How To Plan A Bilingual Wedding?

In 2021, I organized our French-American wedding in France. This is a true challenge: half of our guests do not speak French, and the other half, do not understand English. We brainstormed really hard to find ways to make everyone feel included. And that starts when you send your invitation.

Before the wedding

Planning a wedding in two or more languages starts way before your actual wedding. Here are the first steps you will need to take before your big day.

CREATE INVITATIONS IN BOTH LANGUAGES

I designed our invitation in French and in English. This is the easy part! You can do two different orders to separate the design. However, it is possible to use both languages if you keep your invitation very simple! Once you receive it, make sure you send the first invitations to the people who will travel the longest, they need to know before everyone else starts planning their trip!

For our wedding, we let our American guests know 10 months in advance to make sure they had time to look into their finances and then quickly book their international flights. They were very grateful that we planned ahead and helped them plan their arrival in a country they had not been to before.

USE YOUR WEDDING WEBSITE TO EDUCATE GUESTS.

Your wedding website will be the best tool to inform people in both languages. We did invest quite a bit in a beautiful platform that allowed us to have different sections/languages to help our guests organize their stay.

In another section, we told people a little bit about us. We got married a couple of years ago at the courthouse and we were now planning an actual wedding to have our best friends in the same place for the first and last time in our life. We published pictures and a short wedding video. They were thrilled to see this and felt closer to us and our wedding planning.

On the website, you can also have a page to explain the culture of your country, the differences, and maybe things to expect. If your ceremony has a special moment or tradition, you can let your guests know what to expect!

FUSE YOUR CULTURES THROUGHOUT THE WEDDING

Between food, decor, venue, and music, there’s no shortage of ways to bring your backgrounds together. Couples try to do a 50/50 when planning the wedding, but that one gets tougher when you are not in a “neutral” country.

Being in France, our wedding was more French than American. We tried to include some American traditions but overall, I have to say that it was probably an 80/20. However, our guests did not mind! The American travelers were really happy to eat and drink French wine and food. Our French guests appreciated our little gift that came straight from Michigan, where my husband is from.

MAKE TRAVEL AS EASY AS POSSIBLE

This is when the website truly is handy. I researched and selected a dozen accommodations that were close to the venue. I put the name, how far in miles was the place away from the venue location, and a link or an email address to book it. I also help our guests to contact French hosts by email.

This goes the same for booking the plane. We had different airport options. Once our guests saw that on the website, they made their own search or they started a conversation with us about their upcoming trip and the best airport for them to fly in.

Maybe our friends and family made a big trip out of our wedding: we gave them itineraries and options around France and Europe to explore. The more you spend time on your website to set up information, the fewer questions you will have from everyone. In the end, it’s a time saver!

PLAN A GATHERING THE NIGHT BEFORE

A casual meal the night before the wedding is a great way for guests to mingle, break the ice, and make introductions. As all our guests were already in town, we planned a simple cocktail/apéritif on Friday night. That way, people were already starting to get to know each other, and as a bride, it was taking work out the day on: I could already introduce people and get rid of this part for our next busy day!

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