Thinking about creating a wedding ceremony program? While they are totally optional, a wedding program is an outline of the ceremony that helps guests follow the order of the service, so they understand what’s taking place. The ceremony program should include all of the helpful details you would want to communicate to guests: the order of ceremony events, wedding-party bios to help guests get to know your VIPs, musical selections, passages and readings, explanations of any ceremony or cultural traditions, a thank-you note to guests, and any additional messages to guests (e.g., directions to the reception venue, your wedding hashtag, no photos, etc.).
“Sketched Ampersand”, designed by Amy Kross
WHAT SHOULD YOU WRITE ON A WEDDING PROGRAM?
Wondering what to put on a wedding program? Here’s a breakdown of what you should include and additional ideas on elements to further customize your program for your big day.
- Your names
- Wedding date
- Outline of the ceremony proceedings
Nice to Haves:
- A brief overview of the wedding-day timeline
- Wedding hashtag
- Wedding logo
- Photo/illustration of you
- Your monogram
- Need a Monogram for your Big Day? Try our free monogram maker.
- Your “how we met” story
- Musical selections/lyrics
- Meaningful verse, poem, or reading
- Names of those participating in the ceremony (e.g., family members, attendants, officiant, readers, musicians, etc.)
- Helpful notes to guests (e.g., directions to cocktail hour/reception, notes on an unplugged ceremony, etc.)
- Explanation of any cultural or ceremony traditions
- Explanation of the significance of other wedding details (e.g., “The reception will be held at Brooklyn Winery, which is where we had our first date!”)
- A request for audience participation during certain parts of the ceremony (e.g. singing, communion, the affirmation of the marriage, etc.)
- Message of thanks to guests for attending the celebration
- Message in memory of loved ones who could not attend
“Forever And”, designed by Jen Banks of Ink and Letter Designs
SAMPLE WEDDING PROGRAM WORDING
To help you get started, it might be helpful to see a basic ceremony program outline, which you can customize to fit your own ceremony.
Our Wedding Ceremony
- Welcome & Introduction
- Exchange of Vows
- Ring Ceremony
- Pronouncement of Marriage
- Presentation of Couple
Typically, if you decide on introducing your VIPs in the second section of your program, these wedding party members are featured:
Introducing the Wedding Party
- The Parents of Each Couple
- Maid/Matron of Honor
- Best Man
- Flower Girl
- Ring Bearer
“Serenata”, designed by Petra Kern
12 WEDDING CEREMONY PROGRAM IDEAS
As long as your wedding program contains all of the key ceremony details, how you communicate the information to your guests is entirely up to you. You could keep things simple and classic with a single-page program, but, if you have more details to share, a multi-page booklet might be the way to go. If you want your wedding program to be more of a design statement, something striking like an oversized linen panel—calligraphed with the ceremony details and displayed at the ceremony entrance—will definitely make an impression on your guests.
For inspiration, we rounded up 12 ceremony program ideas we love, from classic and traditional to out-of-the-box designs.
CLASSIC WEDDING PROGRAM
A traditional single-page program is always a great choice. You can achieve a unique look with a classic wedding program by using thicker card stock, colored paper, or using a pattern that resembles the wedding theme (botanical, tropical, under the stars, etc.).
Ways to Display: There are many ways to display traditional programs, you could have the programs already placed on each ceremony chair, ask ushers to pass them out to guests, or display them in a self-serve basket at the welcome table. If you have extra time, adding a hole punch to the top and tying your programs to chair backs with ribbon or twine ensures they are elegantly distributed to your attendees.
“Gilded Floral Frame”, designed by Alethea and Ruth
CEREMONY PROGRAM BOOKLETS
When there is more you want to communicate to guests, a longer booklet is always a good option. For instance, if your cocktail hour and reception will be held in a different location, it’s a thoughtful gesture to include directions. Or, if you’re including wedding ceremony traditions or rituals some guests might not be familiar with, your program is the perfect place to provide explanations.
Ways to Display: At the entrance to the ceremony, display these ceremony booklets upright on tables for a beautiful display. Decorate around them with flowers or items related to the theme of your wedding to tie the theme together.
“Elegance Illustrated”, designed by Phrosné Ras
CEREMONY PROGRAM FANS
Double-sided paper fans will keep guests cool if your ceremony is going to be held during warmer temps. This wedding program design serves a dual purpose - beauty and functionality - and is perfect for a beach or summer wedding, especially when guests will be outdoors and in direct sunlight.
Ways to Display: Place these fans in delicate baskets so that, as guests enter the venue, they’ll be relieved and excited for a beautiful program. Alternatively, place fans on each seat where the ceremony will take place to ensure each guest has one as the ceremony progresses.
TREAT BAG WEDDING PROGRAM
Print the ceremony details on a snack bag and fill it with something guests can munch on as they wait for the ceremony to begin. And, if you’re going to provide a snack that might require napkins, consider providing some that match the treat bags and include your wedding monogram.
Ways to Display: Consider having baskets at the entrance so that your guests will pass them as they enter. Adding signage such as “Love is Sweet, Enjoy a Treat”, is a cute way for guests to be surprised and delighted by your treat bags. If you go the route of popcorn or caramel corn, consider having a popcorn cart or two there to hold the bags!
