To Program or Not to Program

Alternative Title: “I NEED HELP.”

Hey guys!

I’ve been agonising over this for a while, and I know it’s silly, but guys…

Do I make wedding programs for our guests?

Seriously, guys!

I know I want people to know who our bridal party is, and I’d like to give some information to our guests, especially as there will be some things that aren’t “standard” at both ceremonies (heck, one ceremony is beyond standard for half of the wedding guests), but”¦I don’t want to waste the money and time designing and printing programs with the knowledge that it’s going to be thrown away.

I guess the same can be said about our invitations.

I think the thing that bothers me the most about programs is the fact that you have to be succinct about the information you give, but we’ll have a lot happening, and I don’t know if it’s entirely possible.

Granted, I’ve seen some gorgeous wedding programs, and they make me think I should do programs, but I don’t know, hive.

The two I’ve been tossing up are the double sided rack card wedding programs:

double-sided rack card_wedding program

And the wedding program in the form of a sign:

wedding program sign

I love the sign idea because

  • it won’t get thrown away
  • we can have it at the front so that guests can have a gander if they really need the information
  • it’ll look pretty

Mr. Big is a goer for this idea and suggested it especially for the Chinese Tea Ceremony. Only problem is, DIY’ing it may be a breathtaking failure, simply because my skills on a chalkboard aren’t fantastic, as evidenced earlier. I could always do it digitally, but I’d need to print it out through a printing website or a brick-and-mortar printing place.

And then somehow frame it.

Buying a pre-made sign may be even harder considering the difficulty in procuring those kinds of goods in Australia.

As for the rack cards, I know I can digitally design something good enough, but then we have to pay for the cost per rack card from a site like Vistaprint. And then there’s the delivery of said rack cards. Vistaprint does awesome deals, but still”¦that’s some money we’re using which can go toward other things.

So, I’m letting you weigh in.

Do I make wedding programs for our guests? If I do, should I choose the program-per-guest route, or the sign-at-the-front route?


Mrs. Bighorn Sheep

Sydney, NSW, Australia
Wedding Date:
February 2014
Gallery of the Day: November 27, 2013
Hare's to the Happy Couple: Jackrabbit Slims
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  1. Member
    smcqueen 15 posts, Newbee @ 7:40 am

    I love the sign at the front idea, unique and saves money. You don’t have to be the one to write in chalk find someone that is skilled, even a teenager or some art student who needs a couple of dollars for lunch. Save the trees(paper) and your money on something meaningful. .. like food!Best Wishes!!!

  2. Member
    ardowns 111 posts, Blushing bee @ 7:43 am

    If money is the issue, I’m guessing making a blackboard sign is equivalent in cost to printing things through Vistaprint, especially if you find one of their deals. BUT the sign is so pretty and waste-free! Maybe it’s something you can commission out to an artsy friend?

  3. Guest Icon Guest
    C, Guest @ 7:51 am

    I’ve never actually been to a wedding with programs and people seem to manage. People who care will figure things out, the rest (the majority) will have just ignored the hard work you put into a disposable piece of paper anyway. Save your energy, time, and money for something more important that people will actually remember.

  4. Member
    kit_kath 1327 posts, Bumble bee @ 8:21 am

    We’re doing simple programs, using cardstock/heavy paper and our how computer and printer. The cost of using up ink is less than paying to print them (and someone’s parent may or may not be using their work printer for some of them). That was the most cost effective option for us.

  5. Member
    cakeyp 2562 posts, Sugar bee @ 8:47 am

    Why don’t you get an old frame, paint it with chalk paint (not too difficult to make yourself if it’s hard to find!) THEN create the text on a computer, print it out on the chalkboard and trace it… then fill in the letters?
    Here, better words and more pictures:

    OR print it yourself on regular size paper and just tile the pages:

  6. Guest Icon Guest
    Amber, Guest @ 9:25 am

    For the tea ceremony, it might be nice to have some information on what you’re doing. However, if you’re anal-retentive like me, you could probably print them on a slightly thicker paper and then hand-cut them using a paper cutter.

    It doesn’t take THAT long, even if you’re super picky like I am (I used to cut all of the bookmarks promoting events at my library, and they HAD to be exactly the same size because that is how I roll)

    That, or put everything on a wedding website and just tell people if they want to learn more about the reasoning behind traditions, to look it up after the fact.

  7. Member
    nerdybird 1443 posts, Bumble bee @ 9:37 am

    @Miss Bighorn Sheep: since you think you can’t hand letter a sign, I have an idea: design the sign on the computer, then print each text block individually on nice paper and cut them out. then collage everything on poster size paper. when you’re done, frame it. you could go to a scrapbooking store and get all kinds of nice things for this project.

    this way you could easily experiment with different sizes, papers, arrangements, etc, before you glue everything down.

