You’re halfway through your wedding day checklist, and it’s time to write your wedding day cheatsheet: a simple one-page on the wedding party and the day’s events. What is this Rosetta stone of your wedding day, you ask? It’s your wedding program.
A wedding program serves a dual purpose: It benefits you, the happy couple, as well as your guests. For you, a wedding program creates a keepsake for your ceremony. For your guests — particularly guests traveling from out of town — your program tells them the order of events and individuals involved in the wedding ceremony.
This leads to the next question: What should you include in the wedding program wording?
When writing your wedding program, you’ll want to follow a few guidelines. But, just like many items on your wedding to-do list, there are many ways to customize the program to your personality. Below, you’ll learn what to include in your wedding program and different approaches to wedding program wording.
Wedding Program Wording: The Four Parts to Include
When designing your wedding programs, there is no “right” or “wrong” approach.
Your wedding program can be a simple one-pager listing the order of the ceremony and the names of the wedding party. Or, you can choose to make a multi-sided pamphlet with added details. Some couples also choose to use the extra space to write a thank you note to their parents or “In loving memory” of any family members who have passed.
You can make your program as detailed as you like, but keep it short and sweet. After all, you want all eyes on you (not on your program) during the ceremony.
Part 1: Introduction
The cover of your wedding program will list the time, date, and location of your wedding ceremony. You’ll also include the happy couple’s full names. Below are examples of the introduction in three different styles:
Traditional Wedding Introduction
For a traditional or more formal introduction, write a short welcoming message to your guests along with the time, date, and location of your ceremony. Be sure to write the dates (and addresses if you include them) without abbreviations.
Welcome to the Wedding of Ashley Lynn Carter & Thomas Brooklyn Sawyer
May 18, 2021
East Brooke Lutheran Church
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Minimalist Wedding Introduction
For a more minimalist approach, you could simply write your wedding date and the couple’s names. If you wish, you can write a one- to three-word message for your guests.
Celebrating Caitlin Hemseth and Sarah Colebright
Modern Wedding Introduction
For a modern ceremony, write a short and unique welcome one-liner to your guests, along with your wedding date. If your modern wedding is at a cultural venue, include the venue’s name.
Welcome as Carley Lee Strong and Thomas Richard Perrin begin their lives together
September 23, 2020
Culture House, DC
Part 2: The Order of Ceremony Events
On the inside cover (or directly beneath the introduction for a minimalist approach), include the order of the ceremony events. This allows guests to follow along with your wedding ceremony.
This program section depends on what you plan for your ceremony. If you plan a short and sweet service prior to saying, “I do,” this section will be rather short. However, a traditionally religious service like a Catholic wedding will require a more lengthy order of events.
Religious or Traditional Wedding Ceremony
For a religious ceremony, write the corresponding songs, prayers, and Bible verses you chose for your service. List each step within your ceremony on a separate line.
Processional: “Rondeau,” J.J. Mouret
Bride’s Processional: “Canon in D,” Pachelbel
First Reading: 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Exchange of Vows
Blessing and Exchange of Rings
Unity Candle: “This Is Love,” For King & Country
Pronouncement of Marriage
Recessional: “Ode To Joy,” Beethoven
Modern Wedding Program Template
For a more modern wedding ceremony, you will probably share a mix of favorite secular songs, poetry readings, or monologues in lieu of more religious components. However, just like for a traditional ceremony, you will write each step of your ceremony on a separate line.
Prelude: “God Only Knows,” John Legend
Processional: “A Thousand Years,” Christina Perri
Introduction of the Couple
Reading: “Roads Go Ever Ever On,” J.R.R. Tolkein
Exchange of Vows
Exchange of Rings
Presentation of the Couple
Recessional: “Best Day of My Life,” American Authors
Part 3: The Wedding Party
This section could easily be your guests’ favorite part of your wedding program. Include the names of each person involved in your big day from your bridal party to your flower girl. Many couples list the names of their parents and those within the wedding party, but you can also list the names of your grandparents, step-parents, or great-grandparents.
If you’d like a minimalist approach, you can simply write the first and last names of your wedding party. However, some couples like to write a one- or two-word description of each person’s relationship to them (ex., “mother of the bride”). Sometimes your guests enjoy seeing how the wedding party is related, and this can be a conversation starter at the reception.
Formal Wedding Details
For a formal or religious wedding, you will list the first and last names of each person involved in your ceremony. This includes the priest or pastor, acolytes, and others involved in the service.
Officiate: Father Timothy Olson
Parents of the Bride: Jenny and Joshua Amundson
Parents of the Groom: Chris and John Armstrong
Grandparents of the Bride: Georgia Hudson
Grandparents of the Groom: Thomas Watershed and Elizabeth Collard
Matron of Honor: Kim Dummermuth, Friend of the Couple
Best Man: Jason Wander, Friend of the Couple
Kara Mathwick, Sister of the Bride
Jennifer Larson, Sister of the Groom
Beth Curtis, Friend of the Bride
Keith Michaels, Brother of the Bride
Ben Mattocks, Friend of the Couple
Kevin James, Friend of the Groom
Flowergirl: Bailey Michaels, Niece of the Bride
Ring Bearer: Christopher Mathwick, Nephew of Bride
Soloist: Danika Portz
Acolyte: Thomas Henderson
Modern or Minimalist Wedding Details
For a modern or minimalist ceremony, you might just write the family and friends involved in your ceremony. Whether or not you choose to write a description of your relationship is up to you.
Officiate: Tim Wood, Friend of the Couple
Parents of the Bride: Jenn and Samantha Adams-Foster
Parents of the Groom: Tiffany and Seth Howard
Man of Honor: Zeke Mitchell, Brother of the Bride
Best Woman: Kara Cortez, Sister of the Groom
Stephanie Colombe, Friend of the Couple
Annie Sink, Friend of the Couple
Tara Schultz, Sister of the Groom
Lily Porter, Sister of the Bride
Part 4: Back Cover
If you aim for a minimalist approach to your wedding program, your program may not include a back cover. Therefore, you can simply end your program here.
However, some couples choose to use the extra space to write a simple thank-you to their guests. You can thank your parents, families, and friends for gathering with you on your special day. Others choose to recognize deceased family members or others who couldn’t be present.
Lastly, you may choose to write simple instructions guiding guests to your reception.
Traditional Wedding Program Wording
For a traditional wedding, thank your parents, grandparents, and other guests for their support. Lastly, recognize any deceased family members who could not share your special day with you. Here’s an example:
We would like to thank our parents, grandparents, and families for being with us on this special day. Thank you to our families who traveled near and far to be with us on our wedding day.
We wish to recognize those who could not be with us:
John Adams, Uncle of the Bride
Jude Schneider, Mother of the Groom
Anna Smith, Grandmother of the Groom
Modern Wedding Program Wording
For a more modern take, thank your family and friends for sharing in your special day (particularly those who traveled from long distances). You can also direct them to a cocktail hour or other activities prior to the reception. Here’s an example:
Thank you for being present with us on our special day. Many of you traveled across time zones and countries, and we’re so glad to see each of your smiling faces.
Please enjoy mixing and mingling at a light cocktail hour while we snap a few wedding photos. We will see you at 6 p.m. at the Country Music Hall of Fame in downtown Nashville.
Wedding Program Wording as Unique as Your Relationship
When it comes to wedding program etiquette, there is no right or wrong approach. There’s only the approach that works best for you as a couple.
Your printable wedding program will become a keepsake you can enjoy as newlyweds and enjoy for years to come. It’s often customary to match your program to the rest of your wedding stationery, including your save the date card and wedding invitations.