Get with the program

Wedding programs

Our hand-made wedding programs. (Photo by Perez Sisters Photography)

As I mentioned in a previous post, my recent wedding was a perfect opportunity to try my hand at various paper-crafting projects. As it turned out, our programs for the ceremony became the biggest project of them all.

Programs are one of those wedding-related details that are not absolutely necessary, but can add a nice personal touch to the events. Their preparation can also consume vast amounts of time. My sister chose to forego programs when she was married, but my paper-and-word-loving self had my heart set on them. (The basket in the picture is actually something my mom put together for my sister’s wedding — their favors were displayed in them. I thought it was nice to get to re-use the basket for our wedding.)

Our wedding ceremony was held outdoors in summer, so I had the grand idea that it would be nice if our wedding programs could serve double duty as fans. I also wanted the wedding to have a romantic, perhaps almost vintage feel — and I had all sorts of information I wanted to include in the programs. I was inspired by the fan program designs at Custom Programs. The shape was exactly what I had pictured when I started searching.

At this point in my wedding planning, I did not have the cash flow to have the programs printed elsewhere. I knew what I wanted, I just wasn’t confident in my ability to create the proper fan petal shape on my own. So I downloaded their template from Custom Program’s DIY section. It comes in Word or .jpg format. I actually found it easier to work with the .jpg file in Photoshop. I saved the finished files as PDFs before printing them. The template shows a light border around the edges of the fan petal, which I used as a guide to cut out each petal. (Note: The site also sells DIY kits, which come with packs of white or ecru paper micro-perforated around the edges of the fan petal shape if you don’t want to bother with the cutting.)

Once I printed all the petals on cream-colored cover stock — a lighter weight than card stock but a similar idea — which I had purchased at an office-supply store, we were ready to start cutting. And cutting. And cutting. At six petals to a program and nearly 100 hundred programs, this step took some time and some care, even with my mom and one of my sisters helping me. Then came the punching! We punched the two top corners of the first petal with a combined punch/embosser to give the programs some character. Additionally, each petal had to be punched at the bottom for the ribbon to be threaded through. I chose a heart-shaped punch for that. I don’t know when my hand has ever been so sore!

When it came time to assemble the programs, we realized that for the ribbon to have the look we wanted, we needed more than just ribbon to hold these programs together! One of my bridesmaids had the idea that we needed a button or something to rest against the back of the program. We could then thread the ribbon through and tie it in the front. One of my sisters stitched faux pearl beads to each little ribbon that my other sister had cut out. Then my sisters, mom and I threaded and tied each ribbon. One of the nice things about deciding to have my wedding colors just be “shades of purple” was that we were able to use a variety of ribbons in this step. I think it provided a nice touch to the overall effect.

For me, these programs became one of those projects that takes on a life of its own. Partway through the process — I won’t lie — I felt ready to just give up on them altogether. But with a lot of help, my husband and I had some inexpensive, really beautiful programs on our wedding day. And I’m pleased with how they turned out!

finished program

The finished programs as displayed by one of our wedding guests.


4 thoughts on “Get with the program

  1. These are beautiful and I’m in love! I’m planning on doing these type of programs for my wedding also since it’s in July and I think half my guests will need directions to the reception (so I’ll add directions on one of the petals). I’ve done a couple trials but haven’t been happy with how they turned out. Do you know what thickness paper you used? I think I tried 80# paper but it didn’t hold up to being used as a fan and just flopped over.

    Also.. do you mind me asking how long it took you to make them all? I have this notion that I can finish them all in a couple of days with some assistance… am I crazy?

  2. Thank you so much! I used cover stock from Staples. It says 67# on the remnant I have left over, but I’m pretty sure cover stock and card stock are measured differently than regular paper is? … I can’t remember! Mine were a little floppy if you tried to fan with it all the way open, but if you held it more like half-way open, it was fine. They also turned out to triple nicely as sun shades when the sun started to set!

    It took me quite a while to make them. The cutting takes the longest. We worked on that for a week or so, for a couple of hours in the evenings. Then the assembly took a looong day with 4 of us working on it. I’d say definitely leave yourself plenty of time to cut them out, if you are doing it that way. You can always just stack the petals and put them aside until you are ready to assemble the complete programs.

    Good luck with your wedding planning. I’d love to see what you end up doing for your programs!

  3. I’ll have to check out Staples and make sure I look for cover stock instead of card stock.. thanks for looking for the remnants so I know at least 67# cover will work.

    Did you use a paper cutter for cutting them? I’m thinking about just using an xacto knife and ruler since I don’t have a paper cutter but I might be crazy since that will probably take wayyy longer.

    I’ll make sure I bug you again when I have them all done 🙂 But seriously, yours look amazing!

  4. I just used good, old-fashioned scissors. A paper cutter or xacto knife could work though. I never tried them, but maybe it would have saved me some time and sore hands if I had! I think a paper cutter *might* be tricky because there are a lot of angled and curved lines to cut around. You could always try cutting some samples a few different ways and see which method works best for you. 🙂

    Good luck! I’m sure your programs will be beautiful.

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