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Wedding Terms and Vocabulary

Updated on September 4, 2012

The A-Z of Weddings

Whether you're a Bride or a member of a wedding party, over the course of wedding planning you are going to hear alot of words you may have never heard of before - or words that you have no clue what they mean.

This glossary of Wedding Terms will have you speaking like a pro in no time - and your wedding planner definitely won't be able to fool you with any unwanted extras!

A cream Ascot Tie
A cream Ascot Tie | Source


Ascot Tie -
An Ascot Tie is a wide necktie used for extremely formal occasions. Traditionally, an ascot tie is worn with a grey morning (cutaway) coat that is longer in the back with gray striped trousers. These days men are choosing Ascot ties for a wide variety of different occasions and pairing them with different colors and styles of suit.

Arm Sheaf Bouquet -
An arm sheaf bouquet is an arrangement of long stemmed flowers and foliages that a bride and/or bridesmaid cradles in their arm. This arrangement is also commonly known as a presentation bouquet.


Backpiece -
This is a comb (which is often highly decorated) that is used to attach a Bride's veil, sitting at the back of her head to hold it in place. Back pieces work best with a French twist or low bun.

Ballet -
A Ballet is a type of veil which flows down the Brides back, stopping before it hits the ground. A ballet veil generally falls between the brides knee and ankle and it will never touch the ground whilst the Bride walks.

Basket Weave -
A basket weave is a decorative technique used when icing Wedding Cakes. This technique uses piped interweaving horizontal and vertical lines to appear like a woven basket.

Basque Neckline -
A neckline which follows the line of the collarbone.

Basque Waistline -
A waistline which is below the waist, dipping down to a point at the front.

Bateau Neckline -
Also known as a boat neckline, this neckline goes straight across the shoulders with a small dip at the front.

Best Man -
A Best Man is chosen by the groom. He will have a number of duties throughout the wedding, including:

  • keeping the Bride's ring safe until it's time for the vows
  • announcing speeches at the reception
  • making his own speech at the reception
  • signing the marriage license

Bierdermeier Bouquet -
A bierdermeier bouquet is a European style arrangement where the flowers are carefully arranged in circular patterns of color. Often each colored ring of flowers is a different type of flower.

Birdcage Veil -
A birdcage veil is a netted style of veil which covers the face above the chin. The length can vary from just covering the eyes to covering the bride's face to her chin. Modern bride's have seen to favor asymmetrical veils which pull to one side, covering only one eye for a chic vintage inspired look.

Blusher -
A short veil that covers the Bride's face before the wedding ceremony.

Bodice -
The close fitting, upper part of a gown.

Bomboniere -
Bomboniere are small gifts or favors, given to guests to thank them for sharing your special day. They are also given out on other special occasions such as christenings, birthdays etc.

Boning -
Plastic inserts sewn into a gown to give it shape and support.

Boutonniere -
A boutonniere is a single flower worn by the groom, best man and groomsmen as well as other male relatives of the bride and groom. The boutonniere is worn on the left side over the heart.

Bow Tie -
A bow tie, also known as a dickey bow, is a type of tie commonly chosen to wear with a tuxedo.

Bouquet -
A bouquet is an arrangement of flowers carried by the bride and bridesmaids (though some brides may choose for their bridesmaids not to have bouquets).

Bridal Procession -
A bridal procession occurs at the wedding ceremony and is when the bridal party (bridesmaids and/or flower girls) and the bride and her father (or other person chosen to escort her down the aisle) proceed down the aisle so the wedding ceremony can begin.

Buffet -
A buffet is a type of meal service commonly seen at weddings, where the food and drinks are presented on a long table and guests help themselves to whatever food they wish.

Bustling -
On a wedding dress, bustling is where the dress is gathered at the back to make it easier for the Bride to walk around and dance at her reception.

Buttercream -
Buttercream is a type of frosting used on cakes which is soft, fluffy and creamy and commonly used as a filling or decoration for a wedding cake.

