Emily & Artur’s Bi-Cultural Munich Wedding


We’ve been tackling international, bi-cultural weddings a lot during the past few weeks, and it’s turned up so many questions (how do you tackle a bi-lingual wedding service?) and so much wisdom (love is love, no matter what the language). Because of that, this week seemed like the perfect time to share Emily’s graduate post about a German wedding between a Pole and an American. Reading it, I spent a lot of time nodding and thinking (and my wedding was very uni-national and long gone), but which I mean Emily is wise. Oh, and she lives in Munich. That’s three wedding grads in Munich in two weeks, for those of you keeping score. I hope Munich is having a book club meet-up, because geeze! And with that, I give you Emily:

Emily & Arturs Bi Cultural Munich Wedding | A Practical Wedding

Artur and I met while I was in Munich, Germany for a scholarship program after graduating from college. I went there not really knowing what to expect and fell immediately in love with the country – and 6 months later, in love with my (now) husband. Our story probably sounds familiar to so many couples in love across national borders, cultures and languages – we spent a lot of time the next 4 years visiting government offices, applying for work permits (me), and visitor visas to the US (Artur, necessary because of his Polish citizenship). I got to know his family, learned important Polish words (tea, beer), and he traveled to the US with me to meet my family and friends and fall in love with the sport of baseball. When we reached a stage in our relationship where we were ready to marry, we had already dealt with a whole lot of paperwork.

Emily & Arturs Bi Cultural Munich Wedding | A Practical Wedding

Our wedding, of course, had to cross several borders as well. We had many unique challenges in our multi-cultural, tri-lingual wedding. Through all of the planning, and the ceremonies, I very much learned about family, community, love, and the concept of home.

Emily & Arturs Bi Cultural Munich Wedding | A Practical Wedding

Love speaks all languages. Yes, we’ve heard this before – but it’s really true. Our parents do not share a common language – but watching them on our wedding day, you wouldn’t have known it. So much of what happens during a wedding is communicated through smiles, tears, raised glasses, laughter and dancing feet, that the lack of intricately woven toasts or intense debate just left more room for all the above. In fact, my mom found our civil ceremony – which was entirely in German – to be incredibly moving, even though she couldn’t understand it. She couldn’t explain to me why, she just knew that she was moved to tears.

Emily & Arturs Bi Cultural Munich Wedding | A Practical Wedding

Writing our (non-civil) ceremony was the most challenging part of the process, and we did our best to represent all three languages in a meaningful (and understandable!) way. We worried a lot about people – would they understand? Would they feel left out during certain parts? We ended up including many multi-language portions – Artur said his vows in German, I said mine in English, and my dad played instrumentals of “I Will” and “Edelweiss” on his guitar. In the end, we heard from our guests how moving our ceremony was – they loved the parts they understood and intrinsically got the gist of the parts they didn’t. It seemed, in fact, that it was most important to our guests to simply be able to bear witness to our union – regardless of the language.

Emily & Arturs Bi Cultural Munich Wedding | A Practical Wedding

Home is where your heart is. Another clichè that turned out to be so true for our wedding. We decided to get married in Buchenberg, a small Alpine town where Artur’s parents took friendly refuge after a long journey from Poland to Germany and then through the process of political asylum in 1987. For us, it is not only an amazingly beautiful place but was the stage for many falling-in-love moments throughout our relationship. We knew the trip would be long for some – and we hoped dearly that our loved ones would be able to make it – but we also knew that it was the right decision for us to get married there.  In the end, over 30 family and friends came over from the US. We were completely in awe of how excited everyone was to see us get married in a place we call home.

Emily & Arturs Bi Cultural Munich Wedding | A Practical Wedding

When in Rome…We were very lucky, actually, because our unique situation left a lot of surprises for our guests, they simply didn’t know what to expect. The US guests expected a German wedding, the German guests expected an American wedding, the Polish guests weren’t even sure. This ended up being a HUGE relief because we kind of got to do whatever we wanted. We mixed and matched traditions as we saw fit, and tried our bests to include elements from all of our cultures.

Emily & Arturs Bi Cultural Munich Wedding | A Practical Wedding

But of course, the country we chose to get married in dictated a number of aspects of our wedding – we had two ceremonies as is typical in Germany, both a civil and a church ceremony – only we didn’t have an actual church ceremony, but rather had a free officiant at our non-civil ceremony. We had a lot of fun wearing traditional Bavarian dress and were surprised by the townspeople with an Alphorn serenade. We learned the Viennese Waltz for our first dance. We served traditional German fare and our band played traditional German songs, and of course, in good old German style, we partied until 3am. But we also had nods to our own nationalities, in the form of lots of vodka and a slew of Bridesmaids and Groomsmen – and some truly quirky aspects (like our Wall-E and Eve cake topper).

Emily & Arturs Bi Cultural Munich Wedding | A Practical Wedding

Interestingly, by incorporating a lot of aspects that are generally “traditional” in our home countries, we were seen as being very offbeat by many of our guests. It was a lot of fun to introduce everyone to various aspects of our patchwork backgrounds. Most importantly, though, everything we did was authentic to us – either as a mandatory part of getting married in Germany, a tradition that had a deep meaning within our own culture, or a surprise addition by one of our guests.  This means – we didn’t do anything for show, and we thought long and hard about which aspects to include – it was a fine line to walk, but it was worth it to feel really genuine about every aspect of our wedding.

