From programs to guest books, there are a wide array of paper elements to consider after you choose your invitation suite.
The invitations have been sent and you are now receiving response cards in the mail from excited guests. You have already begun writing thank-you notes for wedding gifts that are arriving on a daily basis; however, the paper trail does not end there. The need for day-of wedding paper goods, including the guest book, programs, escort, place, and table cards, and menus, are just beginning. From sophisticated and timeless to colorful and modern, there are a wide variety of stylish trends for these items that will blend the continuity of color, design, and formality of your wedding with new and unique personal embellishments.
Traditionally, the guest book is placed at the entrance to the ceremony and is a wonderful way to capture the well wishes and impressions of family and friends. Today’s couples are creating fun and fashionable options to replace the traditional lined guest book. One idea is to use single cards that attendees place in a glass bowl. The bride and groom then enclose these cards in envelopes and in turn, paste them into a book. Each time the newlyweds pull out a card, it feels like a surprise. Another option is to ask a member of the wedding party or a secondary photographer to take Polaroids of each guest and have loved ones sign the borders. Or, ask your florist to create a beautiful arrangement of flowering branches, on which your guests will fasten die-cut paper leaves emblazoned with their heartfelt notes with beautiful ribbon.
Photo: Walters & Walters
The ceremony program guides attendees through the service, presenting the overall structure of the service, as well as names of the couple's family members and a list of everyone involved in the bridal party. Many guests save it as a keepsake from your wedding, so be sure it's fitting to the style of your event in order to best serve as a treasured memento.
The front page of a ceremony program announces the bride and groom’s names, place of ceremony, and the wedding date. The inside left page typically lists the names of attendants in the order they will walk down the aisle. Make sure to also include the names of the officiant, readers, soloists, and musicians, as well as the pieces they will perform. The inside right page traditionally contains the order of ceremony, including the prayers and rituals. Your program can include brief descriptions of military, ethnic, or religious practices, remembrances of departed loved ones, and notes of thanks to family and friends for their support. Couples today are customizing their programs with meaningful touches, such as an engagement photo, songs, poems, and quotes important to them and their families, as well as matching motifs, ink colors, paper, initials, and monograms to best complement the theme and color scheme of their weddings.
Gather information at least two months before your ceremony, so that you and your invitation designer have time to customize your program. If you desire a DIY stationery option, print the inside information sheets on your own computer and assemble the programs with your bridesmaids.
Photo: Embrace Life Photography
Escort, Place, and Table Cards
If you are having a sit-down dinner during your reception, a seating plan for your guests is needed. If you have already begun to create your seating chart, you're aware that much planning goes into grouping guests. Perhaps you will group younger single friends together or family friends together. Be sure to double-check your list to ensure everyone has been assigned a seat and always plan for changes in case of last-minute cancellations from your response list.
To guide your loved ones to their respective tables, escort cards are placed in alphabetical order at the entrance of the reception area. Escort cards are traditionally displayed with an envelope inscribed with the guest’s name on the outside and a card with the table number inside; they can also be folded, flat, or decorated. Another option is a seating chart, which is a large display showing how the tables are arranged and who is seated at which table. Seating charts can be used alone, or in conjunction with escort and place cards.
If you are placing guests in specific seats, place cards should be used on all tables, including the bride and groom’s table and the parent’s table. Be sure to budget extra time and expenses for this stationery element. Not only will you spend time seating Aunt Mary next to family friend Mr. Jones, you will need a calligrapher to address these extra cards. If you are using tent – or folded – place cards, consider having these cards addressed on both sides to make it easier for guests who don't yet know each other to start conversations.
Table cards, which present each table's number or name, are typically displayed in frames or table tents. These paper goods can be simple or become a part of the wedding décor by embellishing cards with crystals, pressed flowers, or metallic ink. Table cards can also be artfully incorporated into the centerpiece, so be sure to check with your floral designer to ensure that the table cards will complement the centerpiece arrangements. You can save on costs by asking your florist or site coordinator if they provide table cards.
Photo: Justine Ungaro
Photo: Kelly Kollar Photography
Menu cards are a wonderful addition to your meal, especially if your dinner menu is created by a fabulous caterer or chef renowned for their culinary expertise, or features unique dishes or special preparation. Menu cards are also useful if your guests have the option of choosing their meal on-site, rather than asking them to indicate their choice on the response card. Consider having your names, date, reception site, and even the chef’s name on the menu. Along with the scents and aromas of the delicious meal, your menu card will bring back many wonderful memories of the reception for loved ones.
Photo: Elizabeth Messina