à la carte Albums: Professional Wedding Albums for Procrastinators and Enthusiasts Alike

Tim and Tina’s Wedding Album from Sarah Hoppes on Vimeo.

by Maddie Eisenhart, Managing Editor

If there’s one APW sponsor I couldn’t personally live without, it’s à la carte Albums. From a professional standpoint, I’ll just tell you now that I don’t actually design any of my own wedding albums. I send all of my clients to à la carte Albums directly, because they do better work than I can, have more options than I was even aware are available, and they have the power to give you exactly what you want. But from a personal standpoint? Well, let’s just say that Michael and I have been married for almost five years and we still don’t have a wedding album made. But I’m not worried. Because I know that when we’re ready (maybe this year? Michael?) we’ll just call à la carte Albums and make some magic happen.

And I know I’m not alone here. How many of us prioritized beautiful wedding photos during the planning process only to let them gather digital dust in a folder on our hard drive when the wedding is over? (Whatever, I’ve got my hand raised too.) But even if your wedding photos are only five weeks old instead of five years old, à la carte Albums has your back. Because à la carte Albums focuses exclusively on albums and nothing else, they are able to offer a ton of different options, at a wide range of price points (seriously, you can get a 40-page flush-mount album for $600 all the way up to a deluxe matted album for $2,250). Plus, you get it designed exactly the way you want. And these days, à la carte Albums is better than ever, offering even more options at more price points.

Jane, owner of à la carte Albums, explained to me: 

I have gotten to work with a lot of APW clients, and a lot of APW photographers, since my last post and it’s been SO COOL. Big weddings, little weddings, city hall elopements, full Catholic Mass ceremonies, and even a few vacation albums. Because of APW, books I created live on three continents (like this one, shot by APW sponsors LeahAndMark & Co. which now lives in Pakistan), which is a bit of a head trip.

APW customers are very willing to ask for what they want, even if there is nothing quite like it on my website at the time. The result? The album line has almost doubled since my last post:

Of course you don’t have to look at all ten(!) different albums (four flush, three matted, three printed). Unless you really want to. The downside of ALL THE OPTIONS is totally choice fatigue, but that’s why I have one-on-one conversations to figure out the essence of what people actually want in their books. (We can narrow it down pretty fast actually, especially when we consider budget; the line also has both more and less expensive options than it used to.)

And while à la carte Albums offers a ton of options for wedding albums, here’s what Jane is particularly excited about now:

Matted albums have become my wedding cupcakes. No one was even talking to me about them and now BOOM, now they are in my top three. I’m sure there is a metaphor there about individual pictures being like cupcakes instead of a flush album cake that my brain wants to happen. Though I think we have moved on to wedding pie now, right? Not as good a metaphor though. And since most of the weddings that come through my inbox are not necessarily recent and I only read APW and Offbeat Bride regularly, I’m probably not up on all the recent trends. I am just now starting an album from a wedding twelve years ago, and it’s all on medium format negatives, and no cupcakes, mustaches, or photo booths. Anyway. There are three flavors of matted albums:

Very Traditional Matted Albums

These album are just like the one my mom had from her wedding, and then one I had from my almost-twenty-years ago first wedding. Nice rounded corners on all the photographs and edge gilding. They don’t feel retro because they are going for the hipster market, they just never stopped making them.

These are super popular both for parent and grandparent albums and for people who kept a very vintage vibe to their wedding.

Contemporary Styled Matted Albums

These mats look like a photograph would be matted in a gallery, with nice crisp corners. (My fine art printing professor nods approvingly in my mind whenever people pick these. I love them. I also love that I’m not cutting the mats myself with a razor blade like I did back in school.) The books themselves are a bit more squared off as well, and don’t do the gilding thing. This is what APW photographer Kelly Benvenuto picked when she wanted to add a matted album, and I loved the way hers turned out. The squared off edges give it a more modern feel, while still staying classic:

Modern Hybrid Deluxe Matted Albums:

It became clear that people were also interested in having a matted album that was a little more grand and swanky than what I already offered, so I have just begun offering these amazing thirteen inch matted albums. They are big, and can mix traditional matted goodness with the option of modern flavored layouts (the openings are custom cut, so it isn’t limited to standard shapes and sets) and cool add-ons like gatefold pages and the option to have some full flush photo pages mixed in. I am immensely fortunate that when I went to make a sample album I could show people, Patrick Pike volunteered to let me use one of his amazing Yosemite weddings. Because wedding elves are awesome.

