So many decisions have to be made when you’re planning your wedding and it can be very difficult to make them if you don’t understand the language used in the wedding industry.  It can make communication difficult with your suppliers if you can’t find the words to describe what you want and equally to not understand what they are explaining to you. 

As wedding suppliers, we know that some of the terminology we use isn’t thrown about in every day conversations so don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t understand what something means. 

I’ve put together this glossary guide to help you understand common terms we use and that you might come across in your wedding planning:

Aisle Runner – A long piece of fabric positioned in the centre or main aisle of the wedding ceremony for you to walk down the aisle on.

All-inclusive Wedding Package – Offered by some venues, these typically include an arrival drink, ceremony room hire, canapes and fizz for drinks reception, 3 course sit down meal with fizz for the toast, evening reception room hire, in house DJ and cold evening buffet.  Make sure to check with your venue as to what is actually included, different venues might offer different options or may not offer this is as a package.

BEO – A BEO, or Banquet Event Order is an agreement from your venue that includes details on any audio/visual, food and beverage and venue setup (tables, chairs, linens) the venue will be providing. It also outlines the costs, staffing requirements and taxes/VAT.

Boutonniere/Buttonhole – A small spray of flowers, or bud pinned to the lapel of a jacket, typically worn by a groom, groomsmen, father-of-the-bride, and/or father-of-the-groom.

Buffet-Style – A more informal dinner service where guests choose what they want to eat from a selection of different options laid out.

Bustle – When the brides train is secured with buttons/hooks under (sometimes over) her skirt to avoid it dragging on the floor.  This is usually done for the reception or first dance.

Cake Cutting – An old wedding tradition where the couple cut into the cake together and share a small bite symbolizing commitment.

Canape – Typically small piece of bread or pastry with a savoury topping, served during the drinks reception.

Cash Bar – A bar set up where guests pay for drinks themselves.

Ceremony Rehearsal – A run through of the wedding ceremony with all those involved in the wedding (couple, best man, bridesmaids etc).  This usually happens the day before the wedding.

Chargers – Chargers are large, decorative plates that are placed underneath a dinner plate. They add colour, depth, and/or dimension to place settings. As they are decorative only, they come in a variety of materials ranging from glass to plastic. 

Clear Down/Load Out/Tear Down/Strike – These terms all mean to take down equipment such as a stage or dancefloor, and clear away items such as tables, chairs, flower and décor for example, that have been set up for your wedding.  Depending on the time you need to vacate your venue, this happens immediately after your wedding has ended or the next day, depending on what you have agreed with your venue.

Corkage (or corkage fee) – A fee often charged by venues or caterers if you bring your own alcohol, usually charged per bottle. 

Draping – Lengths of fabric that are draped from the ceilings or down walls, and are often used to decorate marquee spaces.  They can also be used as décor for indoor venues.

Drinks Reception – The drinks reception takes place straight after the ceremony and usually lasts around an hour and a half.  Guests can mingle and enjoy a drink and canapes while the photographs are taken.

Dry Hire – ‘Dry hire’ means you are provided with only the venue shell and no additional features.  You’ll have to hire in all the chairs, tables, cutlery, linens and so on.  Examples of dry hire venues are marquees, tipis, and some indoor spaces operate on a dry hire basis too. 

Emergency Bridal Kit – An “emergency bridal kit” for the couple to utilize on their wedding day, usually includes items such as deodorant, plasters, tissues etc.

Escort Cards – Usually displayed near the entrance to the wedding reception, each card has the guest name and table number/table name of where they will be seated for dinner.  They can be used instead of a table plan to show guests where they will be seated. 

Exclusive Use – The hire of an entire venue, it’s facilities and staff , exclusively for your use for a predetermined period of time. It also means no other events will take place during that period.

Favours: Small tokens of thanks for all wedding guests, these are often edible.  Charity donations with each guest receiving a charity pin as a favour are a popular choice also.

First Dance – This is the first dance shared between the couple that then opens the dance floor for the rest of the guests.

First Look – A first look is when a couple see each other for the first time before the wedding ceremony.It’s an opportunity for a private moment between the couple before they say ‘I do’, and is a beautiful moment that your photographer can capture. 

Floor Plan – A bird’s eye view of how each space should be set up.

Food Station – A style of dinner service consisting of multiple buffets set up at stations throughout the wedding reception. Food stations allow wedding guests to mingle with others and sample a variety of menu items.

Get-In/Load In – This refers to the specified time for your suppliers to arrive and access your venue/s for any set up before guests arrive. 

