The A-Z of Wedding Terminology Guide
Updated: Jun 1
Love and marriage go hand in hand and weddings occur daily throughout the world. Most couples don’t know where to begin when it comes time to planning a wedding so we have prepared an A-Z list of wedding terms to help you understand some of the words and phrases that are used in the wedding vocabulary.
The aisle is a long narrow pathway for walking, with rows of seats on either side called pews, these are long benches usually found at a place of worship such as a cathedral or church. When a bride is to be married, it is a tradition to walk down the aisle with the father of the bride or whoever the bride chooses for this role.
An altar is a place where sacrifices are made for religious purposes. They are found in most places of worship such as cathedrals and churches usually at the front of the room. The altar is where you and your beloved will exchange vows.
A Charger is a bottom plate or tablet that’s placed on the table to begin setting the look of the design. It is mostly color coordinated to compliment the rest of the dinnerware.
This is the bride to be last night to party as a single lady for the girls only and is organized by the maid of honor.
The Best Man is usually the closest male friend, or brother to the groom. Along with planning the bachelor or stag party, he makes sure the groom gets to the ceremony on time and looks after the rest of the groomsmen, making sure they are organized. He stands beside the groom holding the rings and makes a speech during the reception. In ancient times the best man would help kidnap the woman from another village for his best friend to marry, because sometimes there wasn’t enough woman in his village. The best man would then be a security guard during the wedding ceremony, making sure the bride’s family did not try to steal her back.
“Black Tie” is an indication of the dress code referring to the event to which you are invited. Usually a wedding or formal affair which means tuxedo style suit for men.
A blusher is a one-tiered short veil that covers the brides face before the ceremony.
These are the sisters and best friends of the bride who give her lots of support for her big day. The bride will choose the style and color of their dresses and the bridesmaids will cover the cost.
This is an Italian party favour given to guests as a parting gift.
The bouquet is a bunch of flowers wrapped together and is carried by the bride and bridesmaids down the aisle. After the reception is over, the bouquet is thrown towards all the single ladies and it is said that whoever catches it will be the next to marry.
The bridal boutique is where you purchase your wedding dress and is without a doubt one of the most important parts of your wedding experience. The bridal consultant will guide you through the stressful process of purchasing the dress of your dreams and help find the style that is best suited for your silhouette. Most bridal boutiques have a selection of the most up to date bridal fashions and accessories.
The bridal party is usually made up of the Maid of Honor, Bridesmaids, the Best Man, Groomsmen, the Ring Bearer and the Flower Girl. They are your best friends or family members that are by your side helping you along the way to have the best wedding possible.
These are the sisters and best friends of the bride that give her lots of support for her big day. The bridesmaids are the oldest tradition in the bridal party. One tradition in particular date back to biblical times, when brides-to-be brought their own attendants to the wedding, after the wedding was over, they were kept as their personal maids and became servants from that day forward.
Buffets are very popular at wedding and is a very relaxed dining experience.
A bustle is made to pick up the train on your wedding dress. It is sewn into your dress by the seamstress; some wedding dresses have built in Bustles.
Traditionally the wedding cake is cut and served after dinner before dancing. The cutting of the cake has been a long tradition and in some ethnic backgrounds the top tier of the cake is saved for the christening of the first born.
This is referring to the persons or company that will be providing the food for your big day. Whether it is a small party or a larger one, start to interview early to get one that best suits you and your budget.
A Cathedral is a Christian church of worship, but on a much grand-scale they are usually very large.
The ceremony usually takes about 45 minutes depending if you have a special plan to include friends or family members for a reading. This is when you exchange your vows, the rings are placed on your fingers and you will also sign the marriage certificate. After the officiant declares you husband and wife, it is at this point the crowd usually claps and cheers as you walk back up the aisle.
This is a place where you can be married.
Champagne or in some cases sparkling wine are used to toast the bride and groom on the wedding day.
A church is a place of worship. Church weddings are very common, especially in the Christian world. Book your date ahead of time with the priest in order to get the time slot that is suitable for you.
This is a good chance for guests to mingle after the ceremony before the reception dinner. Some couples serve a signature cocktail as well as wine and nonalcoholic beverages. Finger foods and hors d’ oeuvres can also be served.
Cocktail Attire is semi-formal wear. For men, a nice classic suit, shirt and tie along with dress shoes would be acceptable. For women, something sophisticated like a dress cut just above the knee with some nice heels.
