In our last few blogs, we at Bridal Spectacular covered the top wedding terms when it comes to wedding planning, invitations, wedding gowns, flowers, catering and cakes — oh my!  Now, we have finally made it to the last installment of Wedding Terms 101, the wedding ceremony and reception. We hope these blogs have helped you master the realm of wedding lingo and better plan your dream wedding.

Without further ado, let’s dive into to ceremony and reception terms!


Aisle: main passage way between rows of seats at the ceremony site.

Aisle Runner: Usually a long, decorated clothe that runs the length of the aisle. Aisle runners can come in various colors and designs and can be personalized with the couple’s name or initials.

Amphitheater Seating: Seating that is arranged in sloped tiers so that guests in the back can see over the heads of those in front of them.

Best Man: The man of honor standing up and with the groom. The best man has special duties he is expected to perform leading up to and during the wedding.

Bridesmaid: The bridesmaids are members of the bride’s party in a wedding. A bridesmaid is typically a young woman, and often a close friend or sister. She attends to the bride on the day of a wedding or marriage ceremony.

Breaking the Glass: A tradition in Jewish weddings where the groom breaks a glass by stepping on it right after the pronouncement of the marriage. One of the interpretations of the symbolism of breaking the glass is that it illustrates the irrevocable act the bride and groom have just undertaken.

Candle Lighters: Children or young adults who light the candles at the altar prior to the start of the wedding.

Ceremony in the Round: When the ceremony takes place in the center of all the seated guests.

Chuppah: A wedding canopy decorated with flowers that is an integral part of the traditional Jewish ceremony.

Commitment Ceremony: A term for a same-sex marriage that is a legally or socially recognized marriage between two persons of the same biological sex.

Flower Girl: A young girl up to 9 years of age that immediately precedes the bride either carrying flowers or scattering rose petals.

Greeter: A person or persons that greet people as they arrive at the ceremony. Greeters usually hand out programs.

Groomsmen: Male family and friends who assist the groom in planning and preparing for the big day. Their chief responsibility is to help the best man plan and pay for the bachelor party and to support the groom.

Page Boys: young boys up to 7 years of age who follow the bride down the aisle carrying the train of her gown.

Interfaith Ceremony: A ceremony marrying two people of different religious faiths.

Non-Denominational: A ceremony this is not formally aligned with any one religion or faith.

Maid of Honor and Matron of Honor: A sister or friend of the bride who stands closest to her at the altar. The maid of honor title is given to a woman who is not married, while the matron of honor.

Officiant: The person who performs the marriage ceremony. The term “officiant” includes Justices of the Peace, celebrants, marriage commissioners, ministers, notaries, and others empowered by law to perform legally binding private ceremonies.

Prelude: Background music played at the beginning of the ceremony as guests arrive.

Presentation Roses: Part of the ceremony when the bride presents a single rose to the mother of the groom and the groom presents a single rose to the mother of the bride as a sign of love and respect.

Procession: When the bridal party walks down the aisle to start the ceremony.

Processional: Music played as the bridal party and bride walk down the aisle.

Program: A printed order of the events of the ceremony given out to wedding guests as they arrive.

Reader: A person who reads a passage, religious or otherwise, during the marriage ceremony.

Reading: This is an inspirational passage, religious or otherwise, read during the marriage ceremony.

Receiving Line: The couple, and often the wedding party, their parents, and any other attendants, greet every guest as they leave the ceremony and make their way to the reception.

Recession: When the bridal party walks down the aisle after the marriage ceremony.

Recessional: Upbeat music played at the end of the service as the bride and groom exit the ceremony.

Ring Bearer: A child under the age of nine years old who walks down the aisle as part of the bridal party carrying the wedding rings.

Ring Blessing: Part of the marriage ceremony when either the officiant or the guests say a prayer over the couple’s wedding rings.

Rose Ceremony: When the couple exchanges a single rose during the ceremony as a symbol of their commitment to each other.

Sand Ceremony: Part of the marriage ceremony when the couple pour two different colors of sand into one vessel symbolizing how their lives have become intertwined.

Theater Seating: A seating arrangement where all the chairs face towards the front where the ceremony will take place.

Unity Candle: A pillar candle that is lit by the couple from two individual taper candles that were previously lit by the mothers of the bride and groom. This symbolizes the intertwining of their two lives.