MIRROR CEREMONY PROGRAM
A large, framed mirror displayed at the ceremony entrance doubles as a welcome sign and a program. Make sure to use a frame that matches the theme of your wedding. For instance, if you’re going with a vintage vibe then you might want something more rustic and funky. If your wedding is minimalist and modern, then look for something with clean lines. In general, programs placed on mirrors are a chic way of featuring your wedding details.
Ways to Display: A mirror should be placed in a high traffic area, like the entrance of the venue or vestibule, so that guests can see it on their way in and have time to read it. Since the mirror will reflect, consider the placement of the mirror so that whatever it is reflecting against is beautiful (i.e. a tree, flowers, etc.)
TROPICAL LEAF WEDDING PROGRAM
Instead of a paper program, hand-write the ceremony details on an oversized tropical leaf. This natural look can be perfect for a destination wedding or a couple who just happens to love a good tropical theme. Because they’re handwritten, tropical leaf programs come across as really personal to your guests. Depending on the other colors of your theme, consider what color you want to use when writing on your leaves so that it all ties together.
Ways to Display: Put bows on the end of the leaves and hang them from the back of chairs or place them on every chair for your guests, just beware of a strong gust of wind!
CHALKBOARD SIGN CEREMONY PROGRAM
Chalkboard signs have become really popular in recent years and adding a few key details can help yours stand out. One element to consider adding is special illustrations that bring certain parts of the day to life such as an outline of the chapel, a sketch of a cocktail glass, or an illustration of the venue. You might also consider adding your wedding hashtag or wedding monogram to your chalkboard.
Ways to Display: Think about displaying your chalkboard on an easel or in a tabletop frame near the ceremony entrance, so guests can read it on the way into the venue. For added elegance, consider draping flowers over the top of your chalkboard sign or using an ornate frame to surround your chalkboard.
WOOD SIGN WEDDING PROGRAM
Outline the order of events on a simple wood sign and hang it near the ceremony entrance so guests will see it as they arrive. A wood sign is perfect for a more rustic or outdoorsy wedding – perhaps a barn wedding or one by a lake.
Ways to Display: Your wooden sign can be placed on an easel or propped up against a table, depending on the size. If you are hanging your sign, you can use twine, ribbon, silk string, or whatever else matches your wedding vibe. Alternatively, using a shepherd’s hook to hang the sign, or placing it on a nearby tree at the entrance are classic, simple ways to display your wooden program.
HANDKERCHIEF CEREMONY PROGRAM
Handkerchiefs printed with an outline of the wedding ceremony can be used for happy tears and make a lovely keepsake favor. These delicate favors are especially nice for a more classic wedding.
Ways to Display: As guests arrive at the wedding, have the handkerchiefs delicately hanging with tiny clothespins from a cord, so guests can choose their own. You might also roll them up, tie them with a ribbon, and put them in baskets for guests to take one.
CEREMONY PROGRAM WITH WEDDING-PARTY ILLUSTRATIONS
An awesome way to help guests get to know your wedding-party VIPs a bit better is stationery that includes fun illustrations and a brief bio for each member. This idea is not only helpful, it’s colorful and fun.
Ways to Display: Roll these up like scrolls and tie them with a colorful ribbon that matches the wedding theme. Have them positioned on a table near the entrance to the ceremony or waiting on guests’ seats.
BANNER WEDDING PROGRAM
Instead of passing out printed stationery, display a billowy linen panel calligraphed with details of the ceremony. You can use greenery or colorful flowers placed around the linen to add some contrast. You can also select a linen that ties in with your wedding decor.
Ways to Display: A banner can be placed to the side of the entrance using a backdrop frame, or be affixed to the wall so that guests can clearly read it while entering the venue.
Photo credit: Hunter Ryan Photo
READ ALL ABOUT IT
If you’re news junkies, journalists, or just a couple looking for a different way to get your day-of news across, try a program that resembles a newspaper cover. This can be fun because you can include a photo from your engagement shoot, your wedding monogram, and details about the proposal in addition to details for the day. Use this idea at a modern wedding, like a warehouse or art museum atmosphere, to add an element of playfulness.
Ways to Display: Folding the programs in half so the headline is clear then placing them on each seat allows guests to clearly see it when they arrive.
Bonus: Add a custom crossword puzzle in your newspaper focused on your love story. This will give guests a fun activity to do as they await the ceremony, just don’t forget the pencils!
FINAL NEED-TO-KNOW TIPS
- Use Large Fonts: For grandparents or those with poor vision who may be in attendance, be mindful of the fonts you use. While some fonts are beautiful, they might be too small to see for some.
- Use Legible Fonts: Save fancy cursive and scripts for place cards or wedding signage. Wedding program wording should be easy to read in a legible font type.
- Order Extras: A good rule of thumb is to order 5 to 10 extra programs in case spills happen or the wind picks up. However, some guests might take an extra copy to show to friends or family, or take as a keepsake, so always order more than you think you will need.
- Distribution Gameplan: It’s important to have a gameplan for how guests will get your programs. Will they be positioned at each chair? Handed out by groomsmen? In a basket at the entrance? Make sure you have this figured out in advance to ensure everyone easily receives one.
- Spellcheck, Spellcheck, Spellcheck: The last thing you want to do is pass out programs and realize the best man’s last name is spelled incorrectly. Make sure you proof the handouts before going to print and get a second set of trusted eyes on them, too!
“Palm Layers”, designed by Jill Means