Emily & Arturs Bi Cultural Munich Wedding | A Practical Wedding

Emily & Arturs Bi Cultural Munich Wedding | A Practical Wedding
One of my favorite memories from our wedding weekend was watching our parents together, dancing and gesturing and smiling, catching my mom’s eye and her running over to me and saying, “we have Polish relatives now! And Germany feels like home!” We couldn’t imagine a better feeling than knowing that our love and union brought together all of those previously unconnected people in a very real way.

Emily & Arturs Bi Cultural Munich Wedding | A Practical Wedding

Photos by: The Munich based Andrea Basile from Photo Basile and (The photos where Emily and Artur are in a Dirndl and their are Alphorns) Emily’s brother

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  • http://webecomeus.wordpress.com Caitlin

    It’s almost hard to concentrate on the wise words in this post because I am so distracted by the beautiful pictures!! The joy just flies right out of them– and the traditional dress and cake toppers are SO great. I’ll have to go back and read it again, because I’m pretty sure there were some great truths in there, too…

    • http://weddingdiplomat.blogspot.com/ Emily

      Hi Caitlin!

      Thanks so much ! We loved our photographer, and we certainly got a beautifully sunny (actually scorchingly hot!) day.

  • http://eyesopenfeetfirst.blogspot.com Suzanne

    This brought tears to my eyes. I love this – and I love hearing how everyone felt so tied to the wedding, ceremony and each other even with different cultures and languages.

    We’re 40 some days away from my Scottish in-laws meeting my American family for the first time and I can barely stand to wait…the idea of Scottish friends dancing with American friends and my father in law having a long conversation with my brother….

    Thank you for sharing this …. it’s so incredibly moving

    • http://weddingdiplomat.blogspot.com/ Emily

      Suzanne –

      you’re so right – that moment of “joining” of a family… even across huge “border” (cultural/religious etc.. etc…) is so exciting (and a little scary! but also so exciting). Enjoy it! And congratulations

    • http://fionalynne.wordpress.com fiona lynne

      Suzanne, totally agree too! Joining families was incredibly special to me. Ours only met the day before the wedding but despite language barriers they all got on terrifically. In fact my parents even spent their annual holiday with my in-laws this year so I guess they really weren’t just pretending! That is so beautiful to me because I adore my new family and am so glad I get to share that with my first family, that it’s not just two floating worlds that occasionally awkwardly collide…

  • Kinzie Kangaroo

    This took my breath away. It’s funny how, when you re-examine old cliches, the immense truth shines through. What beautiful, wise, stunning weddings. Congratulations!

    • Kinzie Kangaroo

      Oh, and I love your Wall-e and Eve cake toppers. My fiance and I have discussed that as an option, but we’re also considering using a sweet potato and a sunflower. We’ll see.

      • http://weddingdiplomat.blogspot.com/ Emily

        Hi Kinzie!

        Thank you so much for your kind words. Our topper was made by Ashley Daugherty (http://www.etsy.com/shop/ashleydaugherty) and she was wonderful.

      • ddayporter

        umm yes. everything about this wedding is amazing, but I just died over the cake topper. <3

  • Caroline

    The interwebs ate my first attempt – so here goes –

    LOVIN’ the international, cross-cultural post! As one half of an American-British wedding (in Ireland) I can relate to most of this. We’re 25 days away, and it is really great to hear from someone who has gone through the “worrying about meeting” thing – while our families speak English, it remains to be seen if my Grandmother’s Southern American English is really the same language as my future mother in law’s Northern Lancashire English. The freedom from one set of cultural expectation is really great though.

    AND – yay for ALPHORNS! And your gorgeous dress! And wedding shots!

    • http://weddingdiplomat.blogspot.com/ Emily

      Hi Caroline!

      It’s so NICE to hear from others who did the whole internatinal-cross cultural wedding thing. It’s really such an emotional roller coaster (as all weddings are, but of course, it’s another aspect thrown in there) so let me just tell you this: everything is going to be great! I think most people delight in sharing cultures, especially at such an important occasion! Best of luck, and congratulations! Please write a wedding grad post so we can see it all (but take a nice break, first)

      And yes, Alphorns are AMAZING. That was a surprise planned by the town. They really do sound beautiful when played by professionals – (and the traditional dress doesn’t hurt..) :)

      • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

        We did it, too. And it was great! I was so worried about my American friends and family members going over to Spain, not speaking any Spanish and the Spanish people there not speaking any English, but like Emily said in the post, a lot of the communication was just shared excitement… and they didn’t seem to need too many words for that! People are just so excited to celebrate with you that they find a way to share & spread that excitement. It’s wonderful!

    • http://fionalynne.wordpress.com fiona lynne

      ” it remains to be seen if my Grandmother’s Southern American English is really the same language as my future mother in law’s Northern Lancashire English.”

      this just made me laugh out loud!

  • Michele

    Great post, I am also doing a bilingual wedding, in Italy. It’s interesting that you did the ceremony in German only, I was considering doing it in both with a bilingual officiant.

    How did you handle invitations, did you print English and German ones separately, or one with both?

    This bilingual thing is not easy but I can only hope my wedding will go off as great as yours did!

