A bride's decision not to cover the expenses of her deaf sister's Auslan sign language interpreters for the wedding reception has ignited a social media debate, raising questions surrounding bridal etiquette and shedding light on the broader, significant issues faced by the Deaf community.
The predicament was explained in a post originally shared on Facebook, which later sparked discussion on the social media site Reddit.
"Looking for advice here. I have my half sister's wedding in September this year. My whole family are hearing, I'm the only one Deaf and use Auslan," the original post explained.
"My sister is refusing to pay and accomodate for 2 Auslan interpreters to be at the wedding reception. I will be paying the Auslan interpreters with my NDIS funding of course but should I be out of pocket for their meals?"
'Feeding them is the least she could do'
Members of a popular Reddit community dedicated to exposing shameful wedding planning practices wasted no time in weighing in on the subject.
"I would skip the wedding if they are not willing to provide meals to the interpreters," voiced one individual, while another emphasised the importance of considering the deaf sister's needs. "This person invited someone who is Deaf. It's not like the sister doesn't know she needs an interpreter to be comfortable at the wedding. Feeding them is the least she could do. She should have planned her wedding knowing this was going to be a cost."
Echoing these sentiments, another member, who said they had Deaf family members, affirmed the importance of accommodating interpreters. "My parents are Deaf and every wedding/funeral/formal event has had interpreting accomodations made by whoever planned the event, my parents don't even ask because it's a known need within my family."
Other group members concurred, with one describing the cost of two extra meals as a "nominal cost" and negligible in the overall context of a wedding, especially considering the financial burden the Deaf person already faces in hiring interpreters for the event.
"The bride should 100% be paying for their meals for them. I can't believe that is even a suggestion that she wouldn't."
Adding to the discussion, a wedding photographer chuckled, "you’d be amazed the lengths some couples go to in order to save $45 on their $17K wedding. It’s insane."
On the other hand
However, not everyone thought the bride should shoulder the cost of the interpreters' meals at the wedding reception.
"I would offer to pay for the meals of my own interpreters," one person told the group, "I would expect my half-sister to accommodate my interpreters at my table, but I would gladly offer to pay for their meals."
"I’m actually really torn," said another "I kind of side with the bride, here. She should absolutely accommodate them by welcoming them, making space for them at the table, seating chart, etc. but I definitely don’t think the bride needs to pay them for their services."
The discussion surrounding the issue went on to raise broader questions regarding the lack of sign language knowledge within families and significant issues faced by the Deaf community.
"I'm confused as to why she needs an interpreter," someone stated. "Why hasn't her family learned sign language? Do they really expect her to go to Christmas dinner and barbecues and hanging out with aunts and uncles without being able to communicate with them?"
A group member identifying as Deaf highlighted the common occurrence of hearing families neglecting to learn sign language. "Actually, Deaf here," they wrote, "the majority of hearing families never learn sign for their deaf family member."
Another person further explained that it is indeed quite common for parents of Deaf children to forgo learning sign language, hoping that their children will rely on lip-reading. "If many parents won’t even bother to learn it, then it’s very possible her extended family hasn’t either."
"Even if her family had learned (which it sounds like they haven't)," another person said "will the maid of honour have learned just to accomodate her? The best man? Staff at the venue? Anyone else who might speak at the event? Probably not."
"To be left out of every single joke. It would be beyond isolating!"
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