Where’s My Red Pen? Words I Wish the Wedding World Would Use Properly

Today’s post is a bit of a rant…  A list of pet peeves, if you will.  About word misuse and misspelling common to the wedding industry.  I’ll be the first to admit I’m not always the best at proofing my own posts…  But between my background in Copyediting and my English teacher mother, well…  I’ve been known to let the owners of small stores know when their signage was spelled incorrectly.

So this post has been brewing for a long time.

Behold, the list of common wedding word mistakes!!!

  • Stationery/Stationary: The word for wedding paper goods ends in “ery” not “ary” (that’s the word for “not moving/staying in one place”). Therefore, please use “I’d like to order my stationery” and, if necessary, “Our guest book will be stationary that night; it won’t be passed around.”  For the record, I saw this used incorrectly at Walmart last week.  I had to fight the urge to call over an associate and tell them to correct that six-foot long, professionally printed and hung sign.
  • Vow/Vowel: I’m really not sure how this one started, but a “vow” is a promise.  A vowel is one of five special letters of the alphabet that are spoken with an open vocal tract.  Use “We’re writing our own vows to use at our wedding” versus “I love using vowels in my poetry.”
  • Aisle/Isle: An “aisle” runs down the center of a church or concert hall.  An “isle” is in the middle of an ocean or lake (it’s another word for island!).  So use “The bridesmaids will walk one-by-one down the aisle” but “We’re spending our honeymoon on a tropical isle.”
  • Palate/PaletteHere’s the thing.  These can both be valid words in the wedding world.  It depends on what you’re trying to say.  A “palate” is technically the name for the roof of your mouth, but the term is often used to discuss someone’s tastes in food.  So you could say “That wine was a little grassy for my palate.”  But a “palette” is literally a paint mixing board, and is a term used in graphic design to denote a group of colors used in a design.  So you’d say “The palette for my wedding is blush and bashful.”  The version with the “e” and extra “t” is the one most people use in conjunction with wedding design.
  • Petal/Pedal: A “petal” is part of a flower.  A “pedal” is something you push down on, like your car’s accelerator or the dampener for a piano. So unless you’re talking to your musician or limo driver, you’ll want to use the version with the “t” in it!
  • Bridal/Bridel: Puh-lease spell this right!!! It’s “bridal,” with an “al” at the end.  End of story!  Likewise “vendor” is correct (“vender” is not).
  • Monogram/Monagram: Yet another case of the same.  This is misspelled a lot!  Use an “o” in this word.  End of story.
  • Altar/AlterI almost lumped this one together with the last one… But considering that “alter” is actually a word that can be used in the wedding industry, I figured I’d clarify.  To “alter” something is to change it.  So if you need your dress shortened, you’ll want to take it to the seamstress so she can alter it.  But an altar can be found in a place of worship, such as a church.  It’s often the area where a couple will get married, in a religious wedding.
  • Voilà/Walla: We’re talking expressions here…  “Voilà!” is a French expression basically meaning “See, there!” or “Look at that!”  “Walla” is the first (or last) half of a name of a town in Washington.
  • Effect/Affect: This problem isn’t unique to the wedding world, but I see it a lot here.  But here’s the thing.  There’s actually a huge difference between the two.  Starting with the part of speech.  “Effect” is a noun.  “Affect” is a verb.  Again, this is a situation where either could be correct, depending on the context, but you’ll need to know you’re using them properly.  So you’ll use branches lighting to create the effect of being outside in the ballroom, since the impending rain is sure to affect your ability to hold the reception outside.
  • There/They’re/Their: I know this one isn’t particular to the wedding world either, but I see it all the time.  So wedding people…  Take note!  “There” refers to a place.  For example, “Please put the cake server there on the cake table.”  Use “they’re” in place of “they are” – so you’d say “They’re getting ready to cut the cake, so put the server on the cake table!”  In contrast, “their” is possessive – use it in the context of talking about someone’s something…  Like “I have to put their cake server on the cake table.”
  • Aww/Awe: This is another case where either could actually be right.  Use “awe” in the case of overwhelming feelings (as in “I felt awe when looking at the gorgeous room”) and “aww” as an expression, like “Aww, that’s so cute!”  Or, you know, just leave them out.
  • Funky French Words: Just…  Pay attention to spelling these, ok?  They get butchered all the time (and truthfully I have to look them up from time to time myself).  Watch them, though, because misspelling them looks horrible.  The groom wears a boutonniere, you carry a bouquet, and you serve hors d’oeuvres (pronounced “orderves,” just to complicate matters further) at your cocktail hour.  Or just call them “buttonholes,” “flowers” and “appetizers.”
  • {Please} RSVP: I’ve been guilty of this more than once myself.  It happens.  You’re rushing to finish writing invitation copy and don’t think about it.  After all, you want someone to RSVP, but you’re nice about asking for it!  Only, RSVP is short for the French phrase “respondez s’il vous plait,” which translates to “Please Respond.”  Which means that when you’re asking someone to “Please RSVP” you’re asking them to “Please Please Respond.”  Which is kind of redundant.  Don’t you think?

I know that there are other additions that could be made to this list….  But this is a good start…  Keep your eye out for these common problems, whether you’re a couple, a vendor, or a blogger.  These are some important ones!  Special thanks to the ladies of Wedding Pros Serious About the Biz for your suggestions!!! 🙂

What are your wedding world word pet peeves? (Try saying that sentence ten times fast, too!)  Add them in the comments!!!

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8 thoughts on “Where’s My Red Pen? Words I Wish the Wedding World Would Use Properly

    • Oh, my… I forgot “bridle” (as in, what a HORSE wears!!!). And “pallett” isn’t even a word… But you’re right, people use it all the time. Sigh.

  1. Great post! I’ve made a few of these errors and often look up a word or two before using it, just to avoid making the mistake. Great tone in how you presented it as well!! 😉

  2. Oh, oh, oh! So glad you covered so many of these! I gets vows vs vowels more often than you’d think. And the aisle/isle one makes me laugh – really quite different words.. The standard ones you included drive me batty (there/their/they’re especially, along with you’re and your), so I’m glad you included them. I feel weird actually *editing* someone’s vows, but I want it to be the right word… My addition to the list, as I see it wrong a lot: officiate vs officiant – the first is a verb and what I do for/with you, and the second is the noun and is what I am for you. 🙂

    • YES! That’s actually something I got a comment on, on my Facebook page! I wish I’d have thought of it!!! 🙂 These always drive me batty when I’m reading (even very high-profile) social media posts… I can only imagine how they’d be in vows!!! Hoping that this will be a good resource. 😉

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