    • http://weddingdiplomat.blogspot.com/ Emily

      Hi Michele!

      First of all, congratulations! (or should I say Auguri di Matrimonio – I actually studied in Italy – in Padova – where are you getting married if I may ask?!)

      Our civil ceremony was bilingual because it had to be, but our “official” (non-legal) ceremony was bi/tri-lingual. The officiant spoke only German (mostly because he wasn’t very fluent in English) but we had a reading in each language (german, english, polish) and we had translations of the speeches as a pamphlet. I said my vows in English, and he said his in German, which worked for us. But as I mentioned – people really do get the “gist” of what is going on, so don’t worry about translating every word!! I also think universal things like rituals or music go a long way towards including everyone.

      We actually got our invitations printed up in three languages – try Etsy for this if you don’t want extra charges (most “big printers” will charge you extra for each new set-up). Ours were done by Joel and Ashley at This Paper Ship and we LOVED them http://www.joelandashley.com/

      Your wedding will be wonderful, you’d be surprised how much communication at such a joyful occasion is non-verbal!

    • Chantelle

      YAY! I feel like this post was written right AT me! Thank you so much for your words of wisdom, I was reading your post and so much of it hits home. I too am planning a wedding in Italy and my biggest concern is to make sure that both nationalities/languages present feel included and comfortable. I think that it is a normal balancing act in weddings to ensure that both families are equally represented and honoured, and transporting your wedding to a foreign country just makes it a wee bit more complicated.
      It is such a huge relief to read about your TRI lingual wedding, one that had such beautiful joy plastered all over it. I can see it now, his cute little Italian Nono’s dancing with my family and friends. I can’t wait! His Italian family there are also eagerly anticipating a “North American” wedding and our friends and family here are eagerly anticpating an “Italian” wedding (or maybe just the Italian food), so it will be great to freely move between cultures and choices to create a wedding that truly reflects us.
      Thanks Emily :)

      • http://www.pretzelparties.com Emily

        Chantelle,

        How exciting, congratulations on your upcoming wedding! It sounds like it’s going to be fantastic. Isn’t it funny how people’s expectations vary so broadly? But… that’s the beauty of it!!

        PS: my photographer is italian and shoots in italy as well, if you’re interested :)

  • http://onecatperperson.blogspot.com angie

    I am in love with all the electric blue going on here. It’s fabulous.

    It sounds like an excellent time – partying until 3AM, Bavarian attire, German food, German music, an Alphorn serenade and the Viennese Waltz! As I was reading that paragraph I was all, “No way… oooh! It gets better!… Oh, no way! Oh it just got better!”

    • http://weddingdiplomat.blogspot.com/ Emily

      Angie,

      All I did was tell my beautiful bridesmaids to wear blue, and look what they pulled together! Amazing stuff.

      Hahaha, thanks! The Viennese Waltz is WAY HARD though. Interestingly, at our “post-civil-ceremony” party, one of the towners pulled out an accordian and told us to dance the waltz. We weren’t READY but we did it, and actually, it took the pressure off for our first dance! It’s all about laughing it off.

  • http://www.empapers.com Eleanor

    Glückwunsch! And I salute both of you guys for wearing Tracht! We thought it over, and I definitely bust out my Dirndl and Armin wears his Lederhosen during Wiesn’ (Oktoberfest) but we didn’t think we could really pull it off for our wedding, You guys did it beautifully – and those Alphorns!

    You’re wedding looks like it was really lovely. I remember debating if we should have the German wedding in the spring/summer because the Bavarian countryside is just so gorgeous.

    Well, you can tell me about it more in person when we meet for coffee next week!

    • http://weddingdiplomat.blogspot.com/ Emily

      Hi Eleanor!

      Haha – yeah, we were really lucky to have a chance to wear “both” (and I was happy to have another occasial to wear my Dirndl!).

      Can’t wait to meet you, Eleanor – did you hear that Meg!? We’re meeting up! You are an international-shame-blaster-tolerance-queen-people-connector-upper!

  • http://Bunniesnbeagles.blogspot.com Ms. Bunny

    This is just a really joyful wedding. It’s so nice to read about the joining of cultures and how weddings are such strong unifiers, despite language differences.

    My partner and I are both Americans, but I have a mostly Polish background and he is of German descent. We’re actually planning on trying to incorporate our heritages in our wedding, mostly through food, even though it’s here in the U.S. So it’s great to read about your wedding!

    Thank for sharing and congratulations!

    • http://weddingdiplomat.blogspot.com/ Emily

      Hi Ms Bunny,

      Thanks so much. Food is a great way to incorporate culture – my mother-in-law made pierogies for our wedding brunch! Yummm, pierogie :) Good luck with your planning!!

      • http://bunniesnbeagles.blogspot.com Ms. Bunny

        We are definitely having pierogies at our reception! Cheese, potato and cheese, and blueberry! One of my favorite foods.

        • http://www.pretzelparties.com Emily

          Hi Ms. Bunny!

          First of all.. I clicked something accidentally and i think I reported your comment. I didn’t mean to!!! I wrote a note saying that it was an accident – so sorry…

          What I wanted to write was “YUM” that sounds delicious

  • http://carmarblogs.blogspot.com CarMar

    I wish I had been a guest at your wedding – so fun! And I love the Wall-E cake toppers.

