Getting Married: Idioms & More

Getting Married: Idioms & More

This post is going to be about the day when marriage, and therefore a whole new life, starts – the wedding day. In particular, we’ll look at vocabulary related to the occasion. What’s the best way to introduce new vocabulary? Yes, to do it in context. That is why let’s start with a short text:

Seating at the reception

At the reception, the bride and groom, their parents, the best man, and the bridesmaids often sit together at the top table.

The bride and groom’s immediate families are usually seated at two tables near the top table. These include siblings, grandparents, and other close relations. Be careful about family politics, especially with divorced parents, stepmother or father or in-laws who don’t get along. Putting extended family members together is usually a sensible idea.

Next, consider your friends.If they are singles, seat them together or with someone they know so that they don’t feel left out. Keep ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends apart, unless you know they get on well.

Find an accessible place for anyone who is infirm or has a disability.

(from “Oxford Learner’s Pocket Word Skills” by R.Gairns and S.Redman)

  • (wedding) reception – a meal served after a wedding ceremony
  • bride – a woman on her wedding day
  • groom – a man on his wedding day
  • best man – a close friend or family member who helps the groom at the wedding
  • bridesmaid – a young woman who helps the bride at the wedding
  • immediate family – very close family
  • extended family – a family group which includes relatives such as uncles, aunts and grandparents
  • relation = relative (click here to read about the difference between “relationship” and “relation”)
  • to get along = to get on well – to have a friendly relationship (with someone)
  • left out – excluded
  • infirm – (especially of old people) ill and/or weak

Listen to 4 people talking about wedding rituals. Think about the ones performed in your country. Would you like to discuss the topic, boost your speaking skills as well as vocabulary with a professional English teacher? Become our student today!

Speaker 1:
Speaker 2:
Speaker 3:
Speaker 4:
The tapescript is here.
The audio file origin: (Macmillan) New Inside Out upper-intermediate student’s book
Useful vocabulary:
  • to exchange rings – (see the picture below)
  • (to receive) worldly goods – goods relating to the ordinary activities of life (not spiritual ones)
  • to pin something on something – (see the picture below)
  • to set oneself up for something – to prepare oneself up for something
  • elaborate – detailed and complicated
  • days leading up to the wedding – days before the wedding
  • (to decorate the hands in) henna – (see the picture below)
  • to wear (wore; worn) off – to gradually disappear


  1. to tie the knot – to get married: Mary and Tom are going to tie the knot soon.
  2. to get hitched – to get married: My brother is getting hitched next month.
  3. to walk/go down the aisle /ʌɪl/ – to get married: Walking down the aisle on her father’s arm is a dream come true.
  4. to leave sb. at the alter /ˈɔːltə/ – to not get married because the person one was going to marry has decided against it at the last moment: Poor Sam! His fiancee /fɪˈɑːnseɪ/ (wife-to-be) left him at the aisle.
  5. to pop the question – to ask someone to marry you: I said yes as soon as he popped the question.
  6. marriage / a match made in heaven – a marriage that is likely to be happy and successful because the marital partners are very compatible: We are a match made in heaven.
  7. white wedding – a wedding at which the woman who is getting married wears a white dress: Contrary to popular belief, not every girl dreams of a white wedding.
  8. shotgun wedding – a wedding that happens suddenly, because the woman is pregnant: We haven’t told our families or chosen a venue, but it’s not a shotgun wedding.
  9. to dance at one’s wedding – to celebrate in honor of someone at someone’s wedding: I hope I’ll dance at you wedding one day. 
  10. you can’t dance at two weddings – you can’t do two things at once: You can’t dance at two weddings, so choose your priorities. 
  11. to ask for sb.’s hand – to request permission to marry one, as from their father or family: He’s asked her father for her hand. The man was deeply moved.
  12. better/other half one’s significant other (typically one’s spouse): It’s always the better half that gets punished for the other half’s sins.
  13. to settle down with start living in a place where you intend to stay for a long time, usually with your partner: I’d say that she’s really, finally starting to settle down with me.
  14. marry in haste, repent in leisure (proverb) – if you marry someone without knowing him or her very well, you will later feel sorry that you got married: Take your time! Marry in haste, repent in leisure, you know. 
  15. the big day – the wedding day: When is the big day?

To check our post on love idioms, click here.

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