While you won't find wedding etiquette books declaring a wedding program a must-do, there are certain ceremony instances where wedding programs are more important than others.
If you have a large wedding, a traditional ceremony, or a long wedding ceremony ahead, a wedding program can be a courteous way of letting guests know what to expect. Here are the essentials to make your wedding program a wonderful souvenir for your guests and personal keepsake for you.
Part One: The Wedding Program Cover
The cover of your program can be as elaborate or as simple as you want. The most important details on this page are going to be the date and the couple's names. Including the place of the ceremony and a picture of the couple are additional tidbits of information that can personalize your program. If you have a theme in your wedding this is the perfect place to add that vintage seashell detail or an image of a cowboy boot.
Part Two: The Wedding Program Inside Cover
For brides who want to keep their program cover sleek and minimal, it's best to choose a monogram or a simple initial detail. You can then reserve space on the inside cover of the program for all of the wedding day details. If you chose not to include the date, time, names, and location of the ceremony on the front cover, this information should be visible above the order of events.
When it comes to mapping out your order of events, be sure to include the following details:
Processional & Recessional Music
A listing of your music not only gives guests insight into your choices, but also helps them identify songs that they love (because, seriously, other weddings are the best places to steal ideas).
The Officiant's Greeting
This doesn't need to be included in every program, but is a lovely idea when the officiant has a special connection with the couple.
Be sure to cite your readings (your guests might like to read more from the author later) and to also include the name of the reader.
Not all prayers need to be included, but if one is particularly meaningful to you, this is a great place to share it.
Exchanging of Vows & Ring Ceremony
You can simply list these in the schedule without any clarifying statements. Some couples choose to print out their vows in their wedding programs, but it's really not necessary (and can also add a significant amount to your design and printing costs).
Communion, Lighting of the Unity Candle, or Special Song
If your ceremony has specific religious or spiritual elements that some guests may be unfamiliar with, write an explanatory line or two about the ritual's significance.
Pronouncement of Marriage
We're going to be honest. You put this line in your program to let guests know that party time is right around the corner.
Part Three: The Wedding Party Page
When you bring two families together, there will be plenty of guests who don't know each other. Including a list of the bridal party and their relation to the bride and groom will make the reception an easier transition for all guests. It is also a way to thank those hand-picked people personally for choosing to be a part of your special day. Here is an example of how your wedding party section should look:
Officiate: Pastor Timothy Wainwright
Parents of the Bride: Lucas and Mary Moore
Parents of the Groom: Paul and Patty Smith
Maid of Honor: Sarah Nintman
Best Man: Greg Howard
Bridesmaids: Lanae Johnson, Jessica Oster
Groomsmen: John Hill, Mark Webb
If you would like to include grandparents or step-parents, this is the place to honor them as well. Also, after the wedding party is listed, it is not uncommon for the bride and groom to include a couple of sentences as a thank you to all of the family and guests who participated in their wedding. You can make your program full of personal details or very streamlined and traditional. The choice is entirely up to you.