You don’t need to have a wedding program. They seem to be a fairly recent trend. All through the 80s, when performing weddings in non-church locales, people managed to get married without them.
I succumbed, I admit it. But my wedding ceremony was involved and had responsive readings. (I am the Wedding Priestess, after all!)
But if your wedding ceremony is straightforward, you don’t have to have one. Your bridal party will be introduced at the reception. And they’re not inexpensive, even if you design them.
Tip: consider whether or not you’re having wedding programs because you need them or because the wedding industry thinks you need them.
Sometimes there are things you want to say at your wedding that are hard to say out loud. You may have a favorite relative or friend who has died and who will not be able to be with you that day. You may not want or be able to say the words yourself or to hear them from your celebrant. Your wedding program is a lovely place to put a short (hear that, short) dedication to them. “Today’s joyous celebration is dedicated to the memory of Kate’s grandmother, Mimi Dodge, who taught her so much about living life to the fullest.” That’s plenty.
Or you may want to dedicate your ceremony to the people who have inspired the two of you to marry by their wonderful examples of lifelong relationship. You can mention some, or you can allow everyone to assume that they’re the people who inspired you. Which will actually have a great impact on their marriages.
Tip: Whatever you choose to do with a dedication, keep it short!
Three prime reasons for a wedding program are to give people
- the order of service
- the name of music and poetry pieces being used
- any longer readings in which they’ll participate
You do not want to publish short responses or the poems being read. People are congenitally incapable of listening when they’ve got reading matter in their hands. You want people listening to your words. They’re at your service to hear you make your promises to one another, not to read a lovely poem. Help them out!
Tip: Keep the reading material to your wedding at a minimum and you’ll have a far more engaged crowd!
It’s up to you whether or not you want to list wedding participants in your wedding program. What you don’t want to do ever with your wedding program is include too much information.
You do want to let people know what’s going on, but you don’t want to provide distractions from the ceremony. So, forget about the long histories of your wedding party, they can go somewhere else! If you want to write anything other than names on your program, you can say simple things, such as “groom’s best friend from childhood,” or “bride’s college roommate.”
But really, just listing their name is plenty. That will give people the incentive to talk to them at the reception and find out who people really are.
This is lovely, if you overlook the fact that they opened it the wrong way!
Tip: Choose your nearest and dearest to stand with you and if you want to embellish, write note before the list that says something like: Mary and Matt would like to thank their friends and family for standing with them as they make their wedding vows.
I get this question all the time. And my answer is always: far less than you think.
During the wedding ceremony, you want people to be paying attention to the wedding ceremony. If people have reading material in their hands, they will pay attention to that. Guaranteed. So, what belongs there?
- Names of Participants
- Order of Service
Tip: Leave anything else out for post wedding handouts. You were wondering how to get your cousin’s niece involved anyway!