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Glossary of Wedding Terms for Wedding Planners

Wedding Planner Education

Wedding terminology provides the beginning of a strong foundation as a wedding planner.  Today I am sharing the most commonly used wedding terms I use and hear in my wedding planning business.

Glossary of Wedding Terms for Wedding Planners

a la carte – A listing that can be ordered as separate items, rather than part of a set meal or package.

Action Station – Any meal station that needs some sort of action (cooking, mixing, adding toppings, etc).  A carving station is an example of an action station.  A chef attends the station and cuts pieces of meat to the guests liking.

Attrition – The difference between the actual number of sleeping rooms picked-up and the number agreed to in the terms of the facility’s contract.  

Attrition Clause – The portion of the contract that specifies damages if attrition occurs.

Audiovisual – A/V.  Equipment, materials, and teaching aids used in sound and visual presentations, such as television monitors, video, sound equipment, etc.

Banquet Table – Usually refers to a rectangle table.  These rectangle banquet tables come in three sizes: 4 ft, 6 ft, and 8 ft lengths.  They are the standard 30 inches in height.

Black Tie – Required dress: Formal evening dress for women and a tux for men.  

Black Tie Optional – Men can wear a tuxedo or dark business suit; for women a long, formal gown or a shorter, elegant dress or suit. 

Boutonniere – Small florals worn by male members of the wedding party on their lapel.  

Bustle – Refers to the sewing process of transitioning a wedding gown to function as if it has no train.  

By the Bottle – Liquor served and charged for by the full bottle. 

By the Drink – Liquor served and charged for by the number of drinks served.

By the Person – A fixed price per attendee; covers all consumption of food and beverage at a function, within a given time frame.

Cake Cutting Fee – A fee charged by the caterer or venue to cut the wedding cake and groom’s cake.  

Cash Bar – Bar set up where guests pay for drinks individually.  I personally think this is never a good idea.

Chafing Dish – Used to warm or cook food, it consists of a container with a heat source directly beneath it, which can come from a candle or solid fuel.  There’s often a larger dish that is used as a water basin into which the dish containing the food is placed to prevent food from burning.  

Charger – Large plates used at full course dinners as a base plate or platter to dress up the event.

Cocktail Attire – Men should wear nothing less formal than a blazer and slacks; for women, dressy pantsuits or short, dressier dresses.

Cocktail Hour – The interval before the evening meal during which cocktails are served.  Sometimes hors d’Oeuvres are served as well.  

Cocktail/Pub Table – Small, round table, 15-30 inches in diameter used for cocktail type parties.  They can be up to 42 inches in height and are usually used for standing at only, although some add bar height chairs around them.

Color Palette – A range of colors used in the wedding decor (usually two-three).

Corkage Fee – The charge placed on beer, liquor, and wine brought into the facility but purchased elsewhere.  

Corsage – A spray of flowers worn pinned to a woman’s clothes.  Or it can be a wrist corsage worn as a bracelet.  

Cut off Date – Designated date when the facility will release a block of sleeping rooms to the general public.  The date is typically three to four weeks before the event.

Day of Coordinator – Executes everything for the bride and groom on the wedding day.  A day of coordinator usually takes over a month before the wedding and pulls all the final details and logistics together.  

Digital Printing – Flat printing.  It yields similar, but higher quality results to what you might achieve from your at-home printer.  

Embossing – The process of creating either raised or recessed images and designs in paper or stationery.  

Engagement Party – An engagement party is held to celebrate a couple’s recent engagement and to allow wedding guests the chance to get to know each other.  

Engraving – A process in which a plate is etched with your invitation wording and is then pressed into the paper, leaving only the letters slightly raised.  

Entree – The main course of a meal.

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

ETA – Estimated time of arrival.

ETD – Estimated time of departure.

ETS – Estimated time of service.

Family Style – Platters and bowls of food are set on the dining tables, from which guests serve themselves.  Usually involves the guests passing the containers to each other.  

Filler – Lighter floral and foliage that fills gaps between your larger blooms.  Usually more cost effective. 

Finger Food – Food at a reception that does not require a knife, fork or spoon. 

First Look – A private moment between the bride and groom before the ceremony usually staged by the photographer.

Fixed Expense – Expense incurred regardless of the number of event attendees.

Floor Plan – Schematic drawing of a room that’s drawn to scale.

FOB – Father of the bride.

Foil Stamping – A technique in which a copper plate is used to push gold, silver, or even colored metallic foils into the paper to make an impression; the foil also creates a shiny design.    

Fondant – A thick paste of sugar and water that can be molded and folded into elaborate cake designs.  It’s often not as delicious as buttercream or cream cheese icing.  

Full Bar – A bar serving beer, wine, and liquor at no charge to the guests. 

Full Service Wedding Planner – Plans the entire wedding from start to finish. 

Gobo – A pre-cut, etched pattern fabricated from metal or glass that fits in the focal plane of a lighting instrument to form projected light into a shape (logo, graphic, scenery, etc.).  Templates can form images on walls, ceilings and floors.  

Gratuity – A voluntary payment added to a bill to signify good service.

Head Table – Table used to seat the wedding party, family or VIP’s.

Hors d’Oeuvres – Small appetizers; hot and/or cold finger foods served at a reception.

House Wine – Brand of wine selected by a hotel or restaurant as their standard when no specific brand is specified.

In-house Catering – The venue provides catering or only works with a specific inclusive caterer.

LCD Projector – A self-contained unit with a LCD panel, light source and lens that works with both PC and Mac computers and duplicates the image being shown on the monitor without any need for special software or complex setting up.  Also called data projector.  

