Ask Team Practical: Remembering the Wedding

My wedding is coming up soon and as we work our way through planning, we’re realizing that we have a much smaller budget than we originally thought. (News flash: Everything is expensive!) After a lot of discussion, we’ve decided to skip on wedding photography. But, I’m worried that without pretty photos, I won’t be able to remember the details of the day. Everyone always talks about the wedding day flying by in a blur, and I would hate to get to the end and realize I don’t even remember any of the important parts. How can I make sure to save all the precious memories?

 -Wedding Amnesia Hesitant

Dear WAH,

Don’t let people freak you out! Some people experience that crazy-hectic-blur day, but some people don’t. Sure, wedding days are busy, but they’re full of raw emotion. Stuff like that has a knack for sticking with you.

Lucky thing, too, because keeping the wedding day fresh in your mind can be really important for shaping your marriage. When my husband is a complete butthead (which spouses can tend to be), it helps to remember that day that started it all and laid the foundation. It also helps to remember that I swore in front of over a hundred people that I wouldn’t kill him, or something along those lines. But, other things—big things, ideological things, the very reasons we all chose to get married—are brought to mind when we remember our weddings. I don’t just remember how handsome and non-butthead my husband looked or what we promised each other, I also remember a community of loved ones surrounding us. I remember the specific choices we made and how they reflect our ideals about marriage and about life. Whatever major foundational elements you involve in your wedding planning can be important to your marriage, too. Things like the community I mentioned, or your support of local business owners, perhaps your spirituality, your cultural traditions, maybe your environmental concerns, or whatever other meaning you incorporate. (And that goes for elopements, too!)

I get it, you want to remember the specific moments of the day—how your partner’s face looked as you said your vows, how your best friend’s voice cracked with emotion during a toast. I’m just making the case that remembering those details is important, sure. But keeping the wedding day in mind in general is really valuable, too! So here’s how we’d accomplish both of those things.

Don’t discount photos completely just because you can’t afford a professional. Photographs by family and friends may not have the sheen and style of pro photos, but they can be really meaningful. But your loved ones don’t need to bring a fancy DSLR. Instant photos get the thumbs-up from just about every APW staff member, and have you seen what just a phone can do these days? (And, psst, if you do decide to go the DIY route, make sure to check out the two APW How-To posts!) Folks from our parents’ generation usually didn’t have a lot of photographs—just a posed portrait or two for framing. And that aside, even couples who do have a thousand great photos are likely to find that there are only five or ten really meaningful and special ones. But maybe photography is completely out of the question. There are venues that request no photography, and that’s fine, too. There are plenty of ways to make those memories stick without involving a camera.

Writing down the really special details that you didn’t plan or expect can be a sure way to cement those images in your mind. Remember how your teachers said that writing things down would help you remember them? They were right. (Ya know, I really wish people would give their teachers more credit.) And even if your teachers were wrong, lucky you, now those memories are on paper! Writing these things down as soon as possible is the best plan, so you still get everything while it’s good and fresh. Meg made sure to journal about her own wedding before seeing her wedding photos so her memory wouldn’t be distorted by anyone else’s perspective. Even with beautiful photos, she’s really really glad she did.

Not much of a writer, I prefer to rehash memories aloud, with loved ones who share them. “Remember at the wedding…” is an over-used phrase in my house, and I relish reliving all of the emotion with those who were there. (Note: Notice my emphasis on sharing these memories with people who want to. Reliving every detail of your wedding reception with the woman who sits beside you on the bus everyday isn’t going to make you very popular.)

Beyond these few ideas, there are basically four ways to remember the day: things you display, things you use daily, things you tuck away, and things you repurpose. These ideas aren’t just for folks who don’t have any photos; they’re great for anyone (and sometimes even more sentimental than photographs).

Things you display might include framing your vows, your wedding invitation, a special quotation from the ceremony, or the lyrics to the song from your first dance. You could have any of these things made into a commissioned piece of art to hang in your home (you know later, when you have more cash). Or, you could keep your guestbook on the coffee table for visitors to flip through.

It was mentioned before that even practical, functional items can take on special meaning if they have a certain memory attached. Consider continuing to use in your own home some of the items you used for your ceremony or reception (an added bonus to buying instead of renting). This could mean the cake dish that held your wedding cake, a basket that presented the ceremony programs, candle holders, frames, serving ware, vases, jewelry, shoes or anything else.  Once you use something on your wedding day, it becomes your “wedding ____,” complete with shiny memories.

Things you tuck away is even easier than the above! No work at all. Save any small trinkets from the wedding and just stash them in junk drawers and closets. One day when you’re frustrated with spring-cleaning that back closet, you’ll stumble on that preserved flower from your bouquet and be smacked in the face with memories. If this haphazard method doesn’t sound like your style, you could gather all of these bits into a scrapbook and tuck it away to flip through later.

Lastly, you could take important things from your wedding and repurpose them. The obvious one here is the wedding dress. Make that sucker into a cute little cocktail dress, or a special blanket, or some elaborate wall-hanging thing. But, you don’t need to stop at the dress. Repurpose your reception playlist and play a song or two whenever you’re having a rough day or a great day or a special celebration.

There isn’t going to be a wedding pop quiz. Some wedding memories are sharp and bright, but others are nice when they’re out of focus, fuzzy and softly glowing. Treasure them, for sure. But, remember that the wedding is only the beginning—just the first in a series of lovely memories to be stored up.


How did you store up memories of your wedding? What tokens and scraps did you find were meaningful? And if you’re not yet on the other side, how do you plan to remember the important pieces of the wedding?

Photo: Leah and Mark Photography.

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com.  If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!

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  • Everything Liz said ;)
    Some of our favorite photos were taken by our guests with a personal camera.
    We reuse the small vases that we use as centerpieces (from Ikea) all the time.
    I made a scrapbook with all kinds of things, like the dried out flower from my hair, cutouts of inspiration, a handkerchief my aunt gave me, a swatch of my wedding dress that I got from one of the first fittings, the wedding invitation and booklet with our readings…
    And some things are kept in a box too.
    Moreover, again like Liz suggests, I wrote everything down one or two days after the wedding, as soon as I had some calm time.
    The boy is lucky, he gets to reuse his suit quite often (well not so often but whenever there is an occasion).

  • Abby J.

    I’d be willing to bet that most wedding guests these days have basic digital cameras, or at least they have phones and ipads!

    My brother and sister-in-law did not have a professional photographer, also due to budget issues. So, they put the word out to friends and family, and basically EVERYONE brought their camera and was happy to do it. It was actually really fun – watching them take the formal posed photos at the church was like watching them get mugged by paparazzi! Four years later, they have lots of really, really great shots, and have made an album all out of photos taken by different family members.

