It’s easy to get overwhelmed by just how many paper products you need to buy, especially if you want each to be perfect. We love the advice of event stylist Jen Elliott Blake: “Less can be more. Yes, things like flowers and paper details and great linens can all enhance the beauty of the day (I recommend all of them!), but they can be done in a way that is cost effective and also visually appealing too. For example, instead of feeling like you have to have every last paper detail imaginable at your wedding, just focus on a beautiful dinner menu. Put all the money you might spend on ceremony programs, or favors, or labels for your desserts into one beautiful hand-calligraphed menu at each spot at the table. A detail like that can be so visually striking when displayed side by side at each plate.”
A good program tells your guests what will be happening and who will be doing it. They’re helpful but certainly not required. If you do want to do a program, at minimum you should include a rough order of the ceremony (think processional, the names of readings, songs, and hymns, the exchange of vows and rings). If you want to go into more detail, you can include the names of every person in the processional, the lyrics to songs and hymns you want your guests to participate in singing, prayers you’d like your guests to be included in, and the name of your officiant. You can also use the program to give a general shout of appreciation for all of your guests or to honor special family members who aren’t able to celebrate with you on your big day.
ESCORT CARDS, PLACE CARDS, TABLE NUMBERS
Depending on how you choose to seat your guests, you’ll use escort cards or place cards. Guests will find their escort card at the “where to sit” table (official terminology). This will direct them to their table, where they’ll find a place card at their seat. If you’re not assigning specific seats, just leave the place cards out and let your guests seat themselves at the table. And of course neither escort cards nor place cards have to be cards at all. You can display seating assignments in a large frame or string decorative garland made of colorful paper with guests names on it.
Table numbers don’t have to be numbers either. You can use table names instead, such as the names of places the two of you have traveled, and you can display table numbers or names as actual card stock or in picture frames or miniature chalkboards.
Menus are another optional item, but they’re helpful if you’re allowing guests to make their meal choice while actually at the wedding, if you want to acknowledge the chef and / or catering company behind the meal, or if you just want to let your guests know what’s for dinner.
If you’re printing menus on card stock, you can order them through stationary companies or find a free printable, and you’ll include them in the place settings at each seat. If you don’t want to print menus you can meal options or buffet items on an extra-large chalkboard leading into the reception or on smaller cards next to each item on the buffet.
Your guest book is a way for your guests to leave notes and well-wishes for you to read following the wedding day. It can be a blank book, a decorative box with blank note cards for guests to write on, a page that guests can fill in with thumb prints (just make sure you use water soluble ink and have a wet cloth for guests to clean their hands), a photo book with space for personal notes, or anything else that you want to use to collect thoughts of love from your loved ones. Have fun with it, but don’t over think it.