Once you start planning a wedding, you’ll quickly realize that there is a unique language and jargon used in the industry. You may be unfamiliar with many terms, and it’s a good idea to learn the lingo.
Understanding these terms can help you confidently and clearly communicate with vendors, guests, and members of your wedding party. Not only that, you can better express your preferences, make informed decisions, and ensure that all aspects of your wedding are executed according to your vision.
That’s why we’ve created a comprehensive wedding dictionary covering all the important wedding terminology and meanings. Below are the definitions of terms you’ll encounter as you start the journey to your big day.
Wedding Terminology And Definitions
An alternative wedding breaks the rules and does things differently. Instead of the traditional white dress and church ceremony, it might involve funky outfits, unique venues, and unconventional rituals. It’s all about celebrating love in a way that feels true to the couple’s personalities and values, even if it’s not what society expects.
It’s a decorative technique where designers add beautiful, intricate designs to the fabric of a wedding dress using things like lace, beads, and sequins. The end result is a dress that looks like it’s covered in delicate art. It’s the perfect way to add a touch of glamor to any attire.
Black tie is about as fancy as it gets. It means guests are expected to wear their most elegant and formal attire, usually a tuxedo for men and a floor-length gown for women. It’s like dressing up for the Oscars or a royal ball.
Black Tie Optional
Black tie optional is a sophisticated dress code with some flexibility. It means guests can go all-out with their formal attire and wear a tuxedo or a long gown, or they can opt for a slightly less formal outfit like a suit or a cocktail dress. It’s like having the best of both worlds—the elegance of a black tie event with a touch of personal style.
A bridal dresser is a professional who helps the bride get dressed on her wedding day. They are often experienced seamstresses who make sure the dress fits perfectly, help with any last-minute alterations, and assist with putting on accessories like the veil and jewelry.
A boutonniere is a tiny floral accessory for the groom and his groomsmen. It’s a single flower or a small bunch of flowers that are pinned to the lapel of a suit jacket. It’s usually chosen to match the colors and theme of the wedding and is worn as a symbol of love and celebration.
A bustle helps gather and secure the train of a wedding dress so that the bride can dance, walk around, and enjoy the reception without tripping. It’s either a hidden set of buttons, hooks, or loops that transforms a long, flowing gown into a more manageable length.
Buttercream is sweet, creamy frosting that covers a wedding cake. It’s usually made from a blend of butter, sugar, and vanilla and can be tinted to match the wedding colors or decorated with swirls, flowers, or other designs. Buttercream is popular for wedding cakes because it’s smooth, delicious, and easy to work with.
Canapé is a small, bite-sized snack that’s usually served on a piece of bread or a cracker and topped with various savory or sweet ingredients. Canapés can be made with various ingredients, such as cheese, vegetables, fruits, and meats, and are often served on decorative platters.
A decorative stand or centerpiece that holds several candles at once, usually in a symmetrical or tiered arrangement. Candelabras can be made from materials like metal, crystal, or glass, and can be adorned with flowers, greenery, or other embellishments.
Celebrant (or Officiant)
A wedding celebrant or officiant is the person who makes the wedding official. They’re responsible for leading the wedding ceremony and making sure that the legal requirements are met. Celebrants can be religious or secular and can create a personalized ceremony that reflects the couple’s beliefs and values. They’re like the conductor of the wedding ceremony, making sure everything runs smoothly.
They’re larger than traditional dinner plates and are usually made of a more durable material, such as metal or glass. Chargers are used as a base for the dinner plate and can be decorated with a variety of designs, such as metallic finishes, beading, or intricate patterns.
This fee is usually charged by the venue or caterer, which serves as a cover charge for bringing your own alcohol to the reception. It covers the cost of providing glasses, ice, and other related services to accommodate the couple’s outside alcohol. It’s important to check the corkage fee policy before bringing in outside alcohol to avoid any surprises on the wedding day
A platter of fresh veggies and dip that’s served as an appetizer at the wedding reception or cocktail hour. It typically includes a colorful assortment of vegetables, such as carrots, cucumbers, peppers, and broccoli, and is served with a delicious dip, such as hummus or ranch dressing.
Escort cards are like a way to guide guests to their assigned tables at the reception. They typically include the guest’s name and table number and are often placed on a table near the entrance of the reception.
