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Common wedding terminology used throughout the wedding planning process; wedding terms defined

Today, we’re rounding up and defining some of the most common wedding terminology used that you’re bound to hear throughout the wedding planning process! As Wedding Coordinators, we often get confused looks when we ask clients if they plan on doing a ”first look,” if they want to use “chargers” as a part of their place settings, and so on. It’s always helpful to know some of these basic terms before you start meeting with vendors, and we’re here to help!

Common wedding terminology used throughout the wedding planning process; wedding terms defined

Banquet Event Order (BEO) – A document typically created by a caterer or venue that outlines the details of your event. It serves as a guideline for them to execute and communicate logistics to all necessary team members.

Boutonniere – Small florals (sometimes even just one flower) worn by male members of the wedding party on their lapels.

Cake Cutting Fee – A fee that a caterer may charge by the slice to cut your cake.

Charger – a large decorative plate that’s placed under a dinner plate to bring color, texture and elegance to the table.

Color Palette – A range of colors – usually two or three – used in the wedding décor.

Corkage Fee – A fee that a caterer may charge just to open bottles during your reception if you provided them yourselves.

Day of Wedding Coordinator (DOC) – Every Day of Wedding Coordinator is a little different – some even classify themselves as Month of Wedding Coordinator – but typically a DOC focuses solely on pulling all the final details and logistics together towards the end of the wedding planning process, and ultimately executes everything for the bride and groom on the day of their wedding.

Escort Cards – Informs a guest which table they are to sit at.

First Look – A moment typically staged by a wedding photographer for the bride and groom to see each other prior to the ceremony.

Formal Exit – An orchestrated formality where the bride and groom exit either the ceremony and/or reception through a group of their guests. Oftentimes, you’ll see guests blowing bubbles, tossing confetti, waving ribbon wands or even creating a pathway with sparklers at the end of the night.

Full Service Wedding Planner – Someone that manages much more than just the day of the wedding. They can manage everything from the budget, vendor and venue site selections, and attending tastings to creating a design concept, selecting details and décor to use, and even managing your invitations and guest list. They then ultimately execute everything for the bride and groom on their wedding day!

Head Table – The table at which the bride and groom sit with their wedding party, family members and/or close friends! Traditionally the bride and groom sit at the head of the table with their Maid of Honor and Best Man sitting next to them.

Letterpress – A vintage-style printing technique giving words a grooved texture

Mercury Glass – A term for silvered glass, which is glass that has been blown double walled, then silvered between the layers with a liquid silvering solution and sealed. You can oftentimes find mercury glass vases or votives in silvers, golds, and even rose gold.

Officiant – The person who performs the marriage ceremony.

Overlay – A decorative linen placed on top of the underlay used for contrast in color or texture.

Place Cards – Designates a guest’s specific seat to sit in at a table.

Common wedding terminology used throughout the wedding planning process; wedding terms defined

Prelude – Background music played as guests arrive prior to the ceremony beginning.

Processional – Music played as the families, wedding party and bride walk down the aisle.

Recessional – Music played at the end of the ceremony as the bride and groom exit.

Save-The-Dates – Announcements sent out prior to the wedding to alert guests to keep the wedding date free.

Seating Chart – An alternative to escort cards that informs a guest which table they are to sit at.

Sheet Cake – Cake served to guests in lieu of or in addition to the wedding cake, which may not be large enough to serve to everyone.

Signature Cocktail – A unique or original cocktail chosen by the bride and groom specifically for the wedding. They are oftentimes created or designed to represent a specific theme or color.

Stationery Suite – Describes all of the wedding stationery as a whole including save-the-dates, invitations, rsvp cards, and even additional reception paper goods such as menus and escort cards.

Sweetheart Table – A small table set up just for the bride and groom at the wedding reception.

Table Numbers – Indicates where guests are to sit at the reception and corresponds with their escort card. Table numbers are often framed, inserted in a stand of some sort, laser cut, or even as simple as tented cardstock.

Tablescape – More than just centerpieces, a tablescape describes the overall look that will be achieved for the entire table, as well as its surroundings. Tablescapes are designed to complement not only other items on the table, but also other elements of the space and can set the mood for the entire event.

Unity Ceremony – An element of a ceremony to symbolize the bride and groom becoming one. Unity ceremonies do not necessarily have to be religious and can range from unity candle ceremonies and sand ceremonies, to washing hands, planting a tree or even reading letters to each other.

Venue Coordinator – An employee of the wedding reception venue that acts as a liaison between the bride and groom and the venue’s operations team. Every venue’s Coordinator’s roles may vary, but oftentimes their focus is solely to deliver their contracted services and oversee the building as a whole.

Votive Candles – A small candle – usually about 2 inches high – used in the décor to create ambiance throughout a wedding reception. Votives are often placed on guest, cake, cocktail and even welcome tables.


Images by Ivan & Louise