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wedding programs, DIY

DIY Wedding Programs: DIY Wedding Program Basics

Follow our basic guide for picture-perfect wedding programs that will make a wonderful keepsake.

Photo: Virgil Bunao Photography

The more guests feel involved with your wedding, the more likely they’ll have a great time. Wedding programs are a wonderful way to help your friends and family follow the ceremony and understand the wedding traditions you’re incorporating, plus they can take theirs home as a keepsake. The key to crafting a good wedding program? Think practically and creatively.

What's Included

No matter what design you choose for your wedding programs, consider adding the following elements:

  • The full names of the bride and groom, the wedding date, and the city and state where the wedding is taking place
  • The order of the wedding ceremony, including the musical selections (and the lyrics if they're especially meaningful to you), the composers, and the performers, as well as readings, the source or author, and the readers
  • Wedding party bios with brief descriptions of each attendant's relationship to you
  • The name of the officiant
  • thank-you note to both sets of parents; one to all the guests is another frequent addition
  • For religious and secular ceremonies alike, it's important to keep guests in the know by briefly explaining traditions, rituals, and ethic customs
  • If you wish to honor deceased loved ones, you can include a memorial on the back page with a photograph, a fond memory, poem, or quote

Personalizing Them

Your wedding program is an opportunity to tell guests a little more about you as a couple and to set the tone for the rest of the event. The easiest way to personalize your programs is to add special touches, such as favorite poems, quotes, or photographs. Here are some creative concepts:

  • One couple we know extended their old-world European theme with programs printed on marbled parchment paper rolled into scrolls and tied with a sage-green ribbon and a sprig of eucalyptus.
  • Two actors created a Playbill for their programs: a booklet complete with The Players (each attendant's picture and a short bio), a description of Acts (the ceremony events), and a Producers' Note (a letter to guests from the bride and groom).
  • High school sweethearts reprinted their senior prom picture on vellum and used it to top the program, setting a lighthearted, playful mood.

Knot Note: Instead of making just a ceremony program, consider creating a program for the reception as well. Combine it with the ceremony program or create a separate handout for the beginning of the reception. The goal of the event program is to let people know the approximate times for must-see things like the cake cutting and special dances, as well as special symbolism of particular events.

Making Them

Whether you choose to create a program that's bound with a wax seal or a single sheet of paper, there are four basic ways to make your wedding day programs.

  • Set up an arts-and-crafts station in your home, complete with colorful papers, ribbon, and decorations, and host a bridal party DIY night.
  • Create them using template designs from a computer program. With the right program, you can create almost anything imaginable.
  • Have them crafted by a professional designer.
  • Purchase a DIY kit from a company like Paper Source. All you have to do is follow the directions and put the programs together.

Knot Note: DIY programs can be a time-consuming and expensive process, especially if you get hung up on technical details, so do a test run. Time how long it takes to put together a single program before deciding to make them yourself.

Presenting Them

Because wedding programs can come in unusual shapes, sizes, and colors, they can be presented in various ways. Here are some ideas:

  • Fill baskets, tin pails, or antique trays -- whatever works with your wedding style -- with programs and place them at the entrance to your ceremony site. Guests can grab one as they arrive.
  • For an outdoor wedding, put a program on each chair and set a few pieces of colored sea glass on top to keep them from blowing away.
  • Ask a friend or family member to greet guests and hand out programs as they arrive. It's the perfect way to give a special role to someone special who isn't a bridesmaid or a groomsman.
  • Have your ushers hand guests a program right before they’re seated.

-- Allison Micarelli

See More: Wedding Invitations + Wedding Stationery , Wedding Ceremony + Wedding Vow Ideas , Wedding Programs , DIY Wedding Ideas