Wedding Ceremony Programs vs Wedding Reception Programs

As you're creating your wedding stationery, it's helpful to make sure you understand the difference between a wedding ceremony program and a wedding reception program. These two program types are often confused, but each serves a distinctly different purpose as you prepare for your special day.

Wedding Ceremony Programs

A wedding ceremony program helps guests understand what to expect during the ceremony while serving as a special memento from the occasion. The ceremony program includes details such as:

  • List of members of the wedding party and a description of their relationship to the couple
  • Prelude
  • Processional
  • Bridal March
  • Welcome
  • Prayers and Scripture Readings
  • Message or Sermon
  • Music
  • Exchange of Vows
  • Exchange of Rings
  • Blessing
  • Pronouncement
  • Recessional

The program may also include:

  • A favorite quote describing your relationship
  • A personal thank you to your guests for being there to celebrate your special day
  • Memorials to honor parents, grandparents, or other family members who have passed away
  • Information about your specific religious traditions, if many guests do not share your faith
  • A map to reception area, if it's in a separate location

Our Wedding Program Wording article provides guidance regarding the proper wording of your ceremony program.

Wedding Reception Programs

A wedding reception program helps guests understand what to expect when they attend your wedding reception. In many ways, a reception program is more important than a ceremony program. Although most people know what to expect when they attend a wedding ceremony, reception itineraries can vary quite a bit depending upon the couple's budget and personal preferences. Some receptions are formal affairs, while others are a bit more relaxed. With a program, guests can feel confident that they know what's going to happen.

A reception program can include events such as:

  • Receiving guests
  • Introduction of the wedding party
  • Welcome speech or blessing
  • Father of the bride speech
  • Best man speech
  • Matron of honor speech
  • Any other speeches
  • Reception dinner
  • Cutting the cake
  • Cocktail hour
  • Couple's first dance
  • Father and daughter dance
  • Mother and son dance
  • Karaoke hour
  • Fireworks display
  • Couple's exit

In addition the itinerary, the reception program can include other information that guests might find helpful. For example:

  • The couple's new address
  • A reminder to please take a wedding favor before leaving
  • Numbers for the local cab companies, in case guests need a safe way to get home

Wedding reception programs can be incorporated with your ceremony programs or be a separate program that is given to guests as they enter the reception area. If you choose to make a separate program, feel free to experiment with a more creative format. For example, you could turn your program into a fan or include a short wedding trivia quiz on the back.

Creating Your Wedding Programs

Whether you choose to combine your reception and ceremony programs or to create two different programs, The Printable Wedding makes it easy to create customized wedding stationery with a professional look. Simply browse through the large selection of program designs, choose one that coordinates with your wedding invitation, add the desired text, and print from the comfort of your own home. Since your membership fee includes access to our entire library of templates, you're sure to find something that fits your unique needs.


Written by: The Printable Wedding Team