Should my wedding have an outdoor or indoor ceremony? Is it better to have a head table with the whole bridal party, or just do a really cute sweetheart table for my fiance and me? How does a plated meal differentiate from a buffet, and which is the best option to serve my guests during the wedding reception?

A million-and-one decisions have to be made when planning your wedding...and those decisions can be VERY difficult to make if you are not familiar with the terminology of the wedding industry! Sometimes, communicating with wedding vendors can be hard if you feel you cannot find the words to express exactly what you want, or simply do not understand what they are explaining to you. Never feel like you can't ask a wedding professional what they mean when they mention a word or phrase you are not familiar with! A lot of the terminology are not used in everyday-life, and it is best to be sure you understand exactly what you are agreeing to! 

Use this quick wedding planning terminology guide to better familiarize yourself with common words used in the planning process! Happy planning!




APPLIQUE. Decorative needlework usually seen on wedding gowns in which pieces of fabric are sewn onto the fabric of the gown to form pictures or patterns.

ARBOR. A group of branches or latticework that forms an archway for a bride and groom to stand beneath during their wedding ceremony. 


BOUTONNIERE. A small spray of flowers on the lapel of a suit jacket or a dress shirt. Typically worn by a groom, groomsmen, father-of-the-bride, and/or father-of-the-groom.

BRIDAL SUITE. A room in a wedding venue specifically for the bridal party to get ready in.

BUFFET - STYLE DINNER. A more casual dinner service to provide at a wedding. Guests have more freedom to choose what exactly what they want to eat. Catering staff can also be included to help with monitoring the amount of food guests help themselves to.

BUSTLE. A built-in mechanism into a wedding gown that is used to let out and take in a long train. A bustle is usually used to keep the skirt from dragging after the bride is done with walking down the aisle.


CANAPE. An appetizer which typically consists of a piece of bread or pastry topped with a savory spread.

CARAFE. An open, wide-mouthed flask used to hold beverages such as wine, juice, or water.

CHARGER. A decorative plate placed underneath dinnerware so that only the borders are showing. They are used especially during plated meals as a 'base' for when other dishes come and go.

COCKTAIL HOUR. A transitional period during the wedding where guests can mingle. Cocktail hours typically happen when guests first arrive to the venue and are waiting for the ceremony to begin, or between the ceremony and reception.

CORKAGE FEE. While some venues may allow you to bring outside alcohol for your event, they may charge a corkage fee to offset the cost of convenience they are providing to your party.

CORSAGE. A spray of flowers worn on the waist, shoulder, breast, or wrist. Corsages are typically worn by brides, bridesmaids, mother-of-the-bride, and/or the mother-of-the-groom.

CUMMERBUND. A pleated panel of fabric worn at the man's waist underneath a tuxedo or dinner jacket.

CUFF LINKS. A decorative men's formal wear accessory used to fasten together the buttonholes of a shirt sleeve at the wrists.


DAY - OF COORDINATION. A service provided where the couple finds their own wedding vendors and contracts them. A day-of coordinator begins working with the couple 30-90 days before the wedding to help with logistics. On the day of the wedding, the coordinator helps to make sure everything runs smoothly so the bride, groom, and their wedding guests can relax and enjoy their event.

DIE - CUT. A process in which a metal die with sharp edges (basically a "shape-cutter") is pressed into various materials such as metal or paper to create a custom shape.

DOUBLE - BREASTED. A style of jacket or coat with an exaggerated overlap of material when fastened in the front.


ELOPEMENT. An alternative to a wedding ceremony with friends and family present. Some couples who do not want to go through all of the motions of planning a wedding go and get married either by themselves or with an intimate group of guests.

EMERGENCY KIT. Some wedding planners provide an "emergency bridal kit" for the bride and groom to utilize on their wedding day. This kit usually includes items such as deodorant, band-aids, and maybe even allergy medicine!

ESCORT CARDS. These are displayed usually near the entrance to the wedding reception. Each card contains the name of the wedding guest it is intended for, and the table number they are assigned. Guests find the escort card with their name on it and use it as a guide to figure out where they are sitting during the reception.


FIRST LOOK. An option for brides and grooms to coordinate with their wedding photographer. This moment is for the photographer to capture the groom seeing his bride for the first time on their wedding day. A first look typically occurs before wedding guests arrive so that the couple can enjoy a private moment together.

FOIL STAMP. The process of adhering metallic or pigmented foil onto a solid surface by applying heat.

FONDANT. A pliable, decorative cake covering (made of sugar and water) used to give cakes the appearance of a smooth finish.

FULL PLANNING. A wedding planning service where the planner helps the couple plan their dream day from start to finish. This service includes wedding design, finding and contracting all wedding vendors, and day-of coordination on the wedding day.


GRAND ENTRANCE. The moment when the members of the bridal party are announced to the wedding guests as they enter the reception.

GROOM'S LOUNGE. A room provided in a venue for the groom and groomsmen to get ready in. 


