Wedding programs not only have a very specific purpose, they are also one of the little details that add an extra special something to your big day. Wedding programs help guests feel included and to understand what is taking place during the wedding ceremony. The program introduces your bridal party, shares important details, and gives an opportunity to include a sweet, sentimental note for your guests if you have room.
Outlined here are all the essential items to include in your wedding program so your guests can be kept in the loop.
Benefits of a Wedding Program
While wedding programs are not required, they are a useful (and sometimes necessary) piece of wedding stationery. Wedding programs are extremely helpful if:
- You are having a religious or traditional wedding ceremony, with many guests who are of another faith or culture.
- You are having a large wedding including guests who are unlikely to know the bridal party.
- You are having a particularly long ceremony where guests will need something to follow.
- You have many people who you need to thank.
- You need a space to share directions from your ceremony site to your reception venue.
Those who are short on time or money may wish to forgo the wedding program entirely, but remember that a simple wedding program doesn't have to require much of either. Many guests will appreciate them as a thoughtful gesture and souvenir.
Paper is a very affordable medium, and there are plenty of free, downloadable wedding program templates that you could easily customize.
Elements of a Wedding Program
These are the different parts of a wedding program:
Typically the cover of your wedding program includes the date and/or the names of the couple.
It may also include the location and time of the ceremony, a picture, or design element (such as a flower, scroll, etc.) For an added dose of personalization, make the program match your wedding invitations to keep your theme cohesive.
The Order of Events
If you haven't already included your names, wedding date, location, and time on the front cover, consider listing that information on the inside just before the order of events. Then list what will happen during the ceremony, including, but not limited to:
- Processional music
- Exchange of vows
- Ring ceremony
- Unity candle ceremony
- Pronouncement of marriage
- Recessional music
- Any other ceremony music.
Your list may not include all of these elements, and it may include some traditions not listed here. Be sure to list the events in the order they will occur and list the names of those performing the readings.
Members of the Wedding Party
This is a simple list of the names and roles of your wedding party. For example:
- Officiant: Reverend Michael David
- Parents of the bride: Mary and John Smith
- Parents of the groom: Elizabeth and Thomas Jones, Jr.
- Grandparents of the bride: Sarah Smith, Margaret Blackwood
- Grandparents of the groom: Susan Michael, Thomas Wilson Sr.
- Maid of Honor: Maria Gellert
- Best Man: William Harris
- Bridesmaids: Rebecca Brown, Juanita Ramirez
- Groomsmen: Calvin Aremu, Jonathan Goldstein
- Readers: McGuire Johnson, Alexander Wilson
Optional Program Elements
If you have enough space in the program you can include one or more non-essential items.
- An explanation of traditions or rituals used in your ceremony.
- A request for audience participation in certain parts of the ceremony (e.g. affirmation of the marriage, communion, singing, offering of the peace, standing or kneeling).
- Thank yous
- Memorials: You may wish to honor a deceased parent or relative. Examples that might be found in a wedding program include: "The memorial candle is lit in honor of the bride's mother, Shirley Fielding." "On this day of happiness, we would like to remember those who are no longer with us, especially Derrick Peterson, grandfather of the bride, and Samantha Wilson, mother of the groom."
- A short sentence about each of your bridesmaids and groomsmen, describing why they are important to you.
- An explanation of the significance of the location, theme, first dance song, etc. For example, "The reception will be held at Coldwater Restaurant, the site of the bride and groom's first date."
- Quotes or poems about love or marriage.
- Directions to the reception.