A wedding program helps your guests to follow along with your program. For guests familiar with the traditions you will be following it is comforting to be able to identify the people, music, and specific customs you have included in your ceremony. For those who are not familiar with your traditions or if you have chosen a less traditional route, it can be a way to help your guests engage in the event.
No matter what your budget is for your wedding I suggest researching samples of wedding programs. Having a small budget does not eliminate the possibility of having nice programs. However, you need to identify what you like about the more expensive options in order to create a more budget friendly alternative that accomplishes the same task.
Do look at samples on-line, at stationary stores, or other venues. Look at the collections you may have acquired form attending other weddings. What do you find attractive in these invitations that you will either order yourself or seek to recreate?
Know your options. There are companies that will create the whole program, just do the duplication process, some that just sell the pretty covers to add to your basic program design, and some that offer templates for you to do your own. These templates range in price. Some are free and others go up in price as the designs and options widen.
The type of wedding you are having will determine some of the design of your program. Religious weddings often have specific templates to accommodate the worship aspects of the wedding ceremony. For instance many Catholic programs list the order of the mass, the readings, and the version of the Mass Parts the couple has chosen to be sung at the wedding. If you are having a religious ceremony, do ask the Church if there are any specific requirements or preferences. They sometimes do have samples for you to use as a model.
If you are going to include the actual music in your program, check with your music director regarding copy write issues. They can best advise you what the rules are regarding reprinting materials.
Most wedding programs, religious or secular, do include certain basic information. They identify the bride and groom by name, the date and location of the ceremony. Attendants are generally named along with the parents of the bride and groom. Find a way to be comfortable with any family issues and make it work for you. Do not be concerned with what others think of how you have addressed your parental issues. Start as you mean to move forward in your married life.
You will also want to identify the celebrant and the musicians who performed at the service. List the title, author, and if there are solists, the individual performing the piece. If you are having people do readings or provide other services during the ceremony, those people should also be credited in the program.
Some couples choose to add a thank you to guests at the end of the program along with a personal message regarding deceased family or members who were not able to be with them for a variety of reasons. Some samples include poems and other personal touches.
As you are planning on how much to include and how long your program should be do consider reproduction costs. This is where prioritizing comes to importance. If you want to use higher quality paper to print your programs on you may want to consider limiting the pages that need to be reproduced. Another option is to use high quality paper for the cover and lesser paper for the inside pages, allowing you to include more. There are many options but cost should be a factor. Even if you are not on a strict budget, there is always something more interesting you could spend money on then wedding programs.
As I said before you have a number of options for producing your wedding programs. A simple method is to create the program youself using a free template. I would suggest taking it to a copy shop and having them make the copies and paying the extra to have them folded. You can choose the quality and style of paper you wish to reproduce them. Some people buy wedding program covers and have the insides produced on less expensive paper. There are a variety of options. Know your budget and decide on the option that suits you financially first and then your time. Wedding planning can be busy and stressful. This should not be a time consuming activity. This is a time to enjoy yourselves.