  • http://jolynn.wordpress.com jolynn

    Wall-E! Eve!!

    Man, you guys are gorgeous and LOVE-ly. How wonderful.

    Tearing up all over the place!

    • http://weddingdiplomat.blogspot.com/ Emily

      funny story – the bakery where we ordered our cake thought we were CRAZYYY for ordering a cake with blue flowers. Like.. totally gaga. (this is small town bavaria, folks) so we didn’t dare tell them about the topper. We had a good giggle over imagining their reaction that that one.

      • Mattingly

        That’s wonderful! Personally, I teared up when WALL*E was taking care of EVE while she was ‘asleep/dormant’. Such a beautiful testimony to love and relationships that last. Seems perfectly appropriate to me, even if the small town bakers might no totally understand!

        • http://weddingdiplomat.blogspot.com/ Emily

          Artur and I are suckers for Pixar :) I love it when he decorates her with the christmas lights and tows her along with him :)

          • Mattingly

            Yah. After they pulled an actually fun and decent movie out of automobiles I was totally convinced. I will now go see anything Pixar makes, regardless of title or subject matter. Three cheers for fun witty clean classic entertainment!

  • http://happysighs.blogspot.com Liz

    this is amazing. i love the point you make about weddings translating- how sweet that your mom cried over ceremony she didn’t fully comprehend. love it.

    and. PIEROGIES. (yum.)

    • http://weddingdiplomat.blogspot.com/ Emily

      Liz – isn’t that kind of amazing, if you think about it? so many cultures with different languages, traditions etc etc, but the wedding ceremony is something pretty universal, although extremely varied. It’s just something that most people can relate to, in some way. I think that’s pretty awesome.

      You are making me crave pierogies. right. now.

      • http://lilapuppy.blogspot.com Meghan

        I loved that part too. Shows you that understanding can cross the language boundary easier than we think. Gorgeous wedding, Emily.

  • Leahismyname

    This is lovely! It looks like a super fun wedding to attend. Everything’s beautiful.

  • Kashia

    Hi Emily,

    What a beautiful wedding! Everything about it was lovely (makes me excited to visit Germany if it’s that pretty). The fact that your American parents and Polish in-laws were able to connect and share so much love and have so much fun together even through the language barrier is inspiring. Thank you for sharing your wedding with us. And I wish you and Artur love and joy in your life together!

    • http://weddingdiplomat.blogspot.com/ Emily

      Leah and Kashia –

      Bavaria is a beautiful place, well worth a visit. Especially the countryside – really fairytale-like. Thanks so much for your kind words!

  • Emilie

    Emily, Herzlichen Glückwunsch zu Ihrer Hochzeit!
    I spent a year in Germany as a teacher and loved every minute of it… I am so glad that you (and your husband) were able to share so many different traditions, languages, and an abundance of joy with your guests! Your glorious wedding now has me fighting the urge to:
    a) book a flight to Bayern (which will increase exponentially in the next few weeks as the Weihnachtsmärkte start appearing… sigh), and
    b) relocate my own wedding there (or, at the very least the honeymoon, hmm…).
    Best wishes to you both, and huzzah for the universal language of ceremonies!
    P.S. So. Many. Points. for wearing Tracht. Awesome. :)

    • http://weddingdiplomat.blogspot.com/ Emily

      Whoa! Vielen herzlichen Dank, Emilie (nice name ;-) )

      Where were you situated as a teacher?

      a) If you come, let me know! We’ll increase the international reach of APW (can’t wait for the Weihnachtsmärkte (christmas markets for the uninitiated))
      b) where is your wedding? the honeymoon sounds like a FAB idea! Alpine spa honeymoon… oohhhh

      PS: Gotta love a good Dirndl. And men in Lederhosen? yes.

      • Emilie

        You are so welcome!
        a) I was a Fulbright teaching assistant in Dessau (Sachsen-Anhalt) last year… Even though Dessau has a very East German aesthetic, I loved teaching there (not to mention its proximity to Leipzig–30 minutes, woot!, Dresden, and Berlin). I moved back to the US at the end of June–I wish I had found APW and it’s German links sooner! In the meantime, be sure to drink some Glühwein for me… I will think of you and the other German APW-ers as I put my German ornaments on the tree this year (I made out like a bandit at the Dresden Weihnachtsmarkt).
        b) The wedding is up in the air at present due to deployment schedules that like to change a LOT… I do think that we may end up back in Germany, however, as that’s where my fiance proposed (Berlin, near the Alexanderplatz), and we’d both love to be stationed there. And yes, he did fly in to propose / visit while I was teaching–good stuff :) He is all over heading back to Germany asap, and I am so ready to be back there (and of course not just because I have dirndl envy and must. acquire. my. own.). So far as a honeymoon plan, I’d love to do Bayern and then head down to Salzburg… Or we could head to Prague… So many delicious options! Please do some traveling and eating for me.

        • http://weddingdiplomat.blogspot.com/ Emily

          Sachsen-Anhalt is soooo beautiful (talk about fairytale christmas – that is THE place).

