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Article: The A to Z of Wedding Terms

wedding reception venue with trees and tables

The A to Z of Wedding Terms

If you've ever had an in-depth conversation about a wedding with someone or are researching your wedding, you'll often come across words that may not make sense, or you're unsure of, or maybe you're just curious where they originated in some cases. We decided to sit down and throw around as many wedding words as we could think of and pull it into one extensive mega list of wedding terms for you.

Aisle - The pathway that the bride will walk down at her wedding ceremony.

Aisle Runner - This is essentially like the red carpet in Hollywood, although with weddings, this is traditionally a long white carpet to walk on down the aisle 

Alterations - Bridal alterations are when a bride has her wedding dress altered to fit her perfectly on the wedding day by a seamstress.

Anniversary - Your anniversary is when you'll celebrate the day of your wedding each year afterward. There are a lot of long-standing traditions for the types of gifts you'll give each other for each milestone too.

Alter - In wedding terminology, the alter is where the couple exchange vows at their wedding ceremony.

Arch - These are popular at outdoor weddings. The Arch is an arched structure that the bride and groom stand under to exchange vows.

Attendant - This is simply the name of someone who will be attending your wedding.

Bachelor/Bachelorette - This is a term for an unmarried man or woman respectively, especially in America where it's more common.

Best Man - The best man is an honorary role, chosen by the groom, generally for the man closest to him in life. The best man can be his best friend or a family member. While traditionally this was always a 'male' only role, it's not rare to find a woman as the groom's' best man' in modern weddings.

Bouquet (and bouquet toss) - bouquet is a bunch or pile of flowers that the bride generally holds. The 'tossing of the bouquet' is a tradition that started in England many years ago. Women who attended the wedding ceremony would try to tear off pieces of the brides' dress and bouquet because it was rumored to be good luck if you could do so. To avoid this happening, brides would often toss their bouquets and run to avoid the crowd. Over time, this tradition morphed into becoming an event where the bride tosses her bouquet behind her where all single women group up, and it is believed that the lucky lady that catches it will be the next to be married. 

Bomboniere - 'Bomboniere' is the Italian word for a 'wedding favor'. These are usually gifts given to guests as a thank you for them coming to your wedding.

Boutonniere - These are the flowers a male wears attached to the buttonhole on their suits at weddings and formal occasions like proms/school formals.

Bride - The woman who is to be married at a wedding, the star of the show!

Bridesmaid - Bridesmaids are the person(s) a bride will choose to stand beside her on her wedding day. It's usually close friends or family, someone the bride is close to.

Bridal Party - The bridal party is the collective name for the bride, groom, and anyone who will stand with them at the wedding ceremony, including the bridesmaids and groomsmen, the bride & grooms parents, and the ushers.

Bridal Procession  - The bridal procession is the brides' grand entrance after her bridesmaids have made their way down the aisle.

Bridal Shower - A bridal shower is a party for the bride in the lead-up to her wedding where friends and guests shower her with gifts. Traditionally, this was done to ensure the bride (who would be leaving her parents home) would have all the items and goods she would need for her own home and newlywed life!

Budget - The second most crucial part of a wedding (love is first!) is the budget: this deals with how much you can afford and plan to spend on each aspect of your wedding. The budget is often a stressful task, but it can be made much easier with the proper planning!

Cake Cutting - This is when a bride and groom cut their wedding cake together during the wedding reception.

Celebrant - The celebrant is the individual that officiates the marriage at a wedding ceremony and signs the marriage certificates.

Centerpiece - The centerpiece is the floral arrangements (or similar decor) placed in the center of the tables at the wedding reception to help convey the brides' theme. While florals are traditional, brides will also have their twist on this, such as candles or succulents, for example.

Ceremony - A wedding ceremony is the official and legal binding of a couple. Religious weddings will often have the ceremony take place at a church or chapel. In contrast, other and non-religious weddings can occur at various places, from halls to beaches to an endless list of sites that serve as a meaningful location for the couple.

wedding ceremony chapel

Chapel - Wedding chapels are rooms where marriages can be carried out and are usually religious-themed, although not always. One place in the world known for having a large volume of wedding chapels is Las Vegas in America.

Corsage - A corsage is one flower (or sometimes a small number of flowers) attached to the front of a bride's dress or tied around her wrist. Corsages are also commonly found at proms and high school formals.

Dais - A dais is a raised platform or podium that the couple sits on.

Destination Wedding - Destination weddings are essentially weddings that happen away from where the bride and groom live. Generally, weddings outside the country or state the bride resides in are considered destination weddings, and these happen all over the world. 

Dowry - A dowry is when the bride's family pays a fee or gives gifts to her husband or family in return for marrying her. While less common in today's western society, they still exist in some parts of the world.

Engagement Photos - It's become quite the tradition in the modern age of weddings to have engagement photos taken; they may often even be a part of your overall wedding photography package. Engagement photos are also a good practice run for couples before the wedding day to get used to having a camera around and acting naturally, so it doesn't impact their wedding day!

Father of The Bride - This one is pretty obvious, but this refers to the brides' father who's role at the wedding is to escort his daughter, the bride, down the aisle and 'to give her away' (this is a tradition that is rarely literal in modern society) to the groom. It traditionally signals the father handing over the responsibility of being the 'man' in the brides' life.

Favors (a.k.a 'wedding favors' or Bomboniere) - As listed above,' Bomboniere' is the Italian word for a 'wedding favor.' These are usually gifts given to guests as a thank you for them coming to your wedding to help you celebrate your special day. 

Fiancé/Fiancée - You would be among a vast group of people who often wondered one (or both) of two things; 'is it fiancé or fiancée' or 'what's the difference between the two?' - We wanted to give you the answer to that. A fiancé with one 'e' is a man who is engaged to be married, while a fiancée with two e's is a woman engaged to be married.

