Wedding Vocabulary | An A to Z of Wedding Word Association

Featured detail shot of groom’s boutonniere for wedding vocabulary blog post by White House Wedding Photography

This wedding vocabulary post is a compilation of wedding word associations. It’s a list of some common and not-so-common wedding words and their meaning in simple English. We in the wedding industry hear and use these terminologies frequently without stopping to think about them. However, when a couple starts to think about planning their wedding, they will get all these words thrown at them like they are playing dodgeball!

What the heck is an Appliqué, you wonder as you shop for your dress? Don’t worry! This is the exact reason why I wrote this wedding vocabulary post. I want you to look super smart when you start planning your wedding and you sit down with your vendors.

So, let’s get on with the wedding vocabulary, shall we?

Altar – The physical spot where you and your love will stand to exchange vows, whether the ceremony is religious or secular.

Appliqué – Pieces of lace or other fabric are sewn onto a base fabric to create a textured and often 3D effect.

Black Tie – A formal affair generally occurs after 6:00 pm. Men should be dressed in a tuxedo, and women may wear a formal cocktail dress or long evening gown. The wedding invite usually indicates the dress code.

Black Tie Optional – A less formal affair. Men can wear a suit or tux, and ladies can still wear short or long dresses.

Bridesmaid – A female family or friend of the bride responsible for helping the bride plan the wedding. Traditionally a female role, but can also be a male.

Bouquet – floral arrangements for the bride and her bridesmaids

Boutonniere – A flower or small floral arrangement worn by the groom and his groomsmen. It is worn on the left lapel over the heart.

Bustle – An alteration on wedding dresses with trains. This alteration allows the dress’s train to be lifted and fastened to the dress just below the hips. It will enable the bride to walk and dance without obstruction.

Canape – Generally, a cracker or puff pastry topped with a savory spread like caviar or cheese. The term can be used interchangeably for small bites, hor’s d ‘oeuvres, and appetizers served before dinner.

Celebrant – The person who officiates your wedding ceremony and pronounces you married.

Centerpiece – The floral arrangements on the reception tables.

Charger – A larger plate used as the base of a place setting. It typically takes the place of a placemat.

Chuppah – A cloth shelter and four poles. The four sides are left open to represent hospitality to wedding guests.

Civil Marriage The legal union of 2 consenting adults.

Cocktail Hour – A short social event for guests to mingle, have a drink, and have some appetizers before having dinner. The cocktail hour occurs right after the ceremony.  

Contract – An agreement between the wedding vendor and the person getting married. When the contract is signed by the vendor and the person getting married, the contract becomes legally binding and is enforceable by law.

Corsage – A small floral arrangement worn on the hands of mothers and grandmothers.

Day-Of Coordinator (DOC) – The person responsible for managing your wedding day activity, ensuring that everything happens according to the plans. DOC only works on your wedding day and is usually hired when the budget doesn’t allow for a wedding planner.

Destination Wedding – An out-of-town wedding.

Elopement – Traditionally mean to run away and get married in secret. Today’s elopement means a more casual wedding with just you, your partner, an officiant, and a witness. Usually occur out of town.

Escort Card – Provide guests dinner table information. The cards are displayed at the reception area entrance in a visible place so that guests can see them and identify their dinner table.

Escort Card Display – An alternative to Escort Cards. All guests’ table assignments are listed on the Escort Card Display in alphabetical order or table numbers.

Favor – A thank-you treat for guests to take home at the end of the night

First Look – Seeing your soon-to-be spouse before you walk down the aisle.

Flower Girl – A young girl who proceeds the bride throwing petals down the aisle.

Fondant – A sugary dough used to give cakes a smooth exterior. It can be used for the finished look or a canvas for hand-painted details, or a cascade of flowers. Fondant is editable and can be dyed, marbled, molded, and sculpted.

Force Majeure/Act of God – An unforeseeable event that forces a cancelation or postponement of the wedding, such as a natural disaster, pandemic, war, etc.

Garland – Strands of greenery and flowers can be used to dress up any surface at your wedding.

Gobo Lighting – Creative lighting in the form of shapes cast onto the floors or walls. Gobo can be custom created with your monogram and shine on your dance floor.

Golden Hour – The time of day when the lighting is best for creating beautiful portraits. It is the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset.

Grand Exit – A creative way of exiting the wedding reception at the end of the night.

In-House Catering – Food and beverages is handled by your wedding venue and not an outside vendor.

Head Table – A central position table reserved for the newlywed and their bridal party or family members.

Installation – A grand arrangement of flowers hanging over the dance floor or other conspicuous places. They can be time-consuming to create and can be expensive.

