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. Once you've decided the details to include, shop our picks below.
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. Check out the many delightful options below!
Shop It: Succulent Surround, $2 each; minted.com
We love the quiet glamour of this program, called Succulent Surround, in the color tuxedo. Perfect for the modern bride who likes architectural plants more than flowers.
Shop It: Rifle Paper Co. March Herbarium Program, $2.65 each; papersource.com
Based on paintings by Rifle Paper Co. founder Anna Bond, these whimsical flowers are crisp and detailed, giving the program a modern, yet romantic, vibe.
Shop It: Card Hunter Wood Rustic String Lights Lace Wedding Program, $2.10 each; zazzle.com
Planning a rustic wedding on a bucolic farm? Then this program featuring barn wood, lace and string lights is the one for you.
Shop It: Petra Kern Simple Agate, $2.31 each; minted.com
We love the watery lines found in this program’s depiction of agate, a translucent quartz filled with contrasting bands of color. It’s a great look for a bohemian wedding.
Shop It: Hope Street Creative Folded Wedding Program Printable Template, $12; etsy.com
For the minimalist bride, this program is the answer. It features a breezy script that adds a flourish to the clean background and thin typography style.
Shop It: Made By Jen Shop Fun Infographic Wedding Program, $15 for the digital file; etsy.com
Aesthetically, this infographic program is so cleverly designed. The copy? Even better. It explains what will unfold during the ceremony with lines such as “Wedding party struts their stuff,” “Groom tries to keep it together” and “Life changing smooch.”
Shop It: Ombre, $1.96 each; minted.com
This wedding program looks like a sunrise made incarnate, which we think is a fine symbol for a new life together. It would be perfect for a beach wedding.
Shop It: Black Script, $1.10 each; zazzle.com
Plush Paper Design went old-school by designing this program against a backdrop that looks like rustic kraft brown paper. The design features stylish black typography to announce your wedding details.
Shop It: Botanical Name Plate, $1.96 each; minted.com
We love the restrained elegance of this program: The flowers are tidy, the design is symmetrical and the colors are lovely. It’s perfect for an elegant wedding that features white roses, Veuve Clicquot in every flute and imported cheese on marble trays.
Shop It: Cocktail Hour, $1.96 each; minted.com
Just like it’s name, the “Cocktail Hour” wedding program is snappy, snazzy and oh-so-sophisticated. We love the retro style of this program, especially for a couple that is super hip or a wedding that has a mid-century modern vibe.
Shop It: Winter Flourish, $1.96 each; minted.com
If a script can be sexy, then this is it. Languid, yet refined, it announces the couple’s names with incredible artistry.
Shop It: Welcome Wedding Couple Portrait Tailor Made, $1.96 each; zazzle.com
This ridiculously cute program features a charming illustration of the wedding couple on the front (the program text goes on the back). The artist can tailor the hair and skin color, as well as the clothes colors or patterns so that the illustration reflects the couple’s style and looks. Bonus: You can add your pets or children!