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  • Writer's pictureSydney Schatz

Common Wedding Terms Every Couple Should Know - Part 2

This blog post is part two from an original post I created over 3 years ago. There are so many different wedding terms that you may not be totally familiar with if you aren’t as immersed in the industry. As a wedding planner, I hear from clients & prospective clients all the time, “this is our first time doing this” or “we have never done this before and don’t fully know what goes into planning a wedding”. And that’s okay! No one expects you to be an expert – that’s why you hire the experts. One of my goals with this blog is to educate, to help you level up that wedding knowledge. Hopefully, defining (with pictures) ten more wedding terms will give you the confidence when talking to your vendors that you know exactly what they are referring to and there is no guess work or unnecessary Googling involved!

Banquet Event Order (BEO) – This is the document that planners & venues use to list out EVERY detail of your wedding. As you are nearing your wedding date (usually that last 30-days) if you are working with a venue that is more inclusive venue (includes catering, set up, take down, etc.) they will likely say “Please review and sign the attached BEO”. This detailed document is what they are referring to. It will have everything from your timeline, your room layout, your vendor list, your meal & bar selections, to any rentals & fees that are included. It is important that this document is reviewed with fresh & detail oriented eyes because this is what they venue and banquet staff is going to be referring back to as they set up and work your wedding day. If you have hired a 3rd party planner or coordinator (let’s have a separate chat if you haven’t done that yet), make sure they receive a copy of this Event Order to review as well before you sign.

Black Tie – Over the last year we have been starting to see a trend towards more formal, elegant affairs where the couples/hosts want their guests to “dress to impress”. For gentlemen, this means a tuxedo. Or at the very least a dress shirt with a dinner jacket & slacks. For women, this entails long, evening dresses. Different fabrics that work well for this are velvet, lace, chiffon or silk. An elegant pant suit also works well for women attending black tie events. If this attire feels just a little too formal from what you were envisioning for your wedding guest attire, then head back to my last “common wedding terms” blog post where I define “cocktail attire” and see if that is more what you are thinking. A meet in the middle between causal & black tie. (I’ve linked back to that blog post at the bottom)

Photo by Arch & Elm Photography

Bustle – This is the process of transitioning your wedding dress from having a train (typically down during the ceremony) to being more comfortable and functional as if there were no train (typically done before reception starts). This involves fastening the train to the rest of the dress either via ties, hooks, or buttons. Maybe soon I’ll do a collaboration post with a dress shop to talk through all the different bustle options!

Photo by Looyenga Photography - wedding dress unbustled

Photo by Looyenga Photography - same dress, bustled

Cocktail Hour – This is that time between the ceremony & the reception. It absolutely does not need to last a full hour – especially if you accomplished all your photos prior to the ceremony starting – but it does need to last at least a half hour. The cocktail hour is a necessary transition period for you, your guests & your vendors. This time is used to get a drink, grab an appetizer (if you have them available), go to the bathroom, let the caterer prepare for dinner service, bustle your dress – essentially just get ready for that next part of the evening.

Photo by Steve Torres Photography

Head Table versus Sweetheart Table – I am doing this as one “definition” because I feel it is important to understand the differences between the two so you & your set up staff/venue doesn’t get confused. A head table is where you and your new spouse are sitting in front of all your guests with your entire wedding party. Sometimes this includes your wedding party’s significant others – sometimes it is just you with your posse. A sweetheart table is where just you and your new spouse are sitting at a table facing your guests – no other wedding party members or guests are present/sitting at the table with you. For some couples, this can feel overwhelming because it seems like it’s just the two of you against the world, but it can also be the only moment where you get to sit with your new spouse just the two of you.

Photo by Lana Janae Photography - wedding head table

Photo by Lisa Prins Photography - sweetheart table

Invitation Suite – Referring to not only the invitation itself, but everything else that goes with your invitation. Typically, this kind of verbiage is used by your photographer looking to get all your detail photos on the morning of your wedding. One of the things they are going to ask about is your “invitation suite”. Meaning they are looking for everything you sent out to your guests… save-the-date, invitation, RSVP card, detail card, map, envelope, wax seal, vellum wrap, etc. Depending on how elaborate you went with your invitation suite sometimes you will have all these things, sometimes you will only have the save-the-date and the invitation. It is all personal & unique to your wedding vision!

Photo by Danielle Marie Photography

Open Bar – Meaning guests are able to order whatever and however much alcohol they want! I am putting this term on the list because sometimes couples tell me that they want an “open bar”, however, after I explain to them exactly what that means they realize they only want a partially hosted bar. An open bar can also mean different things to different venues/catering services. At a venue that allows cocktails and/or liquor, an “open bar” means that your guests can choose whatever drink tickles their fancy. Some venues only allow the service of beer & wine, in which case an open bar still means guests can order as many drinks as they would like throughout the night but are limited to those beer & wine options. Just be prepared if you really want to go the open bar route the bar costs can add up very quickly. A great alternative is to choose two signature cocktails and host only those, plus beer & wine. Then if a guest wants a different cocktail they can pay for it themselves.

Photo by Hanomaly Photography

Send-off – How are you leaving your party? No one really wants to talk about it, but the music does have to be shut off at some point, unfortunately. Before everything goes totally quiet, how are you planning to make your escape? A send-off entails you and your new spouse leaving your party, getting in your getaway vehicle, and riding off into the dark of night towards your next great adventure. A send-off can be done in a variety of ways… sparklers (if you venue/weather allows), rose petals, bubbles, LED light wands, glow sticks, confetti (if the venue allows – biodegradable is always best). This is an opportunity to get creative and do what feels right for you as a couple!

Photo by Yasmina Rose Photography

Photo by Tiffany Nichols Photography

Shot List – This is a term you will likely hear from your photographer when referring to any specific or special photos and/or family photos. For family photos, it is important (and very helpful) to write down a “shot list” for the groupings of people you are wanting your photographer to capture. The reason being is that your photographer more than likely does not know your family dynamics, does not know who is a cousin and who is a plus one, and they also want to make sure they are taking all the most important photos for you to have to look back on forever.

Votive Candle – I am including this term on the list because the number of times I get the “wait, what is a votive candle?” response when talking about this décor element is enough to warrant breaking down the definition. Votive candles are small, short cylindrical candles that are around 2” tall and placed in a small cylinder vase. They are often used as an additional decoration on dining tables and standing cocktail tables at weddings to add a simple touch of ambiance. You will also hear the term “tealight candle” thrown out, sometimes seemingly interchangeably, but those are the even smaller candles that are housed in a thin or plastic cup (allowing the candle to completely liquify while lit) and, again, put into small cylinder vases. These tend to be cheaper and make less of a mess, but don’t have as long of a burn time.

Photo by Steve Torres Photography

I hope this was helpful and gives you newfound confidence when chatting with all your vendors that you really do know what you are talking about! As promised, here is a link back to the first set of Common Wedding Terms Every Couple Should Know. Let me know if there are other wedding terms that you still feel confused about when you hear them thrown out casually in conversation. And if you don’t have that coordinator or planner hired yet, check out my services page, fill out the contact form, and let’s start a conversation!

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