English for Weddings

WeddingsWeddings are very visual. There are so many people to watch and so many events to see. You can enjoy a wedding even if you don’t understand the language. Here is some wedding vocabulary to learn:

The Wedding Party
The wedding party refers to all of the people who are in the wedding. These people typically stand at the front during the ceremony. They often wear clothing that matches the theme of the wedding. They also sit with the couple for dinner.

bride: woman getting married
groom: man getting married
best man: groom’s best friend or closest family member (witness to the marriage)
maid of honour: bride’s best friend or closest family member (witness to the marriage)
groomsmen: other male friends or family members who stand up with the groom
bridesmaids: other female friends or family members who stand up with the bride
flower girl: young female child who carries the flowers
ring bearer: young male child who carries the wedding rings

Other People at Weddings
guests: all of the people who go to the wedding
priest/minister/justice of the peace: person who legally marries the couple
emcee: host; person who does most of the talking at the wedding reception
DJ: person who plays the music
photographer: person who takes the wedding pictures
caterer: person (or company) who makes the food for the reception

Typical Wedding Schedule:
1. Guests arrive at the ceremony
2. Wedding party walks down the aisle to music
3. Bride’s father escorts her down the aisle to music
4. Bride and groom exchange vows (promises to be together forever)
5. Groom kisses the bride
6. Minister invites the guests to congratulate the newlyweds
7. Wedding party walks back down the aisle to music (sometimes confetti is thrown)
8. Wedding party poses for professional photographs (break time for guests)
9. Reception (party) begins
10. Emcee introduces him or herself
11. Dinner is served
12. Friends and family deliver speeches (ex. stories about the couple or cheers to the couple)
13. Bride and groom have first dance
14. Dancing continues
13. Bride and groom cut the wedding cake
14. Dessert is served
15. Bride throws her bouquet (flowers) to single women
16. Groom removes the garter (small band worn around bride’s leg); throws to single men
17. DJ announces last song
18. Bride and groom depart (some guests are already gone)
19. Bride and groom take a honeymoon (a vacation to celebrate the marriage)

What to say to the bride and/or groom after the wedding
You look stunning. (very beautiful)
You look handsome. (very good looking; say to males)
Your dress is gorgeous.
The food was delicious.
Thank you for inviting us.
We really enjoyed ourselves.
The wedding was beautiful.
When’s the honeymoon?

Questions you may need to ask at a wedding
Where is the gift table?
What time is the reception?
Where should I sit? (You may need to tell the groomsmen if you are a guest of the bride or groom.)
Who are the bride’s parents?
Which one is the best man?
What is the maid of honour’s name?
How do you know the bride and groom? (What is your connection to the couple?)
Can I take your photograph?
When will the dancing start?
Where is the washroom?

Watch an untraditional wedding entrance and take a wedding vocabulary quiz.

Survival Challenge: Share the “typical” schedule of a wedding in your culture. Use a step by step system like the one above. Your comment may help a reader survive a wedding in your country!

Written by Tara Benwell for EnglishClub | December 2009
Tara Benwell is a Canadian freelance writer and editor who specializes in materials and articles for the ELT industry.

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