Wedding Dictionary

Here are some terms that you will come across during the planning of your wedding. When you meet with bridal vendors it helps to know what some wedding terms mean, so that you can speak the same language.

Cake Terms
Catering Basics

Cake Terms

Buttercream: The most common type of icing. It's soft, creamy and sweet, and made of butter, sugar and milk. Your baker can use it to cover the outside of your cake and/or as a filling in between the layers.

Cornelli: Aform of piping that creates a three-dimensional pattern of lace and squiggles.

Dragees: Decorative silver-coated balls made of sugar.

Fondant: Icing made of sugar, gelatin, corn syrup and glycerin that has a firm yet tender texture and a smooth, porcelain-like finish. It's more expensive than buttercream because decorating with it is more complicated and labor-intensive.

Ganache: A dark, rich combination of chocolate and cream used as a filling or icing.

Genoise: A French sponge cake that’s drier than American cakes. Typically soaked in a liqueur syrup and layered with fruit fillings or flavored whipped cream.

Marzipan: Hardened almond paste and sugar, this confection is traditionally used to make realistic cake toppings. It can be rolled and used as icing.

Royal Icing: A hard, brittle and not-very-tasty type of icing made of sugar and egg whites. It's used mostly for sculptural decorations, like roses, swirls and dots.

Table Cakes: Can be used as a substitute for floral centerpieces, which can save you money. These individualized cakes can be used as centerpieces throughout the meal.

Catering Basics

Buffet: A good way to offer several entrees in a free-flowing atmosphere. Not recommended for couples with limited space.

Canapé: Any bite-size appetizer served on a small round of bread, cracker or vegetable (e.g., blinis with crème fraiche and caviar).

Casual Barbecue: A close-knit group of friends and family will enjoy the informality of a backyard or a park.

Corkage Fee: Many caterers charge a fee per bottle of alcohol just to open it during your reception. The charge applies only if you have provided the alcohol yourselves instead of getting it through your caterer. The price ranges from $5 to $10 per bottle.

Crudités: An appetizer of raw vegetables (like carrots, celery, cucumbers and peppers), sliced up and served with dip.


Prelude: Quiet, gentle "background" music played at the beginning of the ceremony, as guests arrive and are seated.

Interlude: A song during the lighting of the unity candle or at another point in the ceremony. It can be instrumental or vocal. "Hymne a l’Amour" by Josh Groban, or the “Wedding Song (there is love)” by Peter, Paul and Mary are popular choices.

Processional: Stately music played as the bridal party walks down the aisle, with the bride and her escort at the very end (e.g., Pachelbel's famous "Canon in D"). Often the bride's walk is accompanied by a different tune (e.g., Wagner's "Bridal Chorus").

Recessional: Upbeat, triumphant music played at the end of the service, as the bride and groom make their way back up the aisle and exit the ceremony. Mendelssohn's "Wedding March," from A Midsummer Night's Dream, is the most popular option.

Postlude: Music that plays until every last guest has exited the ceremony area. It should revert to the background and last around fifteen minutes. “All You Need is Love” by The Beatles is a contemporary surprise to end of the ceremony.


Architectural Arrangements: A clean, contemporary look that makes use of sculptural flowers. Clear glass vessels naturally complement the style. A single type of flower is typically used in each vessel.

Boutonnieres: Those who are apart of the wedding party wear boutonnieres. The boutonniere complements the bridal bouquet in flower type or color. Readers and Ushers also get to wear boutonnieres so that the guest may identify them easily.

Cascade Bouquet: A nosegay bouquet that spills forward from the base in which the blossoms form a waterfall effect when held. It flows down below your waist.

Chuppah: A temporary structure consisting of four poles with a canopy partially covering them. The Chuppah is a central component to the Jewish ceremony, representing the couple’s first home. Chuppah can be covered in fabric or flowers or both.

Corsage: People who have stood by you and the groom get to wear the corsages; your mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers. These do not have to match the bridal bouquet.

Dome or Nosegay Bouquet: Round, dome-shaped, tightly packed or loose bursts of blossoms with hand-tied stems. Rarely more than three types of flowers. Measuring 12" to 18" in diameter. Petite nosegays are called posies.

English Garden Arrangements: Fluffy and full, but with more color. A traditional look that is less formal than romantic and can look lush in silver containers or charming in a basket.

Filler: Inexpensive flowers and foliage (ivy, baby's breath or ferns, for example) that are often used to fill out bouquets and other floral arrangements.

Freeze-Dried Petals: Petals that retain their color and texture longer than fresh ones. These are great for guest to toss as you leave the reception, or for the flower girl to toss down the aisle.

Pomander: A blossom covered globe suspended from a ribbon handle. Use it as a bouquet or have your flower girl carry one, in lieu of a basketful of petals.

Romantic Arrangements: Fluffy arrangements in white, blush, cream and perhaps pink. Most often used in traditional, somewhat formal arrangements in silver containers and accented by lots of candles.

Tuscan Arrangements: Warmer and earthy, these rely on sunny shades of yellow and orange and deeper shades of red and often incorporate fruit. These arrangements mix well with natural wood tables, rust-colored or verdigris candelabra, and fat cylinder candles.

Tussie-mussies: A silver cone-shaped bouquet holder, popular during the Victorian era. It is perfect for an elegant, "vintage" wedding.

Stationery Basics

Beveled Edge: A slanted edge, usually used on heavy card stock or inside embossed panels.

Cotton Rag: Rich, creamy paper made from cotton fiber. Used in many top-quality invitations and it will not discolor over time. The softness of the paper lends itself to letterpress printing.

Debossed: Like embossing, except the image is depressed instead of raised.

Deckle Edge: Rough, uneven edges on paper that give it an Old World look. Edges are more often torn or die cut to make them look unfinished.

Die Cut: A precision cut mainly used in folder cards to create a “window” to text or images behind the first card. Lasers have made die cuts easier to execute.

Dingbat: A topographical term for a decorative motif used on stationary. A palm tree, pinecone, or eternity symbol can convey something about your theme, location or personality.

Embossed: A raised image created when the paper is squeezed between a die and a counter-die. Typical for monogramming.

Engraving: A traditional, formal printing style, distinguished by slightly "raised" lettering and indentations that can be felt on the back of the invitation. It's a labor-intensive, and therefore an expensive process.

Thermograph: A machine-printing process that uses heated powder to give print a raised look. To the untrained eye, it appears virtually identical to engraved print but costs far less.

Suite: What you would call your entire invitation package.

Vellum: A thin, transparent type of paper that looks somewhat like frosted glass. Your stationer can print text on it directly or use it as a decorative overlay.

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Yvette-Michelle Cottle Darby | Editor-in-Chief and Founder
Yvette-Michelle is a bridal consultant and wedding coordinator in Greater Toronto, Barrie, and surrounding areas. With over twenty years of experience, crafty know-how, and a flare for style, she provides her clients with expert advice and the help they need to transform their creative wedding dreams into reality.