    I’d be willing to bet most of your family members are going to bring a camera anyway, so they can capture their own candid shots of the wedding. Those people who take their camera to any big event are going to be thrilled to capture your wedding. Pass the word around and let everyone know that their candid shots are extra valuable to you!

    • Anon

      My one piece of advice here is that if you DO decide to have a friend or family member take photos of formal posed shots, ONLY HAVE ONE PERSON DOING IT. My brother- and sister- in law had three people take their posed shots after the ceremony, and in every single picture the people in it are looking in different directions. Which, is not as pretty.

      • Jade

        My little sister is a photography major, and my dad is camera happy… So there is always a plethora of clicking camera’s at events. Our solution is to have one person in charge of yelling “look at ____ ” “Now look at ____ ” until we get all of the shots. No one is looking the wrong way (although it doesn’t fix blinking/sneezing shots.)

        Hope this helps!

  • Anna

    You could purchase a couple disposable cameras to leave around for guests. I’m sure the day captured through their eyes will be more meaningful than any posed, air brushed photos.

    The thing is, at first your wedding is going to be really important and any photos you have of it will be your favorite for a while. But then you’re going to build new memories and capture new photos with your husband and those will be your favorite.

    Plus I don’t think any of our parents had fancy wedding photographers and I adore the few un-professional pics I do have of their wedding!

    • Alexandra

      I was going to suggest this, actually. I was at a wedding where there was a disposable camera left at every table (Or even cheaper would be 5 of them left near the guest book?). The best part was the day after, sitting on the floor at her parent’s looking at all these photos. She later included a couple of them in the Thank You letters. The quality isn’t really amazing, but there were a couple of gems and that’s really what you want.

      A photography I Spy sheet like one of these:
      combined with the disposable cameras would be awesome too, you would probably get a whole bunch of different angles of the same thing, and could pick out the best.

    • My plan (and my fiance’s idea) for our upcoming wedding is to have a dozen (or two dozen) disposables with a request to our friends that they please take pictures when the moment strikes them.

      Plus, everyone wants to use their own digital camera and load things to facebook anyway. Easy peasy!

  • Umpteenth Sarah

    Excellent awesomeness in advice form. :)
    I just got back from a belated honeymoon and am blown away by the quality of my iphone photos. So, there’s that. Enlist a crew of i-phoned friends (or, maybe other phoned friends, if other phones work the same kind of magic) and that might do the trick. There’s also a website called (a pay service) where people can download an app and any photos they take of your wedding go to a website. Instant memories! Communal remembering!
    We didn’t hire a professional photographer. We paid my brother’s best friend 300$ to take photos (he’s young and in college and a photography major, or used to be at least) and they.are.awesome. Someone even commented that the relationship between us and the photographer was so clearly evident in the photos. We have thousands of photos, I love them, and it didn’t break the bank.
    So, lots of options! Good luck!

  • If you have a tiny bit of room for a photographer, you can also look for student photographers. While I was in college, I shot a few weddings for $100 plus the price of film. My photos certainly weren’t perfect, but I captured what the couples requested (mostly, they wanted posed photos of the family and wanted to be sure someone got those).

    The other option is to see if you can designate a few friends to be “detail folks.” Since college, I’ve not been a primary shooter, but I always bring my camera to weddings. I try to get a lot of detail shots that the pros might miss while they’re busy doing the posed photos. I try to sneak into the reception early and get photos of the tables before people get there to eat. I have also gotten interesting side shots or distant shots. At my cousin’s wedding, the photographer was busy with the bride, so I’m the one who took all the corsage pinning photos.

    If you google around, you can find blog posts/articles from people who have done this, and they all list photo ideas. If you have a few friends who are even somewhat handy with some sort of camera, see if they’d be willing to do some shots. Try to get one or two who could commit to half an hour of posed photos, just so you do have a few family pics of everyone. There is enough guidance on the web these days. If you just want a few basic snapshots to remember the day, you can definitely get those without big bucks.

  • A-L

    Liz gave great advice. One of the things I would add, though, is being really intentional about creating specific moments on your wedding day in advance. This could be anything from setting aside time to have brunch with your dad, to requesting a specific song at the reception that is meaningful to a group of your friends.

    To jump on Liz’s teaching theme, it’s sort of like using prereading strategies. It helps people’s comprehension and memory once they actually read something. By thinking about these moments in advance, you’ll actually do a better job of remembering them. Not everything on your wedding can (or should) be planned. But it is possible to create memory hooks that you can latch on to in the future, even without photos.

    • Just had to say, as a reading teacher, I love the prereading strategy analogy!

      And I like to think that I’d have thought to write down my memories of the day as soon as I can afterward on my own, since I do this for trips we take, but I’m not certain I would have. So thanks, Liz, for suggesting it!

    • meg

      This is such good advice for EVERYONE. In fact, the reason I wanted to run this post, is that I think all of it is good advice for everyone. Just because you’re having amazing pro photos does not mean that is the only way you’re going to want to remember the day, and being intentional in advance is so helpful.

  • Anon

    Another idea is to check out Craigslist. I found and booked my photographer, DJ and hair stylist through Craigslist. The photographer was new to my area so to they were offering a great deal in return for placing their business cards out at the reception: $200 for 8 hours of coverage with all photos and printing rights. I don’t know if there is Craigslist for your area, but I thought I would mention the possibility of finding an inexpensive professional photographer. As Abby J said above, you could also spread the word for your guests to take photos. Perhaps you could set up a special email address for guests to send the pictures to or use a photo sharing website for photo uploads. Good luck!

  • Vmed

    Great question, great suggestions.

    When we went to make our marriage all Roman Catholic Church Official, we ended up with pictures that we paid for and don’t love. J and I laugh and argh when we look at them – for many reasons. Only our parents and siblings were there, and our eldest sister and brother respectively couldn’t make it, so pictures had the added burden of sharing the day with the rest of our loved ones.

    One thing I’ve committed to memory is how my mom and I made a long veil with hand basted lace edging… the act of stitching with my mother was really important to me but somehow there isn’t a photo that does our gorgeous object justice.

    So in putting together a nursery area for my pending baby, I’ve decided to incorporate this veil into the crib skirt (at least while baby vmed is in the newborn, immobile stage). That way I can enjoy it a little longer and infuse it with even more significance.

    • Liz

      Yes! Many of my favorite wedding memories are from things leading up to the wedding. I love what you did with your veil.

  • Sarah M.

    Some of my favorite photos from the day came from family. I made a Shutterfly share site and then gave the password to people I knew were snapping a lot of photos that day– that way they are all in one place, you can download them, or you can order them straight from Shutterfly. I think that Google Photos also has a similar platform.