          Your story sounds very romantic and brave- I wish you the best of luck with your wedding and your married (despite unreliable deployment schedules)

          If you ever want any Bavaria travel tips, feel free to contact me! (my name is linked to my blog)

          • Emilie

            Oooooh, more blog happiness to read–Yay! I will definitely email you if I am in the area, and, because I think you’d want to know, Gilmore Girls is on… Lorelai is graduating from business school, Rory is skipping school to see Jess.

            Thank you for the wedding / military life well wishes… Somehow the universe must have known that I needed them, as I have been a crazy person for the last week debating wedding pre-deployment / wedding post-deployment / whyinthenameofallthatisgoodcan’tIhaveafreakin’weddingdate?!
            I feel slightly better when I remind myself that despite the crazy, this life my fiance and I are living *is* romantic and brave. Thank you, thank you, for that.
            P.S. We went to Wernigerode in the Harz to celebrate what I affectionately call “Engagement Week.” If you haven’t been, you have to go… the snow, the spas, the castle, the excellent Brauhaus… Awesome.

  • Faith

    “This means – we didn’t do anything for show, and we thought long and hard about which aspects to include – it was a fine line to walk, but it was worth it to feel really genuine about every aspect of our wedding.”

    love this…exactly what we are aiming to do as well! Love the cultures blending so seamlessly!

    • http://weddingdiplomat.blogspot.com/ Emily

      Thanks Faith – come to think of it, that really applies to every wedding. not only international ones- walking a fine line of choices, nods to culture, religion, authenticity of self and all of those same needs from your partner… a complicated web..

      And I guess a big part of the fun is showing off your common ground as a couple in the midst of all that. right?

      best of luck achieving that balance! In my opinion, it’s all about being true to yourself.

  • http://whenhoyametsaxa.blogspot.com/ Kathleen

    For whatever reason, I am not usually as moved by wedding graduate posts as many people seem to be. They’re lovely, and I read every one, but I’ve never cried over one – until this morning! Your wedding was so beautiful! And your description of your relatives meeting and getting to know each other was wonderful. Your mom saying “We have Polish relatives now!” – that was what really put me over the edge!

    On another note – I love the color of your bridesmaid dresses!

    • http://weddingdiplomat.blogspot.com/ Emily

      Kathleen,

      Thank you! That brought such a big smile to my face! Not that I want you crying, of course – but it’s a nice feeling that my story spoke to you in some way.

      It’s funny, when my mom said that I was kind of like.. whooaaa… that’s true! We totally have Polish relatives now. Weddings = meaningful stuff.

      And the bridesmaid dresses – totally all my ladies. I just said “blue” and they coordinated behind my back. Sneaky (and awesome).

  • elyse

    so funny to read all these posts about german weddings (both with and without german couples)!

    my parents are there right now visiting my younger brother, who moved there about a year ago to ‘teach english’ which i knew was cover for ‘get to know the german girl i met in israel the year before better’ my parents are meeting his gf for the first time, and although they are young and she’s still in school, it seems to be moving in a serious direction. i keep remembering what my mom said to me about 6 months ago, just before my wedding, exclaiming that if they did get married there was no way she was ‘going over there for a wedding! that’s just not going to happen.’ if / when the time comes, i’ll surely be forwarding her some of these posts!

    • http://weddingdiplomat.blogspot.com/ Emily

      Hi Elyse,

      I think it’s so exciting that your parents are over there meeting his girlfriend and getting to know the place where he is living. I think this is so important – it took a long time for my parents to become comfortable with me living so far away (which is always hard, still is) – but visiting and spending time here made it SO much easier for them. Obviously it takes a good deal of time and financial investment, but they have totally changed their attitude from when they first visited me.

      At the very beginning of the wedding planning process, my mom expressed her concerns to me that there would be too many german speakers at the wedding, and that she would feel left out. She also couldn’t really help much with planning, due to distance and the language barrier. It was important to find meaningful ways for my parents to feel part of the festivities and the family – but I had to giggle everytime we were alone with Arturs parents that weekend and there was so much laughter and even jokes, all without any real language basis! A glass of bubbly and a smile can work wonders :)

      • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

        It took my parents a long time to come see where I was living in Europe, too. That was mainly for financial reasons, but also because for the whole first year or so they kept expecting me to be back in the U.S. soon. It’s been 5 years now, and I’m married to a Spaniard, so they’ve totally accepted the fact that they’ll be back over here at some point. Although–funny thing–now we are planning to move back to the U.S. next year!
        But they came over for the Spanish celebration of our U.S. wedding, met his family and our friends, saw how incredible Barcelona is, and decided they’d have to come back and spend some more time at my in-laws’ country home with a pool (getting to know them, of course), even though we won’t live there any more!

    • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

      Good for your brother and his girlfriend! I love when people from far-away countries get together and make it work! <3

  • Clover

    It’s funny. I read all the posts, because, well, how could I not? But this wedding graduate post really spoke to me and yet I am neither international, planning a wedding or engaged. I think what’s great about Emily’s wedding is that the joy is really palpable. Through her writing and the photos I could really feel her intent to bring together people from all different cultures and backgrounds in a very meaningful way. After being bombarded with increasingly negative imagery during the final days before the Midterm elections here in the states, maybe today that’s a message that is really resonating with me. Isn’t it funny how these posts affect us all in different ways?

