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55 Wedding Planning terms and meanings you need to know.

Truth is for many of us- until we got busy with wedding planning- we really couldn’t passionately hold a wedding conversation. We knew about florists and deejays and other professionals but didn’t know that when it comes to weddings, they are referred to as vendors. Or that cocktail hour was a real thing.

Now that you are a new bride or groom to be, here are a few words that may be used as you relate with different wedding vendors and undertake wedding planning. The more familiar you are with them, the lesser the chance of you feeling confused during discussions or taken advantage of. This is not an exhaustive list, but a few of the items I have had to explain repeatedly to wedding couples. They do not follow any order but might be listed alphabetically so you can skim thru if you’re looking for a certain word.

Best man: a close friend or family member of you(the groom) who helps with wedding planning and coordinates with other groomsmen. Normally, a male plays this role, however, in recent times, females have been seen to act as best women.

Bridal shower: an event organized for you (the bride), most times by older married ladies, to shower her with gifts and get her prepared for married life.

Bride’s bouquet with roses, succulents, and fern

Boutonniere: a flowery piece worn by the men in the wedding party. It is similar to those of the bride and her bridesmaids.

Buck’s night: a party held on the eve of the wedding, organized by your best man and the groomsmen to celebrate your (the groom’s) last night of being single.

Buss boys: servers and catering staff that wait on your guests during dinner time and clear out the dinnerware after the meal is over.

Bustle (wedding dress): a quick adjustment to your wedding dress (if applicable) by attaching some part of the train to the bodies of the dress, which in turn reduces the volume of the dress.

Cake cutting fee: a fee charged by your venue for cutting an outside vendor’s cake, and dishing it for your guests. This is often charged when the cake is not gotten through the venue or any of its preferred vendors and is billed per slice.

Ceremony (wedding): the actual event of marrying you both. 

Cocktail hour: a gap between the wedding ceremony and the reception party. This is when many couples take coordinated group pictures with family members and friends

Corkage: the fees your venue might charge if you decide to provide your own drinks and serving through the venue staff, who uncorks them. It is billed per bottle.

Corsage: a floral piece worn on the wrist by the older women(mothers of the couple, aunts or grandparents) in the wedding party.

Day-of coordinator: a wedding vendor who works closely you – the couple- and sees to the smooth set-up and running of the wedding activities. Unlike the venue coordinator who is a staff of the venue and thus caters to its interests, the day-of/month of coordinator answers solely you (couple) and is there to ensure that your event goes without a hitch.

Dessert table: a display of different confectionery and sweets which are offered to guests, either in addition to a wedding cake or as a replacement, for dessert.

Destination wedding: a wedding celebration that is held in a city or country other than where the bride and groom live.

First look: a period on the wedding day when you both get to see each other and enjoy some private time before heading over for the wedding ceremony. Photographers and videographers tend to encourage this, as it provides the best opportunities to take great pictures.

Floor plan: a sketched presentation of how the general set-up would be per the layout of the event space. It captures where seats and tables would be, the dessert table, buffet stations, decorative items and other fixtures for the wedding, would be.

Gift registry: a list of items that you (the couple) selected as preferred wedding gifts. This is shared with your guests and is most times created at 1 or 2 department stores.

Guest count: this refers to the total number of guests you want at the wedding, both the ceremony and reception.

Guestlist: this is the actual list of people you’ve invited to your wedding. It’s usually used to create the seating arrangement.

Hen night: a party organized by your (the bride) friends to celebrate your last night of being ‘single’.

Hotel room block: a couple of rooms in a hotel that have been specifically reserved for the couple and their guests. This is done to help out of town guests easily find accommodation and has to be arranged ahead of the wedding day.

Hors d’orves: simple snacks offered during the cocktail hour to entertain guests.

Intimate wedding: a wedding with a small number of guests which may also pass on some common wedding traditions and trends.

Maid of honor: that close friend or family member who acts as your assistant or support especially on the wedding day, and often helps with the wedding planning and coordinates with other bridesmaids.

Music selection: a list of the preferred songs you (the couple),  share with the deejay to include in your playlist for the reception party.

Officiant: also known ad celebrant. The official who actually marries you.

Photography list: a list that orders how the photographs are to be taken. The photographer and coordinator use this as a guide when calling people for your photos.

Preferred vendors: a list of vendors that a venue is comfortable working with and recommends to the couple to hire. This is based on previous working relationships and shared values or standards.

Processional: the entrance of your wedding party into the chapel or ceremony venue before the wedding ceremony begins.

