Thursday, November 17, 2011

Creating Your Wedding Programs

Ahh wedding programs. They may seem like a small detail, but they mark the start of your guests’ wedding day experience. Make a good first impression with a stand out design and get everyone excited about what the rest of the day will hold.

I was drawn to clean, simple styles. I did not want a book, just one card printed on the front and back. Now I like longer, more playful versions. For example, I love these newspaper programs. Add your engagement picture and a top-of-the-fold feature on how you met to give your guests something to read before the ceremony begins. And wouldn’t it be fun to list your wedding party in the form of a news story? I might put the groomsmen in the police blotter (ha!) or the sports section.

Image via Style Me Pretty

Some Crucial Ceremony Program Tips
  • Order programs 4-6 weeks in advance if you’re having them printed and don’t want to end up DIY them the night before because the shipment was lost. If you’re intentionally going the DIY route, good for you! Just don’t leave it till the night before. You really don’t want to make a late-night run to Staples on the eve of your wedding because you ran out of ink. 

  • If your ceremony is in a different location than your reception, make sure you designate someone to bring them the day of. This task will likely fall to a groomsman since they arrive first.

  • Ask ushers to hand programs out as they greet guests rather than leaving them in a basket. It’s a small, but thoughtful, touch.

And because I found writing a program about as much fun as washing socks, here’s an easy guide to...

Wording Your Wedding Program

Your names and the date & location. That’s a no-brainer.

Order of the ceremony. Everyone’s ceremony will be different, but the meat of a wedding ceremony is the same.
Processional, "Uptown Girl" – Billy Joel
Opening Prayer
First Reading, Read by Your Beautiful Friend 
Second Reading, Read by Another Amazing Person 
Exchange of Vows 
Blessing of Rings 
Recessional,"The Way You Make Me Feel" – Michael Jackson

We celebrated a catholic mass (minus the MJ), so I added in a responsorial psalm between the two readings, and prayers of the faithful and communion after the exchange of vows. I think it’s nice to list the names of the readers and gift bearers and include the titles of readings and songs that are used. Won’t they be nice to look back on later?

Your Wedding Party. Start by naming your celebrant, then your parents and grandparents. List the bridal party before the groomsmen and call the flower girl and ring bearer out on a separate line. You can list each person’s relationship to you, or just their names. 

Music. Don’t forget to credit the musicians, too. You can list them individually or as a group. For example,

Guitar - Bruce Springsteen
Vocals - Lady Gaga
Music by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band 

Remembrance. It’s nice to list the names of relatives and loved ones who have passed. I simply said, “We also remember those who are no longer with us, but remain in our hearts,” then listed their names. I’m not one for long, sappy sentiments.

Thank you. Not wanting to oversaturate my program with drippy language, I tried to skip this part. MOB convinced me that was a bad decision. I came up with this: “Our sincere gratitude goes out to the friends and family members who traveled to be with us today. Your love and support will remain with us always.” Short and sweet!

Tell me about your programs. What design did you decide on?


  1. I have two favorites from our wedding programs.

    One being where we listed the special parts of our wedding. Zach's family is Swedish so I wore silver and gold coins in my shoes (a Swedish sign of good luck), we had five candles on the altar for our five grandparents who have died, etc.

    My other favorite was a last minute inspiration. Zach's uncle (an opera singer with a booming deep voice) read Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 (which has now become "the wedding sonnet" because it's so wedding-y)which has the line "(love) looks on tempests and is never shaken". A few nights before the wedding, Zach stayed up late illustrating a picture of a lighthouse in a storm, which he put a frame around and a banner in front of with that quote. Voila! That's the back page of our program!

    Zach's a graphic designer, so from the Save the Dates all the way down to the cards we put on each guest's dinner plate, he was able to be really creative and design something that was perfectly "us".

  2. That sounds amazing! Where are your wedding pics, girl? I want to see!

  3. I would definitely recommend brides have someone hand out their programs. I've been to a few weddings where I know the bride spent a lot of time putting the program together but were forgotten about on wedding day. So disappointing!

  4. Oh gosh, I really need to get on that don't I? Soon! I'll make a wedding post soon. :)