occasion to celebrate your two different cultures. So how do you make sure every guest understands the wedding without practically having to host two different events? Thankfully, it’s not as difficult as it sounds Here’s my advice on how to plan a bi-lingual wedding in the Lake District and make it a lovely day for everyone.
Find the Right Experts
The best way to make sure that planning your bi-lingual wedding in the Lake District is stress free and uncomplicated is to ensure those who communicate directly with your guests such as the hotel staff, your officiant, and the photographer are at least familiar with both languages. They will communicate directly with guests during family photographs and while coordinating formalities, so you want to set them up for success.
Stationary, Invitations and Order of Ceremony
Make sure you say in your invitations that your Lake District wedding ceremony will be bi-lingual and use both languages on the invitations ensuring your guests are aware that your special ceremony may last a bit longer than a normal ceremony depending on how much of the ceremony you wish to have translated – if your ceremony runs for an hour or more, your guests need to be prepared for that.
Not every couple has an Order of Service but if you have chosen to have one, this can be printed in both languages and include any readings, poems, songs, hymns or any other symbolic traditions and rituals – some which your guests may not have experienced before and which you might need to explain. If you are having a celebrant-led ceremony, you are totally unrestricted on the content of your ceremony. Giving some explanation beforehand builds up the expectation for your special day.
Beyond having a helpful digital wedding website (see below), make sure your physical paper goods (save-the-dates, invitations, order of service and/or menus) speak to both sets of guests. This sets the tone for guests that it’s a bilingual wedding, and covering both languages in the order of service helps guests feel included
Make the Most of Your Wedding Website
A personalized wedding website is an essential tool for every couple, and especially those whose guests speak different languages so ensure that yours is created in both languages. With lots of available space, this is where you’ll be able to give your wedding guests all the essential information that they will be interested in such as how you met, where the ceremony and reception will be and how to get there, who are the key members of your wedding party, suggestions on where they can stay and what to wear in both languages and maybe add the menu and also ask for suggestions from guests about the music they would like. You might also want to use your site to give your guests some information about the different cultural traditions and rituals your wedding may include in front of the big day.
Poems, Readings and Music
For your ceremony, you might like to ask someone special to you both to read a poem or a reading you, or they have chosen. The poems or readings could be translated and read in both languages by two people. Ensure you keep the readings short so as not to put a huge pressure on those you ask to take on this task.
Songs, hymns, or music are often used in ceremonies which add to the atmosphere of the day but don’t detract from the flow of the ceremony. Whilst it is not necessary to have them translated, as a couple you might like to print out the lyrics in both languages perhaps put them on the seats of the guests so they are able to follow and stay involved with the ceremony.
Make Travel as Easy as Possible
If you’re having a destination wedding or some of your guests have to leave their country to get to your wedding location, recommend or book hotels or accommodation where there are staff who will be able to speak in your guests own language. This is very easy in the Lake District where many hotels employ bi-lingual staff especially on reception. Mention this on your wedding website if you are using one.
Put Thought Into the Ceremony
The most important, albeit challenging, part of your wedding to translate is the ceremony. You may want both families to cry at your vows—but you don’t want every word to be repeated twice. Engaging a celebrant who has language skills will is a good move. With your input, a celebrant will know the most meaningful ways to incorporate both languages at different moments while keeping the program seamless and succinct. Remember, while some important phrases, like “you may kiss,” are worth saying twice, not every part of your ceremony needs to be translated and repeated if you don’t want it to be. You might choose to say your vows in English, for example, but then have a loved one say a reading in their native tongue. If you don’t want to have both languages spoken throughout, it can be really beautiful to have a reading done in the other language or incorporate a tradition that’s carried out and explained in the other language.
Ask a Bilingual Guest to help you out on the day.
Consider asking a bilingual relative, wedding party member or willing guest to help anyone who looks lost or has questions during the ceremony. This will be especially helpful if you personally don’t speak your partner’s family’s native language.
Signs at the venue
Setting up welcome signs with directions, the food and drinks menu, table plan, name labels on the favours, and seating charts in both languages is a small but welcome touch for the day, even better if you are able to have them designed in line with your colour and décor theme. Guests are always interested in learning words in a different language, so while you’re at it, put cards on the reception tables with basic conversational phrases in each language, pronunciation tips, explanations of dishes being served or descriptions of foreign traditions.
Keep Speeches Short and Sweet
Anyone up for giving a toast at your wedding should certainly do so in their native language (let’s not make this more complicated than it already is). But encourage speakers at your reception to be concise so you keep guests in the moment and not drifting off because they don’t understand. Another tip is to alternate speeches in different languages to keep everyone engaged.
The music you choose is a great addition to your wedding day, when looking for a band or a DJ, you might like to look for one who is able to support the bi-lingual theme of your wedding – perhaps with a blend of music. You could discuss your own playlist with the band or DJ perhaps following collection of requests and suggestions from your guests on your wedding website.
Celebrate Cultural Differences
Sometimes, the best way to understand another language isn’t through words, but through the senses and body language—aka food, music and dance. Take advantage of each family’s unique background by combining your menu and reception entertainment with their rich cultures. Your relatives will love to see their culture live on, and your guests will love to learn more about where you come from.
Ultimately, don’t lose sleep trying to spell out every detail of your bi-lingual Lake District wedding in two (or more) languages. Your guests are smart and will definitely be able to follow the flow of the crowd. And most importantly, the best parts of a wedding—the hugs, smiles and happy tears—need no translation.
Valerie Marshall, Independent Celebrant
Providing Wedding, Naming, Renewal of Vows and Funeral Ceremonies.
I have always been interested in learning languages and have, over the years took courses in German, Spanish, French and Russian. Whilst not conversationally fluent in any of these languages, I would be able to work with you to write and deliver part of your ceremony in one of these languages. I have enjoyed travelling to all of these countries, I am interested in the culture and rituals of these countries and would be happy to talk to you about creating your dream ceremony here in the Lake District.