Wedding Terms – The complete wedding terminology

All the wedding terms you need to know 

If you are upcoming bride and groom planning your wedding, you might get lost in all the wedding terms and terminology out there. There is a number of wedding terms you need to get familiar with, so you don’t get lost in all the articles and forums you are going to read. Some of the terms describe different wedding roles and wedding positions. Another group of wedding terms is about The Wedding Party – The Bridal Party, Groom’s Party, and other guests. Other describe the wedding ceremony process. We prepared this glossary of wedding terminology to make your planning easier.

wedding terms overview

Best Man

This person is selected by a groom and it is usually the closest friend or male he has. Very often it can also be Groom’s brother or other family member. The best man helps the groom be calm before the wedding, keeps him accompanied and often has his own best man speech during the dinner.

Bachelor Party

The party for the groom to celebrate his last days as a single man. Usually it is organized by the best man, or one of the closest groom’s friends. Involves alcohol and games, and other forms of entertainment. One of the most popular locations for a bachelor party in the USA is Las Vegas or Austin.

Bachelorette Party

This party is for the bride to celebrate her last days as a single woman. It is organized by Bride’s friends, most of the time one of her bridesmaids. And includes partying and alcohol. Recently, activities like wine tasting have become popular alternatives to groups which do not feel like partying much.

It has also been a trend to have destination bachelorette party. Flight tickets are the cheapest and most affordable they have ever been, and thanks to Airbnb, you can also get an affordable accommodation almost anywhere in the world. Bachelorette party in Mexico has definitely one of the most popular locations. 

Boutonniere

Boutonniere is a flower decoration which men put on the left side of their suit or tuxedo. It is an optional accessory.

Bouquet

Traditional part of almost every single wedding. Bouquet is the flow which the bride carries. It is usually a very beautiful, original and large set of flowers. After the wedding ceremony, the bride tosses the bouquet to the audience of women, also known as bouquet toss.

bouquet wedding terms

Bouquet Toss

Bouquet Toss is a tradition where Bride throws her bouquet to a crowd of not married female wedding attendees after she says yes to her bridegroom. This tradition originally started in England. The tradition before bouquet toss was that women would actually try to rip off a piece of brides dress for good luck. In order to avoid her dress being ripped apart, the bride would toss the bouquet to the crowd and escape. This has now become a ceremonial tradition and the women who catches the bouquet is said to be the next one to get married. Bouquet Toss has been part of the wedding terms for many years. 

Bridal Party

Bridal party refers to a group of wedding attendees. It is a group invited by a bride, and they are bride’s closest people. Specifically, bridal party consists of maid of honor/matron of honor and bridesmaids. Bride and Groom have their own parties, grooms party is explained in separate section. 

Bride

Bride is a woman who is about to get married on her wedding. It can also be used as an expression to describe someone who just got married very recently. She is marrying a groom, originally called bridegroom. The bride has her own bridal party with bridesmaids. Sometimes both of the newlyweds can be called brides if we are talking about same-sex marriage. 

Bridegroom

Bridegroom is just another expression for Groom – the person the bride is marrying. Check the Groom section for more information

Bridesmaids

The group of friends from the bride’s side, who are her closest friends and stand by her side during the wedding ceremony. Usually it includes family members like a sister and other closests friends.

Canape

This is a small finger food served during cocktail hour. Usually includes a piece of bread or pastry, covered with something savoury. You can hold it with your hand and just eat it in one bite.

Cathedral Veil

This is a very specific and long Veil which is commonly longer than the wedding dress. It is around 120 inches long. This is the most prominent veil type you can choose, everyone will notice if that is your goal.

Cocktail Hour

The time between the ceremony and dinner is called cocktail hour. It lasts about 1 to 2 hours and during this time cocktails and finger food is served. Most of the time the venue provides some kind of bar tables around the place so guests can put their drinks down. It is also a good time to take some pictures or use a photobooth if there is one available.

Corpse Bride Vows

Very famous vows used in Tim Burton’s movie Corpse Bride. The movie and wedding vows got so popular, that some people try to imitate the wedding style and incorporate corpse bride vows into their own wedding

Corsage

Corsage is a flower decoration sometimes used by a bride. Usually it is a set of flowers tied around the bride’s wrist or attached to her wedding dress. It can also be just one single flower. A Corsage is an optional accessory to Bride’s wedding appearance.

Day of Planner

The person responsible for making sure that your wedding day flows smoothly and everything is on time. And if there is a problem, they make sure nobody finds out about it and they fix it. Most venues can provide this person for you, but you can bring your own as well.

Destination Wedding terms

This is a wedding which is happening in a different location than where the couple and closest family lives. It can be a different city, but also a different country. It is very popular recently, since more and more couples are focused on travelling rather than on traditions and weddings in churches. One of the most popular locations for American couples is Mexico – usually Cabo or Cancun. The wedding is usually happening in an exotic place with warm weather.

