Thursday, January 7, 2010

to program or not to program?

Ceremony programs. Are they really necessary? 

In my purse is a beautiful, ornate program from a wedding I attended last month. Why? Because I haven’t had the heart to toss it knowing how much work someone put into it. I am probably the rarity though. Every time I leave a ceremony with programs, I see the bulk of them strewn amongst the chairs & pews or worse, trampled on the floor! On occasion they get a brief second life as a fan or a megaphone.

Let’s talk about the content of the wedding ceremony program versus the necessity. They typically list the bride and groom. I hope by the time you’ve made it to the ceremony, you know who is getting married. The date and time. Who cares. You made it, right? No need to review the details of the invitation at this point. The bridal party and parents. Isn’t this why the DJ or MC typically introduces these people into the reception by name and title? The officiate. They typically introduce themselves anyway.  The thank you statement. From time to time, the program lists some mushy thank you to all of the guests. It’s nice; it is but is it really necessary? Save that for your thank you cards. The bulk of the content in these programs tends to be the order of the ceremony. When the ceremony is simply a traditional exchange of vows, there obviously isn’t much to list in a program.

On the other hand, if you are having a long church ceremony or untraditional nuptials, there tends to be multiple parts and you may want to inform your guests. The program is helpful for those who are not familiar with what happens next in your church’s service. How long can I expect this to be and when can I expect the actual exchange of vows? (Read: when is it time to pay attention?)  You may also find it important to reference the readings and such. If all of this is the case, then rock out with your programs.

If you don’t want to make programs but some of the ceremony content is important for you to tell your guests then I suggest finding a simpler alternative to incorporate it into your event. You will save hours of printing, folding, punching, stamping & ribbon tying and not to mention some of that oh-so coveted wedding budget. For example, if you really want that heartfelt thank you to everyone in your lives for sharing in on your special day blah blah blah, why not print it out just once and frame it?  Leave it on the gift table so as everyone drops off their card, they can read your gratitude. If listing your readings is important, maybe you can quote the ol’ “Love is Patient, Love is Kind” scripture verse as part of the décor of your seating card table. Again, you only have to print it once. Save yourselves the hours of labor that go underappreciated!

In summary, I have never heard anyone say, “That was a beautiful ceremony. I had a great time But, man, there were no programs. I wasn’t sure who was who or what happened next.”

-The perennial bridesmaid


  1. I totally agree. I spent HOURS on my programs and not even half of them were picked up by the guests. And, even after proof-reading several times, there were still 2 spelling errors which make me mad to this day (mad at myself, of course)!

  2. I'm really conflicted about this! We'll have lots of traditions in our ceremony that are new to people, but we are incorporating explanations into what our Wedding MC is going to be saying. I really would love to ditch another DIY project if I could, but I feel like it might be necessary. Maybe it's about making 1/2 the amount of programs as for your guests? Or making them multipurpose in some way, ie a fan. Or just simplifying and forgetting the extra bows and stamps...

  3. Can you just do one simple sheet? No bows! Maybe some kraft cardstock & a pretty font.

  4. Thanks for selling me on the no programs thing. I am so glad that is one less thing to worry about and less wasted time and energy!