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When you say "I do" in more than one language...

A bilingual wedding

"Ja! Yes, I do... Oui, je le veux !"

Being a bilingual couple quickly raises the question of the language of  which language to choose for the wedding: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian... One language? Or two? If you come from a given country, you'll be tempted to plan the ceremony in the language of that country rather than another. But how do you manage to please and integrate all your guests into your ceremony, including those who have travelled a long way to attend this very special day, but who don't speak the language of your country of residence? Family and friends will certainly be touched to see that you have thought of them by giving your union a little multicultural touch!

Pupitre de cérémonie avec texte bilingue trilingue anglais allemand français pour cérémonie de mariage
Photo Sophie de Vasselot

How to combine the two languages

You can consider several options: preparing a booklet in which the whole ceremony will be translated for your relatives who do not speak the language of the master of ceremonies. This option requires a bit of translation work beforehand, but it has the advantage of allowing everyone to follow along without making the ceremony too cumbersome. A second option is to translate each part of the ceremony and repeat it in two or even three languages, in the case of a trilingual wedding (yes, there is such a thing!). The risk, however, is that you will quickly lose the audience, who will be tired of waiting for their turn to listen: a dull ceremony, the very opposite of what you were dreaming of! Not to mention the part of the guests who speak both languages and hear everything twice! The third option would be to opt for an international language, English in particular. But what a shame to leave out all the cultural and traditional aspects conveyed by your original languages... A fourth option, and as you can imagine this is by far my favourite, is to write a flowing text in which the languages alternate, creating a harmonious ceremony without ever becoming boring. But how is this possible?

Photo Christelle Lacour

Even a multilingual ceremony can be dynamic!

The secret of writing a bilingual ceremony lies in the judicious arrangement of the highlights of the ceremony and anecdotes, with different details in each language, creating a smooth dynamic rhythm. You move from one language to the next, creating anticipation in the audience. Without repeating the same things word for word in both languages, you can build up an alternation of complementary information in each language. Everyone understands everything, yet no one has the impression of systematic repetition! You can also involve the witnesses, the bridesmaids, the brothers and sisters, or even Cousin Paul who speaks German so well, or Aunt Gertrude with her lovely French accent...

Saying your wedding vows... but in which language?

The most powerful moment of your ceremony will undoubtedly be the exchange of vows: when you launch into your speech, you'll need to choose a language. But which one? Your mother tongue, to be on the safe side? Your sweetheart's language, to show him or her how much effort you're prepared to make?

Traditionally, we say our vows in the language of the person receiving them. This means launching into a tirade (of varying length) in a language you don't necessarily master... not easy, admittedly, but what a wonderful proof of love! To make the task easier, there's nothing to stop you asking someone close to you (or your ceremony master) for help, or even incorporating into your text (written in your own language or that of your partner) a nice little phrase or original quote from an author in your future spouse's mother tongue! The link above points to examples in English, but you'll certainly find some in any other language on the net. For my part, I can help you design your ceremony in English or German, including your vows.


A bilingual wedding... just like you!

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