Sunday, September 14, 2008

How to hand out your Wedding Programs

You've put all that time, love and energy into collaborating on a great wedding program for your guests. The paper is perfect, the colors just right, every word has been reviewed 3 times by 5 sets of eyes and ta-da! they look as beautiful as you thought they would. The final step - which seems so obvious but is overlooked *all the time* - how will they get into your guests' hands? You really need to think this one through in advance because I'm telling you, you won't be come your wedding day. {And if you are, my condolences.}

Seems simple enough. "They'll just get handed out to guests." Ok, well who is handing them out? Are they being handed out to every guest or just to couples/families? {We recommend just to couples/families as 9 out of 10 times the guy will read it and give it to his wife to stash in her purse. Read: "I'm done with this now. It's yours to manage."} Will guests receive them as they are walking into the ceremony or will they be on their chairs?

So now let's say you decide you don't want to "staff" that position and you like the idea of having them on a table nearby in some kind of sweet container. Great. Do people know they should take them? How many can they take? Do they take them now or later? "Hmmm, these look nice but maybe I should ask somebody before I just take one. Who looks like they know the answer??" Is the table close by to where the flow of guests will be? Is there signage on the table instructing the guests what to do?

I attend about 30ish weddings a year and at one wedding I attended this summer the programs were on a table in a beautiful wicker basket that the bride had embellished in all kinds of beautiful ways that looked very elegant and classic. So it was a compelling container with beautiful programs inside it. Can I tell you that only about 20% of these were actually in the hands of the guests after the ceremony? My heart sunk when I noticed this so I lept into action during the cocktail hour, grabbed the basket and started asking *everyone* if they had received a program. Those who had not were thrilled to receive one as it had all kinds of interesting, sweet and useful information in there about the important people in the couples' life as well as information about the unique aspects of their wedding.

These are the details that really can make a difference in how your wedding day is experienced by your guests. It's critical to think of how and what you're intending to communicate to your guests. Keep putting yourself in your guest's shoes at all the various steps throughout your planning process. Ask your vendors: "Am I missing something in all of this that you think I should be considering?" You can't possibly anticipate all of the situations that may occur and hiring a solid, professional team of wedding vendors that have experience as well as creative talent can prove to be invaluable.

Don't assume that a wedding planner or your venue contact will do it all - be clear and define what exactly is being done and by whom. {The wedding mentioned above had a wedding planner plus an assistant and perhaps they didn't understand their role in this?? Who's to say but I know the bride had thought it was covered.}

Instead of getting all fearful about what can go astray take a proactive, optimistic approach to your wedding details. We all learn from each other and are continual students of the world. Be thoughtful and smart about this stuff and follow your intuition when you're making wedding planning decisions. Communication is not just key but critical - be sure you're communicating the details of your wedding to the responsible parties involved.

What do you think?
What ways of handing out programs have you seen that are clever, unique and get them into guests' hands?

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