Flush Mount Albums

The other, completely opposite, also ridiculously popular, addition to the line is a lighter-weight, more streamlined and budget-friendly flush album. Sarah and Chris had me design one of these albums for their clients Tim and Tina, but also I got to do their wedding album with Kelly Prizel‘s photos.

On top of all that, we still offer a ton of vegan and vegetarian friendly options. We still have an overwhelming desire to be helpful. And we still offer a 10% APW discount.

But what surprises me most about à la carte Albums is the wide range of prices for their products, and just how affordable some of their albums are (prices start at $150 and go all the way to $2,000 and up). But to give you an idea of the average price, flush mount albums typically come in around $600, and matted albums run between $1,000 and $2,250. Plus, Jane offers a 10% discount to all APW readers, just because she loves you.

And as if all that wasn’t reason enough to put your wedding photos in a folder and email à la carte Albums right this second, then this is. Says Jane:

I feel really blessed. I love my job. And my daughter also loves my job because she likes to wander in when I am designing and thinks you are all SO PRETTY.

Seriously. Look at this face and try not to “Awww.” I dare you.

So guys, if you’ve been sitting on your wedding photos for years and it’s finally time to make an album (whoops), or if you just want to order an album from a company that has tons of options and wants to make sure you’re getting exactly what you want, then à la carte Albums is exactly what you’ve been looking for. Plus, don’t forget to mention that you heard about them on APW and get a 10% discount.
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  • Teresa

    Jane was so wonderful and helpful in every way. She went out of her way to work within the budget I gave her, to explain all of the options, and answer any questions I had. We had the proofs of all three of our albums (one for us, one for my mom and one for my husband’s parents) within a day or two of choosing the pictures and any changes (there were very few because the original designs were so well done!) were made immediately. The finished products were just beautiful–even the packaging was lovely. I truly couldn’t be happier with how they came out and I can’t recommend Jane highly enough!

    • Thank you! I’m so glad you like your albums.

  • totally bookmarked for when our discs arrive. These albums all look so perfect and professional and did I mention perfect?

  • Manya

    We love love love the album Jane did for us. I love to look through it and am very proud to show it off. It’s so pro.

    • Yay, thank you! I love your album, too. :)

  • Jane was ABSOFREAKING-WONDERFUL to work with! When I first came to her to design a wedding album for our album, and to design an album for our clients, I had no idea what I was doing, just LOTS of bossy-pants opinions about what I liked and didn’t like. She has an option for everyone, and she was savvy enough to figure out from my opinionated rambling exactly what I wanted so I didn’t go crazy from choice overload.

    She made the whole process SO EASY while letting us both still be really, really picky about all the details. She has an online proofing system that lets you view all the pages exactly as they’ll look in the printed album and make comments directly underneath each page.

    When the books were printed, they looked perfect and professional, and we never worried that double page spreads would cut people in weird ways, that important parts of images would be trimmed away on the sides, or that any of the wide array of things that could go wrong when printing an album would happen because Jane knows her shit and was on top of everything.

    Oh, and we’ve been discussing making crazy, elaborate, gorgeous comic books in album form with her! Which has nothing to do with wedding albums, but she was able to give us lots of help on how we might make that happen, because she doesn’t keep her thinking inside the box at all!

    As a photographer and as a person who just got married and wanted a memento of our wedding photos, I think Jane was worth every single penny we spent with her and more.

  • SusieQ

    We weren’t going to do an album (because we’re cheap like that), but then when I got back pictures I printed at a drug store, they just didn’t look as beautiful as I remembered the day being. So we got in touch with Jane. She worked with our budget and made those same pictures look amazing. Now I look at the album she made us all the time, and I feel like a rockstar when I see how gorgeous we were. I can’t recommend her enough.

    • Thank you so much. I am full of warm fuzzies now. :)