A professional who helps create the overall aesthetic of the wedding. They often work with the couple to determine a color scheme, select decor elements like centerpieces and lighting, and create a cohesive visual experience for guests. The difference between an event designer and wedding planner is the former focuses on the visual design elements of the wedding, while the latter takes care of all the logistical and organizational aspects of the event.
A wedding first touch is a moment between the couple where they reach out to hold each other’s hand or embrace without actually seeing each other It’s often done to share a moment of support or prayer before the ceremony begins. It’s also a great option for couples who want to save the first look for when they walk down the aisle.
A floor plan is a visual representation of the layout of the wedding venue, including the placement of tables, chairs, dance floor, and other important elements. It helps couples and vendors to plan and coordinate the wedding logistics and ensure everything fits and flows well in the space.
A decorative backdrop made entirely of flowers and foliage, often used as a stunning focal point for wedding ceremonies, receptions, and photo backdrops.
A type of icing used on wedding cakes that is made from sugar, corn syrup, and water. It is rolled out and draped over the cake to create a smooth, polished finish. Fondant can be molded and shaped into intricate designs and decorations, and is a popular choice for modern and elegant wedding cakes.
Formal attire refers to a dress code that requires guests to wear formal and elegant clothing, such as tuxedos, suits, gowns, and cocktail dresses. It is typically reserved for more upscale and traditional weddings.
It’s a luxurious chocolate and cream mixture that can be used as a filling or coating for wedding cakes. Think of it as the rich and velvety frosting that gives your wedding cake a decadent and indulgent flavor.
A long, decorative piece made of foliage, flowers, and/or other materials, such as ribbons or lights, that is draped along the center of a wedding reception table. It adds a natural and organic touch to the table decor and can be customized to match the overall wedding theme and color scheme.
Gobo lighting is a technique that projects a custom image or pattern onto a surface, such as a dance floor or wall, to enhance the ambiance and decor of the wedding. The image or pattern is created by a metal or glass stencil placed in front of the light source to control the shape of the light beam. This type of lighting can be used to display the couple’s names, monogram, or a decorative design that matches the wedding theme.
A grand entrance is a formal and dramatic introduction of the wedding couple to their wedding reception. It usually involves music, lights, and sometimes special effects to create a memorable moment for everyone in attendance.
A designated seating area for the bride, groom, and the wedding party, usually placed in the front of the reception room or the center of the room facing the guests. It is often decorated more elaborately than the other tables in the reception area and can include special seating, such as chairs or a loveseat.
Honor attendants are the most important people for the couple in a wedding. Usually, the maid or matron of honor is the bride’s closest sister in age, but if she doesn’t have one, a friend, cousin, or aunt can step in. The groom usually chooses his closest brother in age to be his best man, but he can also ask a friend, cousin, uncle, or even his dad. If the bride is close to her brother or a male friend, she can also choose a man as her honor attendant.
This typically refers to services or amenities that are provided by the venue. For example, an in-house caterer would be a catering company that is associated with the wedding venue and operates on-site. Similarly, an in-house coordinator would be a wedding planner or coordinator who is employed by the venue to manage events and logistics.
An installation is like a magical, larger-than-life piece of art created specifically for your wedding. A large-scale decorative piece or arrangement—this could include things like floral installations, lighting installations, or unique structures that serve as a backdrop or focal point for the ceremony or reception.
This type of celebration involves a limited number of guests, usually close family and friends. It is often characterized by a more personal and cozy atmosphere, with attention to small details and thoughtful touches. Intimate weddings can be held in every kind of venue under the sun, from backyards to small event spaces, and may involve less elaborate decor and catering options.
This includes all the printed materials and stationery needed for a wedding invitation, such as the invitation itself, response card, and any additional enclosures like a reception card, directions card, or accommodation information. It’s called a “suite” because all the pieces are designed to match and coordinate with each other, creating a cohesive and stylish presentation for the wedding guests.
Letterpress printing is one of the most widely used printing techniques for wedding invitations. It involves inking a plate with raised text (like a rubber stamp) and pressing it into paper. If you want a more 3D look, ask about embossing and debossing. However, when used on thicker sheets, letterpress can create a faint texture when ink is applied, and the plate is pressed into the paper.
A practice run for the bride’s wedding day makeup when working with a professional makeup artist to create the perfect look. It’s a chance to try out different styles, colors, and techniques and make any necessary adjustments to ensure that the makeup is exactly how you want it on the big day.
