The A-Z of Wedding Terminology
From garters to wedding breakfasts, and micro-weddings to exchanging vows, marriage is steeped in pomp and ceremony, which at times can be a lot to get your head around.
From understanding etiquette to clarifying commonly used terms, here’s an A-Z list of helpful wedding terms.
Ultimate A-Z of Wedding Terms & Words
A comprehensive list of common wedding terms, lingo and expressions you may hear or need to know.
Tradition has it that engagements are announced via a ‘public statement of an intent to marry’ in a local or national newspaper’s announcement section. However, for most people – a simple text message, phone call, or even post on social media will suffice.
The long narrow pathway you walk down, with rows of seats on either side called pews if in a place of worship such as a church.
Wedding Breakfast – This one is certain to throw you off scent, because a wedding breakfast is actually the main meal and definitely not held at breakfast time. Traditionally a three-course meal is served early evening.
A close friend or brother to the groom, they may organise the stag do, be in charge of the wedding rings and do a speech on the day of the wedding.
“Black Tie” is the most formal of wedding dress code, this means for a wedding men would wear a black tuxedo and black tie for the event.
Bonbonniere is an Italian party favor given out to guests on special occasions such as weddings.
The bridal party usually consists of the Maid of Honor, Bridesmaids, the Best Man, Groomsmen, the Ring Bearer, and the Flower Girl.
Small food selections usually brought round on trays, a little nibble that can be enjoyed with a drink after the ceremony.
One of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether to have a church or non-religious ceremony. This will determine where you can host your wedding and the running order of the day. Today in the UK, religious ceremonies account for approximately 20% of unions.
A tradition that dates back to 17th century Europe, the first dance takes place after the wedding breakfast but before the evening’s celebrations. It is marked by the newlyweds taking to the dance floor for a romantic dance.
A wedding that takes place abroad and not in your home country, where you and your guests go abroad to celebrate your wedding.
How long should an engagement last? This varies from couple-to-couple, however, a typical couple will spend 20 months engaged before their big day.
To elope it is about running away as a couple and doing it in secret, about just the two of you without telling family or friends. An intimate and private ceremony that is low key and about the two of you.
Arranging a band or DJ, ceremony music, to dancers and singers.
Favours are little souvenirs that you give your guests as a special thank you at the end of the night. This could be chocolates or sweet, jam or a donation to charity.
Deciding your budget early on is one of the most important parts of wedding planning. Knowing this will allow you to make bookings and search venues without disappointment. Be prepared – an average wedding costs between £15,000 – £25,000.
A young member of the wedding party, the flower girl traditional walks before the bride down the aisle, sprinkling flower petals to line the way.
A chance for the couple to see each other before the wedding itself and for the other half to see the bride in her dress, these can make great photos and a popular thing to do now.
A bride is said to wear a garter around her leg, that the husband later removes and tosses to the single men. It’s a sign of good luck, apparently…
A book that your guests can sign and leave a message in on your wedding day, a nice way to hear from your guests and read there small message of love once the wedding day is over, something to treasure.
It’s all about the hashtag, set up a hashtag for your guests to use when posting on social media so you can look back and see all their posts and photos.
This is the main wedding table at the reception where the bride and groom sit in the middle surrounded by parents or key members of the wedding party.
Perhaps the best part of a wedding is the honeymoon. Ever wondered why it’s called so? Well, it comes from the Scandinavian practice of drinking mead, or honey, during the first married month to improve the likelihood of conception!
Traditionally, invites are sent six weeks before the big day – but anything up to six months is normal. It is good practice to send an R.S.V.P card for guests to complete, and you can also add gift registry details too. Prior to this, you may want to send a ‘save the date’ to guests.
Justice of the Peace
For couples looking for a non-religious ceremony, the Justice of the Peace is an official who is able to perform civil ceremonies, such as a marriage.