    Also, it could possibly have to do with the fact that my boyfriend and I like the movie Wall-E so much that he will occasionally without provocation attempt to speak in a robotic voice and then imitate Wall-E from the part in the movie where Wall-E is introducing himself and learning Eve’s name. This results in my boyfriend chasing me around our condo… “Waaaalllll-EEEE?… [pause] … EEEvvvaaaa” (and, repeat).

    • http://weddingdiplomat.blogspot.com/ Emily

      *guffah* i just snorted with laughter at work, Clover. Picturing you and your boyfriend chasing each other around doing the “walllEEEE and EEEvvaa”. Hehehehe yes, so thank you for THAT positive imagery! Awesome.

  • http://abouttobe.wordpress.com Mary

    Can I just be shallow for a minute and say that your dress is BEAUTIFUL? Also, I’ve never been there, but my parents met in Munich so I have sort of a soft spot for the city.

    I love the bit about the love translating across languages. Even though I’m not having an international wedding, I’m finding that there are (not quite as big) cultural differences between my family and my in-laws, even though they’re both American. I’m hoping the love translates there as well. :)

    • http://weddingdiplomat.blogspot.com/ Emily

      Thank you about the dress! (sajawedding is the BEST).

      I want to be really clear and say that just because your wedding isn’t explicitely “international”doesn’t mean that there aren’t all kinds of cultural differences happening – the US is a big place (and let’s be honest – culture doesn’t just have to do with nationality – it’s a combination all kinds of things, like religion, career, class, politics… you name it).

      I think (and hope!) that you will be pleasantly suprised at your own wedding! Just exude the love :)

    • Alyssa

      Ummm, then I’m hella shallow because OMG, DRESS LOVE!

    • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

      I don’t think it’s shallow to tell someone that she’s beautiful & OhByTheWay,AwesomeDress,Wow! And if it is, that’s also ok. Here on APW we love all the parts of our community members, yes?!

      • http://www.weddingdiplomat.blogspot.com Emily

        big giant smile :) thanks!!

  • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

    A surprise Alphorn serenade?!? That is seriously awesome. That’s just beyond words for me. Who does that? Cool townspeople. I’m amazed.

    I think even if your parents do speak the same language, there is still a lot of communicating through nods and smiles that day because they are still getting to know each other. I like that you pointed out that the language barrier just opened it up for even more smiles.

    • http://weddingdiplomat.blogspot.com/ Emily

      hi giggles,

      see? weddings are totally magic. Actually, that’s a lie. Your LOVE is magic. The wedding is made magical by your love. And I think if you love enough, awesome things like surprise Alphorn serenades do happen.

      And you’re totally right about the non-verbal communication. smiles, and nods, and DANCING.

  • Alyssa

    I love it! Bilingual weddings are hard enough, but trilinigual? And as probably the only military brat who’d never been to Germany, I love all the German aspects. It looks SO fun.

    And I will never again complain about paperwork. Geez…that MUST be true love. :-)

  • Claire

    I teared up when I saw your cake topper. Walle! Eva!

    Also, loved your post.

  • http://koruwedding.blogspot.com Koru Kate

    Okay, I haven’t seen Wall-e & it’s now on my must-see list!

    I loved this post- the joy shines through in the writing & the photographs. Just lovely. I’m so glad your family & friends were able to connect over their love for you as a couple. Congratulations & best wishes~

    • http://www.weddingdiplomat.blogspot.com Emily

      thank you claire and koru kate!! see wall-e!! On that note, I must see those southwestern mountains. I LOOOVEE mountains (hence my choice of a home)

  • http://silver-sandalled.blogspot Margaret

    Can I just say I love the idea of using “Edelweiss” at a wedding? I never would’ve thought of it, but it sounds like a beautiful idea… love that song.

    Planning a cross-cultural, multi-language destination wedding sounds extremely difficult, but how wonderful that you also found freedom to do your own thing *because* of those aspects!

    • http://www.weddingdiplomat.blogspot.com Emily

      it’s a really beautiful song! and the instrumental is just so peaceful. and sad, of course, but also hopeful, in a nice enduring sorta way. Shout out to all the sound of music fans out there :)

  • http://txtingmrdarcy.wordpress.com Txtingmrdarcy

    “Interestingly, by incorporating a lot of aspects that are generally “traditional” in our home countries, we were seen as being very offbeat by many of our guests.”

    I think the best of all weddings are those that can be seen as offbeat by one or both sets of guests present. Even in our relatively traditional American wedding, we are choosing to celebrate in ways that may be our own traditions, but seem offbeat to others.

    Congratulations on your truly lovely day!

    • http://www.weddingdiplomat.blogspot.com Emily

      offbeat is truly, truly relative. that’s why we see so many “indie” wedding nowadays that seem so similar! I mean.. i am really for everyone doing what they want, BECAUSE they want it. Not because they want to be offbeat, or unique, or conform or what not. But of course – easier said than done.

  • http://forcause.wordpress.com Sandy

    I love that Emily’s mother said, “we have Polish relatives now! And Germany feels like home!” Even though my family lives only two hours away from Tucson, Arizona, the city where I met and married my husband, they rarely visited me when I lived there and never understood what I loved about it (or why I wanted to get married there instead of in my hometown). It wasn’t until I read this post that I remembered one of the greatest joys of our wedding was watching my family start to see Tucson the way I saw it. We spent the days before and after the wedding showing them the places and landscapes that we loved and they started to see it through our eyes. We so often define ourselves by the places we’ve been and using a wedding to share those places is a great way to bring people closer.

