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Wedding Planning Terminology

Have you started noticing that wedding vendors seem to speak their own language? Sometimes as wedding vendors we forget that some of the terms we use are not familiar to most couples. Today we want to demystify some of that lingo and share some of that wedding planning terminology with you.

Wedding Planning Terminology Explained

Al Fresco: This is just a fancy term that means “out in the open air”. It’s usually associated with open air dining. A reception that is outdoors would be an al fresco reception.

Bridal Party: You may also hear the term “wedding party”, which means the same thing. The term is used to refer to the bride and groom and the bridesmaids and groomsmen. This term does not typically mean to include family or guests.

Charger: This is a decorative plate that all other dining plates are set on. Food is never actually meant to touch this plate. Chargers add the ultimate elevated look to your place settings.

Cocktail Hour: Admittedly we refer to this all the time. This is the gap between the ceremony and reception. During this time your guests enjoy drinks and appetizers. The cocktail hour usually last sixty to ninety minutes. It’s common to for portraits to be taken during this time.

Coordinator: This person is not a wedding planner. Rather, the hired person or business coordinates the wedding timeline. They also oversee the day of wedding logistics. It’s common for venues to have their own coordinators that they provide.

Dummy Cake: Like the cake suggests, this is a faux cake that’s made to look real. It is a styrofoam cake shape that is covered in icing. Dummy cakes can be more cost effective than a real cake. You can have a dummy cake on display with sheet cake in the back to be served. You can also use a dummy cake with a layer of real cake to make increase the size of your cake. Some couples opt to have a small real cake layer on the top of a dummy cake for the cake cutting.

Escort Card: This is essentially a name/place card. It designates which table a guest will be seated at.

First Look: This is another term we refer to often. The first look is the moment where a couple sees each other for the first time all dressed up before the ceremony. Other variations of the first look can take place between the bride and her bridesmaid or bride and father.

Flatlay: This is a photography term used to refer to detail photos that are usually styled. The photo is taken from strait above. Details that are typically in flatly are invitation suites, accessories, rings, flowers, and shoes. Flatlays can be of both bridal and groom details.

Check out our blog post on bridal details to make sure get photographed on your wedding day.

Flatware: These are the dining utensils.

Flipping the Space (A Flip): This term is used when a space is used for the ceremony and reception. The space is “flipped” during cocktail hour to change the ceremony space into the reception setup.

Glassware: These are simply a term to refer to drinking glasses.

Grazing Table: These are growing in popularity. Essentially it is a table that is covered with appetizers that guests can go to on their own and graze from during the cocktail hour. Usually a grazing table includes cheeses, meats, and fruits.

Head Table: This is not the same as a sweetheart table. While the sweetheart table is meant to only seat the couple, a head table usually includes the bridal party or family. Really the head table is for whoever the bride and groom wants to sit at their table.

Hybrid Photographer: This is a photographer that shoots both digital and film photos. We are hybrid photographers.

Processional: This is the walk down the aisle at the start of the wedding ceremony.

Recessional: This is the walk back up the aisle at the end of the wedding ceremony.

Sample Sale (For Gowns): You may hear of a bridal boutique occasionally having a sample sale. Basically this is a sale on the gowns that they have available off the rack. Sample gowns are available immediately, as is. They are not for dresses that are special ordered. Usually sample sales offer a discount.

Second Shooter: This is another photography (and videography) term. It is used to refer to a second photographer (or videographer).

Sheet Cake: This is a large cake that is baked in large rectangular baking sheets. They are not meant to be put on display, but rather kept in the back to be cut and served to guests. Sheet cakes are a cost effective cake option.

Signature Cocktail: These are very popular right now. They are a pre-selected cocktail, chosen by the couple. The signature cocktail usually represents the couple or something special to the couple in some way and is presented on a cocktail menu.

Sweetheart Table: As opposed to the head table, the sweatheart table is just the married couple.

Tablescape: This term refers to the entire decor of the reception table. It includes the linens to the centerpieces to the dinnerware and glassware.

Tray Pass: The term “tray pass” refers to the act of catering staff walking through the reception or cocktail hour offering appetizers or drinks from a tray.

Trunk Show (For Gowns): This is another term used in regard to wedding gowns. It is an event where a bridal boutique, hosts a large collection of gown from a specific wedding dress designer. The trunk show often features discounts on that particular designer’s gowns for the duration of the event.

Unplugged Ceremony: Here is yet another term often used in photography. An unplugged ceremony is one where no phones or cameras are used for taking photos. Guests are asked to refrain from taking photos during the ceremony. Often signage is placed at the ceremony space entrance and the officiant will also announce the couple’s desire that devices not be used.

Uplighting: Like the term suggests, this term refers to light that is projected upwards. Usually uplighting is projected on the walls or trees and comes from several lighting sources along the perimeter of the space. Often uplighting is used for reception spaces.

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