Wedding programs are one of the little details that add that extra special something to your big day. They are not only a record of your ceremony; wedding programs help guests feel included and understand what is happening, and they introduce your bridal party. And of course, they'll look beautiful in your scrapbook!
Do you need a wedding program?
No etiquette book will tell you that you must
have a wedding program, but for certain ceremonies they are more necessary than others. For instance:
- If you are having a religious or traditional wedding, with many guests who are of another faith or culture
- If you are having a large wedding, where guests are unlikely to know the bridal party
- If you are having a particularly long ceremony where guests will want to be prepared to wait a while
- If you have many people who you need to thank
Those who are short on time or money may wish to forgo this option, but remember that a simple wedding program needn't use much time or money. I recommend that you provide them for your guests, as a thoughtful gesture and souvenir.
Elements of a wedding program
- The cover
Typically 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.)
- 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 processional music, greeting, readings, prayers, exchange of vows, ring ceremony, unity candle ceremony, pronouncement of marriage, recessional music, and 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.
- Members of the bridal party
This is a simple list of the names and roles of your bridal party. For example:
Officiant: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg
Parents of the bride: Mary and John Smith
Parents of the groom: Elizabeth Jones and Thomas Wilson, Jr.
Stepparents of the groom: Robert Jones and Lisa Marist-Wilson
Grandparents: Sarah Smith, Margaret Blackwood, 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
Other things you may wish to include in your wedding program
- 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 (for example: The memorial candle is lit in honor of the bride's mother, Shirley Fielding. OR 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.)More advice on honoring a deceased parent or relative
- 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