Deciding what to highlight in your wedding ceremony program is often one of the last things you’ll pull together before your big day. Whether you’re planning a simple program outline you can DIY or an elaborate keepsake that shares the story of your relationship, it can easily become a last minute scramble to find the right wedding program wording.
If you’re feeling a little lost, you’re not alone! There are so many wedding program templates you can follow when it comes to sharing all the important details with your guests. Our advice: Keep it personal and true to your wedding style. If your special day will be a fun, laidback event, use playful language that reflects the vibe. More of a formal wedding theme? Go classic with script fonts and elegant verbiage befitting a black-tie affair.
After you’ve selected the perfect wedding program design, use this guide to discover everything to include so guests stay informed (and excited!) about your big day.
Why do you need a wedding program?
A traditional wedding program provides guests with important specifics, like the order of events, to ensure everyone is on time for key moments like the ceremony, cocktail hour and wedding reception. It’s a point of reference and can also offer context to the nuances of your wedding, from a list of readings to be performed before the vows to honoring late family members who couldn’t be there for the big day. And while these details could easily be listed on your wedding website, a program is a thoughtful keepsake you can treasure long after you say “I do.”
What do you need to include?
Typically, a program outlines the timeline of celebrations for your wedding, but don’t be afraid to venture out of the box! While there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to what you should include, here are a few details frequently used in simple wedding program narratives.
- Wedding Day Timeline: When crafting a wedding program, one of the most popular ways to share details is a minimalist timestamp for each event. Start with your wedding date, names and venue, then include a rundown of times for every part of the celebration. This lets guests know where to be at any given time, which will be a big help to your wedding planner.
- Order of Ceremony: This timeline is a bit different, as it offers a detailed look at the events specific to your wedding ceremony. This format is great for more elaborate religious ceremonies that require guest participation. If there’s a specific prayer or blessing that wedding guests are invited to read aloud, it’s helpful to print the text in your program so that all your loved ones can easily take part in the celebration.
- Unique Details: If there are certain elements of your wedding you want to explain, this is the place to do it! Recessing to a special song? Add it to your program with a short sentence reflecting on the moment that inspired your first walk together as a married couple.
- Wedding Party Introductions: You will inevitably have guests who have yet to meet some of the most important people in your lives: the wedding party! Introduce your people of honor in your program, from beloved family members to your four-legged best friend serving as the ring bearer.
- After-Party Info: Scrambling to spread the word about your after-party details will be the furthest thing from your mind when your reception ends. Include a reminder in your program to cut down on confusion and eliminate stress for you and your new spouse.
How to Personalize Your Program
This is your program, so get creative! Often, the design and style of your program will influence the wording you choose. Start with finding a wedding program idea that you love, whether it’s a program fan for a summer wedding or a trending font you used on your save the date and wedding invitations.
If you and your partner fancy yourselves wordsmiths, make your program into a fun crossword puzzle. More into photography and social media? Use this space to tell your guests about hashtags and Instagram handles to use throughout the celebration so you can keep track of all their candid shots. If you’re creating a DIY printable template at home, you can even customize each program to include your guests’ names and table numbers to eliminate the need for reception place cards. Other personalization ideas include incorporating a monogram, a thoughtful thank you message to your guests or a short story of how you and your spouse-to-be fell in love.
Sample Wedding Program Wording
Finding the right language to fit your vibe can be difficult, especially when wedding planning has your attention pulled in so many directions. Take inspiration from these wedding program examples that share the most popular ways to relay information to guests, no matter what type of celebration style you have in mind.
Like the name suggests, keep it simple! This format isn’t for storytelling or waxing poetic about your love. This wedding program style is super streamlined and straight to the point.
- Welcome to the Wedding of John Smith and James Roberts
- December 31, 2022
- The Lodge at Torrey Pines, La Jolla, California
- Exchange of Vows
- Exchange of Rings
Everyone loves a fairytale, especially when it’s yours! Give your wedding guests a little insight into your journey to the altar in your program, especially if there’s a special connection to the venue you chose to say your “I dos.”
- Elizabeth Smith and Jane McClane’s Fairy Tale Ending
- The Boat House at Central Park, New York City
- 2017: Elizabeth was wandering Central Park on a sunny day when she spotted Jane reading a book on a plaid picnic blanket. As luck would have it, Liz was reading the same one. She asked Jane how she was enjoying the book and sparks flew.
- 2018: Jane and Elizabeth moved to Chicago for Elizabeth’s residency, finding a shared love for the chill of the windy city.
- 2019: Jane popped the question under the Eiffel Tower on a whirlwind trip to Paris, and Liz happily accepted.
- On June 2, 2022: Elizabeth and Jane are finally able to say “I do” where it all began in New York City.
- A Fairy Tale Walk Down the Aisle
- Cocktail Hour
- Dinner and Dancing
- Post-Reception Snacks
- Horse and Carriage Send Off
- Happily Ever After-Party
Keeping your wedding program light and playful is a great way to set the mood before your guests even walk into the reception. Use verbiage that’s fun and not too serious to remind guests they’re there to celebrate!
- Best Day Ever!
- Aimee and Cherlize
- August 23, 2022
- We Do
- Ceremony begins at 4 p.m.
- We Cheers
- Cocktail Hour / 5 p.m.
- We Celebrate
- Dinner / 6 p.m.
- Dancing / 6:30 p.m. (until our feet hurt!)
- After-Party / 11 p.m. at O’Flannigan’s Pub
Black- and white-tie events call for a more elegant tone in the program. There are so many different formats that keep the verbiage classic, but this is a great starting point.
- The Nuptials of Iris Georgina Fritz and Joshua Turlington Smith III
- The 2nd of June 2022
- At Five O’Clock in the Evening
- The Grand Hotel Tremezzo
- Lake Como, Italy
- “Here Comes The Sun” by The Beatles, performed by Jessica Fringe
- “Wedding March” by Mendelssohn, performed by Jessica Fringe
- Iris’ Entrance
- “Spring (The Four Seasons)” by Vivaldi, performed by Jessica Fringe
- Welcome and Introduction
- Officiant Robert Miles
- Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare, read by Person of Honor Shannon Wilson
- Exchange of Vows
- Exchange of Rings
- Presentation of the Couple
- “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran, performed by Jessica Fringe
A Thankful Message
Using the program as an opportunity to thank your nearest and dearest for their role in your lives is a touching way to welcome them to your big day. Get creative and thoughtful with your wording, but the below wedding program example is a great jumping off point.
- Welcome to the Wedding of George Perry and Patti Marks
- Saturday, June 25, 2022
- Bluffington, Virginia
- A Note of Thanks: To all our friends and family joining us today, we are sincerely grateful for your presence in our lives. Thank you for joining us on our special day to celebrate our marriage.
- Exchange of Rings
Whether you send traditional paper invitations or go paperless, you can easily collect RSVPs online.