If you’re planning a wedding, it can feel like you have a million and one things to book, manage, build, create and decide on. Your to-do list is never ending and it can be tempting to throw it all out the window. So are programs just one more thing you need to deal with? Do you really need wedding ceremony programs?

The short answer? No.

The long answer? Maybe…

What are wedding ceremony programs? 

Wedding ceremony programs are pieces of paper handed to guests as they enter the ceremony that provide them with the low down of who’s who and what’s happening. Programs will usually list the series of events that will occur during your ceremony and the names of your wedding party. They may also include the names of your parents or immediate family, and any special notes or a nice quote.

Example of a wedding ceremony program listing the couple, ceremony schedule and members of the wedding party

When you don’t need wedding programs

Honestly? Almost all of the time.

Most people have been to a wedding ceremony. They understand how things work and know what is going to happen. And even if you have a few surprises, usually it’s nothing that would make your guests exclaim, “Wow! I was so caught off guard and unprepared for that. I really wish I had read about it in a program 10 minutes earlier!”

As for introducing your wedding party, most of your guests will either know these important people in your life or (sorry to break it to you!) not really care to learn the name of your best friend from volleyball or favourite cousin.

If you were looking for permission to ditch your wedding ceremony programs, consider permission granted!

When you might need ceremony programs

While programs are generally not needed, there are certain situations where a program might be helpful.

If you are having a ceremony with lots of cultural or religious elements that might be unfamiliar to your guests, a program is a great place to explain what is going on and why you’re doing these things. You can explain the significance of certain traditions which will allow guests to experience your ceremony in a more meaningful way.

Programs are also very handy if part or all of your ceremony is going to be conducted in another language. If your guests aren’t bilingual, it can be nice to provide some text for them to read along so they don’t get lost.

Lastly, if you’re asking your guests to participate in your ceremony, such as by singing a song with you, a ceremony program is a great place to note this and include the lyrics or instructions.

Examples of formal wedding program with the couple's names, ceremony date and schedule with ceremony songs, list of wedding party members

Other great uses for wedding ceremony programs

Just because you don’t necessarily need a program, doesn’t mean they can’t be useful. If you want, let your inner Pinterest Diva shine and make an amazing program! A wedding ceremony program is a great place to put information not just about your ceremony, but about the rest of the wedding day. You can remind guests what’s coming up next or provide a map for them to get to your reception.

It can be helpful to put ceremony notes, such as your request for an unplugged ceremony, into your program. You could also add any special thank yous or memorial dedications inside your program. Programs are also nice mementos from your day that you could tuck into your wedding photo album to look back on later.

And, on a really hot day, your wedding ceremony program can double as a fan!

Sample wedding program

If you do decide to include wedding programs, here are some things you can include on yours:

  • Details of the day, such as the couple’s names, wedding date and location
  • Order of ceremony events
  • Explanation of any unique ceremony elements (e.g. a cultural tradition not everyone will be familiar with)
  • Translations of any ceremony elements happening in a language not all of your guests speak
  • Instructions for any guest participation elements (e.g. lyrics to a song you want your guests to sing)
  • Schedule of what’s happening post-ceremony
  • Ceremony reminders, such as your request for the ceremony to be unplugged
  • Optional: names of the wedding party and close family members, fun facts about the couple, wedding quotes, thank you notes

wedding ceremony program as a fan with couple's name and schedule of the ceremony

Bottom line: Do you actually need wedding ceremony programs? 

The bottom line on wedding ceremony programs is that you probably don’t need one. Even if you are incorporating some unique elements into your ceremony, you could always include notes about these on your wedding website (saving paper!), on signs at the ceremony, or ask your officiant to make a special announcement. Wedding programs are not mandatory.

But if you really want a program? Go for it! If you love DIY projects and crafting, you could really get creative designing a beautiful program. Just don’t let it become a huge project that stresses you out or takes your mind off the whole point of your wedding (your incredible relationship!).

And, you’ll have to accept that most of those beautiful wedding programs will end up in recycling bins by the end of the day.

Wedding ceremony programs may not be mandatory but having someone to marry you certainly is! Book your wedding officiant today! 


Written by Riana Ang-Canning