Wedding Glossary: Your Go-To Guide for Bridal Fashion Lingo and Terms

When a bride or groom start planning a wedding, they quickly realize there are endless wedding terms. Professionals assume you to know these terms and you may just feel lost or confused during your planning. While we are’t professionals in every aspect of the industry, we are bridal fashion experts. To make wedding dress shopping and your alterations process easier, we designed a bridal fashion glossary. These should help you navigate industry lingo! In addition to these terms, click here for a wedding gown silhouette guide and click here for our bridal veil guide.

Accessories Guide

Bolero: A bolero is a piece worn over a strapless wedding gown. It can be designed in a range of fabrics and is traditionally worn to provide more coverage for a bride. Boleros are detachable so after the ceremony, the bride can take it off for a strapless look at her reception. Below is a photo of a model wearing a lace bolero paired with a strapless dress.

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Birdcage veil: Typically designed in Russian netting, a birdcage veil is a petite veil that covers a women’s eyes and is usually paired with a hairpiece. Brides can either wear a birdcage veil on wedding day or worn for boudoir photos.

Cape: A cape is a floor length detachable piece that is meant to be warn over the wedding gown. It is typically worn in lieu of a veil. Below is a photo of Roberta wearing a lace cape by Girl and a Serious Dream paired with a scoop neckline wedding gown by Ines Di Santo.

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Caplet: Caplets are cropped detachable tops warn over the wedding gown to provide the bride more coverage in a fashionable way. Caplets are more fashionable and trendy than a bolero.

Facsinator: A fascinator is a decorative hairpiece. It is often designed with feathers or flowers and is worn by the royals.

Garter: A garter can be made in a range of fabrics and is worn around the upper thigh. Brides can purchase a ‘keeper’ garter and a ‘tosser’ garter. The keeper can be worn again and be passed down while the ‘tosser garter’ is meant to be tossed during the reception.

Hairpiece: A hairpiece is general term for a bridal hair accessory. It is also known as a ‘hair comb’ but this term can be used to describe any hairpiece. Bridal hairpieces can be designed in gold, silver, or rose gold.

Hair Pins: Similar to a hair comb, hair pins are worn in the hair and are a sparkly accessory for a bride. However, they are much smaller and typically sold in sets of 2 or 3 pins.

Halo headpiece: A halo headpiece is a hair accessory that sits on top and wraps around the whole head. Maria Elena is known for her halo hairpieces, they are available in silver, gold, and rose gold. Below is a photo of a real bride wearing a halo hairpiece by Maria Elena Headpieces. Photo by @sydneymariephotography.

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Overskirt: Overskirts are a detachable accessory piece that are meant to be warn over wedding gown to give the bride a fuller skirt. It is typically paired with a fitted gown so the bride appears to have two different wedding gowns.

Sash: Also known as a belt, sashes are typically designed with crystals and are warn over the wedding gown the waistline and can be tied in a bow or sewn on a wedding gown during alterations alterations.

Tiara: Typically smaller in size than a crown, tiaras aren’t just made for royals. Brides, worldwide, are wearing tiaras on their wedding day. Tiaras are a timeless accessory that can be passed down. Our designer, Maria Elena is known for her crowns and tiaras. Below is a gold tiara by Maria Elena Headpieces.

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Gown Construction & Details Guide

Appliqué: Appliqués are applied to the outer layers of a dress. They are meant to add dimension and luster to a gown. Appliqués are typically either classic lace pieces or lace pieces with beading and shine.

Bias cut: Bias cut is a technique designers use to cut fabric. Instead of cutting in a straight line, designers will cut fabric on an angle to give the fabric a four way stretch, resulting in a better, overall fit.

Bodice: The bodice is the top of a gown. It runs from the shoulder to waist.

Boning: Boning is support structure within the dress. In addition to wedding gowns and evening wear, boning can also be found within lingerie.

Dart: Darts a ‘V’ shaped seam that gives the bride a better fit.

Embellishments: Embellishments are details on wedding gowns that include beading, pearls, and appliques that are meant to add luster and shine to a dress.

Eye Lash Trim: Like eye lashes, eye lash trim is extra threading at the end of lace

Godets: Godets are triangle shaped pieces of material that are sewn into a skirt to add volume and texture.

Hook & eye: A hook and eye is a small hook and loop that provides closure for the bodice or skirt of a gown. Hook and eyes are seen on wedding gowns and lingerie.

Horsehair fabric: Horsehair fabric is used to create volume, movement, and texture for dresses. Traditionally, this fabric was used within fabrics, however, designers recently like Hayley Paige, Reem Acra, and Monique Lhuillier have used horsehair on the outside of skirts for a fashionable and trendy design. Below is a photo of a Reem Acra wedding gown with horsehair detail.

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Illusion: Illusion fabric is used on the bodice and back of wedding gowns. It is meant to give the ‘illusion’ that the bride has an open neckline or backline, but she still has support. Designer, Ines Di Santo is known for her illusion fabric.

Lining: The most inner layer of fabric in a wedding dress. Used to keep the bride comfortable and cool. Lining is also used in jackets and blazers to conceal imperfections the

Rouching: Rouched fabric is gathered fabric into a pleat or ruffle. Below is a photo of Tali wearing a dress by Ines Di Santo with rouched detailing.

Skirt: When the bodice ends, the skirt begins. This runs from the waist to the floor.

Princess Seams: Like a dart, princess seams are seams that are meant to give a women a better fit and show her shape. Unlike a dart, a princess seam is a long continuous seam.

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Alterations Guide

Bustle: A bustle is added to a wedding gown during alterations. This is used to lift the train of the gown so guests don’t step on it during the reception.

Crinoline: A stiff fabric used to add volume to the skirt of the gown. Crinoline can be added to most gowns during alterations.

Fitting: A fitting is a generic term used in alterations. Brides may have multiple fitting appointments to ensure the gown fits like a glove. The seamstress will not alter your gown during the fitting appointment, but she will pin your gown and make notes of what needs to be done.

Gusset: A guesset is a triangular piece of fabric added to a seam to allow more room. Typically, a gusset is added to the underarm of a dress to give more movement to a bride.

Hem: The hem of a gown is a finishing method to keep fabric from fraying. When a bride is ‘getting a hem’ in alterations, she is having her skirt shortened so she is able to walk and it is not too long. Below is a photo of Tali looking at the hemline of an Amsale wedding gown.

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Taking in: When a seamstress is pinning your gown and making adjustments, she is taking in the gown to make it smaller and fit you better. Typically, a seamstress will take in the dress from the sides, under the bust, and straps (if there are straps). For more information on alterations at The Bridal Finery, click here.

Bridal Industries Terms

Bridal Fashion Week / Bridal Market: A biannual event in New York City where designers debut their latest collections. Bridal stores attend as buyers and influencers and magazines attend as press.

Look Books: A gallery of photos that features one designer. Look books are used to showcase the designers most recent collection and inspire brides.

Trunk Shows: Trunk shows are weekend events in bridal stores. The event will feature at least one designer and there may be a 10% off incentive and designer appearance.