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The A to Z Glossary of Wedding Terms

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.

Charger

A large decorative plate that’s placed under the dinner plate to bring color and texture to the table.

Tablescape

Another word for table arrangement or centerpiece. It’s most often used when each table has multiple components.

Nosegay

A small bouquet or flower arrangement usually given as a gift to the mothers of the bride and groom before the wedding ceremony.

Pomander

A ball of flowers that is used as a decoration or an accessory (flower girls often carry them in lieu of baskets). They can be suspended from ribbons or hooks or placed on top of vases.

Handle Wrap

The ribbon, fabric, or handkerchief that wraps around the stems of a bouquet.

Cascade Bouquet

An elongated bouquet with a trail of vines, ribbons, or leaves (also referred to as a “waterfall bouquet”).

Maid of Honor and Matron of Honor

A sister or friend of the bride who stands closest to her at the altar. Although this role is traditionally given to one person, it can be given to two or even three. The maid of honor title is given to a woman who is not married, while the matron of honor title is given to one who is.

Usher

A man—or men—selected by the groom, whose main responsibility is to seat guests as they enter the ceremony. This task can also fall to the groomsmen.

Escort Cards

Printed cards that inform guests of what table they’ll be seated at. They are typically displayed as guests enter the reception or at cocktail hour.

Place Cards

Printed cards that are placed at each seat at the reception to let guests know which chair they will be sitting at.

Stationery Suite

A term to describe all of the stationery, including the save-the-dates, invitations, reply cards, reception cards, and any other invitation enclosures.

Reply Card

A card that’s mailed with the invitation for guests to fill out and return with any or all of the following information: whether or not they will be attending, how many people will be in attendance, and in some cases, their entree choice for the reception.

Letterpress

A centuries-old printing technique where blocks or plates of raised type are inked and pressed deep into the paper, giving words and images a grooved texture.

Embossing

The process of creating a three-dimensional image or design, such as a monogram, on wedding invitations, programs, menus, and thank-you notes.

Engraving

The most traditional form of invitation printing. Text is etched onto a copper plate, which is then coated with ink and wiped clean, leaving ink only in the indentations. When paper is pressed against the plate, it produces raised text. On this stationery, a drawing of a ranunculus bloom is engraved in deep pink.

Ecru

A French word that means “raw” or “unbleached.” The natural beige hue has become a traditional color for wedding invitations.

Card Stock

Paper stock that is thicker and more durable than normal writing paper, but thinner and more flexible than other forms of paperboard. It is often used for wedding stationery including invitations, menus, programs, and escort and place cards.

Vellum

Heavy, transparent paper that is often used as an overlay on wedding invitations. It can also be used for a variety of other things, including these favor boxes.

Typography

The art of arranging type; type design.

Serif

A short line at the end of the main strokes of a character.

Sans Serif

Sans, which means “without,” is a typeface in which characters have no serifs.

Cathedral Veil

A dramatic veil that extends at least 9 feet. Because of its volume, it demands the wide aisles of a cathedral (hence the name) and deft maneuvering on the part of the bride, as well as the assistance of at least one of her attendants.

Mantella Veil

A Spanish-style tulle veil with a wide lace border that lays over the head instead of attaching with a comb.

Blusher Veil

A short veil that extends to just below the chin (so as not to interfere with the bouquet).

Fascinator

A hair accessory that’s worn to the side and is often made of feathers, flowers, or wisps of fabric. It’s often embellished with crystals, beads, or loops of ribbon and attached with a comb, headband, or bobby pins.

Fingertip Veil

A traditional veil that reaches the bride’s fingertips when her hands are at her sides.

Bouffant Veil

A cloud of tulle that rises high above the bride’s head. This style gained popularity in the 1950s when brides wore it combined with a tiara or satin headband. Today’s bouffants are more understated and are typically worn without a headpiece for a cleaner, more modern look.

Flyaway Veil

A multilayered veil that brushes the shoulders and is perfect for dresses with open or intricate backs.