A corsage tied to the wrist
A corsage tied to the wrist | Source


Calligraphy -
Calligraphy is a style of fancy handwriting, commonly seen on wedding invitations and programs.

Carat -
The standard unit of weight used for diamonds and most other gemstones.

Cascading Bouquet -
Commonly known as a shower bouquet, tear drop bouquet or trail bouquet - this type of floral arrangement has flowers spilling over the Bride's hands, flowing downwards for a stylish look. This sophisticated bouquet can be arranged using almost any flower.

Cathedral Veil -
This style of veil extends past the Bride's feet and trails behind her as a train. The length of the veil depends on the Bride's preferences, however, the veil can extend several feet behind her and can even extend beyond the length of her dress train if applicable.

Chapel Veil -
A Chapel veil is a style of veil which extends 7.5 feet from the headpiece.

Collar Necklace -
A collar necklace consists of three or more strands of pearls which fit snug around the neck.

Comb -
A comb is a decorative hair piece that attaches to the hair using teeth like a comb. For brides, these combs are commonly decorated with crystals, gemstones, jewels and the like.

Cornelli Lace -
Cornelli Lace is a decorative style of icing which resembles lace on a cake.

Corsage -
A corsage is a single flower or small spray of flowers which is attached to either a woman's dress or her wrist. At weddings, only the female members of the bride and groom's family generally wear a corsage.

Cuff Links -
Decorative pins used to close cuffs on a man's shirt.

Cutaway Jacket -
A style of suit jacket which tapers from the front button to a long back tail.

Cummerbund -
A cummerbund is a sash worn around a man's waist at the top of his shirt, under the jacket. These cummerbunds can be any color, however, they are typically black.

Dragees used to decorate cupcakes
Dragees used to decorate cupcakes | Source


Dais -
A platform or stage where the bridal party (or just the Bride and Groom) are seated at the wedding reception.

Damask -
Damask is a linen or fabric with woven raised patterns.

Detachable Train -
The train of the dress is the extension of fabric off the main body of the dress, in some dresses, this can be detached later on for the wedding reception to avoid bustling the dress.

Dotted Swiss -
Dotted Swiss is a style of cake decorating which uses small random dots of icing.

Double Tier Veil -
A double tier veil has two layers, one of which is often longer than the other.

Dragees -
Dragees are edible balls of sugar which are used to decorate wedding cakes. These are often bright colored on silver and gold.


Elbow Veil -
A type of veil which reaches to the Bride's Elbows

Embellishments -
Embellishments are decorative details or features added on to something, typically a bridal gown. These embellishments may include; embroidery, beading, lace, ribbons, bows, sequins, fringes, pearls, fabric details etc.

Emerald Cut -
A rectangular cut of jewel such as diamond.

Empire Waistline -
A waistline that begins just below the bust line. This style of dress may run straight across, or curve down the sides to the small of the back.

Euro Tie -
A euro tie is a long, knotted, square bottomed tie that is more formal than a regular neck tie, but less formal than an ascot tie.


Favours -
Also known as bomboniere, there are small gifts given to guests to thank them for sharing your special day. They are also given out on other special occasions such as christenings, birthdays etc.

Fiance -
The title of the groom or husband to me between the engagement and wedding day.

Fiancee -
The official title of the Bride between the engagement and wedding day.

Fingertip Veil -
A veil that extends just to the Bride's fingertips.

Fish Bowl Arrangement -
A floral arrangement inside a glass bowl, often used as a centerpiece.

Fitted Sleeves -
Sleeves which fit snug against the arm.

Flyaway Veil -
A style of veil which is made up of multiple layers and falls to the Bride's shoulders.

Full Dress Jacket -
A style of jacket commonly worn at weddings - these jackets are generally shorter in the front with long tails in the back.

Gumpaste flowers used to decorate a cake
Gumpaste flowers used to decorate a cake | Source


Ganache -
A rich chocolate mixture used as a filling or glaze for cakes, made from chocolate and cream.

