Organizing Your Wedding Album

scrapbook project

“I want to make my wedding album—but how do I organize all my photos and memorabilia?” It’s one of the most frequent questions I hear—from new brides and from women trying to tackle that “wedding box” years after the actual ceremony.

A wedding album is a very special thing, and putting one together can seem like a daunting task. Once you start organizing it, though, it’s easy to break it down into a manageable project. Let’s go!

About The Album
I recommend using a post-bound album or a 3-ring binder-style album for a book like this. Both styles allow you to move pages around easily, so organizing is less stressful.

Standard post-bound albums (like those from Paper Pizazz® or Pioneer Albums) will have plastic page protectors bound into the book. You can open the binding of the album at the back to add more pages that are sold separately—there are instructions included in each album, and it’s really easy to do. Each sheet protector usually has a white or black sheet of cardstock inside. You can replace this with your decorated page, placing two decorated pages back-to-back inside the protector. I use those cardstock sheets for matting, since I prefer to make my pages on patterned paper instead of plain cardstock.

If you want to switch pages around, just pull the page from the protector and replace with a different one.

The Intro Page
Every album will start with one single opening page—when you open the cover, this single page will set the stage and theme of your book. The rest of the pages in the book will open to be double-page spreads. For a wedding album, this first page is the perfect place for your title (“Chris and LeNae’s Wedding: December 15, 1990") and a favorite photo of the two of you. That photo can be a wedding picture, engagement photo or just a casual picture of the two of you together.

For the rest of the album, you can create double-page spreads, single page layouts or a combination of both. A double page spread is where both pages coordinate by color, theme and event—so you’ll open the book and “read” both pages together. You might dedicate a two-page spread to your reception, for example, but only have enough photos of your wedding preparations for a single-page layout. And of course, you can always dedicate more than two pages to a particular part of the wedding!

Coordinating Your Album
A theme album generally has a thread of continuity throughout the book. Please don’t feel like you need to use the same paper, or even the same color, on every page in your album. It’s much more visually pleasing and easier to scrapbook if you use papers and embellishments that coordinate with the photos. For example, just because your wedding color was pink doesn’t mean you must use pink throughout your book. You might instead choose to use the same journaling font throughout for a look of continuity.

Chronological Organization
It’s usually easiest to arrange a wedding album in the order of events. Here’s a general outline of a typical wedding album outline. You may have more photos for one particular area, and fewer in another, depending on the size and style of your wedding. That’s fine—this is your book, and it should reflect your style.

A word about journaling: Don’t include only photos and memorabilia in your album. Tell the story in words too. Just imagine looking through your great-grandmother’s wedding album—what do you wish you knew about that day? A picture tells a thousand words, but your words will tell the real story.

Before you were married
Start with photos of the two of you before you were married: on dates, hanging out together or an engagement photo. Some newspapers run engagement announcements, or you might have mailed a formal announcement, so be sure to include those too. Don’t have any of these things? Then include a few shots of your favorite places to go together—or place separate photos of each of you, side by side on the page…or you can create one page that’s all about you, and the facing page can be all about him.

The story of the proposal
When and how did he propose? Did he have the ring with him or did you pick it out together? Were you surprised? Did he ask your father beforehand? Try to get his perspective too: Was he nervous? What made him pick that particular place and time? You probably won’t have a photo of him actually proposing, but you could include a close-up photo of the ring, either in the box or on your finger, or a photo of the place where he proposed. This section generally requires more journaling, because the actual details are more important here than any photo.

Dress shopping
Photos are great for this section—but if you don’t have photos, you might include a list of all the stores you shopped at, pictures torn from bridal magazines, and finally, the business card or a photo of the store where you bought the dress. Think about these questions in your journaling: What kind of dress did you want when you started shopping? What did you actually buy?

Wedding preparations
Planning a wedding can be a full-time job! Some brides have wedding coordinators, some count on Mom for help and others do it all themselves. What’s your style? How did you and your husband divide the duties? Was he in charge of the DJ for the reception, while you sampled rehearsal dinner menus? Any disagreements? What was your perspective on the planning stage—was it worth every minute, or did you ever feel overwhelmed?

