Planning a wedding can be stressful. Add wedding terminology that you’ve never heard of, and it can be downright overwhelming! No worries, we’re here to break down some of the most common words that we think people don’t know, but should, while planning a wedding.

Wedding Terminology To Know When Wedding Planning

Here is some common wedding terminology that we think a lot of people don’t know, but should!

Charger plate

A charger plate is also known as a “charger” is a large, decorative plate that’s used underneath other dinnerware.  Guests never eat off this plate directly, but rather the plate stays under the salad or dinner plate.  It’s purely decorative.

Chargers are used for more formal events, such as weddings, banquets, and galas. They come in a lot of different colors, shapes, sizes, and materials, so it’s easy to find the right one for the style of your event!

Chargers are very popular with plated dinners, so that there is a plate on the table before the food comes out. It makes the table look more put together and not so empty!

A helpful insider tip: You can use a dinner plate as a “charger” plate beneath the salad plate.  Both plates would then be cleared before the dinner entree is served.

Escort card/board vs. Name/place cards

Both escort cards and place cards achieve the same purpose: designating where guests will be sitting during the reception. However, they do have their differences!

Escort cards/boards are less formal than place cards. These direct guests to a designated table, but not a specific seat. Typically, these cards or boards are placed near the entrance of the reception so that guests know which table to head to. If there are no place cards at the table, then that means guests are free to choose their seats!

Now, place cards are more formal & specific than escort cards are. While the escort board or cards tell your guests which table, place cards (also known as name cards) designate the specific seat that they should sit at. You cannot have a place or name card without an escort board or card… Unless you want your guests searching each and every table to find their name at their seat. We wouldn’t suggest that!

If you are having a plated dinner where guests are choosing between menu options, then your venue and/or caterer may require you to have place cards. This is so that they know who ordered which entree. This helps to make dinner service more efficient and quicker so you can get to the “fun stuff.”

If you don’t need to designate a guest’s entree selection and you’re torn between what to use, keep it simple and go with the escort board or cards! That’s less time planning who is sitting next to who. Whatever you choose, just be sure to have something to direct guests to a table.

Cards are not the only option — you can use a mirror for an escort board!

A unique way to add a name card to your place setting:

Cafe or bistro lighting

Bistro lighting, or cafe lighting, is a super popular lighting option for weddings nowadays!

This type of lighting involves a strand with bare bulbs dangling from them at even intervals. This type of lighting creates a warm glow in your space! They are most popular throughout the entire reception space, but can also be used for a patio or dance floor.

Bistro lighting can also be used anywhere! They are very popular in tents, barns, open courtyards, and many more outdoor or open-air settings.


You may have heard of uplighting before, but couldn’t really say what it exactly it is.

Uplighting is where individual light sources are placed at the base of points of interest or architectural details. This is typically around the perimeter of a space, and is meant to draw attention to these details.

If you’ve ever seen an event venue or wedding reception that has very intimate and moody lighting, then you likely have uplighting to thank for that!

Uplighting is typically a good idea for indoor or covered reception areas. It will add some elegance and a dramatic effect to your wedding, as well as indicate significant areas to your guest, such as the photo booth, bar, or dance floor.

Compote florals

Compote florals involve a specific design where a fresh arrangement of flowers are loosely and asymmetrically gathered. We typically see them in a footed pedestal-like container. They give off a very whimsical and romantic vibe, which is of course perfect for weddings! Here are a few examples.

First look

Most people have heard of a first look as they’ve become incredibly popular over the years. Or, maybe you’re very traditional when it comes to weddings and truly haven’t heard of this trend!

Either way, there are a lot of people who don’t fully understand what the purpose of a first look is.

A first look is a private, intimate moment between the soon-to-be newlyweds that happens before the ceremony. Once the couple is dressed and ready to go, the first look will typically take place! It is a time when the newlyweds get to see each other privately before walking down the aisle.

We like to emphasize private because we think this moment is so special and encourage our couples to keep it to just the two of them plus their photo and video team.  We want to be sure the video team and the couple can hear themselves versus hearing the bridal party chanting and cheering. As fun as the chanting sounds, capturing the true emotions is the best part of the first look.

There are a lot of reasons why a couple may choose to have a first look. For one, the privacy and intimacy of it is very appealing to a lot of people. If you have pre-wedding jitters about walking down the aisle in front of everyone, then you might want to consider a first look! Seeing your soon-to-be spouse can help get rid of those nerves.

A first look also can really help with your wedding day timeline. Having a first look before the ceremony gives you the chance to get a lot of your wedding photos out of the way! You can typically take the majority of your couple portraits, family photos, and wedding party photos immediately following the first look. This gives you the chance to enjoy your cocktail hour with your guests!

first look


Wedding installs, or installations, are typically floral and hanging. They are a great opportunity to add a “wow” effect to your wedding day! They are especially perfect for both modern and minimalist weddings. These could be a backdrop, an overhead installation above tables, or a seating chart. Here are a few examples!

Hopefully learning more about this wedding terminology put you more at ease. However, if you’re still feeling overwhelmed with all of the wedding terminology here, let us help! You can reach out to us here with any wedding planning questions.