- 4 years ago
- Wedding: August 2014
I’m American, but my fiancé is French. Although I’m currently in France, and we’ll probably be living here for the next several years, our wedding will be celebrated in the U.S. near my family. His immediate family, and possibly some others, are planning to make the long voyage to be at the wedding. But… no one in his family speaks English beyond a very few stock phrases, and no one in my family speaks French.
Obviously we want to include both families as much as we possibly can in the ceremony, and also find ways for them to get to know each other in spite of the language barrier, since they certainly won’t all have a chance to meet again for many, many years.
We’ve been thinking of translating any readings we choose and having them read in English by one of ‘my’ people and in French by his, and having one side of the program in English and one in French, but that’s as far as our ideas have gone, and for the readings, his family feels a bit shy about the idea of reading aloud in front of over 100 unknown Americans in a language almost no one in the room understands. Because French weddings are a bit different from American weddings, and because his family is very Catholic and has never participated in a Protestant ceremony before, there are many layers of cultural expectations to work through.
My mother’s side of the family planned a family reunion for the week before the wedding (yes, that’s kind of a nightmare), and his family’s arriving in the U.S. a week before the wedding, and we’re planning on doing a lot of insane DIYing because our budget is miniscule, so I’m trying to figure out some way of spending time at the week-long family reunion, spending time with his family and showing them around as much as possible, acting as a translator and go-between for the two families, and getting last-minute wedding related projects done without going completely mad. (The fact that I still think this is possible is probably the definitive proof that I’m already mad)
Some other language related problems:
We’d like to include a congregational hymn or two in the service, but we’re not sure how to make it work logistically. Many American worship songs have been translated into French and are commonly sung in French churches, but the French translations are sometimes rather clumsy, and French Catholic services never incorporate them anyway. Our best idea to date is to just go with an English song we love and provide the lyrics in both languages in the program, but we’re still debating.
I do have some college friends who speak French well, but distance, finances, the Peace Corps, etc… combine to keep all of them elsewhere on our wedding day. So it’s looking like my fiancé and I will really be the only bilingual people present at the wedding. I have family members and old friends who will be coming, and I really want to be able to spend some time with them and give them a chance to meet my husband, since the wedding will be the first opportunity many have to do so. But I also really don’t want our French family to end up isolated in a French speaking corner and left to their own devices during a lot of the reception. They’re really sweet and understanding, but I’m afraid that they could end up feeling excluded. But to be honest, I’ll also resent it a bit if I spend my entire wedding day translating, or never see my fiance because we’re taking turns translating.
So, any suggestions? Any Bees who have had/are planning a bilingual wedding? I’d love to hear about it!