Reception party: the party held after your wedding ceremony has been conducted. This is often held at a different venue if the wedding was at a church. Many couples are beginning to use the same venue for both the ceremony and reception, by having the wedding ceremony first and then flipping the room set-up afterward, to set up for the party.

Rehearsal: a trial run of what the wedding ceremony would look like. The wedding party practice how they enter, walk down the aisle and take their positions for the event.

Rehearsal dinner: an organized dinner held for the members of the wedding party and the immediate family members as an opportunity for them to meet before the actual wedding day. This is usually put together by the groom’s family and helps to get everyone introduced and avoid awkwardness.

Retainer fee: often time a non-refundable deposit paid when booking a vendor. It is the amount you pay to lock down the date and most times nonrefundable because the vendor has forfeited other chances of booking another client for that same date.

Recessional: the exiting of the wedding party from the chapel or ceremony venue, after the wedding ceremony is over.

RSVP: ‘répondez s’il vous plaît’ – ‘respond if you please’. A formal way for your guests to communicate their interest in being at the wedding.

Sample save the date card

Save the date cards: announcement cards you send out to give the wedding guests a piece of quick information about the upcoming wedding. It normally contains just your (the couple) names and the wedding date. This way, guests can make plans to be available by that date. Wedding invites come after this.

Seating arrangement: this is a seating plan which helps to identify who sits next to who at the wedding reception.

Tablescape: a décor detail for how the tabletop items will be setup. Would there be charger plates, and will the napkins be folded? Will the dinner plates be set up on the tables and what colors will the tableware be? How about the centerpieces- large, small or towering? This discussion is usually with the florist, rental company and decorator.

Timeline: a detailed and timed breakdown of how the day’s activities will play out. It should contain info on who does what, how they do what and when they do what. Often prepared by the wedding planner or coordinator to guide your other vendors about what is expected of them and when it is.

Train (wedding dress): This refers to the length of extra material that trails behind you (the bride) as you walk down the aisle. Part of the duties of the Maid of Honor is to help you arrange it once you meet your groom at the altar.

Ashton Gardens chapel – Atlanta

Wedding counseling: a series of talk and empowerment sessions you both have with either the officiant, marriage counselor or church pastor, to help you be better prepared for married life. Some websites actually offer virtual sessions and tools which couples can use on their own (or with the officiant).

Wedding chapel: the church or special venue where the wedding ceremony will be held. Many cultures do it at the bride’s church.

Wedding favors: many people know them as souvenirs. They are the gift items your share to guests at your wedding, as a show of gratitude for attending the wedding event.

Wedding license: a permit issued by the state, allowing the couple to get married. This allows for the marriage(after the wedding is done and the certificates are issued) to be recognized as legal.

Wedding party: these are the special people included in the wedding celebrations and usually consist pf the couple themselves, best man and groomsmen, maid of honor and bridesmaids, flower girls and ring bearer, parents of the couple, ushers, grandparents, etc.

Wedding stationery: all the guest related paper products used during wedding planning and the wedding day itself. Invites, menu cards, save the dates, favor tags, program, thank you cards, etc.

Wedding signs: these are printables that give instructions at the wedding. People often use them to welcome guests and provide information about parking, food, favors…etc.

Wedding website: a website created by couples to provide information about the wedding, invite guests, track RSVP responses, give details about travel, accommodation, and parking at the venue. Top options are for wedding planning by brides and grooms are zola.com, theknot.com, weddingwire.com, appycouple .

Wedding transportation: arrangements made by the couple for how they and their guests(if needed) will get to the event venues and leave also.

Vendors: a team of specialized event professionals who provide services for the wedding (DJ- provides, music, emcee- hosts the event, baker- provides cake and desserts, caterer- provides the food, florist- brings the flowers and greenery, photographer –takes photos, videographer – takes videos, planner- helps plan and coordinate the wedding, coordinator – manages the flow of the day, make-up artist – does the makeup, hairstylist – styles the hair, transportation – provides buses, limos and special cars for the wedding, stationer – provides the invitations and other paper products, and more). Read up on a full list of potential wedding vendors here

Venue/facility coordinator: a staff of the venue who is present on the event day and helps the couple, vendors and guests navigate the property comfortably. Beware, do not confuse with wedding planner or day-of/month-of coordinator, as they do not help with the personal wedding details. Vows: these are the promises made by the couple during the wedding ceremony. They usually consist of commitments to trust, support and love each other. Many couples use traditional vows or excerpts from weddings of other family members, while other couples prefer to write theirs.

Hopefully, I have been able to help you feel more knowledgeable and ready for wedding planning.

What other words or expressions have you confused?

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