Adding Value to Your Wedding Program

When I’m creating a wedding ceremony for a couple, if they haven’t seen the script yet (it’s not ready yet) I’m sometimes asked for the ‘order of service.’ I know immediately why. They are creating a program of some kind and want to include an outline of what will take place.

This is a common practice, and in a religious ceremony it can help people get ready to find the page for a scriptural passage or which hymn will be up next. That’s ok – to a point. But a program it isn’t always necessary or even desirable. Do I really need to read ‘lighting of candles’ to know that the candles are being lit?

An awesome program by one of my couples!

When you think about it, the ‘order of service’ simply encourages people to anticipate what is happening next in the ceremony, even possibly distracting them from what is happening in the present moment. It becomes a checklist to be completed. I believe it is more beautiful to allow the words and actions to unfold.

Why not approach the booklet as a chance to expand and enhance the ceremony experience for your guests?

If you have the time and inclination, a wedding program is fine, especially if you give that ‘added value.’ For more creative couples it can even become quite the artistic project!  And it can serve multiple functions.

And the other side - also awesome!

Here are some suggestions to add content and value to a program:

  • When listing the bridal party – explain who they are, your relationship with them, or 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, a newspaper, a fan, a passport, a map, a chalkboard, anything goes!
  • Explain rituals that are being performed. Give historical, cultural or religious background, and why it is being used. I’m referring to the Unity Candle, Handfasting, Breaking the Glass, Sharing of Wine, Bread and Salt, Jumping the Broom, or any number of rituals that are performed in weddings. This is true for religious or secular ceremonies. Remember not everyone is versed in your traditions and will appreciate learning about them.
  • Give music credits – details on what songs or selections were played and what they mean to you.
  • 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 special. They might also help by assembling or distributing the booklet. Don’t forget to credit children for any role they play in the wedding, and thank them for their support of the marriage. They will appreciate the sentiment, and love seeing their names in print.

A chalk board instead of paper for the program.

  • Other thanks can be listed, so everyone will be sure to see who helped you make your wedding day special.

If you decide to create program booklet, I hope you’ll make it 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 full of surprises, truly, no one will be disappointed that there is none at all.

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