Wedding Program Wording Guide

Looking for wedding program wording ideas? Not sure what to include in your wedding program? You’ve come to the right place! Create the perfect wedding program with this guide to wedding program wording.

Wedding program wording ideas: what to include in a wedding program

Most wedding programs are comprised of four sections: the introduction, the ceremony, the wedding party and messages.
If you’re printing two-panel wedding programs (front and back), the first two sections can go on the front, and the other two on the back. If you’re printing four-panel (folded) wedding programs, each section can be placed on its own panel.

Two-panel program
Four-panel (folded) program

Let’s go through the wedding ceremony program order, section-by-section, so you’ll know how to word your wedding programs.

Section 1: Introduction or front cover (panel)

The first section should include:

  • The names of the bride and groom
  • The wedding date
  • The wedding time (optional)
  • The wedding location (optional)
Your wording can be formal or casual. For example, a formal wedding program front panel might read:
Kelly Jo Holcomb
And
Bradley Michael Janis
Nineteenth of May Two Thousand and Eighteen
One O’clock in the Afternoon
Valley Church
A casual wedding program front panel might read:
Kelly and Brad
5.19.2018
1 p.m.
Valley Church
Or, simply:
Kelly and Brad
5.19.2018

If you’re printing two-panel wedding programs, the introduction should be printed on the top of the first panel. If you’re printing four-panel, folded wedding ceremony programs, it should be on the first panel, otherwise known as the front cover.

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Section 2: Ceremony Order

The second section of your wedding program should feature the order of the ceremony. On two-panel programs, it will go immediately below the introduction. On four-panel programs, it should go on the second page, or inside cover.

The ceremony order should include:
The prelude

This is the music that is played while your guests are being seated. It’s common to include the song title, composer, and the name of the person performing it (if it’s a live performance, such as a piano, guitar player, and/or singer); though these are optional.

Prelude

The attendants’ processional is the music played when the bridal party makes its way down the aisle. Like the prelude, you can list the song title, composer and performer. These are optional; however, your formatting for the prelude and processional should match.

Example: “Water Music” (George F. Handel) Performed by Mary Smith The attendants’ processional
Processional

This is the music played when the bride enters and makes her way down the aisle. Formatting should match the other songs.

Example: “Fur Elise” (Ludwig Van Beethoven) Performed by Jane Auger Bride’s processional

Bride’s Processional

Greeting or Opening Prayer
The attendants’ processional is the music played when the bridal party makes its way down the aisle. Like the prelude, you can list the song title, composer and performer. These are optional; however, your formatting for the prelude and processional should match.

The greeting can be listed on your wedding program as:

  • Greeting
  • Opening Prayer
  • Invocation
Example: “Wedding March” (Felix Mendelssohn) Performed by Mary Smith

Readings

If the ceremony will include religious readings, they should be included on the program. The readings might be consecutive; or, you might have one reading early in the ceremony and another reading later. Place the readings accordingly, name the Bible verse (if applicable), and name the person conducting the reading.

Example: Reading 1 Corinthians 16:14 John Smith

Exchange of Vows

The part of your wedding in which vows and rings are exchanged; on wedding programs, it’s commonly referred to simply as the “Exchange of Vows.”

Exchange of rings
Some wedding programs include this part in the “Exchange of Vows,” others list it separately

Unity ceremony

If the wedding will include the lighting of a unity candle, pouring of unity sand, or some other symbolic gesture, include it on your wedding program. It’s commonly referred to as a “Unity Ceremony.”

Presentation of couple

The part of the ceremony in which the officiant announces the newlyweds, they kiss, and the celebration begins.

Recessional

The music played when the newlywed couple and wedding party make their way back down the aisle. It should follow the formatting of the other music.

Example: "The Best is Yet to Come" (Frank Sinatra) Performed by Jane Auger

NOTE: If your wedding ceremony will include a religious service, your officiant or church can help you identify additional items to include and where to place them. For example, your ceremony section might have a liturgy, which could include readings, a gospel, a sermon or homily, hymns, and prayers (such as the Lord’s Prayer). Separate items might also include the Rite of Marriage and Nuptial Blessing, such as in a Catholic wedding.

Section 3: Wedding party

The third section of your wedding program should feature participants other than the bride and groom, otherwise known as the wedding party. If you’re printing two-panel programs, it can go either below the introduction or on the top of the back. If you’re printing four-panel, folded programs, it can go on either interior panel. First and last names, as well as official titles (when applicable), should be included.

How you list the wedding party in your programs is up to you, though a hierarchy similar to the following is common:

  • Parents of the bride
  • Parents of the groom
  • Grandparents of the bride and groom (if desired)
  • Maid or Matron of Honor
  • Best man
  • Bridesmaids
  • Groomsmen
  • Flower girl
  • Ring bearer
  • Attendants
  • Ushers
  • Officiant
  • Music/performers
  • Any special guests you’d like to name

If desired, you can include the relationships to the bride and groom for each person in the wedding party.

Examples:

  • Annie Oakley, Friend of the Bride
  • Bob Dole, Cousin of the Groom
  • Terry Walters, Brother of the Bride

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How to list divorced parents on a wedding program

Proper wedding program etiquette for divorced parents presents several different options, including:

Parent and stepparents’ name on the same line

Jane and John Smith [where Jane is the mother and John is the stepfather] Bruce and Milly Jankins [where Bruce is the father and Milly is the stepmother]

Parents escorted by stepparents

Jane Smith, escorted by her husband John Smith Bruce Jankins, escorted by his wife Milly Jankins

List parents and stepparents separately

Parents of the Bride: John Smith and Milly Jankins Stepfather: Bruce Jankins

Section 4: Appreciation, Memorials and Reception Reminder

The last section of your wedding program should feature a message of appreciation for your guests, also referred to as a message of thanks or, simply, a thank-you note.

Optionally, some couples elect to include a memorial or remembrance message dedicated to deceased friends and family members. You can also choose to include a reception reminder. This section can be placed on the bottom of two-paneled programs, or on the back panel of four-paneled wedding programs.

Appreciation messages
Appreciation message example 1:

Thank you for sharing in our special day, and for all the love and support you’ve shown. We look forward to many more years of happy memories with you!

Appreciation message example 2:

To Our Parents
Thank you for the guidance, support, patience, lessons and love you’ve given us. You have shaped us into who we are today and have shown us a commitment that we’ll share with one another as our families embark on a new journey together.

To Our Family and Friends
Thank you for joining us as we begin a new chapter in life, one that wouldn’t be possible without all the love and support you’ve shown us. You are the sources of so many treasured memories, and we look forward to making countless more memories as we begin our new lives together.

Memorial messages
Memorial message example 1:

In Loving Memory

We remember our loved ones who are here in spirit. You are in our hearts and memories, always.

Joseph Dirt, Grandfather of the Bride

Lana May, Cousin of the Groom

Other ways to list memorial names include:

Joseph Dirt

Bride’s Paternal Grandfather

Louise and Jon Meyer, Groom’s Maternal Grandparents

Grandpa Joe Dirt

Reception reminder example:

Please join us for dinner and reception immediately following the ceremony at The Reception Hall, 555 Wedding Drive, San Francisco