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The Ultimate Glossary for Wedding Terms

Sometimes it feels like planning a wedding comes with learning an all new language (not to mention entirely new meanings to acronyms like STDs and BM!)

Whether you are very new on the scene, a seasoned bridesmaid or somewhere in between, this compilation of wedding terms will be your go-to glossary for ALL things wedding.

The Bridal Party

BM - Best Man 

FOB - Father of Bride  

FOG - Father of Groom

MOH - Maid of Honour/ Matron of Honour

MOG - Mother of Groom

MOB - Mother of Bride 

FG - Flower Girl

RB - Ring Bearer 

MC – Master of Ceremonies 

You will see these abbreviations used throughout the wedding planning process.


The Basics

Bridal Procession - the order in which the bride and bridesmaids walk down the aisle.

Ceremony – an event attended by family and friends where two people are getting married. 

Ceremony rehearsal - a run through the ceremony with the wedding party/participants and close family.

Coordinator/Wedding planner – a professional who plans and organizes weddings.

Prelude - background music typically played while guests arrive. 

Processional - music that plays/begins the ceremony when the bridal party walks down the aisle.

Reception- a party usually held after the ceremony, often includes dinner or appetizers and a dance

Recessional - music that plays as the ceremony ends and the bride and groom walk out.

Officiant - a person who performs the wedding ceremony and signs the marriage certificate.



Destination wedding – occurs somewhere other than the couple’s hometown. Guests are expected to pay travel, the majority of the time.

Dress code – a guideline to follow when it comes to wearing the proper attire to a specific wedding.

Floor plan – the layout of the reception with table positions.

Gift registry – a registry that people can buy wedding gifts from that you may need or want.

Guest book – something your guests can sign to commemorate their attendance. This can range from signing a book to taking a Polaroid picture. Couples can get creative with this.

Honeymoon – a vacation newlyweds take soon after the wedding concludes.

Intimate wedding – a wedding with a guest count of under 100.

Marriage Certificate – this needs to be obtained 3 months before the wedding date/within 3 months of obtaining the certificate.

Paper suite – all stationary needed, save the dates, invitations, reception cards, etc.

Seating chart – a complete list of all the guests attending the event and where they will be sitting.

Signature signs – specialty signs that you can create for guests that display seating charts, wedding hashtags or bar menus.

Shot list – a list of friends and family that you want photographed with on your wedding day. Give this list to your photographer and wedding planner if you have one.

STDs - Save the Dates - typically sent between 8-12 months prior to the wedding to make sure guests put the date in their calendar.

Timeline – times, locations and details of wedding activities on the day-of.

Train – refers to the length of fabric that trails behind the bride as she walks.

Venue – location in which the wedding occurs.

Videographer – paid professional that captures videos of your day that the photographer does not.

Vows – refers to promises made by the marrying couple.

Wedding favours – gifts given to the guests as a thank you for attending the wedding.

Wedding website – a site that couples use to communicate the details and aid in planning for the wedding.

Witnesses – The people who sign all the paperwork - most often this is your MOH & BM!


Aisle marker – pieces of décor whether it be flowers, candles, etc that line the aisle when the bridal party walks down.

Archway - the meeting point where bride and groom exchange their vows and proceed with ceremony.

Backdrop – a decorative background used behind the head table, consisting typically of drapery, florals, greenery and sometimes lights. 

Bouquet – a bunch of flowers held by the bride and bridesmaids.

Boutonnière – spray of flowers worn by the groom.

Cake table – a designated table for desserts, usually decorated nicely and displaying the cake, cupcakes etc.

Centrepieces – an important aspect of décor that is the display of a table setting.

Charger – decorative plate that is set at each place setting

Chiavari  – a decorative chair (wedding style)

Head Table - a table at the front of the reception space for the wedding party to sit at during dinner.

 Overlay or Runner -  decorative cloth added to guest or accent tables to add texture or colour.

Place setting – flatware, glassware, napkin, china, etc.

Round table sizes – 60 inch seats 8-10 people, 72 inch seats 10-12 people

Sweetheart Table – table set for two, newlyweds would sit at this table.

Table number – number on tables indicating wear guests sit.

Votive or Tealights – small candles.


Food and Beverage

Buffet – several different dishes prepared for guests from which they serve themselves.

Cake tasting – typically done with your cake vendor, to taste and decide on which cake flavour you want.

Catering/Caterer – a professional who provides a food service at a site for a social event.

Cocktail hour – the time frame used for the newlyweds to get photos done and guests to enjoy some cocktail drinks while mingling with each other before the reception starts.

Menu tasting or Test Meal – an opportunity for you and your partner to taste test the menu that will be offered at your reception. 

Open bar – a bar at a social event at which the drinks are being paid for by the hosts. 

Signature cocktail – a unique way to add you and your fiancés personality to your big day. This drink can represent your favourite things or simply follow the theme of your wedding.



Cake cutting – cutting the cake and sharing a small bite together traditionally symbolizes “commitment”. 

First dance – the first dance as bride and groom, this also opens into mother/son dance and father/daughter dance.

First look – when a couple sees each other for the first time, prior to the ceremony.

Introductions - kicking off the reception, the MC (Master of Ceremonies) will introduce the wedding party including the newlyweds. The bridal party usually takes this opportunity to do a humorous intro.

Send-off – saying goodbye to the bride and groom at the end of the reception.

Speeches (aka Toasts) - pretty straight forward. Typically done by MOH, BM, parents and a thank you from the newlyweds.