    Along the lines of things other people have said– I journaled afterward what went on, kept lanterns and other stuff. I hardly ever look at the photos, but 2 years later, think often about memories. While the day did go by in a flash, a lot of it stands out very clearly in my memory. We always talk about being present at your wedding and in the moment, and that really helps you remember afterwards.

    Good for you for prioritizing your budget– that’s a hard decision, but I am positive you will end up with waaaay more pictures than you ever thought possible.

    Congratulations and have a GREAT time :)

    • Liz

      Great suggestion there!

      In discussing this week’s post, Maddie mentioned that a photo sharing site where everyone can upload is really helpful to wrangling all of those family and friend photos.

      • Lynn

        We did this. Had little business cards printed with the log-in information and everything…along with a photo scavenger hunt that had all of that information on it.

        The *only* person (of 150 guests) to use it was the husband’s uncle. Everyone else posted their stuff to facebook.

        …and maybe it’s just our friends who were too busy enjoying the party to take photos, but there weren’t really a lot of photos posted. We had maybe 5-6 friends who were good about taking pics and posting them, but that’s it. So just a caution to be prepared for that.

        • meg

          I think it’s a bit different if you ask specific people do to it, because you can’t afford pro-photography. I outline strategies for making this work in the book, but I think you need to pick a handful of people, and let them know you’re depending on them.

          Facebook is a whole other question. As a very private person, we asked for stuff to be kept off Facebook, and it generally was. If stuff had been posted I wasn’t comfortable with, I would have asked directly for it to be taken down. SO! If you happen to also be private, keep in mind that you have every right to ask people to keep your wedding pictures off Facebook, since a wedding is a private event.

          • Lynn

            Very true. When I taught a digital literacy class to middle school students, I made a point to tell them that just because they took the photo doesn’t mean that they can do whatever they want with it…if someone asks you to take it down, you take it down.

            I just wanted to give a bit of caution about guests and photos. We really thought that a lot more people would take (and share) photos. We were prepared for that and thought that we’d put together a plan to encourage that…and we were a little disappointed when it didn’t quite turn out that way.

  • If this were forty years ago, I might have said “You may feel sad about not having pictures later, maybe check out a photographer who’s just starting out, etc.” But these days, so many people have cameras and post pictures online, it’s not as if you’ll have absolutely no photographic evidence of your day. That isn’t to say that a professional photographer doesn’t have great talent and skill–but if it’s not in your budget, there’s no reason to stress over it. We had friends who posted pictures from our wedding on Facebook the next day. It was so fun to see the pictures immediately, and I definitely downloaded them to keep in my own collection.

    I especially like Liz’s suggestion about reusing the wedding playlist. I made one when we first starting planning, so we’d have an idea of what songs we wanted. Even though our wedding was more than six months ago, I still listen to it and it reminds me of specific moments in the day–not just the first dance song, but being on the dance floor with friends. And it doesn’t cost anything because I already had the music.

    • This. We did a post-wedding CD with our playlist, and I love listening to it. The playlist has the important songs – the song we walked down the aisle to, the song we recessed with, our first dance, and then some of our favorite dance tunes from the evening. We burned copies and mailed it to our closest friends as a “thank you” in the weeks after the wedding.

      I can’t listen to that CD without having a visceral reaction – I’m transported back and can smell the grass and the rain, and feel the hope. If I’m having a rough day, it’s a pick me up. So, highly recommended!

      • Ooh, I love the idea of a “thank you” soundtrack! It lets you share music with friends (who doesn’t love that) and brings back fun memories for everyone.

    • meg

      I totally was like “Liz, can we talk about the playlist????” Because David and I listen to ours whenever we need a pick me up. Plus, we dance to our song (weirdly, not our first dance song) every anniversary in our living room.

      • Aw, I love the anniversary dance! What a sweet idea.

        Also, I’d be curious to see how many couples have a “song” that’s not their first dance song. My parents consider their song to be something other than their first dance song. My husband and I love our first dance song, but we also had a special, private wedding moment when the DJ started playing another song we loved. Everyone else was distracted by dessert, and we got to have the dance floor to ourselves. That song totally brings back all the wedding emotions, whereas the first dance was obviously way less private/intimate.

        • meg

          That’s what happened for us. There is a picture of us dancing to it (polaroid taken by a friend, funny enough) that sort of encapsulates the whole wedding for me. Sometimes David sings it to me too, for dancing.

        • Maggie

          We didn’t have a first dance, but we walked down the aisle to “our” song. :)

      • That’s possibly the most adorable thing I’ve ever heard.

    • Lynn

      Our wedding playlist is loaded onto both of our phones. We were on our mini-moon at the beach a couple of weekends ago and I popped my phone into our portable radio. The husband looked over and said, what Pandora station is this…because the music is awesome. When I told him that it was our wedding playlist, he said I had to put it on his phone when we got home.

      I listen to it at work all the time…particularly when I need a pick-me-up.

  • clampers

    We didn’t have professional photographers. Just collected photos from anyone who took them. They emailed or uploaded them on Dropbox. It worked out so well. I had prints made of almost all of them (you can upload digital photos to Walgreens website) and then bought one of those giant wedding photo albums at Target and put them all in there. The album turned out very cute and everyone loves looking at it. Don’t worry about having the fancy-schmancy shots of your bouquet and shoes, dress hanging on a hanger, etc. Your bouquet and shoes will make it into photos and you can remember them that way!

    Seriously, it was definitely worth it for us to save the money!

  • Lys

    Photos aside, I second Liz’s suggestion to frame something else that’s meaningful from the wedding. We have a framed Quaker marriage certificate that includes our vows and the signatures of all our guests. I love to reread the certificate and decipher the signatures. It’s a really concrete, lasting testament to the promises we made to each other and all the people who overheard us say we wouldn’t kill each other.

    • Yes, I agree. One of my bridesmaids made us a framed invitation with a beautiful quilling design around it, and that has been a very meaningful reminder we see every day. And for our second anniversary, I took our wedding vows and I designed a 2-part graphic design thing with them (they were bilingual) that is now hanging in our bedroom. I like being able to stop and read parts of them when I want to and waking up and seeing them there on the wall.

  • Liz’s advice is great. We didn’t have a photographer either. Instead, I had a Fuji instant camera and a ton of film (they don’t make polaroid anymore, but you can buy a Fuji instamax and the film on amazon, I think I paid $70 for the camera and about $90 on 100 exposures). Those instant photos are priceless, we hung them up with magnets around the reception, and seeing the photos as they developed seemed to encourage people to pass the camera around and keep taking shots (it was a small, 30 guest wedding, so one camera was sufficient in that regard). And we asked friends/family with digital cameras and phones to snap pictures for us, which they were happy to do, and we got some great shots. Lastly, I bought a bunch of disposable cameras which I honestly haven’s had a chance o develop yet. Do I have a ton of gorgeous, artsy, blog worthy photos? No, I do not. And don’t get me wrong, I totally drool over such photos. They’re great. But we didn’t care to spend the money on such photos, and we don’t regret it now that the day is over. What we do have is a bunch of non-professional photos taken by our family and friends to remember the day by, and that makes us totally happy. All of which is to say go with your gut — if a pro photographer isn’t in your budget, find alternative ways to get shots of your day, and don’t let anyone second guess your decision for you. It will all be just fine.