Gobo – A gobo is a piece of acrylic or metal that is placed in front of a spot light to project a message or pattern, such as a monogram onto walls, ceilings and floors. 

In-house Caterer – Caterers based at the venue; it is sometimes a condition that you need to use their caterers in order to use the venue.

Luminaria – A decorative lantern made from a paper bag, and weighted with sand with a lit candle inside, often used to line a driveway or the exterior of a venue.

Master of Ceremonies (or Toastmaster) – A person appointed to direct proceedings throughout the wedding reception. He or she will announce the entrance of the couple into the wedding reception and initiate applause, introduce the speakers during the speeches and often announce the cutting of the cake.

Monogram – The combined first initials of the couple into a logo that can be used on wedding stationery and gobos.

Menu Tasting – Offered by some venues and caterers for the couple to sample different dishes in order to decide which ones they would like served at their wedding.  Some venues and caterers charge an additional fee for this.

Non-exclusive Use – Allows you private use of your chosen function space only, other events could be taking place in other areas of the venue so you don’t have the venue all to yourself.

Open Bar – A bar serving your choice of alcohol such as beer, wine, spirits and so on, at no charge to the guests.

Place Cards – Small cards with the name of the guest that is placed on their place setting for the reception. 

Place setting – The individual setting for each person at the table that includes cutlery, plateware and glassware.

Plated Dinner (also known as sit down dinner) – A plated dinner is a formal dinner service that usually involves 2 or more courses, served by wait staff to guests at their assigned seat and table.

Poseur Table – Tall, round cocktail tables that guests can stand at/gather around, mostly used during drinks receptions and evening receptions.

Pipe & Drape – Light-weight aluminium tubing that is adjustable that can provide a support frame for draping panels.   Pipe and drape is used to divide, hide, and/or decorate a space temporarily.

Processional – The music played for the entrance of the bride and bridal party.

Rain Plan (or Plan B) – A rain plan is created in case the weather turns for an outdoor wedding ceremony or reception.

Reception – The Reception takes place after the Ceremony and celebrates the couple being officially married.

Recessional – The music that plays as the ceremony ends and the newly-weds and bridal party walk out to.

Room Block – A group of rooms set aside and exclusively reserved for your guests.  Some hotels may require a minimum number of rooms to hold a room block.

Save-the-Date – Announcement cards that are sent out, usually up to 12 months in advance, to let guests know of your wedding date.   These are sent out before the actual wedding invitations.

Shot List – A list of the formal photos you would like your photographer to take that is provided ahead of the wedding day.

Signature Cocktail – A unique or original drink that expresses the couple – they can be created to represent a theme, colour or mix of the couples’ favourite drink.

Stationery Suite – All your designed paper goods for the wedding day, usually includes save-the-date, invitation, outer and inner envelopes, response card, and on-the day stationery such as wedding program/order of service, menus, place cards, table plan.

Sweetheart Table – A small table set up just the couple to sit at during the reception.

Tablescape – A tablescape is the completed table design for your wedding. This can include linens, place settings, florals, centrepieces, candles, and so on.

Table Numbers/Names – Indicates where guests are to sit at the reception dinner and corresponds with their escort card or the table plan.

Table Plan – An overview of each table to show guests where they will be sitting for the reception dinner.

Tray Service – Drinks and/or canapes served by wait staff to guests, usually during the drinks reception.

Top Table (or Head Table) – Where the wedding party sit to eat their meal, usually a long banqueting style table.

Timeline – A document used by wedding suppliers to make sure every detail is accounted for. A wedding day timeline usually includes the time and location of all events happening that day and is produced by your Wedding Planner (if you are using one).

Turnaround – If you are using the same space for your ceremony and reception, the venue will require time to change the room and reset it to fit your requirements.  This is known as turnaround. 

Up-lighting – Set around the perimeter of a room, they are small lights that are placed on the floor with their beam projecting upwards, they can be set to any colour.   

Vendor – Another word for a supplier

Venue Coordinator/Wedding Co-ordinator – A venue or wedding co-ordinator works for the venue, not directly for you, as opposed to an independent wedding planner hired by a couple.  They’ll act as a liaison between you and the venue’s operations team, which means they’ll show you the venue, help co-ordinate any services offered on-site and be your point of contact in the lead up to your wedding.  

Wedding Breakfast – Not actually breakfast, it’s the traditional name for your first meal as a married couple. 

You can download this handy glossary as a PDF to keep with you.

To find out how I can support you during your wedding planning, discover my services here.

Image credits: Eva Tarnok | BridalPulse | Neli Prahova Photography