Yesterday evening, I had the pleasure of providing one of my Intimate Wedding Packages for an adorable young couple. Juan Pablo and Sara met while at Florida Tech. For their wedding ceremony, they decided to have a simple affair at the bride's parent's home in Melbourne Beach with just close family in attendance.
They had already ordered flowers, purchased a sand ceremony kit, and hired Cheryl Clermont as their photographer, so about all I had to do was bring cake and champagne. I usually use disposable paper items for my package weddings when I have to travel, but these two were just so cute and the needs so simple I decided they should have real silver, china and linen for their reception festivities.
I enlisted the help of my fifteen year old son, and if you know anything about fifteen year old boys you know he did not do it just out of love for mom. He was compensated monetarily for his efforts and was a huge help. He even functioned as my chauffeur. He thought I was letting him have more driving practice when actually I needed a bit more time to practice the Spanish I would be speaking during the ceremony. I think I only seriously flubbed two words. The groom, Juan Pablo, had graciously translated a fair amount of the ceremony so his parents from Ecuador would be included in the ritual of the wedding.
Thanks to my son's help, the set up was a piece of cake - absolutely no awful pun intended. The wedding was held on the beach right behind the house. Family members had set up chairs and created a beautiful heart mound in the sand with rose petals outlining the heart. Juan Pablo and Sara picked the perfect time of day for this time of year. We had some decent cloud cover, but no rain. We had a cooling breeze, but no full out gales to destroy the decorations or interfere with the sound equipment.
I always provide a little more than just cake and champagne because that seems a bit too minimalist even for my simple tastes. In their case, I brought strawberries, roasted almonds and sugar-free cupcakes for the bride. She was too excited to eat anything more than the single bite of their wedding cake Juan Pablo fed her for the portraits, but I left the cupcakes behind in case she wanted to get wild and crazy later. I like to leave a little surprise gift of some kind when I do packages, so I was thrilled when I also found a really sweet dove cake topper that converts into a Christmas tree ornament.
I definitely appreciated that we were having the reception inside the house rather than outside. That does make things a bit easier. It also confirmed my decision to bring the china and silver. I like to use these if at all possible because of the meaning behind many of the pieces. The Haviland china is a pattern my mother-in-law gave me. It is impossible to identify and despite many web searches I have no idea how to replace the pieces should something happen to them.
I thought the cake knife and server were the ones my parents used at their wedding and my husband and I used at ours. But it turns out they are a set my husband and I were given as a present for our wedding. One of three such sets actually. Oh well, they still have sentimental appeal even if they don't go back quite as far as I believed.
The silver flutes are part of a six-piece set my husband bought for his parents and their children for my in-laws' 40th wedding anniversary Disney cruise. The silver cake platter was a gift my grandmother received from Northside Hospital in Atlanta when she retired in 1976. The ice bucket was a wedding gift my husband and I received, though I have to make the awful confession I have no memory of who gave it to us.
I like using these pieces because I am dreadfully sentimental and adore layers of symbolism. We all need to be reminded from time to time that love as a past, a present and a future. The irreplaceable china reminds me that the decision to marry constitutes a risk, but with trust and proper care, the marriage bond can remain whole and complete. That and it's just more elegant than paper plates and plastic forks.
Congratulations to Juan Pablo and Sara. May the saddest days of your future be no worse than the happiest days of your past!
Spanish-English Wedding Invitation
Given the nature of the contemporary global community, it is actually not all that unusual for couples to have close family or friends attend their wedding who are not fluent in English. In some cases, I only learn this after the fact and feel terrible the guests sat there through the entire wedding with only a very basic idea of what was transpiring. It didn’t occur to the couple there were things we could do to accommodate these guests so they simply didn’t think to ask.