    • meg

      Also, as someone who just took a ton of artsy blog worthy photos ON AN INSTAX (I’m learning)! My tips are these:

      – It has an auto flash, which really screws up your shots. Assuming it’s not at night, actually put duct tape over the flash.
      – It shoots the best pictures in really bright sunlight, not in shade like a normal camera.

      With those tips you can get GORGEOUS shots on an Instax. And long time readers know how obsessed I am with my wedding polaroids taken by friends, so I recommend this even if you have pro-photos.

    • This is great advice even for couples who are hiring pro photographers! My husband and I attended a wedding last year where our gift to the couple was 50+ shots we took on our mini-Instax throughout the day. Kind of a “guests’ POV” collection, if you will. The bride loved it so much that she emailed us from their honeymoon to thank us. Given that most pro photographers will need at least a couple weeks to turn around their pictures, having a stash of photos immediately can be really fun for people. Also, I really think that there’s something intangibly different (and wonderful) when someone who really loves you takes your picture. It may not be the most artistically composed, it might be over or underexposed, but it *will* capture who you are.

  • I saw a cute idea once to put cards on tables (or give them out when people arrive) challenging them to snap a sort of “picture bingo,” or a picture “treasure hunt” of different candid shots you might hope to get like:

    Hands held,
    A stolen kiss,
    A secret told,
    A toasted toaster…
    A bride waiting
    A proud dad
    A candlelit table


    Who knows if you will get them all–probably not. But the probability that you will get some of them, and not just snapshots, will be much higher. And it could be a fun thing in your wedding.

    Also, on your invited, encourage everybody to bring their camera. You might want to assign different parts of the day to different friends for them to “shoot” and take responsibility for capturing.

    • meg

      Brilliant. Again, brilliant with a pro-photag or not, as most of these ideas are.

    • Jashshea

      That. Is. Awesome.

      I’m hiring a pro friendor, but I’m looking forward to the pix my other friends take as well. I have a very close friend who is semi-pro (and very talented if anyone is in the BOS area!), but I need her IN my pictures, not taking them. My officiant is also very talented and will have his camera out after he’s performed his duties. And then there will be numerous iphones, point and shoot and DSLRs in the crowd. I’m going to create a flickr pool or something and have a handout asking people to upload – I may even incorporate a QR code that takes them directly to the site (tech nerd here).

      My long winded point: You never know where “my favorite picture of the day” is going to come from. It may just come from the 3 year old snapping an instant camera pic.

      • meg

        Three year old pictures are THE BEST. I’m pretty sure everyone agrees on that point.

  • Katie

    Though I was able to have a photographer, one wedding keepsake I really love which helped keep the memories alive is that for our one year anniversary we had a poem my sister wrote as part of her maid of honor speech (which floored me and made me bawl, it was so amazing) designed into a poster. Seeing that on the wall every day is really special and helps me remember the wedding and our marriage.

  • Another Meg

    My cousin’s photographer didn’t put film in his camera when they got married fifteen years ago (before digital was the norm). They didn’t have a single professional shot- so they asked everyone to mail them photos they’d taken. They have an album created by our whole family, and it’s really meaningful to them.
    There’s always a way to “hack” something you can’t afford in your budget- to use Meg’s awesome term.
    Best of luck!

    • Liz

      Oh, that first sentence was like a punch in my gut.

      • meg

        This happened to my grandmother too. As she said, “You still get married.” :)

        • Another Meg

          At the end of the day, that is what matters. I remember exactly one thing about this wedding (I was about twelve at the time) and it’s not even visual. My cousin and his wife are both musicians and they recorded a song they had written- she sang and he played guitar- and it played while she walked down the aisle. I get misty thinking about it.
          We have five senses with which to make memories.

  • Jo

    A lot of great suggestions (both from Liz and comments)!
    I just want to take a moment to voice the idea that it’s also okay not to spend too much energy basking in detailed memories of your wedding. My parents never had a single wedding photo up in our house growing up or a single wedding memento of any kind other than their ketubah which is hanging in a corner somewhere unnoticeable. They never told me stories about their wedding — it wasn’t a secret, it just wasn’t considered a big deal — and it’s only recently as I’ve been planning mine that I’ve even started to learn a little more about what they did. And I think the lack of fixation on their wedding has helped shape me as their daughter, it taught me that it’s about the life you live together, the marriage, not some fairy tale one big day.

    • meg

      But also, I have done a lot of these things to remember our wedding, but I’m not sure our kid would ever know. We don’t have a ton of photos up in the house, and we don’t talk about it a lot. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t done things to privately remember it. It’s just that for us, it’s private, or between the two of us. And I’ve tucked away stuff that our kids might find years later, or even after we’re gone.

      • HH

        That is lovely.

  • WS

    Ah! Yes! Yes yes yes. While I’m only three days out from my wedding (!!!), I’m already clinging to all of the remembering. I don’t want any minute detail to slip away! It’s going to happen, of course, but the dude & I got hitched in Thailand, just the two of us. While we did our best to grab some photos, private (surprise!) elopements just don’t afford a whole lot of opportunity for capturing those perfect shots or even a crowd to help remember the details.

    We do have a few trinkets from the day. A monk blessed our union after our private ceremony–he gave us each a prayer bracelet and a small amulet that I’ll know we’ll be hanging onto as long as humanly possible.

    Writing certainly helped me–I wrote down everything in raw form at the end of the day, and I know I’ll be thankful to have the details and the feelings and all of the happenings committed to paper. Even for non-journaling types, I imagine a quick note, beautiful prose or not, would serve as a lovely scrapbook or readily visible or tucked away reminder.

    Might have to implement wedding post it notes once I return home…

    • Vmed

      Congratulations on your elopement!

  • Meredith

    Awesome Liz! I especially love that you focused on other ways, besides photography to remember the wedding day. I’ll have to keep those in mind for many other aspects of my life, like travelling or other special events. Everyone tends to default to photos, but of course there are so many ways to remember things.

    Recently, I’ve been listening to random albums and artists on my ipod and occasionally a song will come on that transports me back to when I studied abroad or traveled in Asia (presumably I listened to those songs a lot when I was there). It’s incredible how all those memories come flooding back with just 1 song.