  8. Member
    texasaggiemom 595 posts, Busy bee @ 10:05 am

    I’m doing programs for my daughter’s ceremony in December, but mainly because I wanted a way to give each guest a map to the reception venue. (If you ask people to take a map, they will assure you they don’t need it and then get horribly lost and miss the dinner!) Our reception venue is downtown and parking is very specific (not something you can just GPS) so we wanted a vehicle to get this info into their hands. There was also other info we wanted to convey; for example, the instrumental piano piece the groom and his guys will process to is “Heroes” by Michael W. Smith. Without that notation in the program, people would just think it was a random piece of piano music. It’s especially fitting because most of them are serving in the military, and that will be noted in the program by an asterisk next to their name. It’s an easy way to pay tribute to them that we would miss without a program. I bought simple ivory programs with a pearl border at Michael’s with half price coupons and will print them on my home laser printer. Total cost for 150 is about $22 – worth it to me! Hoping you find an option that works for your situation.

  9. Member
    Red Poppy 31 posts, Newbee @ 10:15 am

    I am a fan of programs, and actually like to keep them for sentimental reasons. Still, for my own wedding programs I wanted to go the easy and simple route, so I just printed them myself in black ink on cream cardstock, but love having a written piece as a memento of the day. I like the program board idea as well!

  10. msfilly Member
    Mrs. Filly 65 posts, Worker bee @ 10:41 am

    My two cents – I think given the tea ceremony and any other cultural references you may be incorporating into the ceremony that your guests may not be too familiar with, some sort of context would be super helpful. That said … it definitely does not have to be in the form of a program if you’re not comfortable DIYing them or spending a lot of money. Even a section on your wedding website dedicated to cultural traditions would be really helpful. I also love the big sign!

  11. Member
    kdos 358 posts, Helper bee @ 10:48 am

    I’m a fan of programs. The weddings I’ve been to with out them, I’ve felt as thought something was missing.

    I’ve done them inexpensively for a a few weddings for friends by ordering good quality card stock and printing in black ink. The design of the first ones you posted could work with three to a page, cutting down on the cost even more. Yes, most of them get thrown away, but only after they’ve served their purpose. I don’t see it as any more of a waste than say a napkin? And the sentimental people (like me) will save them.

  12. Member
    nawella 1466 posts, Bumble bee @ 11:31 am

    I really think you should have a booklet. Not a rack card. Maybe a sign. But really, if more than a few of your guests are unfamiliar with the type of ceremony(s) you are having, it would probably make them feel more included and at home if you made a booklet where you really went into detail with things. I realize it stinks, it’s expensive, it will get thrown away. And you do NOT HAVE to do anything!! I have no idea- you could have two weeks to go or seven months, I don’t know where you are and what is realistic at this point.
    When I went to the Indian ceremony for my cousin’s wedding, the booklet was a life saver. Otherwise I would have had NO IDEA what was happening. It kept it interesting. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know the language- I was able to put things together using the booklet as a guide.

    I am planning on having a booklet for my wedding. I am thinking of getting one here-

    It absolutely is expensive, I will give you that, and maybe it’s not in your budget. I am putting this option out there as a possibility because it may make your wedding even more meaningful for your guests!

  13. Member
    RobinGirl 36 posts, Newbee @ 12:24 pm

    We are doing both the sign and the programs. Initially I was just going to do the sign, but my designer and printer said that she’d throw in the programs for free. I am going to print my program as a poster and frame it. Then after the wedding I can hang it in my house as a keepsake.

  14. Guest Icon Guest
    Sara, Guest @ 12:34 pm

    You know what if you’re more keen on the sign BUT could give the printed program a go just because it’s default, then by all means go for the sign. You don’t have to do it yourself you can ask anybody among your friends to do some calligraphy on chalk. Chances are, program booklet will get left behind.

  15. Member
    jacofblues 1468 posts, Bumble bee @ 1:10 pm

    To tell you the truth our programs cost next to nothing. We bought some paper and one replacement cartridge for the printer but besides that it was virtually free.

    I love the sign idea. My suggestion is a whee bit out there but hear me out. Theres a couple of different people I know in Melbourne that make custom signs, the one I can think of off the top of my head is:

    They made us a custom sign that we used as decor and plan to hang in our home once we put up hooks. It did cost $75, but My thought was Christmas was coming… maybe you could ask for this sign as a Christmas present? Ours wasn’t for a program but I am sure places like that one could make something similar for you. Just something to think about :)

  16. Guest Icon Guest
    Natasha, Guest @ 2:29 pm

    I am having chalkboard signs at my wedding, I have been collecting different shapes/sized frames from op shops and painting the frames white so they all tie in together and then use chalk board paint I got from Bunnings Warehouse to paint the backboard. If the backboard is MDF I give it a coat of white paint first to seal it so that the blackboard paint does not soak in. Once the boards were dry I prepped them by rubbing chalk all over the surface then wiping of. I did my first practice at writing/lettering following this tutorial:

    I then went over the letters again free hand on the board to make them more white/sharper, I used cotton tips dipped in a little water as an eraser to clean up any rough bits. This was a time consuming process so it helps if you have something to watch on the TV while you go. They turned out great and with some more practice I am very confident that I will be able to achieve a professional look that I will be happy to display on the wedding day.

  17. Member
    luluvohn 1194 posts, Bumble bee @ 6:34 am

    I much prefer having programs at weddings. I agree with pp who said she feels like something’s missing when she goes to a wedding without a program. Our ceremony is (weather permitting) outdoors, so we’re doing fan programs. People can use them to keep cool if it gets warm and also fill them in on our bridal party info and order of ceremony.

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