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Latino Weddings

Some guests only speak English, others only Spanish

What to do?
My Fi is Argentinean and his immediate family plus some friends are flying here (Washington state) for the wedding. They all speak a tiny bit of English but only one or two people are fluent enough to know what's going on. I want to show how much we appreciate them coming to support us, and I don't want them to feel lost throughout the whole process. However, basically none of my family or friends speak more than a few words of Spanish; I would even say that some older members of my family (who I have to invite) are a tiny bit racist (there is a large Mexican population in my area and unfortunately some people interpret things attributed to that group as applicable to all Hispanics). They would certainly never say or outwardly show anything to them, but I know they would be uncomfortable with any major portions of, well, anything to do with the wedding in Spanish. How do I make everyone feel as comfortable as possible? How do I deal with trying to deal with a wedding and helping these guests with their (for many, their first) visit to the US? Normally my Fi and I function as translators, but we will be too busy and I don't know who else can do it!
Should I try to ask someone I know not in the wedding party to be a "generally helpful translator"? Should I stick to English for everything and hope they can follow along? Should I just not worry about it?
Anyone with experience with this, your advice would be much appreciated!
Thanks!

Re: Some guests only speak English, others only Spanish

  • munkiimunkii member
    100 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Our wedding was in English with the exception of one section (which was English, Hebrew, and Spanish).  Our programs were in English and Spanish, and my family who doesn't speak English just followed along with it. 

    Do you know what you're doing for the reception yet with regard to food, music, favors, or special dances?  Try to incorporate your FI's family's traditions in with these aspects--this will go a long way in welcoming those from Argentina. 

    If incorporating even a few things into your ceremony or reception will make your family uncomfortable, I think it's time to have a "Come to Jesus" talk so they can understand FI is part of your life and is becoming a part of your family.
    Matt loves Munkii!!!
  • jenandcrisjenandcris member
    Eighth Anniversary 500 Comments
    edited December 2011
    In my personal case, my ceremony will be in THREE different langauges. It's gonna be long; it's gonna be annoying; but when it comes down to it, we want our families to UNDERSTAND and partake in the traditions (Asian ceremonies highly involve guests and will take up to 6 hrs. (traditionally takes up to 2 days) Boo.). i don't agree that this route is for everyone... but both our families feel much more at ease with his pastor and my two pastors in their respective languages.

    FWIW, my family doesn't like FI (much) and doesn't acknowledge his family. They think because FI is PR, he's automatically loud, obnoxious, and rude. ): Far from the truth. Over the past few years, they've realized that they have to FORCE him to talk (he's very reserved)... but they still feel "ehh" towards him. They're warming up though!

    And I agree with Munkii. Include many of your traditions (that you want) and your family will be more comfortable.

    GL!
    Married in Boston, MA: Nov 8, 2013.
    Me: 27. Him: 30. DD: >1.
    Vow Renewal in Beavercreek, OH: July 1, 2017.
  • gibribuzgibribuz member
    500 Comments
    edited December 2011
    I don't think your family's ignorance should prevent you from embracing your FI ethnic background.  If YOU and your FI want to include some Spanish parts to your ceremony or reception then you should.  Your family has to accept that your new husband is from a different country and they should learn to embrace the new culture and not be closed minded. 
    Anniversary
  • edited December 2011
    My ceremony was bilingual and the programs were bilingual too.  Some parts of the ceremony were in English and others in Spanish and the translation was in the programs so that everyone could follow.  Dont be afraid to include your FI's traditions as long as you mix it with your own, I am sure that your family will understand and that will give them the opportunity to learn new things :).  I remember I included one of my traditions at the end of the ceremony (I am Ecuadorian) and one of my BILS (white) commented me that he liked that:).  Regarding the language issue, you could talk to a couple persons from his family that speak fluent English to be translators, I am sure they will want to help.  My best friend did this for me, she stayed with my family and translated for them :).
  • ExpatPumpkinExpatPumpkin member
    1000 Comments Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    We had a bilingual mass - not repetitions in Spanish and English, but parts of the mass were in English and parts in Spanish.  It was perfectly fine.  We had a rather elaborate program to keep everyone "on the same page."  Our priest was bilingual.

