I'm a professional wedding celebrant in the Costa Blanca, Spain. I help couples from around the world who are planning their wedding in Spain from Murcia to Alicante to Valencia.
Spain is an increasingly popular destination wedding location for couples from all around the world. This makes my job even more exciting and interesting as I meet people with different experiences and wedding traditions. It’s not unusual to have several nationalities amongst the wedding guests at my ceremonies and a range of languages spoken.
If it's your dream to marry in Spain, but you're worried about your guests who have different first languages, let me share with you some hints, tips and ideas that you can use to make the wedding ceremony a meaningful and joyful experience for everyone. Let me share with you the lessons that I have learned, while creating international wedding ceremonies in Spain for multi-lingual guests
Who have I worked with to gain my experience?
When I started as a wedding celebrant in Spain, as a British/Irish national, albeit one who speaks French and Spanish too, I expected to work predominantly with British and Irish couples who were marrying in the Valencian region. However, I was delighted when couples including Canadian, Belgian, Russian, Lithuanian, Polish, German and Lebanese began to choose me for an English-based wedding ceremony for their wedding in Spain.
In this guide I share how we have adapted wedding ceremonies to ensure that my couple's guests from around the world can fully participate in the "I Do" part of their very special day. The Key to multi-language weddings in Spain.
#1: Choose a base language for the wedding ceremony
Completely bi-lingual ceremonies are of course possible and can work wonderfully where there are just two languages. Professional bi-lingual celebrants are skilled in blending the respective parts of the ceremony to avoid staccato or too much repetition and can create magical ceremonies with real interest for all guests.
In my experience where there are more than two languages it can become a bit clunky to translate every word. Often in this situation a base language is chosen in which the bulk of the ceremony is communicated. English is a popular language choice where multiple nationalities are amongst the guests.
#2: Celebrant Guest Greetings in other languages
Welcoming you guests in their first language instantly makes them feel “included” in your wedding ceremony and can be a powerful nod to everyone who has made the journey to celebrate with you.
It’s possible to add in warm welcomes to your big day in around 2-4 languages - too many and it can be a little confusing, so to do it well this is an optimum number. Some celebrants (including me) in Spain with language skills are normally more than happy to deliver greetings in other languages that they don't necessarily speak, if the appropriate words can be provided for them to rehearse in advance.
#3: Mark key transitions in the wedding ceremony in other languages
As above where we discussed how you can use languages to welcome your wedding guests at the beginning of your ceremony, you can also ask your ceremony officiant to introduce each section of the ceremony in other languages.
For example, The Vows, The Ring Exchange etc. If your wedding celebrant has language skills but doesn't speak one of your languages you could help them by providing some succinct words for them to use at the transition points. With a little coaching and even if not perfect the effort to acknowledge your guests in their first language will sure to be appreciated deeply.
#4: Translated Order of Ceremony Cards
A really simple thing that can make a big positive impact is to prepare translated order of ceremony cards (the ceremony agenda). This provides something for people to follow in their first language - so they can connect what they see to words they may understand better.
Order of service cards can be professionally printed in a similar style to your invitations to match your theme. It’s not necessary for every word to be recorded just the highlights and order of the events. Often 2-3 language options will suffice but you know your guests best.
What's more they are a lovely keepsake that guests are sure to take with them.
#5: Readings or Poems in other Languages
Have you though about including a reading(s) in other language(s) ? It's easy to do and can create a poignant moment for all your guests no matter their preferred language.
Simply ask a guest, friend or family member to read a poem about love, relationships, life or marriage in the first language of some of those present. A full translation or a summary could be included in the order of ceremony for others to read and understand but that's not always necessary. Sometimes, (depending on the poem) it can be read again in another language.
#6: Use visual elements in the ceremony
There are things that you can include in your ceremony that perhaps don't need words for people to easily follow. For example a sand ceremony is something interesting to watch and does not require a lot of words and their are many other rituals that work really well, most have symbolic meaning and add real interest. Others include a unity candle ritual, ring warming, handfasting or a rose ceremony.
#7: Customs or traditions
Think about including traditional elements from different countries or cultures that some guests may know. It can be impactful and not need a lot of explaining, for example the Arras coins ritual or glass breaking
#8: Make sure that you can be seen
Often couples face the front in a ceremony, but if instead you face your guests they can see you more clearly and what is happening and perhaps rely less on what is being said. It also is an added aid to help translation if people can see your mouths moving.
#9: Guest Seating Layout
Think about your ceremony seating layout there are options which make it easier for people to see. For example seating guests in an arc. Also consider where people sit - Thinking about seating people together with others that can help them understand can be helpful.
#10: Make sure that you can be heard
When people are translating in their heads it’s helpful for them to be able to hear clearly. So make sure that you use a PA system and microphones so that people can hear clearly.
#11: Use music
Carefully chosen music conveys a mood and a feeling that words sometimes cannot - make music choices to include in your ceremony that people can connect with.
#12: Translate your vows/promises/commitments
What you say to each other at this part of the ceremony is always something people connect to, so consider translating your vows and including them in the order of ceremony for people to follow or read afterwards
#13: Allow time
Allow time - it can be helpful to work with your ceremony officiant to build a little more time and breathing space into the ceremony to allow guests to process. This of course doesn’t mean going slow or taking huge pauses, just taking time to bring the guests with you.
Hello! Salut! Hola!
I'm Hazel, a professional celebrant for your wedding in Spain. Based near Alicante, I'm a full-time celebrant who weaves a little magic into my wedding scripts. Creating sunny, relaxed wedding ceremonies that are all about you!
Professionally trained Simple,
Customised & Bespoke ceremony options
Ceremonies with Spanish and/or French elements
Guest greetings in other languages possible
Experience with multi-national ceremonies
Personalised scripts written just for you
Optional fun ceremony elements
If your planning an Inclusive Wedding in Spain as your celebrant I choreograph and manage end-to-end the ceremony part of your wedding day. Essentially from your arrival and entrance into the ceremony space to your exit as the happy couple. I'm experienced in working with couples to help their guests feel included in their wedding ceremony