Include details on your decisions, too. Every bride focuses on a different part of the day—for some, the most important detail is the food, for others, it’s the music. What did you focus your energies on?

The shower
You might have had several showers, with co-workers, family and girlfriends. You can scrapbook each of these separately, or together on one spread. Some things to include: a copy of each invitation, the guest lists for each shower, plus a copy of one of your thank-you notes. Pocket pages are great for holding these pieces, especially as they all might be different sizes. Oh, yes—one thing I wished I had saved from my showers was the list of who gave me what. Years later, I realized just how often I use this wonderful serving tray…and I wish I could remember who gave it to us!

Rehearsal and rehearsal dinner
These photos are usually candid—for a terrific variety, ask friends and relatives to bring a camera, or provide guests with disposable cameras. If you don’t have any photos from the event, you can scrapbook the menu, guest list and a business card from the restaurant or caterer. If you’re scrapbooking your album years after the event, you might not have any of these things. That’s okay. Instead, you can journal what you remember about the rehearsal and dinner: Did anything go awry? How did you feel “practicing” that walk down the aisle?

The wedding day
You’ll have professional photos of the day’s event, but sometimes the most special photos are those taken by friends and relatives. My favorite photo from our ceremony was taken by my aunt—it’s a profile shot of my father crying and me with a veiled face, walking toward my groom. I cry whenever I look at it. For those about-to-be-married women: Make sure you know exactly when your photographer will leave the wedding so you know all aspects of the day are covered, right up to the reception. Disposable cameras are great—give them to the groomsmen (they need an assignment) and place them on the tables.

Ask a friend or relative who’s not involved in the party to be in charge of the casual photography: Taking pictures of the church or wedding site being set up, the reception area being decorated, a photo of the kitchen and any behind-the-scenes activities.

As for memorabilia, as with your shower, you’ll want to save a copy of your wedding invitation, guest list, thank-you note, gift list, menu of the wedding meal plus business cards from the florist, dress shop, bakery, jeweler, DJ and anyone else who contributed to the event.

The reception
Significant moments, of course, will be the first dance with your husband, you and your father dancing, your husband and his mother dancing, the two of you cutting the cake and you tossing the bouquet. And don’t forget to include casual photos of guests dancing, eating and socializing. If your “getaway car” has been decorated, be sure to ask a friend or relative to get a photo beforehand—plus one of the two of you driving away.

As for journaling, you can talk about who came to the event: Did anyone come from out of town? Anyone who you hadn’t seen for awhile?

The honeymoon
Where did you go? Why did you pick that particular destination? Whether it’s on the other side of the world or just a few hours from home, you can dedicate a few layouts to your honeymoon—some brides create a separate travel-themed album on the honeymoon alone. At any rate, you can include destination brochures, airplane tickets, photos of the two of you leaving.

The official announcement
Be sure to include newspaper announcements of your wedding (and engagement, if you have an announcement). Color copy the newspaper clipping onto acid-free paper—yes, you’ll want to copy it in color in order to capture the shades and tones of the photo. You can also color copy it onto off-white paper for a more realistic effect. If you don’t have access to a color copier, just take it to a Kinko’s or copy shop and they’ll help you out.

After the wedding
A wedding album doesn’t have to stop at the end of the event. After the wedding is generally when you hear all about the things that happened which you knew nothing about at the time! After the wedding, I found out that the gardener at the church nearly plowed over the cake—it was saved by one of my bridesmaids, who displayed an uncharacteristic touch of ferocity! Jot down these stories, along with your reaction to them.

The Last Page
As with the first page of your album, the last page in the book will also be a single. This is a great place to put that official announcement, or a photo of the two of you together.

Remember, while these guidelines are a great way to organize your album, they are only that—guidelines. Every wedding is different, and every bride is different. Don’t worry about what other people say it should look like. Follow your heart when creating this book…the same way you followed your heart on that very special day.

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