  • wonderful advice. i’m mostly seconding it all here, but for some specific examples:

    we paid about $300 for wedding photography. it was totally worth it for my wife’s peace of mind. but honestly the photos my brother-in-law took are at least as good, and he let us see *all* of them, and we can edit and use them however we like.

    which, as it turns out, is not just a whole lot. we made a little album that i do like a lot, and i’m sure my mother has looked at them 1,000 times or so.

    but the things that usually make me smile and go “hmm, that wedding was lovely – and i’m married to my honey!” are the wedding bunting hanging under the kids’ loft bed and in our room; the wedding vases scattered around the house; the music from the playlist (and, actually, all the music i considered but didn’t use while making the playlist reminds me of the wedding, too); my wife’s suit that is now her go-to dress clothes; my rings; all the leftover stationery that i use for just regular letters now; trains; the beer we served; the tea pitchers we used and kept some of; home depot gift cards that we just finished off around our first anniversary (oh, and some other gifts that are more tangibly in our home). basically, all the ordinary stuff.

    bits and pieces of our wedding are all over our house now, and if you weren’t at the wedding you wouldn’t know it (unlike with the photographs). i like the subtlety of it; i like that i don’t *always* think of the wedding when i see the bunting (sometimes i just think “man, that’s so pretty with that wall color”), but then sometimes i do think of it when i wasn’t expecting to.

    and i’m still planning to get my dress hemmed to cocktail length.

  • I wrote a lot, too. I tried to rehash my wedding day through written words, what it felt like, how quickly it passed by, but even if I didn’t write it down, I know that I will never forget most of the super huge things…like the anticipation of it all, getting dressed in less than 5 minutes and rushing out the door to do our first look, the laughter of our guests when my husband went in for a kiss as soon as I walked down the aisle and I pulled my face away and said “Not yet…”, the food, the drinks, the ambiance, the perfect crisp fall weather, the cigars and champagne at the end of the night, the mad fear that struck when we danced the hora and i had to be lifted in a chair and tempt fate. It was all incredible, and mementous, and it can’t be taken away.

    So write, save guests photos from your day (some of my favorite shots are NOT the ones that cost us money), maybe get someone to take a quick video because there is something in watching the movement of the day that speaks a million times louder to me than photographs. We turned our ring bearer “dish” into our “every night we put our rings in it” dish…seeing those little things is memory enough.

  • Fabulous post. It’s practical advice like this that makes APW such a joy to read and such a treasure of ideas!

  • Great advice all around! But, of course, as a wedding photographer, I personally think it’s important to have someone document the day in some form. I realize each couple prioritizes their budget differently and not everyone has room to fit in professional photography. That being said, I would highly encourage you to have friends and family take photos and send copies to you when you can. All the other great mementos from your wedding are awesome, but when you sit with your grandchildren and tell them about your wedding day, do you think they’d want to see the vase you used as a centerpiece or a picture of you and their grandfather in all your wedding day glory? I say this only because this past Mother’s Day was a bit of an eye-opener for me. We were with my boyfriend’s family and his great-aunt brought out her wedding album to show us. She and her husband are celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary this year. She was so proud to show us the photos of them together at the reception, the intricate cake his brother made for them, the crazy hat her mother decided to wear to the wedding – all these things could not be captured in any other way besides through photographs. (She was also very excited to tell me that “in her day” she paid $100 and got 12 photographs for her album!) So while you – and all those in attendance that day – will remember the day, the details, the emotions you felt, the visual aid that photographs provide will help you in retelling that story to other friends and family down the road.

    This was all basically a very long way of saying – even if you are unable to afford professional photography, don’t discount photography altogether. It can play a beautiful role in preserving the memories of the day for future generations and anyone else unable to be with you at the time.

  • Joycie Wags

    I had fully intended NOT to have a professional photographer at my wedding, but was lucky enough to 1) reconnect with an old friend from high school who was more than reasonable and 2) receive offers of a little bit of financial support from friends. I’m pretty happy about the turn out, but if I hadn’t gone through with it, there were a bunch of people there with cameras and I’ve gotten a lot of their pics too. There’s no way you could squeak by without at least a few pictures of your wedding day. :)

    Other things that I did on my wedding day to ensure I remembered as much of it as possible:
    *I tied my iphone to my bouquet because we did not hire a videographer and if there was one thing I wanted to capture, it was that walk down the aisle to my husband. LOL
    *I wanted to save on flowers AND have a keepsake so I made my bouquet from preserved rose heads. Double win! They were tied together by one of my dad’s handkerchiefs. I also made my hairpiece with preserved orchids so I got to keep that too.
    *I kept one of our centerpieces (I painted mason jars, filled them with sand from the beach outside our hotel and stuck in paper tissue flowers that I’d hand dyed) and it’s on display on our kitchen counter.
    *Our gift box was a white mailbox with our handprints and our names that my dad helped us do. That’s on display in our living room.
    *Our guestbook was really a scrapbook. I brought a portable photo printer I’d had and people printed some pictures from their cameras and signed it. :)

    …But there are plenty of things that weren’t captured by photos or memorabilia that still play fresh in my mind. Like the basic gist of my sister’s matron of honor speech where she cried about how time goes by so quickly and how it finally hit me that after years of feeling like no one in my family ever understood me and my quirkiness, she really did. Or the sound of collective gasp when I stepped out in my (pink!) wedding dress. Or how my dad spent our first dance not really talking about me getting married but about engineering and pipes. LOL Or how I came back to my hotel room at 1 in the morning the day before the wedding to find that my friends were ordering me to sleep while they finished the rest of the paper flower folding for me because I’d been too embarrassed to ask for help. Or how I laughed til my stomach hurt at the random video my brother and sister had put together with their kids despite dealing with the chaos of my brother’s wife giving birth to their third son just a week before…

    Lots of stuff will stick with you, but whether you have pictures or not, there will be a lot of stuff that may fall away as time passes. That’s life though, isn’t it? We can’t remember absolutely every moment, even for such a big day. I don’t remember all of our wedding day, but I remember enough parts of it to know that it was a happy day, filled with love; one of many to come in our lifetime. :)

  • amy

    I went through this phase where I was CONSTANTLY flipping through photos from our wedding day, and I think it had an adverse effect on the way I remember it — sometimes I catch myself “remembering” something from the vantage point of our photographer, not my own two eyes. The photographs (especially when you look at them obsessively! LIKE I DID!) have a way of branding certain moments into your brain at the expense of every other moment that wasn’t captured. Like, my husband reminded me the other night about our dinner playlist, which was all Jonathan Richman and Dean Martin. I didn’t remember that at all! It was only a year ago! Songs don’t end up in photographs! (But it was a lovely to have an “oh yeah!” moment with him.)