Garland -
A woven floral arrangement used to adorn pews, staircases and doorways.

Gore Skirt -
This style of skirt is fitted at the waist and flares out to a full hem. There are no pleats or gathers at the top of this skirt - the fullness comes from the shape of the panels.

Gum Paste -
A paste made from sugar, starch and soaked gum tragacanth which is used to make cake decorations. Decorations made from gum paste will last a long time.


Halter -
A style of neckline that scoops down at the front and ties up behind the neck.


Karat -
The measure of the purity of gold. Pure gold is 24 karat, though jewelry is commonly made with a mixture of other metals to add strength.


Leg O' Mutton Sleeves -
A style of sleeves on a dress which are full from the shoulder, becoming narrow and fitted at the forearm.

A mermaid style silhouette
A mermaid style silhouette | Source


Maid of Honor -
Also known as the Chief Bridesmaid, this is the last Bridesmaid who enters the church before the Bride and is responsible for holding the Groom's ring. She looks after the Bride throughout the ceremony and reception and is often chosen to help with planning and events before the big day.

Marzipan -
A paste made by combining sugar, ground almonds and egg whites which can be used to make cake decorations or rolled out to use as an icing like fondant.

Matron of Honor -
The title given to the Chief Bridesmaid if she is a married woman.

Mermaid Gown -
A mermaid silhouette is a slim fitting dress which flares out at the knee.


Necktie -
A standard tie which is long and notted at the top. Also known as a four in hand tie, this tie is worn with a laydown collar.


Off Shoulder Gown -
An off shoulder neckline is a bodice style where the fabric stops just below the shoulder.


Pantyhose -
A one-piece sheer garment that combines both panty and stockings.

A ring bearer walking down the aisle
A ring bearer walking down the aisle | Source


Ring Bearer -
A small child (generally a boy) who walks down the aisle carrying a ring pillow with two rings attached (generally these aren't the actual rings).

Royal Icing -
A mixture of sugar and egg whites which hardens as it dries, commonly used for designs on a cake. Royal Icing should not be refrigerated.


Sheath -
A style of dress silhouette which has a narrow skirt that is form fitting through the torso.

Silhouette -
The general style and outline of the dress.

Strapless -
A style of dress which comes around from under the arms. A strapless gown can have a sweetheart neckline or sit straight across.

Sweetheart Neckline -
A neckline which dips down into a heart shape at the front towards the bust-line.


Tea Length Gown -
A style of gown which falls to several inches above the ankle.

Trumpet Gown -
A trumpet silhouette is form fitting at the bust, waist and hips and then flares out at the top of the thigh.

Tussy Mussy -
A silver cone shaped vase used for carrying flowers, popular in Victorian times.

Tuxedo -
A single or double breasted jacket worn at formal events, paired with matching trousers.


Vest -
A close fitting, waist length garment worn in place of a cummerbund to cover the trouser waistband. Often word with a coordinating bow tie.

Vows -
Vows are the promises of future love, loyalty, trust and support exchanged between the bride and groom at the wedding ceremony. Vows may be written by the bride or groom or traditional vows.


Wing Collar -
A formal style of collared shirt, often worn with tuxedo jackets, which has a circular band around the neck and turned town points at the front of the collar.


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    • kissayer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristy Sayer 

      6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I think the fact that there are SO many words and terms to remember that makes it so hard!

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 

      6 years ago from Oakland, CA

      Having just been through my best friend's 2-year engagement, I *still* didn't know some of these terms. I'm not sure whether that says something about me or about the complexity of weddings. ;)

    • kissayer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristy Sayer 

      6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks Helen! I learned a lot writing them too - which is definitely a good thing seeing as I'll be planning a wedding very soon!

    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 

      6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

      Hi Kissayer, what a fascinating hub! I had heard some of these terms but didn't know what they were and some of them are brand new to me. I love learning anything about ceremony and tradition and I've learned a lot from this hub! Voted up!


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