Do it yourself wedding program ideas and how to
Ideas for fulfilling tradition with your wedding program while maintaining the personal touch.
The programs for your wedding will be your guest’s road map. While you, your betrothed, and your wedding party all know how the ceremony is going to progress, and all of the symbolism you’ve chosen to use, your guests may not understand. Making the program clear and informative is a must, so that you guests understand how meaningful the day is. Making it beautiful is another tiny detail that you will want to be perfect.
You local office supply shop can provide you with papers in colors and patterns to suite your needs, or you can inquire about program paper to match your invitations. Basic word processing programs offer options for dividing the document into columns, which is the easiest way to plan a program with multiple pages.
There are four traditional shapes for the program: flat single sheet, single fold, bi-fold (or brochure), and booklet. In addition to these you can use shaped papers, such as bells, hearts, doves, or flowers. You could also roll the program into a scroll or fold it into a fan. Origami shapes like the heart or the International Peace Crane can be opened to find your program inside.
Traditionally, the wedding program has the ceremony itinerary, much like a church might provide for Sunday services. This section can be as simple as telling what each part of the ceremony is called and the names of any musical pieces you’ve chosen, or you can tell the significance of each step in subtext. If your want to have your guests join in recited prayers, give them the words they are to say in under the heading of what is going on. For example:
*Processional – “The Wedding March”
*The Exchange of Vows
Rebekkah and Scott have written their own vows as alternative lyrics to the song “She Bangs”
*The Lord’s Prayer
Our Lord who art in heaven hallowed be they name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven… etc.
After that you have a great deal of freedom. It is fairly common to introduce the wedding party, excluding the bride and groom. This section should have the bridesmaids first followed by the groomsmen, and the maid/matron of honor and the best man should head their sections. At least tell who each person is, in the order they are to stand during the ceremony. If you have chosen a program style that allows for a bit of space (such as the booklet) you can also tell who they are, why they were chosen for the honor, and/or address a short thank you statement to them. For example:
Maid of Honor: Carry Smith – Sister of the Bride
Bride’s Maid: Anne Brown – Friend of the Bride
Bride’s Maid: Tanya Johnson – Sister of the Groom
Bride’s Maid: Lisa Smith – Sister-in-law of the Bride
We five have been friends for the past 10 years. We have laughed together and cried together, and I am honored that you wanted to share my special day with me. Thank you!
Don’t forget to honor your usher(s), flower girl, ringer bearer, clergyman, musicians, and the nice lady tending the guest book. They are working hard for you as well, and deserve the recognition.
After introducing the entire wedding party you have extinguished your traditional requirements. From here your program is totally unique and sentimental. You could address statements to both of your parents, thanking them for the life they gave you. You can include verses of songs that will be in the ceremony, so the guests can be clear about the meaning of them. If there is a poem or a blessing that you like, but couldn’t fit into the actual ceremony you could place it on the back part of the program as a closing thought.
Decorating your program to coordinate with the rest of the day is another subject that depends a great deal on how much work you want to do, and how fancy you want to be. Single fold and booklet programs can be bound with fancy cords tied around the ‘spine’ and between the pages. Flat and brochure programs can be decorated with ribbons threaded through holes punched in the top or bottom of the sheet. Those ribbons can be tied in simple bows, or even decorated with small lightweight charms. Stamps can be used with ink or embossing powder, and there are some beautiful “watermark” images available for you computer that make graceful backgrounds.
Once you’ve finished your programs presenting them at the ceremony will be you next concern. A large basket placed on a table that you guests have to pass in order to get into the sanctuary is a subtle way of offering them up. Your usher(s) can present them to your guests as they are being escorted to their seats. They can be placed with the guest book and handed out by the guest book attendant. If you have a young, energetic person with nothing else to do, give them a basket and have them offer them to guests as the are coming into the church (the last is particularly effective for the 7-10 year old child who is feeling left out).
Once you’ve decided how your guests will get their programs, you’re finished. Relax. Remember, your wedding is supposed to be a happy day – not the day of your first heart attack!