weddings 101

Getting Wed: A to Z

A bookmark-worthy glossary of wedding terms for engaged couples.


Attendants (a.k.a. bridesmaids)
Their dresses should be ordered months in advance and are traditionally shiny, if not blinding (think Ice Capades). Remember: You can always keep it simple and opt for just having a maid of honor.

An adult version of loot bags. Gifts for your guests, such as truffles, angel-topped candy dishes or bubble-blowing bongs shaped like a bride and groom.

Avoid fondant — glassy icing that makes your cake look (and taste) like it was baked at Madame Tussauds. White buttercream is far more edible and looks stunning strewn with fresh flowers.

Or Mikasa. Even Wedgwood or Lenox if you’re hardcore. As a courtesy to your gift-buying guests, you should register.


Etiquette (for the reception)
Best man toasts bride. Father of bride toasts couple. Maid of honor toasts groom. Groom toasts all. Oh hell, let’s drink.

Be ready for the question: “What are your colors?” Some couples go bold (red, white and blue for a Fourth of July wedding), while others choose subdued (gold and earth tones for the fall). Build around what’s in season.

Guest list
When drafting the guest list, take a deep breath, think of three good things about your future spouse, and hide the steak knives. Also, decide what size wedding you want and resist encroachments from Camp In-Laws-To-Be.

Hotel rooms
Book them for out-of-town guests, ASAP. Even just one competing wedding can fill up accommodations in an area.

If your engagement survived the guest list, you will now have to paw through dozens of sample books and choose an invitation. Before you send out the invites, make sure the venue you’ve chosen can accommodate all your guests.

A few moments of quiet meditation or affirmations may help. If not, there’s always the silver flask in the best man’s pocket. Just a little drop’ll “I do” you!

Whether you choose white gold bands or gem-packed rings that burn corneas, just remember to pick them up from the jeweler. Do not admire near sinks or heating vents.
Yes, acquiring this boring legal document is your responsibility. Bring adequate photo ID to the county hall. Try not to shout “Highway robbery!” when the clerk reveals the cost. Do not leave it at home in a “safe place” on your wedding day.

Taste as much of it as you can in advance. Guests will pretend to remember the groom’s glistening eyes or the bride’s intricate up-do, but they’ll really be wistful over the caterer’s tequila-glazed shrimps on a mini-pancake.

In many cases, the wedding photographer will keep your negatives, only to be released for 15 pounds of gold bullion and a villa in Tuscany. Consider the cost of reprints when comparing photo packages, or bargain for the negs.


Whether a priest, rabbi or Liza Minnelli, they will navigate the ceremony, so choose carefully and consult often. Take advantage of their expertise, and don’t leave questions to the last minute.

Power panties
Stretchy, beige contraptions that brides wear to keep their cabooses as sleek as an ice sculpture. Highly recommended.

Quest for fashion
If pressed for time or money, search out bridal stores with sample sizes that can be bought off the rack. And don’t be afraid to check out regular department stores and dress shops–your perfect “wedding dress” might be waiting there.

As in “Lady in Red.” The right DJ or band can make or break a reception, so be clear about your tastes–or you’ll wind up with Chris de Burgh.

There’s always one speaker who grows roots at the podium. Tactfully suggest a time limit. Beware relations dragging emotional baggage.GettingWedStoV

The dudes need outfits, too. Choosing from a large rental chain allows groomsmen from different states to visit their local stores to get a proper fit. One of them will pop a button on the big day, so keep a sewing kit handy.

Recruit a couple of friends–preferably those known for punctuality and the ability to distinguish left from right. These days, women may also ush.

Whether it’s a hometown Holiday Inn or a deserted Cali beach, the location will dictate the tone, size and cost of your wedding. Start the search early.


Who’s paying for all this?
Find out before the bills start descending like winged monkeys.

Former boyfriends or girlfriends should only be invited by mutual (and sincere) agreement.

You (plural)
You’re presumably only doing this once, so exhale and enjoy! If things go off the rails, remember that most glitches are endearing and just make weddings more memorable.

Don’t expect porn-tastic sex in the wee hours after your wedding. More than likely, you will wind up sawing logs in a hotel room–hopefully next to your new spouse.

Image(s): Edwina White