    Also, whenever I need to remember the *really* important stuff, it’s nice to make my husband read our vows aloud. We also recently revisited all of our readings from the ceremony, and it brought back all of this emotional memory that was really powerful.

    • meg

      Yup. And this is why I wrote a lot, before we got our pictures! I COULD NOT LOVE OUR PHOTOS MORE. But it’s not how I saw the day, and I needed to remember that too.

  • Lynn

    I’d like to second the idea to put a call out to see if your friends know anyone who is willing to take some photos for you. When our photographer fell through, I asked on facebook if anyone knew of someone willing to take wedding photos for a reasonable price. We were immediately put in touch with 2 people…one who had been a concert photographer and wanted to get into portraiture and weddings, and the other a friend’s wife who was finishing a degree in photojournalism. We got some great photos for $300.We don’t have those “art” photos, but we have the photos that made me feel better about my wedding.

    We have some wonderful keepsakes as well…the guitar guestbooks that our friends signed and is now hanging on our walls; my brooch bouquet in a vase in our living room; our vows framed; the box that holds the bourbon and letters we used in our ceremony; the salt cellar that holds the salt from our salt ceremony. Those things are touchstones. Instant memories.

  • Megan

    Also, you might see if any of your friends would be willing to flip cam/iphone video parts of your wedding. It could even be passed around to a few trustworthy people. My husband’s grandmother can’t travel, so she had a videographer record just our ceremony. The professional nature of the video wasn’t so important (to us), but the ability to see the joy in action, and listen again to what the judge said to us was in some ways even more special than the beautiful stills. Without being asked, one of our guests recorded our first dance on her iphone. It’s just as fantastic as the professional bit.

  • I may be repeating this but hopefully you can provide one use cameras on the tables, they do not have to be wedding ones, you can add a sticker or ribbon or mini pom whatever fits your style. I used to do this for my daughters when they went to prom. Anyways, if it is just one camera per table perhaps assign it to a certain person you could trust at that table with a note at their place setting. I also saw a great idea of an ‘I Spy’ form at It is done sometimes for childrens tables but would work great for adults. You could create different lists or keep them the same which would give a variety of the same goal. I would say have a list of formal style photos you want and ask a few family members with better cameras to help keep your memories, they should feel honored especially if it is for a short time & not a job. We are in our 50’s and are not hiring a photographer so I understand your concern. If you plan well & then let go & savor your day everything will be okay. Besides, who really cares about a cutting the cake photo?

  • Amy

    The (very sound) advice about prioritizing the important elements and easing up on the rest is important here, too. If pro photography is not at the top of your wishlist, the many great suggestions above will more than cover that aspect and will generate really fun surprise pics.

    HOWEVER (says she who learned this the hard way): The thing about a pro photographer is that they will make sure that specific shots happen, they don’t go off duty during the reception, they have a really good sense of what moments to capture when nobody is looking… and about a thousand other small things that make a photo special.

    I caved on this one for the budget even though I KNEW that photos would be really important to me. We came away with perfectly fine images of the day, some really wonderful moments… and some huge gaping holes. We had a beautiful day, a nearly perfect wedding, everything we could have wanted…. but I have huge emotion about the photography. (No photo of me with my mother, no good photo of us with just the kids, badly lit group shots, no photo of me with my best friend…ugh.)

    SO: my message is not that you Must. Have. Professional. Photography. Just make sure your decision is based on how important it is to your hopes for the day and after, and not solely on budget. Easier said than done, but this is one of the big ones.

    • meg

      Oh, no one is arguing that pro photography is GREAT if you can get it. But these ideas are great if you can’t, and frankly totally great if you can to. I really think everyone should think about various ways to remember the wedding, and not sort of unconsciously outsource it to a pro.

      • Amy

        Totally agree… the list of suggestions from everyone is really fantastic and something that would have helped me to find a better solution than what I ended up with. I’m a really visual person and have a connection to that method of preserving memories… something I wish I had placed more value on when figuring out how to make the budget work for us. Know thyself is the lesson, I suppose!

  • I love your advice about displaying, re-using, and repurposing the non-photographic keepsakes, Liz. Our centerpieces were poems and quotes about love that I calligraphed up and stuck in mismatched, thrifted frames, which are now scattered throughout our apartment. We have some pro photos displayed as well, but it’s really those centerpiece frames that catch my eye throughout the day and make my heart sing.

  • Hypothetical Sarah

    One thing I loved: After our elopement, I made a photo book with the text from the ceremony on the left pages and photos on the right pages. Whether you have photos from a professional photographer or you’re collecting photos from friends and family, whether you use all wedding photos, mix a few wedding photos with “normal” photos of the two of you, or don’t include any photos at all, I’d highly recommend it.

    • This is an interesting idea I’ve never heard of before…. Thanks for sharing it; if I ever get around to making the scrapbook/photo album of the wedding, I think I will incorporate text from the ceremony.

  • Breezy

    If certain aspects of your wedding are important for you to have in photos, then make that known. You can write a little note or make an announcement for guests reminding them not to miss photos of your faces during the ceremony, little ones dancing, or your grandparents telling stories. If your guests know that you want something, someone will get it done.

    Also, I would recommend putting a laptop with a cord somewhere near the exit so that guests can upload their photos right away and you don’t have to feel anxious waiting.

    Have fun!

    • To build on this idea, maybe the very key shots that are essential could be divided up with a couple “assigned” to some close friends/family that said they would like to help take pictures. (Maybe doubling up on the most important moment assignments, just in case?) That way a person could just think: “Okay, I should focus on trying to capture the walk down the aisle, the first dance, and the exit. And anything else I want to beyond that…” And someone else could have 3 other moments, etc.

  • Melissa H

    We found a photographer whose style we really liked but could not afford. She recommended a phtographer just starting out who had a similar aesthetic and who she’d worked with many times. The recommended photographer’s prices were just right for our budget and we couldn’t be happier with the photos (or her; she is an absolute gem). We loooooove our photos and my husband created our wedding album, incorporating guest photos and photobooth photos as well.

    My father-in-law happened to catch some of our ceremony on his iPhone; our ceremony was full of laughter and tears and it’s great to also hear the folks around my father-in-law laughing/sniffling right along!

    But I agree that other items can bring back those memories – I’m a potter and made our cake plate with our wedding motif inlaid on top so everytime we break it out we remember all the wonderful moments from the day (and the delicious cake!); we had “our poem” printed on the back of the programs and it is carried out in our house here and there such as on other pottery and a framed section of poem; I made some cute burlap signs and burlap table numbers and while those don’t work in our home (we hung the Just Married banner on our mantle for 6 months then decided we had to retire it) I made some ones that do out of the remaining burlap.

