Wedding 201: How to Make a Wedding Album Yourself

Given the fact we’re all currently socially distancing and sheltering in place, it seems like a good time to finally sit down and figure out how to make a wedding album yourself. And, if you’re feeling really motivated, check out these posts on displaying engagement photos and making a travel photo album.

When you talk to most couples, one of the areas where they splurged on their wedding is the photos. Yet, so many of those photos end up never seeing the light of day.

And, that’s not a surprise. Going through your photographer to do an album can get really expensive and taking the time to make a wedding photo album yourself is daunting. But, trust me, it’s worth it. It’s the type of keepsake you’ll have forever. It’s something your family will be so thankful to have (hint: get the parents each a copy!) and you will be, too.

HOW TO MAKE A WEDDING ALBUM YOURSELF

Okay, so let’s get into it. The first step is obviously, just get started. Mentally prepare yourself to be in this for the long game. You don’t have to and won’t likely do it all in one sitting. But, when you do get started, here are the trips I wish I’d had…

  • Only upload the photos you want to use into the editor. Most programs will let you mark off photos as you use them, but, make your job as easy as possible by not cluttering the editor with photos you have no intention of using.
  • Organize the photos in chronological or categorical order before you upload. Again, just make your job as easy as possible.
  • Select a range of detail, candids, portraits, and landscapes to truly tell the story of the day. I began our album with shots of the venue in the morning to set the stage and provide context before even getting into the shots of us and our loved ones. I also tried to alternate the type of shots to keep it from getting monotonous.
  • Vary the format of your pages. I went with some full bleed, other grid-style, and some portrait-style, but I did, for the most part, avoid pages that used asymmetrical layouts.
  • Make sure “the spread” makes sense. When you look at a wedding album, you’ll look at two pages at a time, so make sure they’re cohesive. Don’t have getting ready on one side and the party on the next.
  • Switch up the black and white with color photos. I love the drama and editorial vibe of black and white, but you will want to remember your day how it actually looked in reality.
  • Let the images speak for themselves. I’m a writer and I chose not to have captions. That should tell you everything you need to know.
  • This is not the time to be shy. Show off those photos where you know you look good! You may feel silly including so many portraits of yourself, but everyone else will delight in seeing them in there.
  • Don’t skip over a photo just because you’ve already printed it elsewhere. Put every single photo you love in here. This is a record of your big day just as you wish to remember it.
  • Get a digital proof. This is where I caught a few of the errors that had to be fixed!
  • Display it! Our wedding album sits on our coffee table — there’s no reason to put this away for a rainy day! Let it be displayed and enjoyed.

 

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FULL DISCLOSURE: IT TAKES A LONG TIME

I’m just going to be 100% honest here. Putting together a wedding album yourself takes a long, long time. It’s a tedious process that took me weeks. Seriously.

I went through so many different arrangements of photos. I’d think I was done, then realize there was a photo I left out and I’d have to switch everything around. I started with fewer full-page photos and eventually went back and changed that to let the photos shine.

And, perhaps the trickiest thing was making sure all the spreads made sense. Any time I added or deleted a photo, I had to rearrange everything around it in order to still make the two pages that face each other coordinate. It takes SO FREAKING LONG.

So, yeah, no tips on making it go faster, just solidarity. Stick with it. You’ll be glad you did. Though, read on for a few more tricks and what I would have done different.

 

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A FEW TRICKS AND WHAT I WOULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY

My number one trick is to use every photo you like. Don’t feel like you have to narrow it down. You may have over 1,000 photos and don’t be afraid to use 75o of these in your album. The reality is, if a photo isn’t in the album, you’ll probably never look at it again. So, go ahead and make that album 300 pages (mine was 120ish, but my sister’s is 300 and it doesn’t seem outrageous).

Look at your options…and the discount codes (these books can get pricey!). I used Blurb (you get 35% off your first order!) and was happy with it, though I did have to do one reprint because the color was slightly off in the first run. They were totally agreeable and quick with the redo, so I’m not holding it against them. I break down some of the other photo album competitors in this post.

Get it done. I did mine within a year of our wedding, which I thought was decent timing. One of my sisters waited a few years and ended up with just 25 pages of photos because she was so far removed from it. Is there anything wrong with that? No, but she said she might have put more effort into it had she done it sooner.

I did an image wrap, but I might have done a fabric cover in retrospect — it’s just so chic.

I wish I had put a section in the back with iPhone photos! This didn’t even occur to me at the time, and perhaps I’ll create a separate album to document these, but there were so many wonderful photos captured on phones and I wish those helped tell the story. This may be exaggerated in our case because we only had out photographer through the beginning of dinner, so it feels like a big chunk of the evening was missing — and, yes, this gets at something I would have done differently on our wedding day in general!

And, lastly: remember, you’re probably only going to be motivated enough to do this once, so put in the effort and time to get it right!

 

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