Are Wedding Programs Required?

Submitted by cpotter on Monday - September 14, 2020
Wedding Program sitting on a table with a cup

When you're picking out wedding stationery, you might be wondering whether designing a wedding program should be on your wedding planning checklist. While wedding programs aren't required for every ceremony, they can be a big help for keeping everything running smoothly and offer another way for you to customize your wedding. If you're having a big or elaborate wedding, a program might be an essential item.

Reasons to include a wedding program

A wedding program lets guests know what to expect during your ceremony and helps them follow along from the moment you first walk down the aisle to your final send-off. If guests are expected to participate in a particular part of your event, such as creating an arch of sparklers for you and your new spouse to run beneath as you exit the wedding venue, then you can include detailed instructions that ensure everyone knows what to do and where to go.

Wedding programs are as varied as actual weddings

Multicultural and interfaith weddings in particular can benefit from the inclusion of a wedding program. If your ceremony includes religious or cultural traditions that most guests find unfamiliar, a wedding program can introduce everyone to those aspects of your event. Some guests might not know the significance of hand fasting, Saptapadi, or the breaking of a glass, and a short blurb in the wedding program can explain your inclusion of these rituals. Your wedding program is also a place to include translations for any part of your wedding being performed in a language some guests may not speak.

Wedding programs are as varied as actual weddings, so you can find a version to suit everything from a rustic outdoor affair to a destination wedding. You can opt for traditional, contemporary, or casual wedding program wording to match the style of your event.

If you plan to use wedding programs, make sure to assign a specific person or people to hand them out as guests arrive, or place them in a convenient location for attendees to pick up as they enter the venue. You should also have someone pick up any programs left behind after the ceremony is over.

What to put in a wedding program?

Your wedding program can include more than just a step-by-step description of your planned ceremony and reception events. Many couples like to honor their attendants in the program by including a few details about each bridesmaid or groomsman. This also helps guests get to know those friends and family members who are standing with you during the ceremony.

Couples who have recently lost a family member might also want to include a short note in the program as a wedding memorial. This might include a photo and statement about the absent loved one, or it might be a single line in the program pointing out a memorial candle, wreath, or display set up somewhere in the venue.

The timeline portion of your program should include all the parts of the ceremony in the order you plan to perform them. List out the names of prayers, readings, or songs as well as who takes part. Anything that requires audience participation can be indicated in the program, and you can use the program to point out the significance of the wedding location if it has special meaning to you or your beloved. If your reception is being held at a different location, include directions from the ceremony venue to ensure everyone finds their way.

Some couples like to include their post-marriage names, especially if either or both members of the couple plan to make a name change, and their planned address after the wedding. Guests often want to know these details, so including them on a wedding program is an easy way to impart the information.

Talk to your photographer about including a web address that gives guests a first look at your wedding photographs. Details such as a web link for photos and your soon-to-be address also encourage wedding guests to keep your program after the ceremony instead of leaving it behind on a chair when they exit.

If there's enough room at the end of your wedding program, add a short note of thanks to everyone attending your wedding. A heartfelt message of appreciation makes each guest feel special and included.

Fun wedding program options

If you're having an outdoor wedding, a wedding program fan with an attached handle lets guests keep a cool breeze flowing while they await your arrival. In addition to classic square or rectangular program fans, you can also get ones shaped like shells or hearts for added charm. Programs with a printed story of how you met your spouse-to-be gives waiting guests something interesting to read before the ceremony starts.

Another idea is to attach any necessary items your guests need directly to the program. Sparklers or small jars of bubbles handed out with your wedding programs lets guests get ready to play their part in your ceremony or send-off.

You can get wedding programs that match your invitations and wedding color palette to create a coordinated look across all of your wedding stationery. Whether you're having a formal marriage mass in a historic cathedral or celebrating your love on a sandy beach, there's a wedding program perfect for your event.

The design elements on your program also reflect the theme of your ceremony. Look for a wedding program with seashell graphics to celebrate a beach wedding or pick a floral-adorned program that reflects the type of flowers growing on the mountainside meadow where your event takes place. Unique wedding programs that showcase your interests as a couple give you a way to further personalize your event.

When don't you need a wedding program?

A small, intimate ceremony without any attendants might be streamlined enough that a wedding program isn't needed. You might also be able to forgo having a program if you plan on a short ceremony without a formal reception afterward.

Even if you're having a smaller wedding, a program might come in handy for explaining specific rituals or providing the wording for poems or prayers incorporated into your ceremony. If a traditional folded wedding program isn't necessary, consider a slim tea-length wedding program that is just big enough to fit essential information.

Keeping your wedding program after the ceremony

Once you've sealed your love with a kiss and headed off on a romantic honeymoon adventure, your wedding program remains a treasured memento of your big day. Save a copy of your program in a scrapbook or wedding album to keep a record of the day's timeline.

While wedding programs aren't specifically required, they do help get guests engaged and build anticipation while everyone waits for your ceremony to start. Explore the collection of wedding programs and invitations at MagnetStreet to find options that showcase the romance of your big day and create a keepsake for you and your guests.