Three-Piece Veil

A short blusher, wrist-length drop, and sweeping chapel-length veil in one.

Millinery

Fabric or ribbon details used on hats, cakes, or wedding decor.

Bustle

A type of framework used to expand the fullness of the back of a woman’s dress. Many modern gowns contain hidden strings and buttons made for tying up the bustle after the ceremony so the bride can dance more freely at the reception.

Applique

A decorative design made of one material sewn over another.

Tulle

A fine netted fabric used for veils, tutus, or gowns.

Duchess Satin

A luxurious fabric with a high thread count that’s shiny on one side. It’s sometimes referred to as “silk satin.”

Grosgrain

A silk or silk-like fabric with a ribbed appearance. It’s often used in trims, belts, and handle wraps—like this one.

Organza

A thin, sheer, plain-weave fabric that’s traditionally made from silk.

Faille

A ribbed woven fabric of silk, rayon, or cotton that drapes very well.

Bateau

A high-neck silhouette that extends horizontally from shoulder to shoulder. It gained popularity in the 1960s, and is also referred to as a “boatneck.”

Sweetheart Neckline

A heart-shaped neckline.

Drop Waist

An elongated waistline that is positioned a few inches below the natural waist.

Trumpet

A dress silhouette that is fitted through the bodice and hips and flares out toward the bottom. Shaped like a mermaid’s tail, it is sometimes referred to as a “mermaid” or “fit and flare” style.

Ruched

Fabric that is gathered into figure-flattering ruffles or pleats.

Shapewear

Undergarments with built-in support that smooth, slim, and create a beautiful silhouette.

D’Orsay

A style of woman’s shoe that reveals the arch of the foot.

Dyeables

Shoes or fabric that can be dyed to match a specific color swatch.

Primer

A lightweight gel that creates an invisible layer of protection under foundation. It literally primes skin for photographs by creating a smooth surface, preventing oil and shine, and helping makeup last longer.

Palette

A palette describes the range of colors used in work. Whether you use one color or several, the colors used in your wedding make up your palette.

Clip Art

Ready-made pieces of computerized graphic art that can be downloaded, printed out, and used to decorate a document such as a wedding invitation, menu, thank you card, or program.

Template

A predesigned file with editable text boxes for details such as names and wedding dates. We offer several templates for escort cards, stationery, and table numbers.

Craft Punch

A craft tool used to create a decorative hole or punch in paper.

Signature Cocktail

A specialty cocktail chosen by the bride and groom or caterer to be served at the reception. It can be either a traditional drink that has personal sentiment to the couple or a new drink created for the couple.

Fondant

A hard frosting made of sugar and water that’s mixed together, cooked, and cooled. Like buttercream, it is traditionally used on wedding cakes.

Ganache

An icing made from chocolate and cream that’s used to cover, decorate, or fill cakes.

Gum Paste

A mixture of sugar, cornstarch, and gelatin that is used to create realistic-looking garnishes—such as flowers, fruits, and birds—for cakes.

Sugar Flowers

Delicate, exceptionally detailed and realistic-looking flowers made from sugar. They are often hand-painted.

Royal Icing

A hard white icing made from egg whites and powdered sugar, used to decorate cakes. Here, royal icing roses are piped onto this fondant-covered cake.

Channel Setting

A type of ring setting where the stones are inlaid directly into the band, without prongs.

Bezel

A metal rim that encircles the entire gemstone and is an alternative to prongs.

Pave

A cluster of diamonds that completely covers, or paves, a piece of metal.

Micro Pave

A cluster of tiny diamonds or diamond chips that completely covers, or paves, a piece of metal.

Marquise Cut

A diamond-shaped stone.

Cushion Cut

A stone that’s square with rounded corners.

Emerald Cut

A rectangle-shaped stone.

Princess Cut

A square-shaped stone.

Prong Setting

Metal tines—usually four or six—that secure a gemstone. Top ring by Tiffany & Co.; bottom ring by Asprey.

Cluster Setting

A grouping of several small diamonds that flank a larger center stone. Ring by Kwait.

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