A destination wedding occurs in a place that is not belonging to where the bridal couple live. This can sometimes make it difficult for all friends and loved ones to attend because of the travel expense involved.
When a couple gets engaged to be married the bride-to-be receives an engagement ring, which in most cases, is embellished with a diamond. Diamonds come in different shapes and sizes as well as different colors.
To elope means you want to keep it a secret until after the marriage, a couple run away to marry without the knowledge of their family.
The engagement is one of the most exciting times. This is when the boyfriend pops the question and places an engagement ring on the bride-to-be’s finger. Most engagements are a surprise to the bride, so it’s likely you will not be prepared. In most cases your fiancé will take you out for a nice dinner, so you are sure to be dressed appropriately. After the proposal you could organize an engagement party and share your proposal story with friends and family along with your set wedding date.
Entertainment for your wedding can be anything from a homemade playlist of your favorite music, a D.J or a live band. Some couples entertain their guests by bringing in professional ballroom or belly dancers.
Embossing is a raised design on your invitation cards and make for originality. You can customize the cards to compliment your wedding palette so you can wow your guests when opening the envelope.
Escort cards are there to help with the wedding seating arrangements. Usually there is a chart with your name corresponding to the table where you will be sitting.
Father of the bride
The father of the bride will walk you down the aisle to give you away to your husband to be. The term “gives the bride away” comes from the days when you were in some cases belonging to your father, he owned you. The father gives a dowry or monetary gift to the husband to be. Fortunately, today we don’t view women in this way although receiving a dowry is still practiced in some countries and religions.
This is what you give your guests as a special thank you souvenir at the end of the night. It can be chocolates in a box with the bride and grooms name or a note stating that a donation was made to a charity in the guest’s honor.
This is the title given to the groom after the engagement until the marriage meaning engaged to be married.
This is the title of the bride after she’s engaged until her wedding day meaning engaged to be married.
The first dance is for the bride and groom. Most couples choose a special song that will be theirs to remember for always. After the bride and groom dance, the bride and father of the bride will get to dance as well as the groom and mother of the groom. Some couples have dance lessons for this occasion.
A first look is a new trend for bridal couples. It is a rehearsed moment for the photographer to take pictures of the Bride and Groom before the wedding ceremony seeing each other for the first time. This is breaking away from the traditional way a groom would first see the bride at the alter.
This is the young girl who leads the bride down the aisle holding a basket of fresh flower petals, she walks scattering the petals down the aisle to the alter.
The garter is removed from the bride’s leg and tossed to the single men; this takes place at the wedding reception. The wedding garter goes back hundreds of years and symbolizes good luck. Most wear a blue garter for the something blue, which is another tradition.
A gift registry is created by the bride and groom that includes 2 -4 stores to receive wedding gifts. The gift registry is a list of items preferred by the bride and groom and is an alternative to giving a monetary gift.
There are many traditions that are told regarding the groomsmen, but the most common one that is told is the fact that in ancient times the groomsmen along with the best man, would help kidnap the bride from her village, and they would stand on guard at the wedding ceremony to make sure that she wasn’t retrieved by her family. This gave the groomsmen the title of bride’s knights. Today, they help the wedding party run smoothly, attending to anything that is needed for the groom or best man, like helping with the bachelor party, the wedding ceremony, and wherever they are needed.
A guest list is prepared by the Bride and Groom to make sure they invite those who they wish to have at their wedding.
Have your wedding guests sign your special bridal book. Perhaps they would like to comment or share a memory of the day to look back on with fond memories.
Hors d’oeuvres, sometimes known as appetizers, are served hot or cold at a reception or cocktail party and are popular to be served at a wedding reception before the meal.
This is the wedding party’s table, where the bride and groom sit with the best man, maid of honor, groomsmen and bridesmaids. It’s also a fun table in the front of the room, sometimes on a platform where the speeches are made. The head table is usually located close to the family table where the parents of the bride and groom sit. Ancient roman law required at least 10 witnesses to be present at a wedding, in today’s wedding party you can have as many as you wish.
Most couples go off on their honeymoon the morning after the wedding. Depending on the time of year, hot climates are most popular, winter getaways in the sun. The origin of honeymoon goes way back and has always been known as a period after a marriage. Couples go on a honeymoon to enjoy each other and relax after a long stressful time planning their wedding.
