Hiring Interpreters For Your Wedding

It’s wedding season again and for many of our clients accommodating their Deaf & Hard of Hearing wedding guests is becoming a challenge. We receive a slew of requests each year all surrounding the same question “How do I hire interpreters for my Deaf friends?”

Of course it is every couple’s goal to wow their guests but the topic of accessibility for those close to them may be a challenge. While there is always the option of asking a friend, it is often seen as a burden for them to “work” a wedding rather than spend their time celebrating. For reasons like these and many others, couples often choose to reach out to an agency for support.

Below, we’ve outlined some of our most frequently asked questions when it comes to planning a wedding involving interpreting services.

Where can I find services for a wedding?

Weddings are incredibly special and intimate celebrations. The interpreter best known for performing in the boardroom may not be the one you want relaying your vows to your closest friends. Finding an agency that is familiar with events, the arts and performance is key. Those agencies are more likely to work with interpreters comfortable and confident in these spaces with the experience required to manage working a very social event like a wedding.

In major cities around the United States, our company Flamingo Interpreting manages weddings both large and small with a team of interpreters familiar with the content.

What should I expect?

Interpreting agencies like ours will reach out to you ahead of time and ask for any specific dress guidelines or a look-book if you have one. This ensures the interpreter isn’t dressed in your wedding parties colors (unless that is your preference). We will also ask about venue, environment and set-up etc. We then will send you over a deck of information that is helpful when setting a space for the interpreter to be seen by your Deaf and Hard of Hearing attendees while maintaining focus on the main event, you.

Interpreters will typically arrive early to meet with your wedding planner or event staff managing the logistics. From there, they will get set up and find the attendees they will be working with as they arrive.

Normally interpreters are secured through the cocktail hour ahead of the ceremony if there is one. Their job is to ease socializing through communication from start to finish. Once the ceremony has begun, they will take their place and interpret. Our interpreters being very experienced with weddings are able to dance around photographers to avoid ruining any shots of the bridal party. Once the bridal party has exited, the interpreter will then join your attendee(s) to the cocktail hour and subsequent dinner. It’s most customary for the interpreter to join the table to those they are interpreting for. Having an extra plate is always a great plan.

When things start winding down, typically attendees will release the interpreter on their own when they feel ready. From there the agency will generate an invoice for payment to be emailed or mailed depending on your preference.

What’s required of me?

The agency you choose will reach out with questions about the venue and location as previously mentioned. In addition, we’ll be asking for materials and any speeches that have been written ahead of time. Don’t stress it if you don’t have the vows ready until the morning of. You’re not the first and certainly won’t be the last to be making edits moments before sharing them. Whenever possible, we love to get photos even if texted of what you plan to say and it doesn’t need to be perfect. In the event you’d like to not share, please consider sending the agency any particular spellings or locations you’d like to make sure aren’t missed.

How many interpreters should I book?

The general rule of thumb is two interpreters for the ceremony and for social times check the table below:

Number of guestsNumber of interpreters

How long should I book?

Most agencies will charge by the hour and it’s a safe bet to plan on the interpreters arriving 15-30 minutes before the ceremony until the event fully wraps. However, working with agencies like ours is often preferred as we offer a daily rate that alleviates the pressure of needing to track time.

When do we pay?

Like many other wedding vendors, you’ll receive an invoice from our office after the event. However, you are always welcome to pay ahead to save yourself the time after your big day.

How much should it cost?

One of the biggest questions we get is about the wedding tax on everything. While most agencies charge much more simply because it’s a wedding, we don’t. That feels like a scam and a punishment for people wanting to celebrate their love. Our rates are posted publicly which you can find here.

While we maintain the same rates when billing on a daily rate, you might see a slight increase due to the preparation time the interpreting team will put in ahead of the big day. There is literally nothing worse than botching vows, in any language.

Where do we find the right people?

You can seek out arts and entertainment interpreters in your area. You can also search databases of interpreters by keyword like RID. For more specific requests like gender expression, sexual orientation or identity you can search the Queer Collectives Database.

You can also, always just call us. We know the right people.