When couples ask me for the order of the service, I know what’s next. They want to create a program booklet that follows the ceremony elements. I’ve written about this before, but it comes up frequently – so here goes!
It is not necessary to itemize the service. When you think about it, this type of program encourages people to anticipate what is happening next in your ceremony, distracting them from what is happening in the present moment. Instead, approach the booklet as a chance to expand, rather than simply outline. Your program book can enhance the ceremony experience for your guests. While your guests are waiting for the ceremony to begin, they will enjoy reading it. Here are some suggestions to help you do exactly that.
- List the bridal party – explain who they are, your relationship with them, and even where they live. People travel far to attend weddings. You can show your appreciation of their time and effort by making mention of it.
- Use photos – of yourself, your family and friends. Even your pet, who unfortunately, was unable to attend, but sends best wishes!
- Get creative – the program can be made to look like a theater playbill, a menu, it can be in different shapes or colors/
- Explain any rituals that are being performed during the ceremony.
- Give music credits – details on what songs or selections were played.
- If your ceremony is in a unique location – explain why you chose it.
- Readings, poems, lyrics – just as with rituals - explain why you are using them in your ceremony, especially if there is particular story to accompany it. Or, include a poem, song lyric, or other writing that you could not fit into the ceremony.
- Anecdotes, such as how you first met, the proposal, or any story you feel you guests would enjoy, are fun to read.
- Honor departed family members with a tribute to them by using a meaningful quote with their name – explaining that they are missed today.
- For multicultural or multilingual families, have translations of the entire ceremony or selected readings.
- If children are involved in the wedding party, they can create the cover or write something. They might help by assembling or distributing the booklet. Credit children for the role they play in the wedding, and thank them for their support. They will appreciate the sentiment, and love seeing their names in print.
If you have the time and energy, I hope you can make your program booklet special, but if you are stressed, too busy, or simply cannot take on one more task – don’t do it!
While your guests may be delighted to find a program booklet full of surprises, truly, no one will be disappointed that there is no program book at all.