HARD STOP. The moment the wedding reception comes to an end. A hard stop typically happens an hour before the couple's contracted time in the venue ends. At this time, the DJ stops playing music and clean up of all decor begins.

HEAD TABLE. A table where either the bridal party sits, or the immediate family of the bride and groom. 


ILLUSION SLEEVES. Sleeves made of a sheer fabric, creating the impression that there are no sleeves. Sometimes lace details are added to the sheer material.

IN - HOUSE. Some venues offer more than just their venue space. Additional services may include furniture rentals, catering, and coordination. This can be beneficial for the bride and groom by saving them time with finding vendors for each of those categories.


LAPEL PIN. A small, decorative pin worn on the lapel of a man's suit jacket. Lapel pins are alternatives for floral boutonnieres.

LETTERPRESS. A printing method where raised letters are inked and then pressed onto a surface.


MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE. A document issued by a governmental authority proving that a couple has officially been married.

MARRIAGE LICENSE. A document issued by a governmental authority allowing a couple to marry.

MERCURY GLASS. A type of glass that has liquid silvering solution sealed between two layers.

MILK GLASS. A type of glass that is an opaque white color.

MONOGRAM. The combined first initials of the bride and groom into a logo that is then used to add a personal touch to wedding invites, dinner menus, favor tags, or seating charts.


NUPITALS. A wedding or relating to a wedding.


OFFICIANT. The person who leads the wedding ceremony. An officiant must be legally recognized by the state in which the bride and groom are getting married in.

ORGANZA. A very thin, sheer fabric often used in wedding gowns.


PARTIAL PLANNING. This service is offered by some wedding planners for couples who want more help than offered in day-of packages, but not as much as in full planning. Partial planning packages usually include everything that is in the day-of package, but with additional services such as budget and vendor management.

PERSONAL FLOWERS. This term may be used to refer to the bouquets, corsages, and boutonnieres of the bridal party and the parents of the bride and groom. 

PLACE CARDS. These are usually placed onto or somewhere near the assigned place settings on reception tables. 

PLATED DINNER. This formal dinner service usually means reception guests have been assigned a specific seat at a table, and are seated before service begins. Waitstaff bring plated meals to each individual.

PROCESSIONAL. The choreographed entering of the bridal party into the ceremony space. Traditionally, the mother-of-the-bride enters first, followed by the groomsmen, groom, bridesmaids, and finally the father-of-the-bride with the bride. 


RAIN PLAN. Better known as "Plan B," a rain plan is created just in case the weather is not in favor of an outdoor ceremony and/or reception.

RECEPTION. The post-ceremony celebration of the bride and groom being officially married.

RECESSIONAL. The choreographed exiting of the bridal party from the ceremony space. The newlyweds go back up the aisle first, typically followed by the bridesmaids and groomsmen.

ROOM FLIP. At weddings where the reception is being held in the same space as the ceremony, the guests will often be ushered into a different space for a cocktail hour while vendors transform the ceremony space into the reception. This transitional period is coined the "room flip."

RUCHED. Gathering fabric to create a more textured look. This method is used on different styles of wedding gowns as decoration.


SAVE - THE - DATE. A card sent to ask potential guests to reserve the date of one's wedding. These are sent out before the actual wedding invitations.

SEND OFF. The event of all of the wedding guests getting together to say goodbye to the newlyweds, who typically leave the wedding reception in some mode of arranged transportation. 

SIGNATURE COCKTAIL. One or two drinks being offered at the bar that reflect what the bride and/or groom like to drink. Serving signature cocktails at a wedding adds a personalized touch for guests.

STATIONERY SUITE. A matching set of wedding stationery that typically includes save-the-dates, wedding invitations, reply cards...

SWEETHEART TABLE. A table set for two, intended for the bride and groom to sit at during the wedding reception.


TABLESCAPE. The stylish arrangement of items (ex: place settings, centerpieces, candles) on a table. 

TASTING. A service provided by some caterers for the bride and groom to sample different dishes in order to decide which ones they would like to be served at their wedding.

TEA LIGHTS. Small, decorative candles that last for a short period of time.

TIE BAR. An accessory in men's dress wear, used to secure a necktie to the front of a button-down shirt.

TIMELINE. A document used by wedding vendors to make sure every detail is accounted for. A day-of wedding timeline usually includes the time and location of all events happening that day. 

TOPPER. A top with sleeves typically made of lace, used to transform the look of a wedding gown.

TRAY - PASSING. The act of waitstaff coming around with trays of appetizers for guests to enjoy.

TULLE. A soft sheer netting used in the making of wedding veils and gowns.


UPLIGHTING. Placing lights so they rest on the floor and project their beams upward.


VENUE WALKTHROUGH. A service where brides and grooms can tour a venue to get a better understanding of what can be done with the space for their future ceremony and/or reception.

VOTIVES. Small glass cylinders in which to place tea light candles. Votive candles are often used in wedding ceremony and reception decor.


WATERMARK. Some wedding photographers will "watermark" their images, meaning their logo is included somewhere on the images.


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