Letterpress – A printing technique in which a metal plate is carved to leave behind only the lettering and images you want printed (the wording and design are raised on the plate) – the letters are then inked.  The design is transferred by placing paper against the plate and manually applying pressure, sinking the images and letters into the paper.

Liability Insurance – An insurance policy that protects you in the event that there is bodily injury or property damage to other people.  The liability can be because of negligence or a failure to live up to promises made under a contract.

Liquor License – A U.S. state granted right to sell and/or serve alcoholic beverages.  Liquor license requirements vary by jurisdictions.  Most caterers will have a liquor license and can provide alcohol for your weddings and events.  

Load in/out – Scheduled times for crew to load and unload equipment.

Master of Ceremonies – Person who presides over the program and acts as the MC or EMCC (makes the announcements).

MOB – Mother of the bride.

MOH – Maid or matron of honor.

Nosegay – A small bunch/bouquet of flowers. Also known as a posy.

Officiant – The person who leads/performs the wedding ceremony. 

Open Bar – Private room or bar set up where guests do not pay for drinks. 

Per Person – Goods or services priced and/or purchased according to the number of guests expected to attend the event.

Pipe & Drape – Light-weight aluminum tubing and drapery used to separate exhibit booths/stands, staging areas, to cover up non-pleasing walls and areas, and can be used as a backdrop.

Place Card – Card placed on a guest table, inscribed with the name of the person designated to sit at that place.  

Place Setting – Formal or informal placement of utensils, plate(s), glassware and cups on a table. 

Plated Service – Foods arranged on individual plates in the kitchen and then served to guests seated at a table.

Pomander – A ball of flowers.

Postlude – The music played as guests exit the ceremony. 

Prelude – The music played as guests arrive to the ceremony.  

Procession – The wedding party walking down the aisle followed by the bride.

Processional – The music played as the wedding party walks down the aisle.    

Receiving Line – A collection of people who gather in a row to greet guests immediately following the ceremony or as they arrive at the reception.  Whoever’s hosting the party should head the receiving line, followed by the bride and groom, and then other sets of parents.  

Recessional – The music played after the bride and groom kiss as husband and wife.  It plays until the wedding party and family exit. 

Response Card – The reply card that comes with wedding invitations asking you to RSVP if you can or cannot attend.  For seated dinners this card can also ask a guest to select one of two or three dinner options. 

Room Turnover – Amount of time needed to tear down and reset a function room.

Save the Dates – Announcements sent out prior to the wedding invitations being sent that inform guests of the wedding date.  Sometimes save the dates will include accommodation info on the back or as an insert card or they will include the wedding website URL.  

Seating Chart – An alternative to escort cards that informs guests where they will sit at.

Security Deposit – A deposit made to assure credit usually returned after the event if no damages are done.

Service Charge – A service fee, service charge, or surcharge is a fee added to a customer’s bill.  Caterers add service charges in lieu of tips to ensure payment for wait staff.

Signature Cocktail – A cocktail chosen by the bride and groom for the wedding.  Sometimes the bride will have her own signature cocktail that consists of her favorite cocktail while the groom has his own signature cocktail consisting of his favorite drink.  

Skirting – Pleated or ruffled draping used around buffets, risers, or stages to conceal the area underneath.

Stationery Suite – All of your designed paper goods for the wedding day.  Includes the save the date, invitation, outer and inner envelopes, response card, wedding program and reception papers, such as the menu card and escort card.  

Strike – To dismantle exhibits.  To remove all scenery and props from the stage. To tear down an event.

String Quartet – An ensemble of four musicians usually hired to play during the ceremony (two violinists, a violist,  and a cellist).

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

Table Numbers – Indicates where guests are to sit at the reception or rehearsal dinner and corresponds with their escort card or the seating chart.

Tablescape – Everything found on a set table from the linens, to the centerpiece and place setting. 

Tea Light – Tiny, wide candle placed in a metal cup that can be placed in votives for decoration. 

Thermography – Raised printing… A heat based process that fuses ink and resinous powder to create raised lettering.  The subtle difference in thermography and engraving is that with thermography, the text is slightly shiny and the back of the invitation remains smooth  (engraving leaves and impression).  Plus, thermography is less expensive.  

Timeline – Includes each task to be accomplished and is the core of the wedding day plan.

Tip – A voluntary and selective amount of money, given at will for special or excellent service.

Toss Bouquet – A designated bouquet that is used for the bride to toss during the “bouquet toss” to her single female friends.  This is usually a smaller version of the bridal bouquet. 

Trunk Show – When wedding dress designers send their dresses to a bridal boutique on a specific date with their entire line of new dresses.  Brides schedule appointments to try on these dresses.   

Turnaround – An action required to break down and reset a room.

Uplighting – Small lights placed around the perimeter of a room, that can be set to any color.

Usher – Assists in escorting guests to their seats during the ceremony.

Votive Candle – A small candle usually about 2 inches high used in the decor.  They are often placed on guest tables, entry tables, the food stations, and bar to add ambience.  

Water Weights – When large barrels are filled with water and used for anchoring a tent.

Wedding Favor – A souvenir for attending the wedding.  Usually something edible is the best favor or a drink koozie/huggie.  

Wedding Website – A way for couples to communicate about their wedding.  They can communicate with their guests about the wedding date, time and location, their registries and accommodation information.

Welcome Basket – Baskets or bags filled with goodies that are placed in the hotel rooms for your out of town guests.

White Tie – Also called full evening dress or a dress suit, is the most formal in traditional evening dress codes.  For men, it consists of a black dress tailcoat worn over a white starched shirt, marcella waistcoat and a white bow tie worn around a standing wingtip collar.  

Glossary of Wedding Terms for Wedding Planners

xo, Terrica

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