Dress Code

Dress Code explains what kind of attire should the guests choose for the wedding. Historically the wedding attire was very formal. However with an increased number of destination weddings and also beach weddings, the couples are more and more deciding on lenient dress code and do not insist on formal attire. Dress code should be mentioned either on the wedding invitations or the wedding website, so the guests can get prepared properly and choose the correct clothes. It is one of the most common wedding terms used, and is mentioned on every invitation. 

Engagement party

Engagement parties are very rare nowadays. But some couples still do it, especially if it is in a family tradition. The party happens up to 2 months after the engagement and it is to celebrate the newly engaged couple. In some cases the party can happen on the night of the engagement and it can be a big surprise for the future bride.

Escort Card

Escort card is one of the wedding terms used in connection to the seating plan. It has the name of the guest, and possibly 2 names if the guests are a couple, and number or letter of a table they are seated at during the dinner. The cards are placed somewhere in front of the dining area and can be picked up by guests during the cocktail hour.

Fiance(e)

This one doesn’t need much explanation. It is a term used for someone who is engaged to get married. In this case it is the future groom and bride before they are officially husband and wife.

First Dance

Some time after the dinner, it is time to party and dance. But before everyone is invited to the dance floor, it is time to the newlyweds first dance as a married couple. The couple usually choose their favorite song, a song they wish to dance together to. This is one of the most romantic parts of the wedding night .

Flower Girl

After the bridesmaids and groomsmen and groom make it to the altar, it is time for the bride. But before it’s her turn, a child (children) walks down the aisle and scatter flowers on the floor. Usually it is a girl, that’s why the term flower girl. However it has been pretty common recently that this is a boy, or a boy and a girl. Usually this child is a family member, or actual child of the groom and the bride.

Full Bar/Open Bar

Open bar means that all alcohol is paid for by the newlyweds and the guests can order any amount of alcohol they want. Most of the times there are restrictions to the selection of wine or hard liquor. 

Groom – BrideGroom

Groom, or also known as BrideGroom is a person the bride is marrying. He is the male newlywed, the husband to be. There can be 0 brides and 2 grooms, or 2 brides and no grooms if we are talking about a same-sex marriage. Groom is usually accompanied by the groom’s party – his best man and groomsmen. Traditionally he wears a black suite, but recently a lot of Grooms go for non-traditional wedding attire with their Bride’s permission. 

Groom’s party (BrideGroom’s party)

Groom’s or BrideGroom’s party are the wedding attendees invited by the groom and the closest to the groom throughout the wedding – The Best Man, and the Groomsmen. The Best Man is Groom’s closest friend, the male version of Bridesmaid. BrideGroom’s party is to the groom what the Braidal party is to the bride. 

Guest list

Each couple creates a list of guests they are planning to invite. The length of the list depends on the budget of the wedding. It can be anything from 10 to 300 people. Anything over 100 is considered a large wedding. Most of the time, the lists consists of:

  1. Members of Bride’s family
  2. Members of Groom’s family
  3. Friends
  4. Co-workers

It is up to the couple to decide what is the optimal number of guests and who to invite. Definitely one of the wedding terms about which the couples have lengthy discussions and sometimes arguments as well. One of the most imporant organizational wedding terms, closely connected to seating plan. 

Head Table

The bride and the groom have a prominent place at the dinner/reception. They are sitting at a table which is usually in the middle, so everyone can see them. The term for this table is the Head Table. Sometimes the bridesmaids and groomsmen also sit at the same table with the newlyweds.

Honeymoon

It is a tradition that the newlywed couple goes for a vacation after the wedding, to enjoy some privacy and intimacy. This vacation is called honeymoon. Based on the financial situation of the couple, they choose the destination, take time off work and enjoy themselves. Even employers are counting on the fact that after the wedding, their employee will take around 2 weeks vacation.

In-house catering

Depending on the wedding venue, they can let you know that you can only have food and drinks served by one caterer that they work with. So you need to order the catering in-house, no 3rd party vendor can participate.

Intimate Wedding 

This expression is used to describe a small wedding with only a few guests, usually just the closest family and friends. Intimate wedding can be 10 or 20 guests, but anything below 100 considered is really considered a small wedding. 

Maid of Honour

Maid of Honour is the closest friend of the bride. It is similar to what the best man is to the groom. She helps organize the bachelorette party. She is also an emotional support during the wedding, spending most of the wedding with the bride making sure she is ready for her big day.

Matron of Honour

The term Matron of Honour is not used too often. But if you ever hear it, it means that the maid of honour herself is actually married.

Nosegay

The term stands for a bouquet of nice blooming flowers. In the past in the 14th century, the flowers were used to cover bad smells and odors. That is why the term is nosegay. Nosegay is one of the rarely used wedding terms. 