Ushers: People who greet the wedding guests as they arrive and make sure they are seated in the correct place.

Vows: Pledges that are exchanged by the couple that make the marriage binding.

Wedding Party: A wedding party (also known as the bridal party) includes the bride and groom, as well as the bridesmaids and groomsmen at a wedding.



Candelabra: A branched candlestick with arms that can hold multiple candles.

Cash Bar: A bar where the guests buy their own drinks rather than having them for provided free by the bride and groom.

Chair Cover: Fitted fabric cover made to slip over chairs.  The chair cover is usually tied with a sash matching the wedding theme colors.

Charger: A decorative plate that rests under the dinner plate.

Damask: An ornate pattern or medium-weight fabric. The flowery pattern is typically comes in black and white or gold.

DIY: Short for “Do it Yourself.” A DIY wedding is where a couple creates everything themselves, such as the decorations, flowers, catering, and does not hire professionals to help.

Escort (or Table) Cards: Printed cards that direct guests to their designated tables. They’re usually placed on a large table near the entrance to the reception room, and guests pick them up as they go into the party.

Event Manager: The person who will be there on the day managing the florist, DJ chefs, waiters, etc. to make your plans a reality.

Event Planner/Coordinator: The person who works with you during the planning stages of your wedding, helping you decide on everything from your menu to suppliers.

Favor: Small gift given to wedding guests to thank them for attending the event.

Gobo: A physical stencil or template slotted inside, or placed in front of, a lighting source, used to control the shape of emitted light. When used at a wedding, the gobo can be projected on to the dance floor or wall in the shape of the couple’s monogram or another decorative pattern.

Head Table: The principal table where the bride, groom, bridal party and other guests of honor are seated.

Hurricane: A glass enclosure placed around a candle to protect the flame. Many reception venues require all flames be protected by glass

Mercury Glass: The term for silvered glass, which is glass that was blown double walled, then silvered between the layers with a liquid silvering solution and sealed.

Open Bar: A bar where the drinks have been prepaid by the host of the wedding and guests do not need to worry about paying.

Overlay: Specialty linen used to lie over the top of floor length linens when dressing a table. Overlays are usually in a contrasting color, texture or fabric to the floor length linen.

Pillar Candle: Solid and thick candle that is thicker than a taper candle.

Placement: The correct way of displaying cutlery, glassware and stationery on the table.

Place Cards: These can be used at very formal weddings to designate each person’s specific seat at a particular table.

Place Setting: The table service for a single diner: a napkin, salad fork, dinner fork, dessert fork, service plate or charger, soup bowl, bread-and-butter plate, butter spreader, dinner knife, teaspoon, soup spoon, water goblet, red wine glass, and white wine glass.

Props: The term for everything that exists solely for aesthetics, with no purpose other than to make things look beautiful or convey a theme (e.g. feathers and flowers).

Site Visit: A visit that you make with your event coordinator (or wedding planner) to the venue to discuss logistics and to get inspiration before your wedding day.

Specialty Lighting: Decorative lighting specially added to enhance a room for an event. Examples include up-lighting, gobos and festoon lighting.

Specialty Linen: Linens (tablecloths, napkins) made of upgraded fabrics and textures.

Swagging: Two tablecloths are layered, and the top one is gathered and draped into soft arcs.

Sweetheart Table: A two-person table for the bride and groom.

Tablescape: The layout of table including place settings, glasses and centerpieces.

Table Stationery: All the wedding stationary that will sit on the table alongside the Placement (menu cards & place names).

Taper Candle: Thin formal candle.

Tea Light Candle: A candle in a thin metal cup so that the candle can liquefy completely while lit. They are typically small and inexpensive. Multiple tea lights are often burned simultaneously.

Underlay: A full tablecloth that falls to the floor.

Up-lighting: Decorative lighting specially added to enhance a room for an event. Up-lighting is placed around the perimeter of the room to add a wash of color and light to the walls.

Votive Candle: Short candle used to add light and decor to tables. Typically, votive candles will burn for 8-10 hours.

Votive Holder: Small glass cup meant to hold votive candles.

Photo by Ron Miller Photography


Photo by A Secret Garden


And that concludes Wedding Terms 101! If we missed any terms you would like to know, please let us know on Facebook or twitter!

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Author: Deidre Bakker-Riches