Some wedding day traditions are deeply rooted in practicality, but that doesn't have to be their only function. Having the perfect wedding program is not only essential for letting your guests into the loop of the special day's proceedings—it's also a golden opportunity to set the tone for the whole event. Whether you are planning a black tie event, a casual backyard soiree or something in between, the program is the perfect keepsake to articulate your personal vision—and one that guests (and you) can cherish for years to come.
As guests are filing in and being seated by your lovely ushers prior to the ceremony, they will peruse the program for all the basic information they need: the order of events, the names of songs being played, the readings given and the names of the wedding party. While these details are essential, feel free to also include what feels right to you—adding in more information is a great opportunity to let your personality as a couple shine. After all, it's your wedding! Family and friends will be grateful for something to look at while they quietly wait for the ceremony to begin.
Consider using additional inserts if you want some information separated, such as readings' text, more silly inclusions or if you just need a bit of extra room to fit in everything you want to say.
When it comes to the word choice of your programs, it's important to let your personalities shine through. If you hate your middle name and not even your fiancé's mother knows what it is, you don't have to include it! If you are having a hard time deciding what to include, brush up on wedding program etiquette before creating your own. However, don't feel limited by traditional formats if you are interested in a unique feel. The inner voice of your guests as they read the program is essentially your voice, so let your word choice set the tone exactly how you want to be heard.
Think about how you want your program to be presented. Envision how you would like the program to be held by your guests. If you are including an insert, a folded card is best; if you’re simply including the essential information, consider a flat card. As far as templates and ornamentation, the sky is the limit! There are a large variety of styles and sizes available to make sure you get exactly what fits your style best.
Depending on your preference and budget, you can estimate printing one program per person, one program per couple, or one program per family. Be sure to order enough programs so that your wedding party and everyone involved “behind the scenes” can take one home with them. Party favors aside, they’ll definitely want to have a memorable keepsake after all the preparation that went into your beautiful wedding.
Before ordering prints, also keep in mind whether some of your guests who are attending only the reception will want to take home a program as well. You can always have a few on hand for people to grab in between the Chicken Dance and the Electric Slide. You can also create a separate program to offer at the reception with its specific order of events and music included. This is a nice idea for a reception offering several spectacles, from the cutting of the cake to the tossing of the bouquet. That way, guests can be sure not to miss the release of the paper lanterns!
Don’t forget to include the musicians who perform during the ceremony and the reception. If you have a specific order of events and songs laid out, be clear with your music professionals and ensure that they have their own copies of the program. Have a few extra on hand just in case a replacement musician or DJ is sent at the last minute to keep them in the loop as well.
A friend or family member who is not busy filling another role on your big day can be designated to hand out the programs. Don’t feel shy about asking—although it’s an “easy” job, it’s quite essential to your guests’ experience, and people love to feel like a part of such a special event. Teenagers are especially great for this role. If you’re unsure whom to ask, this is also an opportunity for your ushers to do double duty since they are greeting every guest anyway.
Be specific with your program point person about where you’d like them to stand to avoid a bottleneck of guests and to keep aisles clear. Being near the entrance to the venue allows guests to be sure they’re in the right place and to feel welcomed immediately. If you’d prefer, you can always tastefully display the programs near the door as well, such as in a visible basket, so that guests can help themselves.