    While I don’t think it’s important to have pictures to remember the day and the process and your relationship up to that point, I agree with ATP Liz that memories can shape your marriage and it’s important to remember the great times you have had and special moments. See “the Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” by John Gottman and Nan Silver.

  • Thank you for this post. We are hiring a photographer but not a videographer, and sometimes I feel like not having a pretty video will make me forget parts of the wedding that can’t be captured in an image (like toasts or our vows). So thanks for giving me alternate strategies for remembering.

    • You can also ask your toasters to send you a copy of their speeches afterward. (“What you said was so incredible and touching that I want to make sure we have those words forever. Would you mind sending me the text?”) It won’t capture the moment exactly, but at least you’ll have the words. My husband is officiating a wedding this summer and if the couple doesn’t take video of the ceremony, he’s planning to forward them a copy of his homily afterward.

      • Yes! Our friends used a google document to write their toasts, and even chatted with each other on the side while doing so, and then shared the document and chat transcription with us after the wedding. It was hilarious and touching to read over their words again.

      • Amy March

        Ha! Unless your toasters, like me, write nothing down. And then you have to cherish the ephemeral beauty of the moment.

        • meg

          I know. I miss not having our toasts down exactly. But it doesn’t matter. I know that our best man’s speech was one of the kindest most loving series of things anyone has ever said about us, and that’s really all I need. Even thinking about it makes me tear up a little. Being able to replay it or read it, might take away from that magic, who knows. So, you remember. Don’t let anyone tell you that you won’t.

      • Breezy

        You don’t need to just rely on the toasts. When the party starts dying down (if it ever) you could ask your guests to write down their favorite part of the day. Have your youngest guests draw pictures of what they remember the ceremony to look like. Heck, have your youngest guests drawing during the ceremony. The replies here have been about photography and photos, or having you write down your memories, but their is no rule to asking others to write down theirs as well.

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  • I was one of those people who woke up at 4am (unintentionally) the day after my wedding and wrote all of my memories on a notepad in the dark.

    Disclosure: I’m a wedding photographer. I strongly believe that photos of your wedding are a really big deal. That being said, however, I also firmly believe that the most important memories are the ones that you make for yourself. The strongest memory of my wedding is one that existed just between my husband and me — no photographer present, no photos of that moment exist — when he tied the bow of my reception dress for me in a room empty of guests. No one else was there, and I checked the bow in the mirror before we left. It’s seared into my mind. It’s just OUR memory, and no one else’s. If that makes sense.

    As a wedding photographer, I usually tell clients to go somewhere and just be together for a few minutes, without me or anyone else. I really believe that that moment is important. Even if it’s just you standing silently next to each other smiling and holding hands, or if you shove down an appetizer because you haven’t eaten all day, or even if it’s your partner helping you pee in your dress.

    If (heaven forbid) all of our copies of our wedding photos went up in flames, I know I have that bow-tying memory and that is the one I will remember always.


    • meg

      “I also firmly believe that the most important memories are the ones that you make for yourself.”

      YES. Some of my best memories are our Yichud, and we didn’t have a photographer there because, frankly, it wasn’t appropriate. I think we live in a cultural moment where we think unless it’s documented, it doesn’t matter or exist. And I think it’s the moments where we step away from documentation that sometimes are the most powerful. I was talking to Maddie the other day about how she doesn’t encourage clients to have her at their rehearsal dinner, etc, because she says, “Some events in your life you just don’t need documented by a pro.” And I thought it was such a lovely and thoughtful way to think about things as a professional photographer. IE, “I have a place, but that place isn’t everywhere.” It’s like Christmas not being every day… if it was, it wouldn’t be special.

    • Yes! The moment that will stay with me forever from our wedding is our detour to get gelato on our way to our reception site. My husband drove, and we held hands, and it was just like the hundreds of other car rides we’d shared together, except that it also was nothing like them. I’ll never forget running into the little shop in my wedding dress, with my husband holding my train, giggling like we were getting away with something and thoroughly delighting the shop owner and patrons without a photographer in sight.

      • Liz


        I stinkin love this image.

      • Yes, this story just made me all teary because it is so perfect/fun/beautiful/special.

  • Claire

    We were lucky enough to have gorgeous photos taken by a talented friend who was just starting to do photography on the side (he has a day job as an engineer). I love the album of those photos and seeing them pop up on the computer screensaver.

    But, almost two years later, we still don’t have a single wedding photo hanging in our home. What we do have framed and hanging in our living room is the handwritten lyrics to our wedding song (The Winds by Danny Schmidt). We used that as our guestbook, so it has well wishes from our loved ones scrawled around the border. Super meaningful.

    We never even considered hiring a videographer, but one of my husband’s friends recorded the ceremony on his digital camera and sent it to us. It’s definitely not professional grade and the sound quality is terrible, but every now and again I love to be able to sit at the computer and listen to our ceremony and our vows to each other. There is just something about hearing my husband crying through his vows and seeing the way we looked at each other that brings me back to the feelings I had in that moment. Remembering those important moments and how that love felt is a powerful thing (especially when you’re fighting!).

    • I first got some wedding photos in frames just before our two year anniversary. My next goal is to put together a photo album/scrapbook before the third anniversary. :) And assemble our guest book cause at the reception we had people write well wishes on cards, but I have yet to assemble them in the book with the already-made envelopes that each card slides into to hold it.

      • HH

        I definitely want to do this- did you make the book or buy it?

        • My mom bought a digital scrapbook album (11 x 8.5 landscape) that you’re supposed to be able to print the photos digitally on the pages. She probably got it at one of the major craft stores using a half off coupon. She punched out some “tags” (that the guests wrote notes on) and the envelopes (which she had to fold after cutting out the shape) using a Cricut machine. The concept was to print photos on one side of the page and then attach the envelopes on the other side and insert the “tags” with the guests’ notes and a little ribbon tied through the hole in the tag, into each pocket. The photo design and printing part has intimated me, though, and I have yet to do it and assemble it all. But yeah, it would be a good third anniversary goal. I should get going on that! :)

          The best part so far with that project reading the guests’ notes to us while eating leftover cupcakes for breakfast in the middle of the afternoon, in our hotel room the day after the wedding.

  • Katie

    While we had a professional photographer, I gave my older brother my basic Canon Digital camera and asked him to take some photos, too, during the ceremony. I had been at his wedding a few months earlier and used the camera’s record function to record some snippets of his ceremony. Well, big brother did that and more – he got our entire vow exchange (with me nearly weeping) and it was awesome. Not the best camera work, but that is part of its charm. Being able to watch ourselves in that moment of saying our vows is very powerful. Would I want/need the whole ceremony? Yeah, maybe, but who’s really going to watch the whole thing? We’ve got five magical minutes to go with all the other various photos.
    (And the best photo of me and my husband dancing together was from a friend, not the professional guy).