First Dance - The first dance usually happens after the cake cutting and speeches: it's the bride and groom starting a night of celebration on the dance floor by having their first dance as husband and wife.

First Look - The 'first look' is traditionally known as the moment the bride and groom see each other for the first time on their wedding day.

Florist - A florist is the wedding vendor, brand, company, or individual that provides all of the flowers and floral arrangements for the wedding. A florist's job includes the things mentioned above, such as the bouquet, boutonniere, and corsages.

Flower Girl - The flower girl is a responsibility generally given to a child, traditionally a girl, to start the bridal procession by dropping flowers along the aisle before the bride walking down the aisle at her wedding.

Gown - A gown, or wedding gown, is a dress the bride wears to her wedding.

Gift Registry - A gift registry is essentially a list, created by the bride and groom, for the gifts given to them by those that attend their wedding. It allows the bride and groom to give people ideas so that they're buying presents the bride and groom can use or may need in their life as a newlywed couple.

Groom - The groom is the man, or husband, in a marriage ceremony.

Guest List - This is simply the list of all the guests who will be attending the wedding.

HandFasting - If a couple at a wedding chooses to include handfasting into their wedding day, it refers to the couple standing face to face and having one or both of their hands tied to their partners' hands.

Hen's Night - A hen's night is commonly known as the brides' last party before the wedding. Traditionally, it's a women-only event or party for the bride and her friends before the wedding.

Honeymoon - The honeymoon is a holiday the newlywed bride & groom take after their wedding. Generally, it happens directly after the wedding, but some couples are so busy they may choose to have it months or even a year later, depending on their lives at the time.

Invitations - Wedding invitations are stationary that the bride will have made up (or sometimes make herself!) to invite her guests, friends, and family along to her wedding day.

Knot (tie the knot) - Tying the knot is a saying that dates back to the 1200s or possibly earlier. It stems from the idea or tradition of handfasting at a wedding ceremony but has become a more loosely used way of saying 'getting married' in today's world.

Maid of Honour/Matron of Honour - The maid of honor, sometimes abbreviated as 'M.O.H.,' is the closest friend or family member to the bride among her bridesmaids. Traditionally speaking, maids of honor (or Matron of Honour if she's married) generally have a few roles within the wedding itself.

bride and groom cutting wedding cake under tree

Matrimony - Matrimony, by definition, is the state of being married. It's the same as 'marriage,' and people tend to use the word marriage more often in today's world.

Officiant - The officiant at a wedding is the individual that carries out the wedding. It may be a priest or church person in religious weddings, but in non-religious weddings, it can be a civil celebrant, judge, or justice of the peace. The primary responsibility of a wedding officiant is to witness the consent of brides & grooms for the wedding license and legally validate a marriage.

Page Boy - The page boy is a child, traditionally a boy, who follows the bride down the aisle with the primary role of carrying the brides' train.

Photographer - Weddings are a memorable time, something every bride will remember for life. An excellent way to have visual reminders of this is to have a wedding photographer take photos on the day.

Reception - The wedding reception is the celebration after the ceremony. It usually consists of things like a meal, speeches, the first dance, and other similar activities.

Registry - A bridal registry, also known as a wedding registry, is essentially a list the couple creates for their guests to buy gifts the couple will use.

Ring Bearer - The ring bearer is a child (Traditionally a boy) that carries the soon-to-be-wed couples' rings down the aisle and presents them to the couple during the exchanging of rings.

R.S.V.P. - If you're sending out RSVP cards to your wedding guests, you wouldn't be alone in wondering what RSVP means or where it originated. RSVP is French in origin, it stands for 'répondez, s'il vous plaît' which, translated to English, means 'Respond if you please’.

Seating Plan - The seating plan is a part of the wedding stationery. It's a plan that allows couples to layout and choose where each guest sits and what table they're placed at.

Send Off - The send-off is your glorious exit on your wedding day. These can sometimes be accompanied by traditions such as showering the bride and groom with petals from flowers or lighting sparklers, among other options.

Table Plan - This is simply a plan that lets each guest know which table they'll be sitting at during the wedding reception.

Train - The train is the length of the wedding dress that trails behind the bride as she walks down the aisle. Traditionally, a page boy helps to carry down the aisle.

Trousseau - This is a less common word but still one you'll see pop up from time to time. Trousseau translates to 'The clothes, linen and other belongings collected by a bride for her marriage.’

Veil - Veils are a hair or face covering a bride wears at her wedding. Initially intended for two reasons, the first is the ward off evil spirits from the bride because she was considered 'vulnerable to enchantment' in Roman times. Secondly, it was a way to hide the bride from the groom on their marriage day during arranged marriages so he wouldn't have time to back out. In today's world, they're more of a tradition that has become a fashionable accessory to a wedding gown.

Venue - The venue is the location the wedding occurs. Sometimes both the ceremony and reception will be at the exact location or 'venue,' but some brides may have two separate venues, one for each.

Videographer - The videographer is an individual you might hire to video your wedding so that you'll have footage later in life to look back on the memories you've made.

Vows - The vows that the couple exchanges on their wedding day essentially represent a verbal pledge between the couple of the love they have promised each other for the rest of their lives. Some people follow very traditional routes with their vows, while others will make it funny, cute, or any other way they choose to showcase their deep love for their partner.

Wedding Rings/Wedding Bands - Wedding rings are a symbol of infinite & undying love exchanged between a bride & groom at their wedding.

 As always, if we've missed any, please let us know in the comments below so we can add more to the list for any future brides! We love hearing feedback, especially when it can help out our community!


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