Micro weddings typically have less than 30 people—the average being around ten guests, including vendors. Despite having fewer guests, this type of celebration frequently uses the same types of vendors and customs as bigger weddings. These celebrations can be as formal or casual as the couple desires. .
MOH stands for Maid (unmarried) or Matron of Honor (married). This person who will stand by the bride’s side on the wedding day is typically a sister or close friend, though your mother or grandmother could also be the MOH. The maid of honor typically organizes the bachelorette party and plays a role in the bridal shower. If you want her to stand out on your big day, you can have her carry a distinctive bouquet or wear a dress that is slightly different from the other bridesmaid dresses..
A mood board is a carefully curated collection of photos that convey the look and feel you hope to create through your wedding design. It can be designed on platforms like Pinterest, Photoshop, Canva–or a combination of the three.
This is easy to identify because there is little to no icing on the outside to hide the texture and filling of the cake. The popularity of this style, which has been around for a long time, has only grown.
A nosegay is a compact, hand-held floral arrangement that istypically carried by junior bridesmaids or bridesmaids to contrast in size with the bride’s larger and more elaborate bouquet.
An open bar implies you have wine, beer, and a complete bar of alcoholic beverages available to guests, just as at other gatherings and weddings. Because this can be pricey, there are a few alternatives to choose from to help you stay within budget. To make the most out of your reception bar, check out this guide!
This piece of equipment is utilized during weddings to take amusing pictures of the guests. Compared to typical wedding photography, these images are more relaxed and quirky. Entertain your guests and capture some downright hilarious, in-the-moment photos with a creative photo booth.
Wedding cake piping refers to the decorative technique of using a piping bag and various nozzles to create intricate designs on a wedding cake. The designs can be anything from simple dots and lines to elaborate flowers and lace patterns. Piping is often used to add a personal touch to a wedding cake and to make it look elegant and beautiful.
These are placed on tables at the reception to indicate where each guest should sit. Place cards typically include the guest’s name and table number and are used to ensure that each guest is seated in their designated spot.
Wedding plus one refers to the invitation extended to a guest, allowing the recipient to bring a date or a plus one to the wedding celebration. In general, married couples and established couples (who live together, for example) get plus-ones. The rules can vary depending on your budget, wedding size, and wedding vision. For everyone attending who might not know anyone else at the wedding, it’s also nice to consider a plus-one.
The wedding prelude is the period of time before the wedding ceremony when guests arrive and take their seats. It usually includes music and serves as a transition from the anticipation of the guests to the formal start of the wedding ceremony. The prelude can set the tone for the wedding ceremony and create a welcoming and festive atmosphere for the guests.
This is when the wedding party enters the ceremony space and walks down the aisle to take their places for the ceremony. The order of the processional commonly starts with the parents, followed by the wedding party, and ends with the second soon-to-be newlywed or couple making their grand entrance. The processional is accompanied by music and serves as a formal and traditional part of the wedding ceremony.
The wedding recessional is when the newlywed couple walks back down the aisle after the completion of the ceremony. It is generally accompanied by joyful music and may also include the wedding party and other family members. The recessional is a celebratory moment that marks the end of the wedding ceremony and the beginning of cocktail hour or the reception.
A wedding room block is a group of hotel rooms that are reserved for wedding guests at a discounted rate. The couple or their wedding planner typically arranges this to ensure that guests have a comfortable and convenient place to stay during the wedding weekend. Room blocks can also help secure enough rooms for out-of-town guests who may need to make travel arrangements in advance.
This is the process of transforming a ceremony space into a reception space. It involves moving chairs, tables, decorations, lighting, and other elements to create a different look and feel for the space. It requires coordination between the wedding planner, vendors, and venue staff to ensure that the transformation is seamless and efficient.
A wedding sample sale is like Black Friday for brides-to-be. It’s a one-time event where bridal shops offer discounted prices on their sample dresses that have been tried on by customers. It’s perfect for budget-conscious brides who want to snag a beautiful wedding dress at a bargain price.
Send-Off (Or Exit)
A wedding send-off is a celebratory moment that takes place at the end of the wedding reception. Guests gather outside the venue and use props like sparklers, confetti, or rice to create a festive atmosphere. The send-off is meant to signify the end of the wedding celebration and the beginning of your new journey together.
