Wedding Jargon Explained

As if planning a wedding isn’t stressful enough as it is, to make matters even more complicated, the wedding planning industry fill our heads with confusing vocabulary and overly fancy terminology. I mean, since when was a ‘breakfast’ held in late afternoon, why do you need a ‘block of rooms’ for your big day (!) and aren’t garlands usually reserved for use at Christmas?

I spent the best part of two years planning my wedding (and finally got married in September 2022 🥳). I understand just how overwhelming it all is, but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s take a look at some of the most common (and strange) jargon in wedding day lexicon and try our best to decode what it all means.

White aisle runner on beach, covered in pink petals, leading down to the sea

Aisle Runner

Starting off relatively simple, this is the piece of carpet that runs down the aisle like your very own red carpet.

Black Tie / Black Tie Optional

This is a type of dress code that usually refers to a formal choice of clothing for the wedding. Often specified on invitations, for a ‘black tie’ function guests will wear attire such as evening dresses and tuxedos, while ‘black tie optional’ permits guests to wear regular suits and cocktail dresses.

Block Book Rooms

If you are getting married in a hotel or country house, the venue will often reserve, or ‘block book’, private rooms to accommodate your guests. This term can also refer to a number of function rooms being reserved for different parts of your big day.


Derived from the French for ‘box of bonbons’, these are also referred to as ‘favours’, and are essentially a small gesture to thank each of your guests for attending your wedding.

Thistle buttonhole in blazer lapel


Also known as ‘buttonholes’, men in the wedding party often wear these on the left side of their jacket lapel.


These are small bites of hot or cold food often served during the drinks reception (more on that in a moment).

Cascade Bouquet

Literally flowers that hang downward, usually trailing over a piece of furniture for photographic effect (and can be completely avoided, despite what wedding planners advise).


The person that conducts your ceremony, but does not have the authority to make it legal. (This part is often done by the registrar).


Nothing to do with your phone – charger plates sit beneath your dinner plate and serve as a purely decorative feature at the table.


This is a fee you pay to a venue if you want to provide your own alcohol. They are literally charging you to put your drinks in the fridge and pour them for you.

Two glasses of champagne next to a champagne bottle, with two wedding rings next to the bottle cork


This is the piece of fabric worn around the waist of a man if he is wearing a tuxedo and can be a great alternative to a vest or waistcoat.

Drinks Reception

The part of the wedding day that takes place immediately after the wedding ceremony and before the actual reception with food and speeches. This is often to allow the guests to mingle while the bridal party go off to take pictures.


Small gifts given to your guests at the wedding reception as a simple thank you for attending. Something sweet in a pretty little box often does the job quite nicely.

First Look

This is more something that your photographer may mention to you than anyone else. It is a photo opportunity between the couple to capture the moment they see each other for the first time, if you do not want to wait until walking down the aisle.


Similar to the ones you see at Christmas, garlands are floral features often hung around banisters or placed decoratively on tables.

Gift Registry

A list of gifts picked out by the couple getting married and sent out to attendees if they wish to purchase a gift for the celebrations. If everyone sticks to the list, there should be no duplicate gifts and the wedded couple get exactly what they want.


This is a template that gets attached to a light source to create a certain pattern or design on the surface the light is shining towards. Often most effective when projected on walls or floors, monograms or little hearts are popular gobos at weddings.

Round chocolate cake with cocoa dust sprinkled on top. A pink rose with green leaves decorates the top of the cake

Naked Cake (🫣)

A simple cake without lots of elaborate icing and fondant creations. The cakes are usually finished with buttercream frosting and decorated with flowers.

Order of Service

A simple page, or sometimes booklet, which provides guests with details of the day. This helps to give attendees an idea of what will be happening and how long things will take.


The music played at the start of the wedding ceremony where the bridal party make their entrance.


The party at the end of the day.


The music played at the end of the wedding ceremony that sees the exit of the wedding party.


A registrar is the legal officiant of your nuptials, required to make your wedding vows legally binding. While the celebrant may perform a more customised ceremony, a registrar can conduct a legally binding, civil ceremony and approve the wedding license, taking care of all legalities in one step.

Shot List

Nothing to do with standing at the bar! A selection of pictures you would like your photographer to take on your wedding day. This list can include anything from posed pictures with family members to artsy shots of wedding rings.

Rustic wedding setting featuring green garlands on long tables and cream fabric draped between two points in the room


This is the term for the fabric draping which you will often see around the edges of a room as a decorative feature.

Sweetheart Table

An alternative to a ‘top table’ and ideal for more intimate receptions, this table will seat only the married couple.

Toast Master

The person that makes sure everyone is in the right place at the right time, toast masters can help to bring the small details of the day together really nicely.

Top Table

Conventionally the table where the married couple will sit with their closest family and friends. Typically, it is a table for both sets of parents, a groomsman and lead bridesmaid.


Lights that can completely transform the vibe of a room and help to create ambience.

Vendor Meal

A meal you may want to provide at your venue for your wedding team which can often be simple food for your wedding planner, photographer, musicians etc. These people do not need to be included in your ‘wedding breakfast’ numbers.

Pink and black wedding breakfast room with peony rose centre pieces and brown chiavari chairs

Wedding Breakfast

This term defines the part of the wedding day that comes after the ceremony and drinks reception but before the main reception. This is where you will have your main meal of the day, listen to the speeches and toast the new couple.


A thoroughly modern way to communicate with your wedding party all of the details of the day and a great way to provide details such as directions to the venue, nearby amenities and gift registry.

There’s bound to be a load more wedding-y words that will continue to confuse us all for years to come, but hopefully this list helped to clear things up a little bit. Did you know all of these? Perhaps you have some to add to my list? Let me know in the comments below.

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