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Wedding Programs: the Playbill to your Ceremony

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Applause, please! Standing ovation!

New York City’s Broadway’s musicals are captivating, addicting: the pre-theater 21 Club for drinks and dinner, or a quick Sabrett hot dog, the dash to the Bernard Jacobs theater, the iconic Playbill giving you an VIP Orchestra-seat run-down on the actors, the three acts, and thank-yous to the many participants. Frankly, after the performance, when you pour out onto the street waving down a cab, what do you and the other theatergoers clutch for dear life under the arm? The Playbill!

Your wedding program is your Playbill! It gives your guests a mother of the bride, first row, center stage importance and insight into Who’s Who, the cast, the ceremony, the appreciative nod to family and friends. It gives your guests a mirror of what is to come! You have spent hundreds of hours, a small fortune or large fortune, and in just a small booklet, you literally tell your guests what to expect.

William Arthur‘s fan program

Popular one-sided tea-length program from William Arthur

The most popular wedding program is the booklet style with front cover, one or two inserts, and a satin ribbon.
Crane & Co. and William Arthur, shown above, set the benchmark for traditional designs.

Ask yourself: How will your wedding program be received as the proverbial curtain is about to rise on your wedding? A polite, dismissive response? Or will it be shoved behind Sunday’s hymn book? Or what you fully intended: a stylish, informative, let-me-savor-every-name and-word preview of the fabulous wedding that is about to begin.

Here are a few clues to make that wedding program a literal show stopper. The envelope, please:

4. Crane, William Arthur, purveyors of the best programs, have a broad selection of styles, papers, fonts, ribbons. You can select a simple “tea length” one pager to keep within your budget, or a booklet program. The most elaborate booklet programs can have  two inserts with an ornate two-color engraved front cover.

Consider a monogram designed by nationally acclaimed calligrapher, Christopher Watkins. His monogram designs can be translated onto the napkins, menus, dance floor, and of course, the wedding invitation.

Checkerboard‘s wedding program is designed with a floral motif and wrapped with a satin bow

There are other considerations for the program including Checkerboard which has simple programs and a keep-it-simple price. Remember you get what you pay for. An inexpensive price, yes cheap,  may mean hours of editing the proof,  endless back and forth corrections while you pay all the extra proof charges, and hold your breath for the final piece.

3. Get input from the church or venue. Call the wedding coordinator, or officiant at your church and get their input on what they expect you to have as text in your wedding program. Some churches are very strict! Then, with this information in hand, go to your nearest stationery store and let them show you the sample programs. Pick out your favorite. Look for a program with a ceremony that best mirrors your wedding. Is it a Roman Catholic mass, a Baptist ceremony, or civil? They all have a certain order of ceremony, etc. Then go home, and use it as a guide. Bring back you copy as you want to see it in the proof!

2. Be Accurate. Double-check the names, the song titles, the composers, the officiant’s name and title for accuracy. Try a proofreader’s trick: Read it backwards. You will stop at every word, and this pause will give your brain a chance to catch any faux pas.

The traditional wedding program with a booklet style format is the top choice for brides from all over the country.

1. Timing. Wedding programs should be in your hands, completed, 10 days before the ceremony. When should you begin the process? I would ask your ceremony venue or officiant six weeks out for their input allowing them a max two week deadline (Now we are down to four weeks). The stationery store and the vendor can usually have a proof, processing, printing and shipping in two weeks. (Now we are down to two weeks with a little room to breathe.)

And if your wedding planner sends you to your nearby stationery store with just ten days to go? Elope!

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