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Common Wedding Venue Terminology
Finding the right wedding venue is such a big job. It's one of the first hurdles you have to leap in the wedding planning process. There's nothing worse than going in to a meeting and feeling dumb because they are speaking a whole new language you don't know.
You'd think that they would speak in normal layman's English for you to help you truly understand what they are talking about. But trust me, after the wedding, you'll be speaking the same way and won't understand why others don't understand you.
Start smart, sound educated, and you'll feel a lot more confident and most likely have much fewer questions. I hope this helps!
- Ballroom - This is a room offered to couples in which to hold their wedding. It is called the ballroom because it is a room typically used for dinner and dancing. This is usually one of the largest rooms venues have to offer.
- Banquet hall - This is one of the rooms that will be offered to couples for their reception. It is called the banquet hall because this is a room normally used for large fancy dinners.
- Bistro chairs - A strong but comfortable versatile chair. These usually have a back rest but no arm rests. The way it looks, and what color it is, is determined by the venue.
- Bride's Room - An area at the ceremony venue for the bride and her attendants to get ready for the wedding in private.
- Buffet - When the reception food is served on a long table, laid out with serving utensils for wedding guests to serve themselves. They do this by lining up on one side of the table or both sides and take turns getting their food from one side of the table to the other.
- Cabana - A hut or a structure draped in fabric, typically found on a beach. Can be a relatively small 4-by-4 foot structure intended for shade or large enough to house an entire reception.
- Cake cutting fee - The fee a venue will charge to cut the wedding cake for the couple. This fee is typically a pet person fee. Sometimes they will also serve the cake and charge additionally for this as well.
- Capacity Charts - A chart that shows how many people a venue can accommodate.
- Catering minimum - When renting a facility in which to hold a wedding, many times they will also require the use of their caterer. In this case, there is a minimum expenditure that must be made with the caterer in order to use the venue.
- Ceremony chairs - Many venues provide chairs for the couple to use. However, in most cases, these chairs must stay at either the ceremony or reception location. The specific type of chair used will depend on the venue.
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- Cocktail tables - Much taller tables of a smaller diameter meant to be used for standing beside and setting drinks and/or appetizers on while mingling.
- Courtyard - This is a room or area typically offered to couples for which to hold their wedding. A courtyard will traditionally be an outdoor area lit and possibly heated, if necessary.
- Extra tables - Many extra tables are needed to coordinate a successful wedding besides the guest dinner tables. Some of these tables may include a buffet table, food station tables, a cake table, a gift table, a drink table, a DJ table, a head table, etc. These will likely be provided by the venue, but not always.
- Floor-length linens - Linens (otherwise known as tablecloths) are normally provided for weddings by the venue, if needed. These are usually only offered in the colors white and off-white, and need to be of floor-length (or dropping all the way to the floor) to be sufficient.
- Full service - When a wedding venue offers a variety of services to couples rather than just being a location to get married. Some of these services may include catering, bar services, wedding cakes, furniture and rentals, and preferred vendors.
- Gazebo - This is an area offered to couples in which to hold their wedding ceremony. This is typically a very small covered area with only room for the officiant and the wedding couple. All other members of the bridal party and guests would be standing outside of the gazebo.
- Guest tables - Tables allowing anywhere from 6 to 12 guests to sit and dine.
- Hors d’ oeuvres - A fancy French word for appetizers.
- In-House Catering - Catering services supplied by the wedding venue. If a venue offers in-house catering, typically off-site caterers are not permitted.
- Insured - This means that the venue holds liability insurance, so that in the case that someone was injured while on their property, they were protected and the inured party would be cared for.
- Licensed - This means that the venue had a food service and/or liquor license to legally serve these items for profit to the public.
- Limited service - This means that the venue provides only an area for a couple to get married and possibly food service. However they do not provide all of the services that a traditional wedding venue does for their couples. They most likely do not provide furniture, rentals, or bar services.
- Linens - Another word for the fabric items needed for a wedding like tablecloths, napkins, chair covers, etc. Many venues provide these for their couples, but in limited colors.
- Overlays - These are typically of a fancy, decorated material meant to be laid over the tablecloths on the guest dinner tables for aesthetics.
- Pavilion - This is an area offered to couples in which to hold their wedding. It is usually a covered outdoor area large enough for a medium to large gathering.
- Plating - This is the practice of arranging food in an attractive and appealing manner on a serving plate.
- Preferred vendor - Vendors that the venue likes to work with over all other vendors available. Many times venues will provide couples with a list of preferred vendors that they are required, or highly suggested, to use for their wedding.
- Refundable Deposit - Money given to hold a venue or service that will be returned if the event is cancelled due to extenuating circumstances.
- Retainer - This is the monetary amount needed to hold the location for a couple so another party could not rent it. This may also be called a deposit, but there may be both.
- Sashes - These are colorful pieces of fabric used to tie around ceremony and reception chairs for aesthetics.
- Self-contained - This means the venue can provide all necessary services and products to have a successful venue without outside vendors being necessary. These places typically have photographer, DJ, baker, florist, caterer, etc. on staff for any events.
- Service ware - This term encompasses all of the dishes involved in the wedding, including china, glassware, stemware and flatware.
- Setup - The act of setting out tables, chairs, china, glassware, flatware, and all decor for the wedding.
- Site Coordinator - A venue staff member who serves as the contact person and coordinator for events in a role that is less extensive than the wedding planner.
- Skirted tables - For extra tables like the buffet, gift and cake table, instead of using floor-length linens, venues will typically use table skirts that have frills at the top and Velcro to the sides of the table.
- Tear down - To take down the wedding decorations, wash and put away the dishes, bag up the linens, put away the tables and chairs, and clean up afterward. There is usually a fee required if the venue has to do this.
- Terrace - This is an area at a venue offered to couples to hold their wedding. This is typically an outdoor area, either a large balcony or a large patio area large enough for a small to medium event.
- Tulle - A semi stiff, transparent material typically used by venues to decorate the location for a wedding.
- Twinkle lights - Christmas lights used to give the wedding location mood lighting.
- Valet - One or more attendants that stand at the front of the event location, allowing guests to drop off their vehicles at the front to be parked for them. When dropping off their vehicles, guests would receive a valet ticket identifying them as the owner of the car when they come back to get their car after the event. Guests give their ticket to the valet, who would then go pick the car up for them and bring it to the front of the location.
- Venue - Another word for the location being used for the wedding (or advertising themselves as a wedding location).
- Votives - Small candles one step bigger than tea lights. About 2 inches tall and usually offered for wedding lighting by the venue. (Dexknows)
I hope this comprehensive listing of wedding venue terminology will make you feel more confident and knowledgeable when going into meeting with different venues. Good luck!