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Designing Your Wedding Program
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Designing your own wedding program can be a labor of love which will serve as a lifelong memento of your wedding day for you and for the special people who shared it with you. It is, by no means, a requirement, but certainly a lovely addition to the festivities, which adds a personal touch to your ceremony. If your wedding is typical of most, not all of your guests and not all of your family members will know the key players in your wedding ceremony and reception. A printed Wedding Program is a thoughtful way to disseminate that information. A Program is especially helpful when the ceremony is one with which the guests may not be familiar.

If you determine that you want to use a Wedding Program, your first step is to decide its style and your budget. You can choose from a variety of layouts, everything from a tri-fold (i.e., brochure design), a large piece of card stock, or one of many styles offered in stationary catalogues. The type of paper, card stock, print colors, number of colors and quantity will define the price. Programs are a great way to set the tone for your wedding day. If you wish, you may choose to use a design similar to your invitations and thank you notes. In that way the printed materials at the wedding evokes a feeling of continuity. There are individually hand-crafted programs on specialty papers, with ribbons and original hand-painted artwork and a variety of formats (a scroll tied with ribbon, single-page, fan design).

Another approach is to create your Wedding Program on your computer. The shape and style you choose will determine the level of difficulty. Folding an 8 by 11 inch paper or card stock will be the easiest. If you are having a multi-page Program, you may assemble the final product in one of several ways. A folded, stapled booklet or a scroll wrapped with ribbon are just two presentation suggestions.

Your next step is to decide what wording to include in your Wedding Program. Your cover, if you have one, can simply say "The Wedding of ______and _____", or you might choose a poem or quotation which is significant to you as a couple. A graphic (picture or photo) or a watermark design is always appropriate and adds interest.

You may, of course, design the content of your Wedding Program in any way which feels comfortable to you. The following is an outline which can help to ensure that you include all the important details.

  • Name of the wedding couple
  • Date, time, venue and place (city and state) of the wedding
  • Names of musical selection
  • Names of the musicians and instruments
  • Source, name and authorship of any readings
  • Names of persons reading and/or greeting
  • Exchange of rings
  • Blessing of the marriage
  • Names of the key players (listed in the order of the processional): clergy person/officiator, Matron of Honor, Best Man, Bride's Attendants, Groomsmen/Ushers, Flower Girl, Ring Bearer, Parents of the Bride and the Groom, Organist, Vocalist/Cantor

    Listing the participants in your Program is a way to honor them. They can be mentioned by name along with the role they are playing (e.g., Mary Smith, Matron of Honor). You may also add the relationship of the person to the bride or the groom (e.g., Mary Smith, Matron of Honor, college friend of the bride or John Smith, Best Man, brother of the groom). Guests at your wedding will feel more a part of the process and closer to you two, if they know the participants.

    To personalize your Wedding Program you may wish to add one or more of the following:
  • Your phone number, address at home, and E-mail address
  • A memorial/dedication to a departed friend or family member
  • Individual "love notes" to one another
  • A welcome/thank you paragraph to your guests and, if appropriate, a note to those who came from afar to be with you
  • Special instructions to your guests such as "No smoking," "No flash photography," "No photographs during the ceremony," "No rice, bird seed or confetti during the ceremony"
  • You may also include a discussion of any particularly sentimental, significant accouterments being used in the wedding (e.g., Is the bride wearing an heirloom piece of jewelry? Is the bridal canopy fashioned from a deceased relative's prayer shawl?)
  • Your Wedding Story . . . as simple as a paragraph describing how the two of you met, or as long and elaborate as you choose, including memories and anecdotes about your relationship and/or the relationship with your attendants or even some of your special guests.

    If you are not restricted to a particular size, there are other inclusions you may wish to consider:
  • The names of your wedding professionals (entertainment, florist, etc.)
  • Directions to the reception (if at another location)
  • Directions to lodging
  • Explanations of the rituals that your guests will be seeing (particularly with an ethnic wedding)
  • A special "Thank You" to your parents . . . a simple "Thank You," a poem or a dedication.

    It is entirely up to you how much content you include in your Wedding Program, with size, effort and price being determining factors.

    It is very important that you check and recheck your Wedding Program to make certain there are no spelling or grammatical errors and that names are spelling correctly (check nicknames with individuals).

    Once that work is done, you will be ready to print copies on your computer or order them from your stationer. A rule of thumb to follow regarding quantity is to have one Program per guest and about twenty extras for keepsakes and for sending to guests who could not attend. Once your printing is done, assign the task of distributing the Wedding Programs to someone trustworthy. A guest hostess ("Program Honor Attendant") is a better choice than ushers who tend to be very busy seating the guests.

    Whatever the final product, your Wedding Program will be something both you and your guests will treasure as a reminder of your special day.

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