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The Guide to Common Wedding Terminology

We’ve all been there. You sit down to have a productive chat with your florist, caterer, or dress consultant to discuss your ideal purple bouquets, that loaded baked potato bar you've always dreamed of, or that stunning lace bridal gown you saw in a magazine. All of a sudden, what you thought would be a simple, fun conversation with your wedding vendors has turned into a whirlwind of foreign wedding terminology being thrown at you like gibberish! We know that not everyone is a wedding planner and may not be familiar with this terminology! You can walk into your next appointment feeling confident and prepared for any conversation with vendors after reading this guide.

Wedding terminology that every bride and groom should know.

Wedding Catering Terms

Corkage Fee – If you want to pop bottles, it’s going to cost you! Unless provided by your caterer, many venues and caterers charge an opening fee per bottle of alcohol that you bring. The price can range from $5-$10 per bottle.

Crudités – A simple appetizer of raw vegetables that are cut up and served with dip. Seriously? What’s wrong with calling it “veggies and dip”?

Canapé – A fancy term for a bite-size appetizer served on a small flat piece of bread, cracker, or vegetable. Bruschetta, blini’s, and wheat thins with cheez-whiz are among some of our favorites.

Buttercream –Made of butter, sugar, and milk, its soft and creamy texture makes it the most common (and delicious!) icing for wedding desserts.

Fondant – Because of its firm texture, this icing creates a smooth finish that is perfect if you’re looking for an elegant, detail-oriented cake design.

Cocktail Hour - A social period between your ceremony and reception where guests can relax and mingle before the actual partying begins! Drinks and light appetizers are often involved.

Florist Terms - The Brides Guide to Basic Wedding TerminologyCatering Terms - The Brides Guide to Basic Wedding Terminology

Photos by: Ray and Kelly Photography

Wedding Florist Lingo

Filler –Flowers and foliage used to fill bouquets and floral arrangements. Think baby’s breath, wax flowers, and anything your pet likes to munch on in your Valentine’s Day bouquets!

Pomander – A round bouquet of flowers that is carried by a ribbon handle. Great for a flower girl who can’t quite get the whole flower-throwing thing just right.

Corsage – A tiny flower arrangement usually worn by immediate female relatives of the bride and groom. These can be pinned to a dress or worn on the wrist.

Boutonniere – A tiny flower arrangement usually worn by the groom, groomsmen, ushers, and immediate male relatives of the bride and groom, and worn on the jacket’s left lapel.

Wedding Music Terms

Prelude – The soft music played during the ceremony as guests arrive and are seated. A great way to include your piano-playing great aunt or 13-year-old violinist cousin!

Processional – The romantic music played as the bridal party (including the bride) walk down the aisle.

Recessional – The upbeat and joyous “We just got married!” music played as the bride and groom exit from the ceremony as husband and wife.

Kennedy Blue bridal gown Grace is the perfect A-line shape. | The Brides Guide to Basic Wedding TerminologyKennedy Blue bridal gown Nicole has a gorgeous lace illusion neckline. | The Brides Guide to Basic Wedding Terminology

Kennedy Blue Bridal Gown Grace (left) is a perfect A-line and Nicole (right) has an illusion neckline.

Wedding Dress Styles and Terms

A-Line – The most universally flattering silhouette. Slim through the bodice, it gradually flares out from the natural waist forming a soft “A” shape.

Alterations - Also known as "tailoring". Alterations are adjustments made to a dress by a seamstress to ensure that it fits custom to your body. Since bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses are not typically custom-made, alterations are almost always necessary to ensure a perfect fit.

Ball Gown – The most formal and traditional silhouette, the ball gown is fitted through the bodice and dramatically flares away from the body into a full skirt. (Check out this full A-line if you're not sure about a ball gown!)

Fit-and-Flare – Fitted throughout the bodice and hips, the skirt softly flares out just below the hip line.

Mermaid – Tightly hugging the torso and hips, the mermaid skirt dramatically flares out from the knee or just below it.

Empire – A high-waisted style that cinches just below the bust line. A great style for pregnant women or those with curvy figures.

Sheath – With very little structure, the sheath silhouette is a long and narrow, close-to-the-body style meant to loosely show off those curves!

Bateau or Boat Neck – A wide, modest neckline that runs horizontally across the collarbone from shoulder to shoulder. Think classic Audrey Hepburn style!

Illusion Neckline - Made of tulle, net, or lace, it's a panel of sheer fabric that's attached to the bodice and extends to the collar. This is great for the girl who wants top coverage, but also a sweetheart neckline!

Convertible Dress - A convertible dress can be worn multiple ways. It may have long panels of fabric attached to the bodice that can be used to create sleeves or straps. It may include other features that can be worn multiple ways such as cap sleeves, ruffles, or a detachable skirt.

Sheet Lace - Sheet lace is a soft, delicate type of lace often seen on bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses. Sheet lace typically lays over another fabric and is patterned consistently. 

Embroidered Lace - Embroidery is a detailed stitching pattern that is bolder and more patterned than sheet lace. 

Ruching - When fabric is gathered in certain areas of the gown to create a rippled pattern.

Gusset - A diamond or triangle piece of fabric that is added to the side of the gown in the event that the dress is too small, a bridesmaid is pregnant, etc. 

Bustle – Hooked, looped, or buttoned, the bustle is used to pull up and shorten the train on a wedding gown. This ensures the safety of you and your guests as you Cha Cha Slide across on the dance floor!

Blusher – A traditional, short, single layer veil worn over the face. It’s flipped back once the bride reaches the altar or right before the big first kiss!

Do you have something to add to our brides guide or wedding terminology? Leave a comment below with words or phrases that you think other soon-to-be brides might need to know!

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Leave a comment

Mya Murphy
June 14, 2020 08:44

I learned a lot!! Thank you!!

June 14, 2020 08:44

Great place for terms, I didn’t even know about ruching and gusset.

May 25, 2020 09:12

Very helpful! The things no one knows but no one wants to ask!

Mariah Letourneau
April 24, 2020 16:13

Very helpful!!!

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