Before I got married, making a wedding album always held a nostalgic charm for me. I loved looking at my parents’ early ’80s album, with my mom’s flowing soft curls and my dad’s oversize glasses slipping down his nose. My mom had assembled the album from a collection of prints made by family and friends. I always thought I would have a similar process—lovingly gathering my favorite images, pressing on photo corners in a blank book, and hand assembling an old-school style photo album.
And then our photographers delivered nearly one. thousand. pictures. Taken within a timespan of eight hours. That’s… a lot. Great photography was something we really wanted and even prioritized in our budget. Then when it came time to sit down and look at all those pictures… well I did it! But I was still processing the major emotions that came with getting married, so reviewing the photos was a really intense experience. The thought of narrowing down the thousand to… a hundred? (how many pictures even went in an album?) was daunting. So I froze. For eight years.
So when Albums Remembered offered an opportunity for APW to learn firsthand what it would be like to make an album with them, I jumped at the chance. I had been eyeing their albums for a while, and the process seemed simple enough—if only I could get out of my head long enough to make it happen.
While I definitely do not recommend waiting eight years—or frankly even one year—to make your album, the good news is I left the album-making experience with some easy tips for creating a super custom album with minimal effort on your part. It’s worth noting that the most minimal way to make your wedding album is to simply pick a cover, send your photographer’s selects to Albums Remembered, and call it a day. They’ll lay out your album for you, then once you’ve approved, they hand bind your album, and you have a gorgeous heirloom-quality book with the least effort imaginable. But in case, like me, you have more opinions about your album than that, here are my four best tips for making a painless and beautiful wedding album.
1. Make your wedding album part of your wedding budget: If you are planning to have a wedding album, include it in your initial or revised wedding budget. You can see a ballpark of how much an album will cost here, and then narrow it down by walking through Albums Remembered’s online ordering process. Select the cover, size, number of images you’d like to include (I recommend 100 to 125 if you have eight hours of coverage by professional photographers), and any other extras you might want, and you’ll have a transparent quote right there. If, like us, photography is your second biggest wedding expense, just do the logical thing and make the album that will feature those
expensive amazing images an extension of your already substantial photography budget. Because once you think you’re done paying for wedding things, it can be really hard to feel like you are forking over more money for what is, ostensibly, another wedding expense—after the experience.
Pro-tip: Secondary albums on Albums Remembered, like gifts for parents or grandparents, are priced lower than the initial album because the design work is already done. So add up how many of those you’d like as well to include in your budget line. Holiday gifting done!
2. Make a photo selection date with your partner: Get a date on the calendar with your new spouse within one month of photo delivery to select the pictures for your album. And I mean that—make a real date of it! Get a bottle of champagne or plan on taking your laptop to a café for a coffee and pastry. My partner and I made a date to sit down together and cull our selection on a sunny day in July. We sat on the shaded patio of a local café, and over cappuccinos and croissants, we did it together. We were strategic (see tip 3), and, I’ll say it again, we did it together. Even though I generally have more opinions about photos, the emotional labor of making this thing wasn’t squarely on my shoulders, which is what it felt like… for eight years.
3. Deal with decision fatigue strategically: If your photographer provided a highlight reel or “selects” folder, use that as your jumping off point. We started with our photographers’ “artistic edit,” which had 114 photos—much more approachable than the thousand I was trying to keep in my brain. We started a new folder on the drive, copied over the images, and color tagged our must-haves, like-to-haves, and find-a-different-picture-of-thats. Then we deleted our oh-god-nos. That left us with about 80 percent of our final photo selection right there. Then we had time to go through and look for missing and alternate images. Is there a picture we like more of the cake or that person? Is anyone important missing from the reception photos?
4. People over portraits: We quickly realized that we would cut as many portraits as it took to include photos of all of our people. By creating this album so long after our wedding, it was crystal clear to us that our people are so much more important than portraits or details. Yes, of course I wanted awesome pictures of us in all our wedding hotness. But did I need another portrait more than I needed the only candid pic of my middle school buddy who flew out to San Francisco from Chicago to attend our wedding? No.
With those four steps in mind, we were finally able to select our wedding photos for our long-overdue album. That was the hard part. Working with Albums Remembered on the design process? So easy. After we had selected the size and type of album we wanted, the file transfer was seamless, and when we viewed our initial layout in their custom design proofing tool, it was super intuitive. If we weren’t ready to approve a spread, it was simple to give feedback, like please swap this color version for the black and white (if you’ve ever left notes in a PDF, it’s a really similar process). We only went back and forth a couple of times until we had the album exactly as we wanted it, with exactly zero of the effort of figuring out which images belonged on which page at what size. The benefit of working with a talented professional designer. Relief.
When we received the final hand-bound album from Albums Remembered, my partner and I were so pleased that it looked exactly how we imagined it. There weren’t any surprises because the design process was so transparent. Beyond that though, we were struck by the high-quality printing and materials, especially the impact of the thick pages, because they really set the album apart from photo books I’ve made in the past. The album feels like an artifact, an heirloom I am thrilled to show off. Those thick pages are real professional photographic paper with UV coating protection, meaning they won’t discolor or fade with time like press print books, so our album literally is an heirloom. And bonus, because we opted for the matching box, our album arrived in a lush black velvet bag, nestled in the velvet-lined box. It feels even more special than I imagined.
Going through the photos with my partner, my favorite part was seeing our people, our ride-or-die friends, living it up at the reception; the most heartbreaking and heartwarming part was seeing the folks that are no longer with us. We’ve talked on APW about how your wedding is not timeless—it’s a snapshot of your life right now. And it’s actually amazing to see that eight years ago, the people who showed up for us were so many of the same people who continue to show up for us—who planned our baby shower and shared birthdays and supported us during the difficult months following the birth of our daughter. Our lives have changed in so many ways these past eight years—job changes, a career change, people lost, new friends made, two moves, and a baby to name a few—but making this album made me realize how much hasn’t changed. The friends we knew we could count on then, we can still count on now. Even more so because we’ve weathered some hard times together.
Now that these images are off the hard drive and in an album, I wonder what it will be like looking at this album in another eight years. By then, our daughter will be ten—old enough to look at the photos with us and identify the important grown-ups in her life. Who will we have lost? What new friends and babies will have entered our world? Where will we be—geographically and metaphysically? There are so many unknowns, but this I do know: at least I won’t need to make a wedding album. Getting that off my to-do list? My shoulders are grateful for that little bit of weight that’s been lifted off of them. And I’ve got the pictures to prove it.
This post was brought to you by Albums Remembered, who have changed the game by providing professional quality flush-mount wedding photo albums with free one-on-one custom design services and unlimited revisions at a competitive price. So whether you’ve been sitting on your wedding photos for three months or eight years, it’s time to let Albums Remembered take designing an album off your plate and finally get those photos off your hard drive. Now is the best time to get started right here to design and receive your albums (and the parent albums you know is all your family wants for gifts) before the holiday rush! And to make sure procrastination isn’t still getting the best of you, Albums Remembered is offering 20% off all albums this month!