Your photographer will capture your best wedding moments, but how will you ensure those photographs will last? We've got your guide to archival albums here:
What It Is
While photographs are the most obvious way to preserve wedding memories, there are specific strategies required to ensure that your prints and album have an extra-long shelf life.
Why Do It
Carefully compiling and packaging your photos will prevent common damage such as yellowing, fading, or disintegration. When you weave the photos together, it's a beautiful way of telling a story -- and you'll be able to pass the memories on to your kids.
How It Works
Your photographer will work with you collaboratively to select images and determine the sequence and design of your album. Here's more need-to-know info:
- Acid-free materials: It's most important to have an archival album with acid-free paper, acid-free prints, acid-free adhesive, and even acid-free photo corners. Also, a strong binding that is handcrafted will produce a sturdier album. What makes an album acid-free? Acid-free albums are composed of acid-free papers, and the photos that they contain should be printed in a reputable lab where they will be washed long enough to remove all the chemical rinses used in developing.
- Color vs. B&W: Black-and-white prints last longer than color (color turns sooner because of the chemicals used -- unless you use a very expensive process.) The nature of the materials used in color prints is more susceptible to fading due to surrounding conditions, such as temperature and moisture.
- Prints: One choice for prints is resin-coated press prints, which are high-quality, but not archival. Fiber prints are your best bet -- they are high quality and archival. If you are constructing an album, pay attention to how you handle your photos. Both touching them and resting them on newspaper can taint them with oil and acid that will speed their aging process.
Albums range from $125-$5,000. An archival album at Tiffany's goes for about $150 to $200. You can also find a variety of wedding albums in The Knot Wedding Shop. The most expensive? A handmade book -- which includes the process of scanning, book mock-up, layout, and sequencing -- can cost between $2,500 and $5,000.
Can't afford an album? If budget is an issue, put money into prints: have fiber prints made and then buy an archival box to store them in until you have the funds to purchase a book.
Acid-free paper should last 75-100 years. (Many of the inexpensive albums today begin to disintegrate much earlier than that.) Be sure to keep your wedding album in a cool, dry place, away from bright sunlight.
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