    For our reception, we had a typical American jazz-type band and a Latin DJ.  Then we brought in a mariachi band at the end of the night.  Both cultures - American and Mexican - were honored and it was a blast.

    As far as the language issues, we let each family host their own tables and we sat at a sweetheart table...  Most of his family does speak English, but we didn't want anyone to have to worry about translations, etc.  We had no issues with this.

    We put all of this together in a small resort town - Beaver Creek, Colorado - and from several states away.  (It was a destination wedding.)  So I'm sure that you can find a way to mesh and honor both cultures in your hometown.  Good luck ;)

    Oh, and I was never shy about the fact that my husband's Mexican and that his family traveled from there to be at our wedding and that some of the older folks don't speak English (or don't want to).  There's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of ;)
  • pheasantgirlpheasantgirl member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I am not translating, since the wedding is in the US and that is our language. If I went to a wedding in another country, I would not expect them to do it in English for me.

    On the other hand, it's important to me to give a nod to his culture, so we are having one solo in English and the other in Spanish, I think it will be beautiful. And we put a special paragraph in the program remembering his absent family members and did that part in Spanish. I am incorporating a couple of hispanic foods in the menu.

    If someone happens to be racist, they had a chance to get over themselves in the rsvp, knowing who we both are!

    Jan (and Juan)


  • ExpatPumpkinExpatPumpkin member
    1000 Comments Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    In Response to Re: Some guests only speak English, others only Spanish:
    [QUOTE]I am not translating, since the wedding is in the US and that is our language. If I went to a wedding in another country, I would not expect them to do it in English for me.
    Posted by pheasantgirl[/QUOTE]
    The U.S. actually does not have an official national language... 

    I take it that your FI is of Hispanic heritage, but that his first language is actually English?  Not so in our case...  My husband and his family lived in Mexico and my family and I lived in the States.*  My husband's family is Mexican - not Mexican-American - so Spanish is their primary language.
    We obviously HAD to choose a country to have the ceremony in, but there was no reason to choose just one language.  And since 40 of his relatives and friends flew up for the wedding, we wanted to make sure their language/culture was just as represented as mine....  
    Although my husband speaks English beautifully, and I'm fluent in Spanish, he deserved to say his vows in his native tongue, and to have his parents be able to hear that in their native tongue.  Same goes for me and my family...  Why should one language be sacrificed?
    You can have a wedding ceremony performed in Mexico (and lots of other non-English speaking countries) in English, for example, so why not a bilingual or Spanish-only one in the States?  
    Just my humble opinion...
    * We were in a long-distance relationship before we got married, and I moved to Mexico with him after the honeymoon.
  • edited December 2011
    I think that the idea of a bilingual program would definitely be helpful if you didn't want to have everything repeated during the ceremony. You could also do two programs one in English and one in Spanish if you think that some of your family might have reservations or be uncomfortable about you including Spanish in YOUR wedding ceremony. Its your and FI's wedding so its ultimately up to you and what you want to do to make the day special and meaningful to you both.
  • gibribuzgibribuz member
    500 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Well said, ExpatPumpkin.
    Anniversary
  • melvegamelvega member
    10 Comments
    edited December 2011
    I know, ExpatPumpkin (Awesome picture =) ). A lot of people have a totally wrong perspective of mexican people. People whose education is null exist in every country and in every culture. Mexican culture is just amazing.

    So, yummyravioli, a bilingual program would be just perfect for you. It will create a cultural and special environment to your ceremony.