If family members, or a significant percentage of your guest list, do not understand spoken English very well, I encourage you to inquire with your vendors about what accommodations can be made. Depending upon the area of the country, some entertainment services offer bi-lingual DJs. For example, here in Florida, it is not unusual for the larger companies to employ at least one Spanish speaking DJ. If you’re looking for a bi-lingual DJ, officiant or photographer who speaks Latvian you may be out of luck. But even then, there are accommodations that can be made.
With advance preparation, printed materials can easily be translated into other languages—invitations, orders of service, place cards, and even the text of the ceremony itself.
Some officiants, like myself, are not fluent in other languages but have enough familiarity to be able to read another language well even if we do not understand 100% of what we are saying. After using Spanish in ceremonies, I am sometimes approached by excited guests who assume I am fluent and I have to break it to them that, “Lo siento, pero hablo muy poco español. Muy pocito.” I could also include French in a ceremony with a little time to practice, but that is apparently not a high demand language here in Central Florida.
As an officiant, I recommend the following accommodations if you cannot find an officiant fluent in the necessary languages. All of these I have done gladly.
Use an “on-the-fly” translator at the ceremony: In these cases, the translator has not seen the text prior to the wedding and can either translate as faithfully as possible or summarize the officiant’s words. The ceremony needs to be written in a way that allows for frequent pauses to allow the translator to do his or her work. I recommend such ceremonies be kept short and simple as the translation can double the length of the ceremony. Translators can be professionals or bilingual family members. If using a family member, choose someone who is comfortable speaking in public and is highly competent in both languages. I have officiated an English-Swedish and English-German ceremony in this manner.
Have the officiant coordinate with a translator prior to the ceremony: This is very similar to the first recommendation, but adds a collaborative effort where the officiant and the translator have plenty of contact during the writing process to prepare a seamless bi-lingual ceremony. Again, I recommend short and simple because this definitely will double the length of the ceremony. I have officiated an English-Korean wedding in this manner.
Rather than a full translation, include key portions of the ceremony in the other language: This is what I usually do when I include Spanish in a wedding ceremony without a translator, and can also be a strategy to be employed by a translator. Most of the ceremony is in English, but a sentence or two in Spanish is added during each section that enables the guests to get the gist of what is going on. Here is an example of a ring blessing I included in a bilingual ceremony recently:
Let us bring blessings to these rings (Bride and Groom) are about to exchange. May these rings forever remind them of their covenant with one another, as well as the circle of love they have publicly created here today. May their compassion and kindness for one another always be like these rings, with no beginning and no end. May the precious metal remind them of their precious commitment, and if either begins to tarnish, may they joyfully undertake the sacred duty to make it shine brightly again. May their relationship always be like these rings, separate but close, simple but beautiful. May these rings always belong to their hands, and their love always belong in each others' hearts.
Los anillos de boda son un signo visible de espiritualidad y gracia, significando asi para todos la union de (Novio y Novia) en matrimonio.
As you can see, the Spanish section is much shorter but it conveys what is happening.
Provide written translations: With enough notice, a good officiant will be happy to prepare a text of your ceremony to be translated into the other language. The ritual of a wedding is fairly recognizable, so it is not terribly difficult to follow along with a translated text. It is pretty clear when the bride and groom start slipping rings on one another’s fingers that we have gotten to the ring exchange. Or if they begin to pour sand we have a sand ceremony going on. I have had texts of my ceremonies translated in advance into Spanish, German, Russian, Italian, Polish, Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Krio. (Google it)
If you prepare a written translation, for heaven’s sake, do not use an on-line translating tool. If you wish to be considerate of your relatives who do not speak English, but are not that competent in their native language yourself, get a family member or professional to translate the ceremony for you. Online translating tools work well for vocabulary or short basic sentences, but churn out rubbish beyond that.
Good Luck Buena Suerte Lycka Till Bonne Chance Veel Succes
Photo Attribute: Invitation available at www.invitationpie.com
Rev. Ann Fuller
The commentary on this blog is my own opinion developed over years of officiating a wide range of wedding sizes and styles. I am always happy to answer any questions you may have.