Wedding Ceremony Programs 101: Everything You Should Know

Keep your guests informed throughout the day with these tips.
maddy sims the knot associate editor
Maddy Sims
maddy sims the knot associate editor
Maddy Sims
Associate Editor
  • Maddy writes for The Knot, with a specialty in beauty, sustainability, mental health and inclusivity.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Maddy wrote for several different publications, including Insider, Bustle, Real Simple and Apartment Therapy.
  • Maddy has a Bachelor's degree in magazine journalism and a Master's degree in health, science and environmental reporting (both of which are from Northwestern's Medill School ...
Updated Jan 29, 2021
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As you've marked off the big wedding checklist items, it's important to now think about smaller details like your wedding programs. Just like your invitations, wedding ceremony programs contain important information that your guests would like to know (think: the order of the ceremony, the names of members in your wedding party, the cocktail hour's start time). To help you cross the task off of your wedding checklist, we've compiled the information you need to know about wedding ceremony programs. Below, we address everything from what it is, when to submit your order, quantity-related questions, what to include—and everything else you need to know.

What Is a Wedding Ceremony Program? (And How to Decide if You Need One)

A wedding program is traditionally a piece of paper that lists out details of your celebration. It normally contains a wedding day timeline, order of the ceremony, details about ceremony readings and information about the wedding party. But do you need wedding programs? Not necessarily. Not everyone hands out wedding ceremony programs at their nuptials, and that's perfectly OK. However, if you'd like to give guests more information about your wedding day, they can be an easy way to do so.

Whether you want all of your guests to know the meaning behind your selected readings or you want to explain the format of your Indian-Jewish wedding or you just want to give your wedding party a shout-out, wedding programs allow you to do all of that. Plus, they can double as a convenient fan for your guests if you're exchanging vows in the heat of the summer. It all comes down to what you and your partner want, though we recommend printing programs so that your guests are informed about the details of your wedding day.

Where Can I Order Wedding Ceremony Programs?

If you and your partner want wedding ceremony programs, you're in luck—The Knot Invitations has tons of shoppable wedding programs, with designs for every couple (you can even sort the designs based on wedding style, season or color). Other outlets like Paper Source, Minted and Shutterfly all offer a variety of gorgeous wedding program options too. Or, if you're looking for something a little more unique, check out the template designs available on Etsy.

If you'd rather save a step, consider buying wedding programs from the same stationer who did you save-the-dates and invites. It'll save you time and guarantee your wedding stationery has a cohesive aesthetic.

If you're wondering when to order your wedding ceremony programs, you have two options. You can buy them when you purchase your invites or you can wait one to two months before your wedding day. This will give your stationer ample time to print them and ship them to you before your nuptials.

How Many Wedding Programs Do You Need to Order?

Now that you've decided to order wedding ceremony programs, you might wonder how many programs to order. As we suggest ordering your wedding programs one to two months ahead of your wedding day, your guest count may not be finalized. There's still a way to figure out how many programs you should order. Take the confirmed RSVPs and add in the unconfirmed number—then add on 15-25 programs for good measure in case any last-minute plus-ones attend (and so that you can have an extra for your wedding scrapbook). It may seem overkill to order so much stationery, but you do need a program for every guest. That way, everyone feels included on your wedding day.

How Much Does It Cost to Print Wedding Programs?

If you're narrowing down a budget for your wedding ceremony programs, consider these factors. A one-sided piece of paper will be less expensive than a pamphlet or mini-book. Extra details (like foil printing or watercolor designs) may bring added costs. The quantity you purchase also influences the price (you can usually get a lower price if you order more). In general, most wedding programs will cost anywhere from one to six dollars per program.

What to Include in a Wedding Program

Once you've picked a wedding program design and crunched the numbers, then you get to decide on what to include in a wedding program. (Psst: you can include anything you want—it's your day!) Of course, there are certain details that are helpful to your guests. You definitely want to include your names, the location of your wedding and an outline of the ceremony proceedings. Beyond that, you get to choose what you'd like to incorporate. Consider adding in the names of the people participating in the ceremony (your wedding party, the officiant, parents, readers and musicians) or an explanation of any cultural traditions you're incorporating (more on that below).

Other things you can include in your ceremony program are explanation of meaningful wedding details (like how you had your first kiss at the venue), an overview of the wedding day timeline, your love story or your wedding hashtag. Consider adding in a thank you to your guests or a message in memory of those who couldn't attend. If you're having an after-party, it may be helpful to include those details on the wedding program so that your guests are clear on what's happening, when it's happening and where it's going down.

If you want to break up the text, you can add in pictures or illustrations (think: you and your partner, your wedding party, your families, your pet). It's a sweet touch that will make guests smile.

How Do You List a Wedding Party in a Program?

Wedding programs are a fun way to give a shout-out to the members of your wedding party. Not only will it provide your guests with some fun reading before the ceremony, it will also give them information about your friends so they can mingle during the reception. But if you're wondering how to list your wedding party in your program, we've got the answer.

Truthfully, there's no right or wrong way to call out your close friends. Generally, you'd list the maid of honor and best man at the top and then list the other members after that. However, you are free to list out your wedding party however you like. Give them descriptions, include tiny illustrations or pictures or spell out their names. Any of these choices are a sweet way to show your crew some extra love on your wedding day.

What to Put on the Back of a Wedding Program

Make the most out of your wedding ceremony programs by using the back side of them. If you've included all of the important details inside of the stationery, consider putting something sweet on the back. You can write out your romantic story—from the day you met to the day you decided to get married—for all of your guests to enjoy. You can also use the back as a spot to write a heartfelt thank you to your guests for coming to celebrate your love.

You can also use the space to put a cute illustration of you and your boo, your furry friend or your family members—the sky's the limit! Take the time to brainstorm creative ideas for the back of your wedding program.

Different Kinds of Wedding Programs

Consider the cultural traditions associated with your wedding ceremony. Different religions and cultures have certain wedding customs that you and your partner may want to include. Listing out the order of events or an explanation of certain traditions can help your guests follow the whole ceremony and feel included. It's a simple gesture, but it can mean a lot of your guests. Brainstorming which traditions to incorporate into your ceremony? Consult our roundup of different wedding ceremonies. While this isn't a comprehensive list, it does contain some of the most common types of weddings.

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