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Top Tips for a Bilingual Ceremony

Updated: Jan 24, 2023

Hello, Hola and Hoi!

Having grown up speaking Welsh and English at home, and then studying French at uni (along with some rusty school-girl Spanish!), I just love working with couples and families who are looking to include more than one language in their ceremony.

Suitable for both humanist weddings and baby naming ceremonies, here are some of my top tips for creating a personal and inclusive ceremony that celebrates your culture and heritage:

  1. Readings & Music - the easiest way to incorporate a second language into your ceremony is by including readings and/or music in both languages. For a more inclusive experience for your guests, you could provide a written translation or summary for them to follow (translations of famous songs and poems can be found easily with a quick online search).

  2. Promises & Vows - whether you're a couple making vows to each other, or a parent making a promise to your baby, you can definitely say these in the language of your choice. If you're learning a new language for your partner, it can be really romantic to say a few words in their mother tongue!

  3. Avoid Repetition! - it's very tempting to repeat every part of the ceremony in both languages to make sure all your guests understand what's happening. But your ceremony could potentially double in length, and it can be a little frustrating for your guests who understand both languages. One simple way around this is a written order of service with a translation into the other language for each section. (For example, where one partner is saying their vows in French, an English translation can be included in the order of service for guests to follow along and vice versa).

  4. Your Celebrant - on the Humanists UK Celebrant Finder, you can search for a celebrant who speaks your desired language (for example, I speak Welsh and French, with lots of other languages spoken by other celebrants!) But even if your chosen celebrant doesn't speak your language, they'll often try and learn a few key phrases to introduce the ceremony, and will make sure your ceremony is as inclusive as possible for all your guests.

  5. Embrace It! - it can feel like quite a daunting decision to include your mother tongue as part of your ceremony. You might be thinking: 'What if our guests don't understand what's going on?' Whether or not your guests will have understood every word, they'll be sure to enjoy the beauty of your language and its meaning to you, and they'll remember your ceremony long after the big day.

If you're looking for a bilingual humanist wedding or baby naming ceremony in French or Welsh - please get in touch! Merci and Diolch for reading.

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