Wedding Glossary, Slang and Acronyms

Weddings have a lingo all their own. Learn to speak the language before you plan your big day.


If you’re working with wedding professionals — caterers, planners, florists — you’re probably going to hear them toss off some casual terminology that leaves you scratching your head. “I always get questions from my brides about the terms I’m using,” says Annie Lee, founder of the wedding-planning firm Daughter of Design. “And sometimes the photographer and the caterer don’t even understand each other — each wedding specialty has its own dialect.”

So Lee created Learn to Speak Wedding: Flashcards for Beginners, a set of 50 cards outlining terms of the trade so all brides (and grooms) can be in the know. These cards make a great novelty gift for the bride, or you can turn them into a fun wedding shower quiz to see who really knows their stuff. Test your wedding IQ with this glossary from Lee:

  • STD: “When I tell people to be sure to give all their relatives STDs, I get an interesting reaction,” Lee says. Don’t freak out — in wedding terms, STD means “save the date.”

  • FOB, MOB, FOG, MOG: You may see these abbreviations scrawled in the wedding planner’s notes. Starting with “father of the bride,” these are all shorthand for the happy couple’s parents; however, these are not for addressing them directly.

  • BM, GM, MOH: These acronyms represent the wedding party. “BM” can be bridesmaid or best man, “GM” is groomsman and “MOH” is the maid of honor.

  • Bouts: Pronounced “boots,” which leads to confusion. “Bouts” are boutonnieres, or the lapel flowers for the male members of the wedding party. The word gets abbreviated because it’s hard to spell — and say. Hint: boo-tuh-NEARS.

  • OTT: If you hear this in reference to your wedding, you may take it as a compliment if you’re pulling out all the stops. It’s planner-speak for “over the top”: Think 20 bridesmaids and lavish centerpieces.

  • OOT: Not to be confused with “OTT,” OOTs are your out-of-town guests. Lee recommends treating them with welcome bags upon arrival that contain snacks, water and suggestions for things to do in the area.

  • OT: Neither “OOT” nor “OTT,” OT is exactly what most sports fans think it is — overtime. This is what hourly vendors will charge you if your reception runs over the time limit; make sure all contracts include a stipulation for overtime so that the final bill isn’t a surprise.

  • F&B: The reception is a wellspring of wedding shorthand because there are so many logistical considerations and so many different vendors involved. “F&B” stands for “food and beverage,” and generally refers to the minimum menu and bar amounts required to rent a venue, especially on prime weekend nights.

  • BEO: The BEO is the banquet event order, or the final document from the caterer that spells out the menu, guest count, timeline, setup and specific client requests. Review it carefully!

  • Pax: Short for “passengers” and used by transportation companies to show how many people can be accommodated in, say, a limo between the ceremony and the reception.

  • Trash the dress: This is how you may choose to wrap up your wedding celebration, although it’s not as ill-mannered as it sounds. “Trash the dress” is the photo you take days or weeks after the wedding because it could mess up the bride’s expensive couture by running through an ocean wave, Lee says, or lying in a field of daisies. But don’t be afraid to use your imagination — dry cleaners can do amazing things these days.

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