Bits & Bites / Wedding Planning

Weekends are for Weddings: The Programs

Weekends are for weddings!  If you’re like me, with 9 weddings each year, the weekends are, quite literally, for weddings (attending them, that is).  Also if you’re like me, the weekend is a time to think about planning your own wedding.  Lots of people carve out a certain time each week for  to wedding planning (Wedding Wednesday seems to be very popular).  It ensures the wedding doesn’t take over their whole lives; however, I find that confining wedding planning to a specific time is too pressure-filled and bicker-prone.   I plan my wedding when inspiration strikes.  Weekends, in particular, offer the time to let my mind roam and plan my own wedding in a stress-free environment.  In this series, I’ll take you through some of my major planning steps – hopefully this will help you plan your own wedding!


I love the idea of unique programs for a wedding ceremony.  I think the ones printed on fans are super cute for an outdoor ceremony.  I’ve also seen some that are written on the side of a popcorn bag and also serve as a little ceremony snack.  Then there are the ones that are simply on two-sided card stock but are designed with cool typography and feature an infographic.  All these things are great…and not really possible for us.  Our ceremony featured a bunch of Jewish elements; however, most of the guests were not Jewish.  Because we didn’t want them to feel lost, we included descriptions of all the wedding elements they wouldn’t otherwise understand.  As you can imagine, this took up a lot of space so we needed something that was more like a booklet.

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While it may not look as original as some of those other programs, we took time to make sure the content was personal.  In case you’re looking for content inspiration, here are the proofs from our graphic designer:

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Front (right) and back (left) of the program

HOT TIP #1: It’s a nice touch to include a thank you and/or dedication in your program.  The thank you part may be glossed over, but this is the perfect place to acknowledge those people who could not be at the wedding.  In our case, several of our grandparents had passed away, but since they were such an integral part of shaping us into the people we are today, we wanted to include a nod to them.

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Inside of the program

The interior of the program was pretty basic, with the order of the ceremony on one side and the wedding party on the other.  The back of the program included a description of the Jewish traditions.  It was hard for me to find a template that explained these things so if you happen to be working on your ceremony program and have no idea what traditions to explain and how to explain them, hopefully this will help.  In case you can’t read them, I’ve transcribed them below:

HOT TIP #2: Wherever possible, include any personal details you can to make this part more interesting.  If, for example, you’re using a the wine from your first date in your kiddush, note that here – it’s such a cute detail!

Bedeken: Prior to the ceremony, just before signing their ketubah, Albert placed the veil over Tess’ face. This custom recalls the predicament of Jacob, who thought he was marrying Rachel only to discover after the ceremony that he had married her sister, Leah. Albert places the veil himself to make sure he is marrying the right girl (phew!). Also, by covering the bride’s face, the groom shows that he values her for more than mere external beauty.

Ketubah: Signed during a private ceremony just before the wedding, the marriage contract officially specifies the couple’s commitment to each other. Tess and Albert are lucky to have their friend, Karin Cole, custom design their ketubah. It is a piece that will grace the walls of their home forever.

Chuppah: The ceremony takes place under a canopy on four posts that symbolizes the home we will create together in our married life. Its open walls signify that family and friends, old and new, will always be welcome. Albert and Tess are joined beneath the chuppah by both sets of parents to represent the union of families.

Circling: Traditionally, the bride will circle the groom seven times as a physical representation of the wedding ring, conveying unity and completeness. Here, the bride demonstrates that the groom is the center of her world. To make the ancient ritual reciprocal, Albert and Tess have opted to circle each other.

Kiddush: Wine is a symbol of joy in the Jewish tradition. Two cups of wine are used during the ceremony. We share both cups, symbolizing the life commitment that we make to our shared future, including its joys and sorrows.

Exchange of Rings: According to tradition, Tess and Albert’s marriage becomes official when they exchange rings. The rings will be placed on the index finger of the right hand, believed to have a direct line to the heart. They will be married with rings of solid metal, free of gems so the value can not be questioned. Tess will be married in a solid gold band that belonged to her Grandfather who shared her love of books; it will serve as her “something borrowed.”

Seven Blessings (Sheva Brachot): The seven blessings are recited over our second cup of wine. These blessings include praise for G-d, a prayer for peace in Jerusalem, and ask that our married life be filled with joy.

Wrapping the Tallit: Typically, the couple is wrapped in a prayer shawl during the final benediction to signify the private life they will have together. The tallit Tess received as a bat mitzvah, as well as that of her father, drape the chuppah to symbolize this tradition.

Breaking of the Glass: The wedding ceremony concludes with the groom breaking a glass under his foot in memory of the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The broken glass also reminds us of the fragile nature of marriage. Like the glass broken into thousands of pieces, the promises made by the bride and groom are irrevocable. As the glass breaks, it is customary for the wedding guests to shout “MAZAL TOV!”, a wish of congratulations and good luck.

Seudat Mitzvah: Guests at a Jewish wedding are commanded to share in the joy of the bride and groom. That means it’s the LAW that you continue the party with us!

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