Invitation Suite – A complete set of information about your wedding. Generally includes saving the date, invitation, and RSVP card.

Ketubah – A Jewish wedding contract used to validate vows and commend their promises. Newlyweds sign the ketubah after their vows.

Jumping The BroomJumping the broom is an African American tradition practices at weddings to honor their ancestors. At the end of the wedding ceremony, the newlywed couple would jump over a broom before walking down the aisle and exiting the wedding ceremony. During slavery, slave marriages were illegal and were done in secrecy to avoid punishments. Jumping over a broom was one way to mark a slave union.

Justice of the Peace – A judge who performs civil marriages. They are frequently of local jurisdiction and may perform the ceremony in a courthouse setting or at your venue.

Letterpress – A type of printing often used on wedding invitations

Maid/Matron of Honor (MOH) – An unmarried or married female who helps the bride in all her planning and decision-making. MOH can be a family member or friend. An unmarried female is called the maid of honor, while a married female is called the matron of honor.

Mood Board – A tool to help you and your planner narrow down your vision for your wedding desires.

Open Bar – All alcohol served to guests is free. Open Bar can be very expensive.

Nosegay – A small bouquet of flowers. It is usually carried by bridesmaids and junior bridesmaids.

Palette – A selection of colors chosen for your wedding day theme. It will influence everything from lining to flowers. Many pallets include three colors – primary color, neutral color, and accent color.

Place Card – Tell your guest where to sit once they get to their table.

Place Setting – The pieces use at each guest’s seat at the dinner table. Formal dinner has a more elaborate place setting.  

Plus One – An additional invite for an attending guest to invite another person.

Procession – Marks the commencement of the ceremony. When the groom and the wedding party, followed by the bride, walk down the aisle toward the altar.

Processional – The music or song that is played during the procession.

Queen Anne Neckline – A wedding dress design style. It has a high back and short or long sleeves, with long sleeves being the most common. Queen Anne’s Neckline also has a cutaway in the front to reveal a sweetheart neckline at the bust. For brides who want to show a little but still be conservative.

Recessional – The opposite of processional. It is the music playing as the newlywed exit the ceremony.

Rehearsal Dinner – A pre-wedding event usually occurs the night before the wedding and directly after the wedding rehearsal.  

Ring Bearer – A young boy that carries the rings down the aisle for the couple. The ring bearer and the flower girl generally walk down the aisle together.

RSVP – This is the initial of a French phrase, “Répondez, s’il Vous plait,” meaning, please respond. It is a courteous way to ask the invitee to your wedding for their confirmation of attendance.  

Signature Cocktail – A unique drink specifically created or chosen for your wedding. It is usually made to express your personality and your wedding style.  

Save the Date – A pre-invitation card sent to guests so that they can put your wedding date on their calendar. Think of a save the date as an informal invitation that proceeds the formal invitation.

Sweetheart Table – A table for the newlywed couple. It is decorated and set up in a location for an unobstructed view of the ballroom or reception space.

Tablescape – The overall design and decoration of a table.

Train – Additional material added to the back of a wedding dress. The train trail behind you as you walk down the aisle.

Trial – A test run with your vendor services or products before your wedding day. The most common trial is usually with hair and makeup artists.

Trunk Show – An event where designers or their representatives present their newest made-to-order collection to brides for a great price. Not to be confused with sample sales!

Usher – A person who escorts guests to their seats at the ceremony before the processional begins.

Veil – A hair accessory for the bride and comes in various lengths and styles.

Walk-Through – An inspection of the venue before the wedding. There are two types of venue walk-throughs. The first walk-through occurs when you first visit the venue. The second and final walk-through occurs just before the wedding. For the second walk-through, you and your wedding planner will do the walk-through together and take note of any necessary changes are fixing that need to happen before the wedding.

Welcome Bag – Primarily for out-of-town guests and consists of the basic wedding day essentials, weekend itinerary, snacks, and thank you card. It can be simple or complex.

Wedding Planner – An individual or team that specializes in planning weddings from start to finish.

Yichud – A Jewish wedding tradition, meaning to seclude. It is a period the newlywed couple spends in private directly after the ceremony.

Zinnia – A beautiful flower in the daisy family. Know for their soft, round, sunflower-like look—an affordable option to dahlias.

Have questions? Let’s connect here.

If you like this post, you may also be interested in these other posts:

The Ultimate Wedding Guide For Planning Your Dream Wedding!

Tricia and Fitz Fort Lauderdale Wedding at The Crystal Ballroom

Why I Became a Wedding Photographer!

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