    • meg

      It’s interesting, how we’re sold the idea that everything has to be done by a professional (and not just for weddings, for kids, for god knows what). And we forget how meaningful the imperfect, non-professional, and personal can be.

      • Ambi

        Okay, so maybe this is shallow, and maybe I will feel differently when I am actually getting married, but . . . while I’d love to have some gorgeous still shots, I actually don’t want any video. I want to remember exchanging my vows exactly how I experienced it. I don’t really want to see it from the outside. I know myself, and I know that I would be distracted by the aesthetics of the scene, by the jarring sound of hearing your own voice being played back, by the fact that it didn’t actually look and sound exactly how I felt it looked and sounded while I lived it . . . ultimately, exchanging the vows is one of those little nuggets, for me, of private memory that I look forward to keeping all within myself. Clearly I’ll probably talk about it with my husband at some point, and maybe friends or family, but none of that will change my memory of how I experienced it. I think, for me, a video would. But that’s just me!

        Edit: I said “shallow at the top because, honestly, I realize that if I watched a video of us saying our vows, I’d probably end up paying attention to stuff like whether my hair was in my eyes or my bra was showing or how I should have spoken up so people could hear me or something like that.

  • Lturtle

    Our wedding is just a few weeks away and we also don’t have the budget for a photographer. Instead of hiring someone we have asked a couple of talented friends to take photos as their wedding gift to us – one is doing posed photos before the wedding and the other is taking the action shots during the ceremony. They were both thrilled to be asked and to be part of our wedding. We are also putting together a simple DIY photobooth type arrangement. So for the cost of a camera remote we have pictures pretty well covered.

    We are doing other things to commemorate the day as well. Instead of a guestbook we are asking our guests to write a wish for us on a pre-cut quilt piece. After the wedding the pieces will be combined with the fabric from our chuppah (not a tallit) to make a wedding quilt that will go on our bed. Eventually we will pass it on to our daughter. Most of the functional things we are buying for the reception, cake stands/platters/etc, are things that will be used around the house afterwards. And when I have time (after the wedding) I am planning to take the vows we wrote and calligraph them and frame them to hang on our wall.

    My hope is that these things help us remember the special moments of that day. I think I will also try writing out my thoughts, as Meg suggested.

    • We also bought some functional things for the reception that we now use in our home. And in addition, we also used some things we already owned as a part of the ceremony and reception, which I especially liked because they had the original good memories before it became a part of the wedding day, and then they continue on as a part of our life with a new layer of memories.

      For example, I was given a beautiful candle holder when I moved from somewhere from people I cared about very much. That candle holder was used in the ceremony, and now it has a place on our breakfast table where it is a part of our everyday landscape. And I do think of our wedding and our history as I see them on the table. Somehow it helps give me a sense of continuity even despite several international moves in the last 15 years… And the idea of re-purposing things is also something I like doing…

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  • pixie_moxie

    I loved the idea of making art/framing the invites and vows, I want to do something like this for our Anniversary in 2 weeks!
    One of the things that we have around and use everyday are the napkins from the wedding. They make me smile every time. We bought many different yards or orange fabric and my sister and I sewed 80 or so napkins leading up to the wedding. I then split the napkins between my folks, my sister and us. One uncle even took his home as a bandana. Half of the fun was picking out the fabric. They all tell many stories.

    • I wish I had saved the files from our invitations. One thing I didn’t think about with our electronic invites until it was too late!

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  • Ambi

    I think that, if you are worried about how you’ll remember your wedding day, you need to reflect on how you remember other important events in your life. Do pictures help? Do they distract or reshape the memories? Do you have incredibly strong happy memories of events of which you have no photos? Or do you wish that you had photos of special days in the past? For me, and this is just me, I honestly have some of the strongest memories of events where I have no photos. And for those events like graduations, birthdays, etc. where there are photos, I sometimes feel like all I can remember now is what is in the photos. So, my advice would be think about some important days – days that, even at the time, you knew you wanted to remember. Graduations, birthdays, holidays, your proposal, etc. How do you remember them? Do photos help for you or not? If not, let go of the worry. If so, plan accordingly and arrange for friends or family to take some snapshots. Either way, the decision has to be based on knowing yourself and what you really want and need. Oh yeah, and ask your fiance too. :)

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  • Amatricis

    We were able to hire a professional photographer, but we had an Instax camera as our guestbook (people could sign the bottom) and it doubled as an additional camera at the reception. We left it in the care of a trusted friend who floated around the reception and got all sorts of shots of our guests. I absolutely LOVE the photos. After the wedding, I spent some time scanning all the photos and uploaded them to my Flickr to share with everyone. As I flipped through them, I can’t help but smile and think about our big day!

  • All of these comments are great, but I wanted to add one thing.
    You don’t necessarily need a visible thing to trigger a memory. Obviously music could be an audio trigger, but there’s so much more. Maybe there is a smell that takes you back to that day, or the feel of something.

    • HH

      A great idea someone told me about was to buy different perfume for your wedding- something you liked, that was *you*, but that you didn’t wear on any other day. That way, the memory of your wedding would be crazy powerful when you next smelled that perfume.

  • meghan

    Check out Wedding Snap. It’s an app for your guests to use on their phone, that automatically uploads photos they take during the wedding to your online album. It’s free for your guests, but you have to pay $99 to sign up – for the basic package, up to $200 for the extended package (on sale for $65 until June 5). If some guests don’t have phones, they can upload the pictures off their camera after the wedding using a computer. Something to look into…

  • Caroline

    One thing we did was to build in periodic quiet moments through the evening, when we could take a breath, process everything, and just be with each other.

    After the ceremony, my new husband and I got into his car for the short drive to the reception site. We’d driven along that route many times, both separately and together, since the wedding was downtown in our hometown. But in that moment, that old familiar route in his old familiar car became so special and wonderful because of the step we’d just taken together. That time let us meditate on everything that had just happened at the ceremony, laugh together about the minor mishaps, share our impressions with each other.

    After the reception ended at 11 PM, we held an afterparty at the bar down the street for anyone who wanted to keep celebrating. But before we headed there, we hired a bicycle rickshaw to pedal the two of us around downtown for about 20 minutes. It started out as a way to do the “traditional grand exit” to signal in a festive way that the reception was at an end. But those 20 minutes together, with just the quiet sounds of a bicycle, the cool night breeze downtown, and the occasional passers-by cheering at us, turned out to be really important. It paused the blur of the celebration so we could fully experience the moment.

    Taking those moments alone to share our impressions of the day with each other helped to solidify our memories. I really recommend taking some time like that if you can.

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