Programs are generally unnecessary for the purpose of following the flow of a wedding ceremony since it is pretty darned easy for guests to figure out what is going on. The only time programs would specifically come in handy as an Order of Service is when the guests are asked to participate in some way, such as singing a hymn or engaging in a responsive reading. Then it would not only be appropriate, but very considerate to provide programs that include the music or words.
Programs are certainly not an obligation, but they can be a great way to share information with the guests. There is no set guidelines for how to prepare a program or what type of information should be included. Couples can distribute 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of paper (a flyer), a standard bi-fold program, or affix printed material to a fan or other object. Really any sort of format that fits in nicely with the overall wedding plans. Couples can make their own programs or have them professionally designed and printed. That usually depends upon the degree of formality of the occasion and the couple's skills as graphic artist and printer.
Here are some of the types of information that can be included in a program:
~ Couples name and wedding date
~ Memorial Statement
~ Engagement Story
But...do not give one more moment's thought to providing programs if it is not in your budget or just doesn't particularly appeal to you. Have fun with them if you do decide you want to distribute programs at your ceremony, they should never be an odious chore. It shouldn't evoke memories of angst and tedium when you see one on your wedding day.
Above: Shannon Perez of Simply In Love Photography
Below: Haley Borneman