As couples get engaged over the upcoming holidays and you begin sifting through wedding planning blogs and The Knot magazine, you will probably come across a bunch of new terms you’ve never heard of. We’re here to help define those wedding planning terms you might not know today!
Black Tie: This is the most formal dress code you might see on a regular basis for weddings. Tuxedos and formal gowns are most appropriate for black tie events. Dress codes that are “black tie optional” or “formal” are also formal but suits and cocktail dresses would be appropriate. Semi-formal and casual are the less-formal dress codes.
Engagement Photos: This is a photo session that usually happens with the photographer you hire for your wedding. Many couples confuse this session with having the proposal captured. While they are sometimes combined, engagement photos are usually done during your engagement period and are a great way to get comfortable with the work of your wedding photographer.
Full Planning: This is a type of package wedding planners offer that assists you with the planning process from beginning to end. We’ll help you with every aspect of wedding planning, from budget creation and management, vendor research and recommendation, and overall wedding design.
Invitation Suite: This is the stationery set that you send out after the Save the Dates as the formal invitation to your wedding. The suite usually includes the invitation, response card (RSVP), and an information/details card.
Partial Planning: You’re organized and you’ve been doing a lot of your own wedding planning, but you’re just not exactly sure what next steps to take. We can set you up with our tools and hand-select vendors that are the right fit, then check in with you once a month to provide you help wherever you need it.
Room Block: This refers to a set of hotel rooms that are booked in advance in bulk (usually at a discount) for your out-of-town guests.
Save the Dates: These are sent out before your wedding invitation suite to let guests know the date of your wedding in advance to plan time off and begin saving for travel if needed.
Trials & Tastings: Trials and tastings are done through the wedding planning process. Trials are typically for hair and makeup artists to help bring your vision to life before the big day, and to get a feel for timing the morning of your wedding. Tastings are typically for desserts, bar, and catering and can help you narrow down your menu and understand more about your options from these vendors.
Venue Coordinator: This vendor works for the venue of your wedding, and can be different from your wedding planner. They are there to help ensure the rules of the venue are followed, help in-house catering and other services offered by the venue, and sometimes assist you throughout the night.
Wedding Coordination: Some venues require a wedding day coordinator (sometimes referred to as day-of coordination) and some couples just want extra help on their wedding day with organization. We’re here to assist with the final month and coordination on the big day! There is no need for you, your bridal party, or your family to work at all- that’s what we’re here for.
Destination Wedding: This type of wedding refers to a celebration that takes place outside the state or country where the couple reside, and typically require all or most guests to travel.
Elopement: This term used to refer to running away to marry in secret at the courthouse. However now elopements refer to a purposely small event, ranging from just the couple to a few close guests.
Micro Wedding: This type of wedding is usually similar in form to a typical wedding, but with much fewer guests, usually less than 50.
Boutonniere: Many couples are confused by this term (and heck, we all have trouble spelling it!) This is the small flower arrangement that goes on a groom’s jacket lapel, or sometimes on the dress shirt, vest, or suspenders depending on the attire.
Bustle: The bustle is a built-in part of the wedding dress that allows the train to be let up or down. Bustling the dress keeps the train from dragging on the ground, makes dancing and walking around rough terrain easier, and generally keeps the dress cleaner.
First Look: This is a more modern event at weddings, wherein the couple arranges a time to see each other for the first time on the day of their wedding. The first look occurs before the ceremony and is used as a time to capture the emotion, as well as free up the timeline for formal portraits.
Train: The train of the dress is the extra fabric at the bottom back of a wedding dress. It can be a little length or a long train like Princess Diana had.
Altar: The altar these days is a generalized term for where you will stand during your ceremony. You could have an archway, chuppah, arbor, or more (click here for our favorites we’ve seen recently!)
Officiant: Sometimes called a celebrant and sometimes a pastor or priest, your officiant is the person leading your wedding ceremony. In Colorado you can self-solemnize, so an officiant isn’t required but can still be a nice traditional touch.
Unplugged Ceremony: This term refers to asking your guests to leave their phones, tablets, cameras, etc. in their bags or pockets for the duration of your ceremony. This helps your photographers get clean photos without distractions and helps your guests stay present as they are witness to your wedding ceremony.
Vows: These are the promises you will make to each other during the wedding ceremony. You can write fully customized vows, have your officiant guide you through recited vows, or a little combination of the two. Some couples are opting to share their personal vows during their first look, which is fabulous! (Click here for unique ways to exchange your vows!)
Wedding Party: The wedding party is the more modern term for what used to be known as the bridal party. Since not every wedding has a bride, and couples are more and more often having any gender stand on any side of the altar, the term wedding party is a more inclusive way of discussing the friends and family who stand alongside the couple during the ceremony.
Cash Bar: This type of bar is where your guests pay for each drink they consume on their own. You are not responsible to pay for the bar tab at the end of the night (except for your own!)
Escort Cards: These are the cards that designate who sits at what table during dinner. They are usually displayed at the entrance from the cocktail hour.
Grand Exit/Send Off: This term refers to an event at the end of the night where guests send you off with flare. Some couples opt for sparklers, bird seed, glow sticks, or ribbons.
Groom’s Cake: This is a cake in addition to the wedding cake that is usually in the groom’s favorite flavor and often involves his favorite sport’s team, hobby, or inside joke. Because many couples have plenty of wedding cake, some opt to host the groom’s cake with the rehearsal dinner.
Head Table: The head table is typically the larger table front-and-center at the wedding reception where the couple and their wedding party sits.
Hosted Bar: This bar type is similar to an open bar in that your guests do not pay for their drinks. However, the biggest difference is that typically the couple only pays for what alcohol is actually consumed, rather than paying for a sum of alcohol upfront.
Open Bar: The open bar is probably most well known. The bar is typically paid for in advance and guests are allowed to drink however much they want without paying. As you can probably imagine, this is the most expensive type of bar at a wedding!
Plated Dinner: As opposed to buffet-style dinner, a plated dinner involves guests being served dinner at their table. Oftentimes guests will select their dinner choice in advance as part of the invitation response with this dinner style.
Place Cards: Place cards are set at the dinner table denoting who sits at which seat of the table. These are mostly used for plated dinners, formal wedding receptions, or where family dynamics make a designated seating arrangement the best choice.
Signature Cocktail: This term refers to a special cocktail chosen by the couple to serve at the reception. It could be your favorite drink, something to go with the theme of your wedding, or you could each have a signature cocktail for guests to choose between.
Sweetheart Table: This type of table is where the couple sits alone together at the reception. It is best for wedding parties that have their own families they want to sit with, if the couple wants some time to themselves, or when you have to make a creative table arrangement in the space.
Uplighting: A newer trend from some area DJs is uplighting, where spotlights strategically light up bannisters, beams, or walls to give the space more ambience and transform the room.
If you’ve just gotten engaged, we hope this glossary of wedding planning terms you might not know helps you navigate your planning journey more easily. And don’t forget to click here to see exactly where to start on wedding planning now that you’re engaged!