Your wedding was probably the best day of your life. Ideally, you only get one, and when it's over, your photos are all you have to keep the memory of your beautiful wedding day alive. They tell the story of your wedding by taking people from pre-wedding jitters and preparation to the cake cutting and sometimes even the honeymoon.
To honor your photos, and therefore the memory of your big day, you must take your photos out of the box or off the memory card and make them presentable. "It's a great thing to do as a couple," says Julia Geffner, director of Marketing at MyPublisher.com in New York. "You get to relive the experience whether it's for your wedding or honeymoon."
Here's what you can do to turn your wedding photos into a keepsake:
Work with your photographer to create an album
If you hired a professional photographer for your wedding, you likely paid for at least one photo album for which you'll choose your favorite images of the day. The photographer will print or create the album for you. When choosing the album, you should make the photographer verify that it will be archival quality, so it does not damage your photos and can hold up over the years.
Nowadays, couples often get the digital files of all the photos taken at the wedding as part of their deal with the photographer. This is an ideal situation for couples because you can always print out and use images that you like and share them with family and friends for years to come. Right after the wedding, you can use these images to have prints made for thank you cards or to create a portrait as a gift for your parents or grandparents.
When choosing photos for your album, you should look for a good mix of photojournalism (candid shots) and portraits. You should enjoy looking at the images you choose, and they should include those closest to you.
Your pictures should tell the story of your day from beginning to end. "It's ultimately your album, your story, your day, and it should reflect how you remember it," says Hayden Perry, brand manager of Bella Pictures in San Francisco. "You should be choosing photos that you absolutely love."
The images should include those of the bride getting ready, portraits of the bridal party, the ceremony, portraits of the couple and their families, the reception, details (cake, bouquets, menu or place cards, centerpieces, etc.), the couple leaving the wedding, and traditions (jumping the broom, an Asian tea ceremony, etc.), suggests Perry.
Create a handmade scrapbook
If you're a creative couple, you can create a scrapbook that puts your photos and the details of your wedding on display in an old-fashioned way. Using fancy paper, rubber stamps, archival stickers, photo tabs and the like, you can create individual pieces of art that put your photos on a unique and personalized stage.
Truly, a scrapbook can be as simple or complicated as you'd like. It's limited only by your imagination and the time you have to dedicate to it. You'll also need to get the right materials (archival tape and adhesives, paper cutters, fancy-edged scissors to create trim, etc.) to achieve the look you want. These products can be found at most crafts and paper stores, and scrapbooks can be as expensive or as cheap as you'd like, too.
Use an online publisher to create a printed album
Online publishers exist to help you organize the digital photo files you have already taken. If your photographer gives you full rights and access to the digital photos he or she took and your friends and family send you their digital photos from the wedding, you can download the images at an online publisher's Web site.
Then, you can use those images to create pages for an album. Often, you can choose different backgrounds and colors to show off your images. The photos themselves can be manipulated to look like an oil painting or sepia image. You can go back and forth between black and white and color images with a click of the mouse. Geffner suggests that brides and grooms scan images -- from the dried flowers pulled from the bride's bouquet to the garter -- to include in the album. She also suggests using images of the church or reception hall or other location as a background on which you can layer other images.
Perry, whose Bella Pictures offers services to non-clients who wish to use their company to print albums after the wedding, says couples often group like pictures, use the colors of their wedding somewhere in the album, and appreciate selective colorization, where a pop of color, say a red bouquet, appears in an otherwise black and white image. She adds that panoramic spreads are a fun way to show off a portrait or an entire ceremony or reception venue.
After you've chosen a cover and created all your pages online, the publisher will print out and bound your album and then send the hard copy to you.
Place portraits on the wall in a special place in your home
With your digital files, you can manipulate the size and shape of your favorite photos. Then, you can have them mounted in frames and hung on the wall. Depending on your personal style, you can display the photos as though they are individual works of art in a gallery with one photo in matted frames or as though they are in a country estate with multiple photos appearing as a collage in a family room.
Color shots are better with multiple shots, while black and white or sepia images are better for the gallery effect. Before you actually hammer in the nails for hanging, you might want to use a paper pattern of the frames you are using to determine where each should be placed. The price of creating art for your wall with wedding photos varies widely, depending on numerous factors. For example, are you having the images professionally printed and mounted? Or are you creating a collage with photos you printed yourself? Are you having the photos professionally framed or are you using frames purchased in a department store?
Whatever you decide to do with your photos and however much you spend, you should have fun with the activity -- and take pleasure in remembering the day you were married.