    • N

      This comment has no substance, but I just wanted to say I’m from Tucson!!(don’t live there now though). And it is a unique and beautiful place that takes awhile to appreciate –for me, it took moving away!

    • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

      I live in Tucson now! Yea! And you really can’t beat the mountains, sunsets, and saguaros. It’s been a big thrill for us to show our family our home when they come visit us. For my grandparents, home was the block they were born, grew up, and died on. My generation is spread across the globe. And it’s so fun seeing everyone’s homes.

    • http://www.weddingdiplomat.blogspot.com Emily

      as i mentioned before – that made me so happy! introducing our loved ones into our lives, and our homes is, for me, one of the most profound parts of weddings. For us it was like a bit “Wilkommen” sign. You are welcome – come on in!

    • Alyssa

      I spent a year in Tucson at ATC! I’d go back in a heartbeat if I could….just for Casa Molina and Cafe Poca Cosa….

  • Cassandra

    This was so nice to see, a multi-lingual wedding! My man is a French Canadian whose parents speak very little English and whose extended family speaks none, whereas my parents are Anglophones with enough French to order a coffee. We’re in the early haphazard thinking about what we’ll do eventually stage, and the language thing comes up a LOT. The primary language of *our* relationship is English as my French is a bit rusty still, but it’s important to us that both families feel included and both of us feel comfortable with the wedding’s wording. I love that you each said your vows in your first language – I might borrow that idea!

    Lovely wedding photos!

    • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny

      My husband is Québecois, and my family (from the US) speaks less French than yours. Language was also a big thing for us to figure out in the planning stages… We decided to do vows in both languages because we wanted to both hear and receive them in our first language. So we just did them twice. :)

      • http://www.weddingdiplomat.blogspot.com Emily

        i think any solution that feels good and authentic to you is the right one on the “multi language vow” front. We decided to only do ours once because, for us personally, the vow felt like.. a one time thing. Like,,, I say my vow once ever. BUT that was a totally personal decision.

        Ok HONESTLY?! It didn’t really matter. I mean the vows mattered, but the language? So not important. We understood. We have always understood. That’s why we got married!!!

    • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

      We got married in the U.S. in an almost-all-English ceremony, but we said our vows in Spanish. We wanted the almost-all-American guests (and the officiant!) to feel like they were part of the ceremony, but we wanted to say the most important part in the language we use to communicate every day.
      I think if more Spanish-speakers had made it to the ceremony (they all came to the party we had in Spain later) we would have ended up with something like Emily did, doing parts in different languages. And we definitely would have printed the original words + their translations in a program.
      When we gave our speeches at the party in Spain (all in Spanish) we printed the text in English and gave it to the non-Spanish-speakers who were there. Some of those people understood some Spanish, but others (like the French boyfriend of an American friend) did not and were grateful to be able to read it in a language they understood.

      So maybe you could do something like that, write the ceremony how you would most like to express it (which will probably end up being a mixture of French and English anyway) and how you will want to hear & experience it on the day you get married, and then make it possible for people to have a copy of the translation so they understand and feel included in the parts that are in the other language(s).

  • http://positivelyanna.blogspot.com/ PositivelyAnna

    What a lovely post. I would think a multicultural wedding would be tough but you seem to have handled with grace. It looks like a wonderful, wonderful wedding! Congratulations to you both.

    • http://www.pretzelparties.com Emily

      Positivelyanna,

      Honestly? I think all weddings have their own set of “challenges” – a multicultural wedding is just a different bag to handle. There are pros and cons to every situation, so we tried our best to always look on the bright side of some of the more difficult aspects!

  • http://extragrunty.wordpress.com Extragrunty

    I’m all smiles. The happiness was just bursting out of this post! Love the cake toppers. Congrats!

  • http://handmademodernwedding.blogspot.com Vee

    Thank you Emily for sharing your wonderful wedding story. My fiance and I are both 1st generation Mexican American and although we both come from the same cultural background we still find ourselves dealing with the difficulty of marrying the hispanic and american traditions that are important to us to create a wedding that is truly us. Up untill reading this I have found myself worry what our non hispanic guest would think about our bilingual ceremony and mexican food buffet and if our mexican family would think we were turning our back on our mexican upbringing by deciding to throw a western wedding. This post gives me hope that we will be able to create a wedding that is not only true to our cultural hispanic selves but also shows our love for the country we were so blessed to be born in. Thank you Meg for allowing Emily to share her story and creating a website were the main focus is not what decor you place at the center of the table but instead what values you place at the center of your marriage.

    • http://www.pretzelparties.com Emily

      Vee,

      What really became apparent on our wedding day was that our loved ones – friends, family, etc…., they all wanted to celebrate our happiness. It sounds really cheezy but i think that’s the core of it. I was really, really impressed with the patience and tolerance that all our guests showed – and I say that in the least condescending way.

      And let’s be honest – it’s FUN to try new things, right?! Eat new foods, learn new dances – if you can find ways to make those things accessible to your loved ones, everyone will have a blast.

      Best of luck!