Introducing Mr. and Mrs. is when the couple are introduced for the first time as husband and wife.
Wedding invitations are sent out to your friends and family who you wish to include in your big day. Invitations can include the date, location and a R.S.V.P. card to return to the bridal couple to confirm if you will be attending. This is a good time to also include where you are registered for gifts.
Justice of the peace
Justice of the peace is a judge who can perform civil ceremonies, such as a marriage. It is an alternative to having a priest, rabbi or minister and is considered a non-religious ceremony.
Ketubah is a Jewish wedding contract between the bride and groom and it is a commitment to love and honor each other.
There is a lot of kissing happening at a wedding! “You may kiss the bride” is something you will hear when the officiant confirms that you are now married.
Some say its good luck if it rains on your wedding day and not so lucky to see the bride in her bridal gown before the ceremony.
Maid of honor
This is also known as the head bridesmaid, and in some parts of the world it is maid of honor if she is married, or matron of honor if she is not. She will take care of the bride’s bouquet during the vows and make sure her dress is fluffed, not tangled, while walking down the aisle. She also organizes the bridal shower, the bachelorette and other parties. In ancient Rome, the maid of honor had to have a very moral reputation, before being allowed to be take this position. This makes up the head table including of course the Bride and Groom.
Wedding day makeup is special whether you have it done professionally or do it yourself. The day of your wedding is a busy one so you will want your make up to stand up to the stress. Don’t overdo it, remember less is more as you want your photos to reflect the real you. Apply minimal makeup that is easier for touch ups.
Matron of Honour
A Matron of Honour is an older term for Maid of Honour and means that the Matron of Honour is already married, and a Maid of Honour is single.
In most cultures it is customary to give a monetary gift to a bridal couple on their wedding day. A money box wrapped in white satin fabric is set up on a table for the guests to insert their envelopes that usually include a monetary gift. Deciding on the amount of money to give depends on how close you are to the couple.
The music is very important throughout the wedding. Start with soft background music when you first arrive at the reception venue, ending with louder fun dance music.
Depending on the location and your budget, you could have a live band, D.J or pre-recorded music. It can be so much fun to choose your wedding music and include your guest choices in the song list.
Newlywed means you are new to your marriage and the time frame for being a newlywed varies. I have been told it can go as far up to four years. Some call it the honeymoon stage.
A wedding officiant has a license from the government to perform ceremonies. They can be in a religious position like a priest or vicar, but nonreligious weddings could also have a justice of the peace. Look around to find an officiant who has the personality for a service that best suits you!
An open bar means all alcoholic drinks will be served at no cost to guests as it is paid for by the host. To cut the cost you could limit the time frame of the service.
Getting a party planner or event planner, whether it’s a simple affair or more of a grand scale event is seen as a luxury, but it’s not always true. They can organize everything from hair and make-up, to the last dance, which can relieve a lot of stress. Prices vary and can be costly, so before deciding on this option, do your homework and get your Maid of Honor to help you investigate event planners in your area.
A wedding photographer will spend the wedding day with the Bride and Groom from the early morning to the reception.
A place card is placed at the table with the name of the person who will sit in that place, this is used mostly for seated events such as a wedding.
A Plus One is an addition to the wedding guest to bring a date along.
A prelude is the music at the beginning of a wedding that is usually a soft background type music. It is played while the guests start arriving to the service to be seated.
A marriage proposal is when one person, usually the male in a relationship asks for the other’s hand in marriage. Getting down on one knee to propose is a tradition that started way back in medieval times and is a gesture that is connected to prayer and respect.
As a bride you will feel like you are Queen for a day, as most brides believe they are.
A rabbi is a leader in the Jewish religion and along with the many services provided, he officiates weddings at the synagogue.
A receiving line is made up of the bride and groom, parents of the bride and bridal party. They will form a line welcoming their guests outside the reception entrance. This is a good time to get in your hello’s and good wishes to the happy couple.
A Rehearsal Dinner is a dinner that occurs after the wedding rehearsal is done and is attended by the wedding party and family of the Bride and Groom.
This is the young child who carries the rings down the aisle (usually on a satin pillow) to give to the bridal couple at the alter.
Romances come and go. A love affair can last weeks, months or years. Holiday romances sometimes could be a one-night stand or a long-distance relationship. When a romance turns serious, whether it is long distant or with the boy next door, it can take a step further into engagement and ultimately marriage.
