This is the full version from the excerpt that is running on APW. Some of this was written after I sent Alyssa stuff to pick and choose from, so don’t judge. 🙂 Plus we wanted to keep it more centered on language, and not bring up all of the culture stuff, but over here the two are combined, because language is culture and culture if language. Linguistically speaking (haha, get it?), the way a culture talks about things, syntax, and word choice, say mountains about their value system. But I digress…
I only realized that I actually have a bi-lingual wedding when I saw the title of this question during the Ask Team Practicle review last weekend (yes, we talk about you). I also don’t see my relationship as bi-racial until someone points it out or I see a photo of my glowing, relfective white skin in a pool, on vacation, next to Kamel’s lovely bronze tone (true story), but even then I mostly just envy his pigment and I don’t immediately think, MEXICAN! THAT MAN IS MEXICAN!
That being said, it was really important to both of us to include his family (the U.S. living and the Mexico City living) in our ceremony and reception. And maybe include isn’t the right word… because they’ll be there of course, but I also wanted them to feel like they were participants, that they weren’t just showing up to some anglo event as mere witnesses. And of course, we aren’t completely done with planning yet (even when I seem to decide on something, a week goes by and I change my mind), but we’ve made some hard and fast decisions already. The first was to translate 1/2 the invitations, because isn’t putting that document into someone’s native language one of the (if not THE) best way to make someone feel invited? We’re also choosing to do 1 of the 3 readings during the ceremony in spanish (as well as 1 from literature, instead of the Bible, for me).
When it comes to finding other ways to incorporate spanish into our wedding I really think of 1) where is it most significant and necessary, 2) how can we do it where it seems seamless and not “hey everybody! this here is SPANISH! Get it? Cuz the bride’s last name will now be PEREZ”, 3) if I was attending a wedding where my language was not the primary go-to, where would I be pleasently surprised to see english? where would it be most meaningful to understand the full significance of the words? and 4) how much work is this actually going to be? Because if it’s too difficult or stressful, then it’s probably just not that important.
My culture is relatively pervasive. My family picked the venue, most of the food is upscale American fancy (is there a technical term for that?), everyone is flying to Seattle because it’s easiest for me and my guests. So how do I make Kamel’s side feel comfortable, welcome, and included? By having a Mexican main dish option, by including his family members in the service, by including traditional Mexican celebratory things at the reception (vagueness left on purpose), by doing things that I KNOW are meaningful to his family in an intimate way so that they know we listen, we pay attention, we view all of these as a combining of families, and not one over the other. It takes extra thought and energy to do these things, but I think it will be worth it. In the end our wedding will be a combination of who we are and where we came from, it is essentially a representation of who the “we” is becoming, a swirled up baby family of two cultures and languages.