  • edited December 2011
    We are doing a bilingual Catholic mass with one reading in Spanish and two in English. The songs will also vary, some in English, some in Spanish and some bilingual. In the programs I am doing, the text of the English readings will be printed in Spanish, and in English for the Spanish reading.
    Also, we are incorporating the traditions of the padrinos giving the Bible and rosary, the arras, the laso and the flowers for the Virgin of Guadalupe. We will have someone at the lectern who will describe the gifts and their significance before they are blessed and presented.
    There is no reason, if you want to include and honor your cultural and ethnic traditions, that you shouldn't. But do it because you want to and in a way that feels right to you.
  • lilpsi59lilpsi59 member
    10 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Ladies:

    I am having a difficult time coming up with a program layout for our ceremony.  My FI is Filipino(his family speak English) and I'm Mexican(most of my family is Spanish-speaking only) so we need to incorporate both languages into our ceremony. I'm still not sure if we'd be doing the ceremony completely translated in both languages or if we're doing some parts in Spanish and some in English.  Our deacon is very flexible and is allowing us to add/leave out any rituals, readings, and/or hymns. 

    Does anyone have a pic of the inside of your program or the layout that I can see?  I completely understand if you don't wanna show(if you feel like I'd be 'stealing' your ideas)and I don't mean to be rude.  I'm just trying to get a feel for the 'flow' of your bi-lingual ceremony to see which option may work for us.  If you prefer to email me directly, my email is: [email protected] dot com

    Thanks for your help!
  • edited December 2011
    We had a bilingual officiant/reverend, marry us, he did the ceremony in both English/Spanish. But our programs were in English. I could have done them in both but didn't want to spend too much time recreating them again in spanish because I was pressed for time. But had i had more time I may have tried to get some help in translating them. Our families weren't bothered by it because when that day comes they aren't paying attention to the programs, they are paying attention to the 2 people standing in front of them declaring their love for one another.
  • ExpatPumpkinExpatPumpkin member
    1000 Comments Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    Several of you have mentioned bilingual programs...  Here's a link to ours:


    They were made into little books that you can see in my bio.  My MIL and I spent HOURS on it, so I hope it can help others ;)  Let me know if you have any questions...

    The formatting is kind of messed up in this online document.  I don't know why...  But I used Microsoft Publisher to create the booklet and the formatting was correct.  You can use Publisher to make "real" books so that you can print them out double-sided and still have the pages in order :)
  • edelgado11edelgado11 member
    100 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Thank you all for all your wonderful ideas and for sharing your experiences.  I recently got engaged, and planning a wedding in LA (I live in the Bay Area).  We are also trying to create that balance with having a bilingual ceremony and this creates a peace of mind that it is possible :D 

    Gracias ExPat for sharing your program!!
    Anniversary ExerciseMilestone
  • lanajanellelanajanelle member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    My grandparents are blatantly racist and I'd rather not invite them than not incorporate my FI's culture! Ironically, they love Alfredo.  Don't know how they can make the comments they do with that being the case.  I doubt they will think so highly of his less-Americanized relatives, but that is seriously their own problem.  We are going to welcome both sides of the family and both cultures will be represented and honored.  They are invited and they'll be uncomfortable and it's their own fault.  It won't hurt your older relatives to have their minds pried open a little bit.  After all, you're not asking them to speak Spanish or marry a Latino.
  • edited December 2011
    My wedding will be entirely bilingual mostly because that's who my fiance and i are. If you dont feel the need to translate for either race or language i dont see why you would even feel the need to invite them. Thats why they are called guests right? 
  • edited December 2011
    First of all, I don't think it is right that you judge the Mexican populationas you did. Not all Mexicans are bad just like not all of the other Hispanics are good. Here in the US we have good people and bad people, right? Well, surprise, surprise, that is the way it is in every country even Argentina. I don't think the Mexican ladies on here thought too well of you insulting their nationality. If I have insulted you, I apologize but, you can't be judgmental like that.
    Our ceremony is going to be bilingual, also. We are saying our vows in Spanish, my FI doesn't speak English. We are also having a Sand ceremony that will include my kids but, that will be in both English & Spanish. We will have programs with the whole ceremony written out in both English & Spanish. The majority of our Mexican guests speak English but, my FI's parents don't so it is very important that they understand the ceremony, as it is very important that my family understand.
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