All About Wedding Programs

Wedding Program


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The Purpose of a Wedding Program


Have you every heard the expression, "You can't tell the players without a scorecard?"  That sums up the purpose of  a wedding program as well.  the use of wedding ceremony programs has become increasingly common.  They are an option for your wedding ceremony, not a requirement, however, and not every wedding offers programs to its guests. 


If wedding programs are used, they are typically handed out or left in a public place at the entrance of the church, or given to guests as they are being seated by the usher, or handed out by a person specially delegated for the purpose, often an older child.  Wedding programs may also be stacked and placed at the end of each pew in advance of the ceremony to be used after the guests have been seated.  Many of your guests save their programs as a memento of your day.




What Is In a Wedding Program



One page of the wedding program, often entitled "The Wedding Party" usually contains the names of the bride and groom, the couple's parents, the bridal party and optionally other participants in the ceremony, such as the vocalist, organist, or other musicians.  Readers are generally not listed on this page, but on the Wedding Ceremony page.


On a separate page, the major parts of the ceremony, such as the seating of the mothers, the processional, lighting of the unity candle, solos, the exchange of vows and rings, the recessional, and any music performed during these sections.


The program may also contain a Thank You and Remembrance page, in which the couple thank their guests for sharing their special day, as well as mention by name those who cannot attend, usually because of recent death or illness, but also, for instance, because of service overseas.



Wedding Program Styles


Illustration of a booklet style of wedding program Illustration of a Z-fold style of wedding program Illustration of a gatefold style of wedding program Illustration of a scroll style of wedding program
Booklet Z-Fold Gatefold Scroll



Wedding programs may be in booklet style, scroll style, a Z-fold style or a gatefold style as illustrated above.  All but the Z-fold and scroll styles require that the paper be printed on both sides. 


The booklet style, scroll style and gatefold style can be tied with ribbon for a lovely and inexpensive effect; Thinkwedding recommends that you use 1/4", 3/8" or 5/8" organza ribbon for the purpose, because organza ribbon lays nicely when stacked and is easier to tie and handle.


You will probably want to make your decision on the type of program and make your purchases well in advance of the ceremony, but it would be best not to actually print your programs until 1 to 3 weeks before; last minute changes are always possible and can cause real headaches if the programs have already been printed.



Wedding Program Options


Having Your Programs Printed


You can have your programs printed by a local printer as well as by the printer of your invitations.  If you do order your programs as well as other stationery and napkins, matchbooks, etc., don't hesitate to ask if there is a discount for giving the printer all your business--there often is a discount, but you may not get it unless you ask.

If you have having your programs printed by a local printer who is not also printing your other wedding stationery, he may have a catalogue of blank program covers for your selection; he may also have templates with artwork that he can use to print on plain paper stock.  


Paper weights range from 20 to 24 lb. bond, which is used for ordinary paper and suitable for the scroll type and Z-fold type of program, 32 lb bond, a lightweight cover stock suitable for scrolls, booklets, gatefolds and Z-fold programs.  There are two heavier weight papers:  the card stock weight, 64 lb., and the cover stock, 110 lb.  The two heavier weights are not often used for programs, but could possibly be used as a cover for the booklet style of program.


Here's an important consideration--folding your paper to fit into the cover.  Paper has a weave when it's manufactured.  Most bond and copier paper's direction is across the short side.  That means that most paper you would use for the center of the program will fold nicely in the direction you want.  If you want to test this, just take a sheet of typing paper and fold it first in one direction and then in another.  I think you'll find that it will fold nicely without having to be scored. 



Handmade Wedding Programs


It is becoming increasingly popular for brides and/or their families to print their own wedding programs, and while these may be do-it-yourself and homemade, it is possible with a little planning and preparation to produce unique, one of a kind programs that still look lovely and professional.  There are a wide range of options to the bride who wants to create a handmade wedding program.  An additional bonus, of course, is both the cost savings and the flexibility.  Wedding programs can be easily changed if there is a change in the ceremony or the members of the wedding party at the last minute, while printed programs cannot be a easily changed.



Requirements for Do-It-Yourself Wedding Programs


Your first step is to decide what kind of wedding program you would like to have--scroll, booklet, gatefold, or trifold (Z-fold).  That will indicate to you the kind of paper you will need to purchase.  You will need to obtain, create, or purchase a template--probably a Microsoft Word template--and you will need some kind of blank paper and card stock.



Illustration of the scroll type of wedding program

The paper for a scroll-type wedding program should be no heavier than 32 lb.; if it is heavier, you will have difficulties rolling it and keeping it in a roll.  A 24 lb. bond paper, available by the ream at an office supply store, will do nicely for the purpose.  You should also decide on the kind of tie to be used, and there are a wide range of choices; among them, metallic cord, satin ribbon, or organza ribbon.  We recommend organza ribbon for all programs because we have found that it is the easiest to handle, and a nice single bow can be created without a great deal of skill.  This wedding program should be printed on one side only.



Illustration of the Z-fold style of wedding program

The Z-fold program is also printed on one side of a single sheet of paper, then folded as in a Z.  You would use paper no heavier than 32 lb. bond for this as well.  This style can be tricky to lay out, and you might have to limit the information in your program to account for the narrow three sections and their margins.  This program can be tied with ribbon or metallic cord, but it is not a necessity.  This wedding program style should be printed on one side.



Illustration of the Gatefold style of wedding program

The gatefold style is a very elegant treatment.  It is printed on both sides of a single sheet of paper.  You should consider how to keep the two sides closed, however; they can be closed with a seal or with ribbon.  This style can also be tricky to lay out, and you are limited in the amount of information in the program because the two sides are very narrow, and because your guests are not likely to turn it over to read the other side.  This wedding program style must be printed on both the front and back on one sheet only.  If you are planning to use this style, be sure that the paper you have purchased will fold cleanly--paper has a grain, which may run against the folds and make folding in this manner messy.  You may purchase blank gatefold card stock at and other suppliers of blank wedding programs.  Blank gatefold or trifold card stock may also be used for wedding invitations.



Illustration of the booklet style of wedding program

The booklet style is by far the most common type of wedding program.  The paper for a booklet style program can range from about 28 lb. to 64 lb. bond; with 28 lb. to 32 lb. probably easiest and most desirable to use.  For booklet-style programs, you may decide on preprinted program covers; these are typically between 28 lb and 32 lb. bond.  If you have decided on the heavier type of 64 lb. bond, however, you should buy your paper prescored; paper has a grain, and if it's not running in the right direction you will not be able to fold to a sharp line.  It is quite easy to buy lovely blank wedding program covers; we sell many covers on our website, as do other wedding and wedding stationery websites. 


With a booklet style of wedding program, you have the option of only using the cover or of inserting a sheet or sheets of white 24 lb. bond in the center.  You can attach the two using two staples about 2 1/4" from each edge, or you can punch two holes approximately the same distance and thread organza ribbon between the two sheets.  The effect is elegant, lovely, and at the same time, very inexpensive.  It has the added advantage that if you make a printing mistake, it is generally on your inexpensive bond rather than your purchased cover.  Another advantage to this style is it can be printed on one side only if desired--once on the cover and once on the bond paper inside.





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