  • Joan, Emily’s Mom

    It wasn’t so long ago that we were there together sharing so many wonderful moments.
    I loved it all and am so happy Em, that you did too. You and your friends and especially your amazing attendants worked so hard to make it memorable for everyone who was there. We experienced the combining of different countries and cultures in a way that
    was fun, delicious and very meaningful.
    The civil ceremony was very special to me. As we sat together in the mayor’s office that morning it was unmistakable that this was a gathering of people who love you both so much. Regardless of language we celebrated the collective joy we felt watching two special people so much in love and meant to be together happily become one! For me it was better than a dream to see my daughter,who I love so much, so completely happy.
    ….And yes now I need to get back to work on my german, and a little polish too!

    • http://www.pretzelparties.com Emily

      Thanks mom! :) Love you

      (PS: of course, it really helps to have support from your family. My mom is studying German now! Awesome, no?)

      • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

        Awesome!! Way to go, Joan!

        My mom is one of those people who just does *not* have an ear for languages despite really wanting to, and a while ago she called us and counted to ten in Spanish ALL BY HERSELF! We were so proud.
        I think the real reason she’s trying so hard now, though, is just so her future grandchildren can’t talk about her or scheme right in front of her while she doesn’t understand! ;)

  • Seraina

    Hey Emily,

    this so hits home!
    We got married in September, my husband is from New Zealand, i’m from Switzerland where we also live. His family travelled to Switzerland to celebrate with us.
    We had about 10 people who didn’t speek any english and the 9 people from New Zealand that didn’t speek any german. We had, as costum here, a civil and a church wedding. Both were held partly in german and partly in english. He said his vows in english, i said mine in german…. and so on…
    My godmother learned english just to be able to talk to our guests from down under. It was amazing… For us it was a bit easier as my family, except my grandmother, speak english so the families were able to comunicate, but i agree completely it is not necessary…

    All the best and
    liebe Grüsse nach Deutschland

    • http://www.pretzelparties.com Emily

      Who knew there were so many people with such similar situations! Oh how I would have loved to chat with all of you during the planning process:)

      Sounds like you had a wonderful celebration – isn’t it impressive how family can surprise you in the most amazing of ways?

      Liebe Grüße in die Schweiz!

      • Seraina

        Hi Emily,

        I also didn’t know that there were so many people out there with the exact same problem… These posts on APW just come a few months too late ; )
        Well never mind, we obviously all made it with great experiences…

        We did have a wonderful celebration and the whole family surprised me in many many ways…
        I’m also looking forward to January when we will have a celebration/reception in New Zealand where i get to meet a lot more friends from my husbands side.
        Also for the celebration here my family, obviously, contributed a lot more, and i’m looking forward to see how it will all work out down under as we are only getting there 10 days before the party…

        Liebe Grüsse nach München

      • amanda

        Thanks for this post and congratulations ! We also had a super intercultural mixed wedding. I am half swiss and mexican, my husband is dutch, with surinamese origins as well.
        Our priest made the whole ceremony around the theme “Love has no boundaries ” and it was great to see the families mingle together. We had people from Switzerland, Mexico, and even some friends frome Spain , and of course Holland.
        As you say in your post it is great to see how people just understand each other and the joy an d happiness overflows in the whole experience !
        All the best !

        • http://www.pretzelparties.com Emily

          whoa.. and I thought our wedding was a complicated group!!

          I, for one, think such mixed cultural groups are AWESOME. What could be more exciting?! so fun. congrats.

          • Seraina

            hahaha…

            that really sounds much more complicated…
            But also lots of fun!

            PLUS: you get to meet lots of people you can later visit when travelling!
            like my whole family, including my 80 year old grandmom decided to come to
            New Zealand with us next year!

          • amanda

            Thanks ! It was lots of fun and it was great to feel and see so much joy around us ! Congrats to you too!

          • amanda

            @ Seraina, all the support with the preparations ! Enjoy and have fun !

  • Suzanna

    Love love love! This is one of my favorite grads featured so far! The joy is to apparent. The thoughtfulness, the fun, the respect, the love! I was so touched by her mom announcing that she felt at home–everyone’s hearts were obviously touched and moved. That’s the BEST! Congratulations!

  • http://fionalynne.wordpress.com fiona lynne

    “We mixed and matched traditions as we saw fit, and tried our bests to include elements from all of our cultures.”

    This was totally my favourite part of planning a bi-cultural wedding. Getting to pick all the traditions and practices that were meaningful to us was a lot of fun.

    And being able to answer to anyone who said “but aren’t you doing xxx?!” about some boring/sexist/ridiculous/unnecessarily expensive tradition with “well, they don’t do it that way in England/Denmark…” when I couldn’t be bothered to argue? Priceless.

  • http://melbournevintage.blogspot.com/ Tina

    I love this wedding – the pictures are so cute! We went to a Russian English wedding once and researched Russian wedding customs beforehand – and decided to “abduct” the bride, which is a custom where you hide the bride somewhere and the groom has to go find her and basically perform a dance or something to win her back. Only he didn’t even notice the bride was gone, and once we told him we had a panic attack because he thought she had somehow run away. Not so good….

    • http://www.pretzelparties.com Emily

      Tina!

      they do that in Bavaria too! but that was one of the traditions we opted to skip out on :)