You don’t need to have a wedding program. They seem to be a fairly recent trend. All through the 80s, when performing weddings in non-church locales, people managed to get married without them.
I succumbed, I admit it. But my wedding ceremony was involved and had responsive readings. (I am the Wedding Priestess, after all!)
But if your wedding ceremony is straightforward, you don’t have to have one. Your bridal party will be introduced at the reception. And they’re not inexpensive, even if you design them.
Tip: consider whether or not you’re having wedding programs because you need them or because the wedding industry thinks you need them.
Sometimes there are things you want to say at your wedding that are hard to say out loud. You may have a favorite relative or friend who has died and who will not be able to be with you that day. You may not want or be able to say the words yourself or to hear them from your celebrant. Your wedding program is a lovely place to put a short (hear that, short) dedication to them. “Today’s joyous celebration is dedicated to the memory of Kate’s grandmother, Mimi Dodge, who taught her so much about living life to the fullest.” That’s plenty.
Or you may want to dedicate your ceremony to the people who have inspired the two of you to marry by their wonderful examples of lifelong relationship. You can mention some, or you can allow everyone to assume that they’re the people who inspired you. Which will actually have a great impact on their marriages.
Tip: Whatever you choose to do with a dedication, keep it short!
Three prime reasons for a wedding program are to give people
- the order of service
- the name of music and poetry pieces being used
- any longer readings in which they’ll participate
You do not want to publish short responses or the poems being read. People are congenitally incapable of listening when they’ve got reading matter in their hands. You want people listening to your words. They’re at your service to hear you make your promises to one another, not to read a lovely poem. Help them out!
Tip: Keep the reading material to your wedding at a minimum and you’ll have a far more engaged crowd!
It’s up to you whether or not you want to list wedding participants in your wedding program. What you don’t want to do ever with your wedding program is include too much information.
You do want to let people know what’s going on, but you don’t want to provide distractions from the ceremony. So, forget about the long histories of your wedding party, they can go somewhere else! If you want to write anything other than names on your program, you can say simple things, such as “groom’s best friend from childhood,” or “bride’s college roommate.”
But really, just listing their name is plenty. That will give people the incentive to talk to them at the reception and find out who people really are.
This is lovely, if you overlook the fact that they opened it the wrong way!
Tip: Choose your nearest and dearest to stand with you and if you want to embellish, write note before the list that says something like: Mary and Matt would like to thank their friends and family for standing with them as they make their wedding vows.
I get this question all the time. And my answer is always: far less than you think.
During the wedding ceremony, you want people to be paying attention to the wedding ceremony. If people have reading material in their hands, they will pay attention to that. Guaranteed. So, what belongs there?
- Names of Participants
- Order of Service
Tip: Leave anything else out for post wedding handouts. You were wondering how to get your cousin’s niece involved anyway!
You’ve heard the Wedding Priestess jump up and down about Elizabeth Oakes before. Well, she’s done it again. She’s just opened up Rose Pedals Bike Weddings. It’s fabulous. If you live in her area, or you’re thinking of taking a quick vacation there, you can married very quickly, very stylishly, and very easily.
Follow Elizabeth and elope on your bicycle! Because she lives in California and has a mysteriosa connection so that she can provide a confidential license which requires no witnesses. Is this sounding good yet? Have you gone to look at this? Check out this fabulous photo by Steven Lam (He does all her photography) and then consider whether a huge wedding and lots of stress or a tiny wedding with just the eensiest number of friends and families (enough for a post-ceremonial bike parade!) is what you really want. And after all, you’ll already be in honeymoon territory!
I keep telling the Rev. Ms. Elizabeth that she’s the bees knees. There are only three things keeping me from swiping this notion: 1) i live in a rural area (although remember, i travel), 2) we’re a lot more seasonal than she is and 3) oh, yeah, i forgot, i can’t ride a bike! Somehow the picture of WP furiously pedaling after you on her tricycle isn’t appealing at all! “Wait, hey guys, wait for me!” Oh, right, I’ve done that. Kudos, Madame Bike Priestessa on your Contessa!
Along with everyone else, I loved this video. 12 million people or so have loved it on YouTube. It says a lot about who this couple is and what a good time they have together.
So does it make Wedding Priestess a bad sport when the first thing she thought was “what were their wedding vows like?” Did they work as hard on the vows that will make and keep them married as they did on their entrance? I hope so. ‘Cause you have to admit they’re a fun couple! They deserve to create a marriage that works!
JK Wedding Entrance
(OK, it does make me a technical idjit that I can’t figure out how to put a video in, doesn’t it… I’ll try and get help. Until then, if you’re one of the ten people in the world who hasn’t seen this video, click on the link and go watch! Enjoy it, it’s fun!)
Tip: Want to spend the rest of your life making great entrances? Get to work on the wedding vows. They’re the blueprint for the rest of your life. Find support here. It’s worth dancing through the pages of the Wedding Vow Workbook. I’ll live in hope that you’ll write spectacular vows and get yourself on the Today Show!
Wedding ceremonies are full of priestly exhortations (don’t you love that phrase? That’s how I like to think of my work!) to love one another. Often the “or else” is included! But it’s very rare to have the couple turn to each other in the ceremony, and say, in a simple and straightforward way, “I love you.”
You know what. You should do that. You should say “I love you and I intend to love you for the rest of my life.” You should hear those words from your beloved said aloud in front of your community. You should offer those words to your beloved in your own voice, not in a formula. Your community should understand how those simple and profound words are the truth of why we have all gathered.
Tip: Your offering of love should be sweet and straightforward. After all, that’s what love is at it’s best. This is a Statement of Intent worth living into. Why not offer one another your best during your wedding ceremony? And then deliver during your marriage!
How does the saying go? Ah, Blaise Pascal: The heart has reasons that reason cannot know.
Your wedding ceremony, and in particular your SOI (Statement of Intent) is your opportunity to tell the world what your heart reasons are for marrying your beloved. They also set you up to remember. There’s something about saying something out loud that makes it more true. Tell your beloved and your beloved community why you’re marrying your beloved:
- What is it about your partner that makes this ridiculous endeavor called marriage not only possible but realistic for each of you?
You will come back to those words. In fact, 5 years from now when you’re slapping your forehead, saying, “why did I do this, why?” Your partner will be able to say to you, “Sweetie, you married me because you LOVE my laid back nature.” Oh, right. I do.
The more you can share with your partner, and your world why you love and respect your beloved, the better the two of you will do in marriage.
Tip: Keep focusing on the good things. Let the world know how special this relationship is. It will help them support you. It will help you revere and honor it. Nothing wrong with any of those things happening to your marriage!
Wedding ceremonies do many important things. But one thing that many miss is having the couple speak in their own language.
I’m a ritual queen. I love it when we use formulaic statements that tie our words to the words and worlds of those who went before. It adds weight to what we do.
But I’m also aware that such an experience is deepened when the participants (that would be sweetpea one and two!) speak in their own voices. It jars the listeners a bit and allows them to enter even more deeply into the ceremony. The informality allows the couple’s voices to be heard. That lodges in a different place, not necessarily sweeter, just different place from the formal pronouncements made by celebrant and couple.
Tell your community (in one sentence):
- What do you intend with this marriage? (Hint: to live happily and healthily ever after with your beloved.
They’ll be charmed. You’ll be glad you said what you wanted for the world to hear because the words will resonate with you forever.
Tip: The Statement of Intent is an under-utilized and very important part of the ceremony. Find the words to tell the world that you intend to be married forever. That’s the only way your community can support you. It will also help you focus on your dream.