A sensory-friendly wedding is an inclusive celebration tdesigned to accommodate guests with sensory sensitivities or disabilities. This type of wedding typically features low sensory stimuli, such as soft lighting, quiet music, and limited use of scents or strong flavors. There may also be designated quiet spaces or sensory-friendly activities for guests who need a break or sensory input. T It’s a way to celebrate love and unity while ensuring that everyone feels included and valued.
A sheet cake is a large rectangular cake often served at wedding receptions. It’s a simple and classic cake that can feed a large number of guests, making it a cost-effective and convenient dessert option. The cake can be cut into individual slices or served as a dessert buffet.
This is a list or outline of specific photographs you want to capture on your wedding day. The shot list is a way to ensure that the photographer captures all of the important moments and people, and it can also serve as a helpful reminder for the couple to plan their schedule accordingly. Not sure if it’s something you should be giving your photographer? We’re breaking down why we don’t think you need to in this guide.
It’s a custom cocktail creation that reflects the couple’s personality, taste, and love story. The signature cocktail can be a classic drink with a unique twist, or a completely new creation that the couple dreamed up just for their special day. It’s a fun and creative way to add a personal touch to the wedding reception, and it’s sure to be a hit with guests who want to toast to the happy couple in style.
A wedding silhouette refers to the basic shape or outline of a wedding dress. Examples of common wedding silhouettes include ballgown, A-line, mermaid, and sheath. It’s a key factor to consider when choosing a wedding dress, as it can greatly impact the overall look and feel of the gown.
This is a small table set up at the reception where the newlyweds sit together–a popular choice for couples who want to have some alone time during the reception or who want to be the center of attention.
A train is a long piece of fabric that extends from the back of a wedding dress, adding a touch of elegance and drama to the overall bridal look.
A wedding trunk show is a pop-up shop for brides, where they can preview and try on the latest and greatest wedding dresses from a specific designer. It’s a fun and exciting way to find your dream dress and maybe even snag a special deal.
A wedding usher is a person who assists guests in finding their seats and makes sure everything runs smoothly during the wedding ceremony. They help ensure guests are comfortable and happy, making it a pleasant experience for everyone involved.
This meal is provided to the vendors working at the wedding, such as the photographer, DJ, or wedding planner. It’s a way to show appreciation for their hard work and ensure they have the energy to perform their duties throughout the event. The meal is usually a simplified version of the guest’s meal and is served separately from the reception.
Also known as a vest, a waistcoat is a formal garment worn by grooms as part of their wedding attire. It’s typically made of a high-quality fabric and designed to match or complement the color and style of the groom’s suit. The waistcoat adds a touch of sophistication and elegance to the groom’s overall look.
A wedding coordinator is typically responsible for day-of coordination and ensuring that everything runs smoothly on the wedding day. They typically come on board closer to the wedding date and are responsible for coordinating with the vendors, managing logistics, and overseeing the setup and breakdown of the wedding, making sure the timeline is followed.
A wedding hashtag is a unique and personalized hashtag to collect all photos, videos, and social media posts related to your wedding. It makes it easy for you, your guests, and even your vendors to find all the content related to your wedding in one place. It can be a fun and creative way to involve your guests in your special day and create excitement around your wedding.
A wedding program is a document that outlines the order of events and provides information about the wedding ceremony to guests. It generally includes details such as the names of the wedding party, the order of the ceremony, and any readings or songs that will be performed. It may also include other information, such as your love story or a note of thanks to the guests. The wedding program is usually distributed to guests before the ceremony and can act as a keepsake for guests to take home as a reminder of the special day.
A wedding weekend refers to the multiple days of celebration and events surrounding a wedding day. It typically includes events such as a rehearsal dinner, welcome party, or post-wedding brunch, in addition to the actual wedding ceremony and reception. A wedding weekend is a great opportunity for guests to explore the local area and make memories with friends and family, which can be extremely important for those traveling all over the world for the big day.
This is a thoughtful gift that couples often provide to their out-of-town guests to welcome them and thank them for traveling to attend the wedding. The bag usually includes items such as snacks, water bottles, maps, and local recommendations to help guests feel more comfortable and familiar with the area. It can also include small gifts or personal touches such as a handwritten note or a customized item with the couple’s names or wedding date.
It’s important to familiarize yourself with these terms to ensure you fully understand the planning process and can communicate effectively with vendors. But it’s also essential that you feel comfortable about asking for clarification on any unfamiliar terms. And your wedding team is there to help educate and support you throughout your wedding journey. Now that you know all this wedding terminology, it’s time to put it to use!