Officiant

Officiant is the person who actually does the ceremony itself. He reads from the bible, or just from a notebook, and he is asking the couple all the important questions. Officiants need to have some kind of paperwork in order for the marriage to be officially accepted. This paperwork requirement varies by state and by country.

Page Boy

Page boy is a child who always walks behind the bride and is carrying her train down the aisle so she doesn’t step on it. Usually this child is a boy, but it can be a girl as well.

Place card

Place card is actually placed at the dinner table, at the spot where each guest should take their seat. This is used to make sure couples sit next to each other, and other organization reasons. It can also help with food delivery, since these cards sometimes have food selection printed on them, so the waiters can easily spot where to serve which food.

Posy

Another kind of flower bouquet. This one is of a smaller size and can be carried by hand.

Prelude

A song or multiple songs playing in the background while guests are being seated before the wedding ceremony. The goal is to set a good festive mood and create excitement before the grooms and brides arrivals.

Procession

The act of bridesmaids and other bridal party members walking the aisle towards the altar. The processions grand end is the arrival of the bride

Processional

Music playing during procession – the event which leads to the bride walking the aisle.

Recessional

The music selection after the ceremony is over and the groom kisses the bride – their first kiss as newly weds.

Response Card

RSVP for the wedding which was sent together with the invitation to all the guests. Guests are expected to fill the card in and send it back in the envelope provided. It is very important that all the quests fill in the response card, so the couple can start planning.

Ring Bearer

Ring bearer is a person (or a dog), who carries the rings down the aisle during the wedding ceremony. He then gives the rings to the officiant or directly to the couple. Often it is a young child, but it can also be the best man, or the couple’s dog.

RSVP meaning

Originally from french expression ‘répondez s’il vous plaît’. It translates to ‘Please Respond’. Guests are asked to RSVP to the wedding invitations, most commonly using Response cards provided.

Save The Date

Before the official wedding invitations are sent, some couples elect to send Save The Date cards to invited guests. This is just for the guests to make sure they mark the wedding date in their calendars. No RSVP needed at this point.

Seating Plan

If you have a large wedding and a dinner with many tables, you definitely need a seating plan. It is a plan of all the tables and where is who going to sit. Depending on the number of your guests, it can take you a long time to actually come up with a seating plan, so don’t leave this at the last minute. One of the most important organizational wedding terms, make sure you get your seating plan ready as soon as possible. 

Semi-formal

A type of dress code which can be on the wedding invite. Semi-formal means that it is an outfit which is more dressier than your everyday jeans and shirt combination, however not as dressy as black-tie event.

Signature cocktail

The newlyweds can decide to offer a signature cocktail with a meaningful name at the bar. This cocktail could be something that both of them like to drink and is specific for their relationship – like the first drink they had together. And also it can have a funny/interesting name, like the name of their dog, or something else with hidden meaning.

Train as a wedding term

Trail is part of the bride’s wedding dress which is “trailing” behind her. If the bride has a long train, usually it is carried by the page boy on the bride’s way to the altar. Be careful with the train, since it can cause a few mishaps and funny situations

Tulle

Tulle is a very fine and fluffy material used in veils or sometimes in wedding gowns too. Tulle adds extra fluffiness, so everything looks like from a fairy tale.

Tuxedo

One of the most formal men’s attires. If the wedding is black tie, the guests are expected to wear a tuxedo with bow tie.

Vows

During the wedding ceremony, the newlyweds are asked to make a promise to each other. They can either write their own vows, or use one of the vows prepared by the officiants. Traditionally, the newlyweds promise to stay together and love each other no matter what, and have each other’s backs

Wedding Gift Registry

Most guests like to buy the newlywed couple a gift, or do a cash donation. In order to make sure that the gift is something the couple actually wants, they can create a wedding registry. Most of the big online stores have one, for example Amazon Wedding Registry or Macy’s Wedding Registry. The Couple can select the gifts they want, and every time someone buys a gift, it will show on the registry as “already purchased”. This also avoids multiple people buying the same gift. Wedding Gift registry and other connected wedding terms are getting more popular with the raise of e-commerce.

Wedding Party

Wedding party are all the guests of the wedding. They come to the wedding venue to witness the union of the bride and groom (bridegroom), the future newlyweds. The Wedding party consists of the Bridal and Groom parties, and of all the additional guests which are the friends and family of the bride and the groom. 

Wedding Website

With the internet being a part of everyone’s life, couples are now creating websites specifically for their wedding. These websites usually have the basic information about the wedding like location, time and link to the wedding gift registry. If the wedding is a destination wedding, the website also has the recommendations for accomodation in case everyone is responsible for booking their own.

Wishing Well

Wishing well is a box that the guests can use to give money to the newlyweds, instead of physical presents. Cash is a very common gift request. However with online payments and wedding registries being so popular now, wishing well is one of the wedding terms not used anymore, unless we are talking about very traditional wedding.