R.S.V.P means “répondez s'il vous plait” which means please reply. A card is mailed out along with the invitations at least a couple of months before the wedding date. It needs to be mailed back to the bridal couple as soon as possible with the guests’ names, if attending and food choice.
Sample sale dresses can be a great buy. These are usually from past seasons that need to be cleared out to make room for newer dresses. Keep in mind that these dresses have been tried on but are still in great shape and sometimes may need a dry clean.
Shoes for your wedding can be a classic- simple white or ivory pump, or with today’s dyables, a fancy color of your choice, embellished with crystals or jewels. Since you will be wearing the shoes throughout the day, try to get a pair that are as comfortable as possible.
Something Old, New, Borrowed and Blue
This is an old tradition that brides wear something old, new, borrowed and blue for luck. The old symbolizes the past, the new is the future, borrowed is something borrowed from a happy person maybe another bride and blue is a symbol of purity.
Stag, also known as, the bachelor party, is referring to a party for the groom given by the Best Man just before he is married. It can get very rowdy being that there is usually alcohol involved.
Temple ready means the dress is acceptable for the place of worship, such as the temple. The Bride’s dress should be white, this is symbolic for purity with a high neckline long sleeves and skirt. Wedding dresses can be altered to have the temple-ready requirements.
A tiara is an option to wear on the head. Tiaras are worn by nobility and queens and princesses have adorned them for centuries. They sparkle, adding that extra bling and can look great with any hair length.
At the wedding you will hear a toast given by the Best Man and Maid of Honour, as well as the parents Bride and Groom. Some toasts are quite lengthy and can lose the guests interest, so it is a good idea to write the speech in advance and try to make it short and sweet.
The classic tuxedo suit is a formal attire worn mostly on special occasions such as weddings, proms and some black-tie events. Tuxedo is mostly evening wear but over the years the style of the tuxedo has changed, yet it’s still the most elegant of men’s suits.
The wedding dress train is an extension of your wedding dress. When the bride walks down the aisle it is looked after by the Maid of Honor who sees that it doesn’t get tangled along the way. There are many different style trains that come in different lengths from sweep to regal, which makes the dress look very elegant. Some dresses have a detachable train.
A Trunk Show is a special sales event that a bridal store has, to show the latest styles of dresses from a designer, featured at their bridal store. This will give the bride-to-be an opportunity to see the collection available and receive a discount off the purchase.
There are many lingerie stores that are selling undergarments exclusively for brides for the wedding day or something for the honeymoon.
A veil covers the Bride’s head and part of the face. Wearing a veil has been around for hundreds of years. It’s a religious symbol that has many different meanings, one being that it hides the brides face from the groom before the ceremony as it is said to be bad luck to be seen beforehand. Veils are also used in many cultures for modesty, some religions wear a veil before entering a church or place of worship as a sign of respect.
Vows are exchanged between the Bride and Groom at the wedding ceremony. At this time, promises or commitments can be made to each other. Some couples like to write their own vows or simply go with the traditional theme.
A wedding is an event at which a marriage is performed when two people are brought together in wedding ceremony. The ceremony can be a formal affair performed by a priest, vicar, rabbi or any other religious officiant. It can also be performed in a civil ceremony by a judge or government official.
This is what the bride wears for her wedding. Your wedding dress is one of the most beautiful, as well as, expensive dresses you may buy. The wedding dress is traditionally White or Ivory but having another color dress can be your choice.
The wedding reception is referring to the party that is celebrated after the wedding vows have been exchanged and pictures have been taken. Now it’s time to eat drink and have some fun. Entertaining guests at a wedding reception is a tradition in most cultures.
A wedding ring is a symbol of marriage and comes in gold, silver, platinum and other color metals. It is an offer of your commitment to the person you are taking as your spouse, the one who you are planning on spending the rest of your life with.
Choose the wedding song that belongs to you both. The first time you heard a song when together for a first date or first dance, or it might be something you both just love.
You are now a wife, which means you are no longer single but a married woman and have a husband.
X marks the spot
After the wedding ceremony, you and your new husband with a couple of witnesses (usually the Best Man and Maid of Honor) sign the marriage certificate. Once signed, your marriage is official.
Zest for life
Moving forward with a feeling of enthusiasm and a sense of excitement for the future.
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