Weddings are full of traditions, including the ‘first kiss’. During a ceremony the groom is invited to kiss the bride only once vows are exchanged.
If you are having children at the wedding then make sure they are considered, a kids table, kids area, games and toys to keep them entertained through the day.
Kate Moss, Priyanka Chopra, Nicky Hilton – the list of celebrities that wore Christian Louboutin shoes on their wedding day is endless. The iconic red-sole shoe has become a staple in wedding fashion circles.
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.
Scaled-back weddings are the big trend, as couples increasingly look for intimate and meaningful celebrations that allow affordable luxe. A micro-wedding is usually no more than 50 guests.
If you’re looking to get your passport changed before your honeymoon, keep in mind that you can only apply to change the name on your passport three months prior to your wedding day. As a result your old passport is cancelled and the new one is ‘post-dated’ from the day of your ceremony. This means you won’t be able to use it until you’re married.
A wedding officiant has a license from the government to perform ceremonies.
Flowing drinks are a big part of a wedding ceremony. An ‘open bar’ is where you cover the cost of all drinks for the entire night. Some couples do this with a ‘bar limit’ set as £500 or £1,000 for example. Another option is an ‘honesty bar’, where drinks are freely available, but guests are encouraged to contribute by leaving money in a pot.
A wedding planner will coordinate all the details of your big day, which can be extremely helpful in relieving some of the administration. There are numerous benefits in hiring a wedding planner.
Take time on the day to have a quiet moment with you partner, a chance to take breath and enjoy the moment, just the 2 of you away from the excitement and engird of the wedding guests.
In religious ceremonies, it’s common to host a rehearsal the day before the wedding. This involves the bride and groom and sometimes the best man, chief bridesmaid and parents. It’s a small non-dressy occasion, and opportunity to go through the running order. This can also take many couples by surprise as an emotional experience too. Although not everyone choses to, some couples follow this with a small rehearsal dinner for close friends and family.
Witty, touching and entertaining, but never offensive – wedding speeches are one of the most anticipated events of the day. The running order traditionally starts with the father of the bride, the groom, the best man and then other toasts. However, in today’s modern world, many bridesmaids and mothers also pay homage too.
A fancy way of describing table decorations and how they will look and be styled. Your place settings, table flowers and centrepieces all make up your “tablescape”.
Thank you cards
It is both polite and courteous to send thank you cards to guests once back from your honeymoon – certainly no longer than three months. These should be handwritten, with a personal message thanking them for attending and for any gifts.
Having an unplugged weddings means asking guests to not take photos and put their phones away during the ceremony, to be present, you have a wedding photographer, there is no need to take photos and please just enjoy the moment.
Although it’s said to be ‘lucky’ if it rains on your wedding day, you’ll see want to be prepared, so invest in plenty of umbrellas for guests.
The wedding venue is the glue that holds your day together. Whether you choose to have a ceremony and celebration in the same location or space it out, this will need plenty of research, co-ordination and early booking.
You may have a wedding photographer, but a videographer is solely there to film, relive the whole ceremony and a beautiful film to enjoy once your wedding is over that you can watch over and over again for years to come.
On your big day, tradition dictates that the best man has custody of both wedding rings.
Consider a wedding panner to help you with your venue, arranging suppliers or helping you on the day, they are there for you.
If you are getting married abroad then make sure you take into account the heat and sunshine, consider parasols, fans and water for guests.
The day is about you and your partner, that is the most important thing, remember and remind yourself of this.
Yes to the dress
It’s a rite of passage that all brides-to-be must watch chick-flicks in the run up to the big day. Where better place to start than the breakout hit ‘Say Yes to the Dress’
Relax, enjoy the build up and enjoy the day, everything is taken care of, relax and enjoy it!
And finally, what would a wedding day be without throwing the bouquet! This typically happens early evening, after all formalities are over and involves all the single ladies. It’s a running joke that this is when you see some of the most zealous and over-excited guests, but it’s just a bit of fun.