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DIY Photography Ideas: How to Make a Wedding Photo Album

Don't make your wedding photo album an afterthought. A little prep goes a long way toward picture perfection.

Photo: Antonis Achilleos

Creating your album is, yes, a tedious process, but it's also one of the most rewarding parts of wedding planning. You'll have a beautiful album for a lifetime. Your instinct may be to jump right in, tear through your proofs, and immediately want to know what should go into your album. But slow down, follow our plan, and skip some stressed-out feelings -- you'll have a beautiful book that tells a wonderful story, and maybe even shows off your dad’s disco technique.

Step 1: Don't Go It Alone


Your first look at the wedding photos can be overwhelming (to say the least), so you'd be wise to wait until your new spouse (or friend, sister, or mother) is present to take your first glance. But be careful whom you choose. If your mother's comments -- however well meaning -- tend to stress you out, ask your maid of honor instead, and involve Mom later in the process. Whatever you do, say our photographers, do not lend anyone your proofs. No one will care for them the way you do, and they may get lost or damaged.

Step 2: Sort Wisely


Go with your gut on your first look and put Post-its on the shots that jump out at you. Don't overthink it. Just pick 20 to 30 of your favorites. The next step is to weed out the bad pictures (of blinking guests, for example).

Now you're ready to group the proofs into categories: getting ready, ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, special moments (cake cutting, speeches, candids, portraits, dancing, and getaway are the big categories). How many pictures you have in each category (and how many categories you’ll have) depends on a lot of things, but keep in mind that eventually you'll put only 50 to 100 photos in your finished album.

Knot Note: If you must mark the backs, use a pencil (nonpermanent ink can smudge and ballpoint pen will ruin pics) and a light touch (the pressure of the pencil could dent the picture). A better alternative? Use dot stickers. You can write on these before sticking them onto the backs of your photos. Later on, you'll want to use different color Post-its to mark photos for the different albums (pink for yours, blue for your mother-in-law’s, etc.).

Before you begin grouping ask if your photographer has a numbering system as that will make ordering easier.

Step 3: Decide on an Album Type


There are many options for albums. You can go traditional with a classic matted style album, which is generally bound like a book in which frames hide the edges of the photos. Depending on the quality (traditional albums come in leather, canvas, and even faux leather and suede), these albums can be very sturdy and tend to endure age and use better than other styles.

Want something more creative? Try a fabric album. Many photographers now offer custom-bound Japanese silk albums in which photos are mounted directly onto deckled-edge pages in a hand-embossed image area. These exquisite (and expensive) albums are delicate. Be sure yours comes with a protective sleeve.

A modern option: coffee-table books. Like a magazine created just for you, these albums come in a range of colors and materials, and the layout possibilities are endless. Like books, they are printed on a press, so rather than actual photos, you have pages with your photos printed on them. The set-up fees are expensive, but once you have a layout, you can often order multiple albums for a fraction of the initial cost.

Not interested in an actual photo album? Just make sure you arrange in advance to buy your digital files from your photographer. You can keep them on your hard drive, upload them to a photo site for sharing, make DVD slide shows, and order prints whenever you want. Companies such as Collages.net can put together DVD albums for your photographer.

Step 4: Take Your Time


Choosing photos for a wedding album takes six hours on average, so don't expect it to be a quick task. You worked hard to plan your wedding—taking time to reflect with your fabulous photos is part of the payoff. But try not to lose momentum after the wedding. Make your initial selections (the 20–30 faves) even if you are all wedding-ed out.

Step 5: Tell Your Story


Imagine you are illustrating a book that has no text—keep the "story" of your day in mind. You'll also want to make sure that all of the important characters are represented. You may have picked all the best shots of your gorgeous self, and wedding party and parents are usually included in formal shots, but what about:
  • your grandparents?
  • your siblings?
  • your close friends?
  • your favorite cousins?

In addition to representing a range of events and individuals, vary images by look and type. Modern couples tend to favor a photojournalistic style, emphasizing lots of candid shots, but make sure you have some formal posed shots too. Mixing black-and-white or sepia with color shots will also give your album a dynamic edge. Many photographers suggest a 1:3 black-and-white to color ratio, but anything goes.

And don't forget the details that give the album depth and flair.

  • Close-ups of flower arrangements
  • Favors
  • Food
  • An overhead shot of the venue

Knot Note: Group the detail shots so as not to overpower the people shots.

Step 6: Lay It Out


Now the fun part: putting it in order. We suggest laying out your proofs on a large table, so that you can easily arrange, rearrange, and get a good overall view of the content of the album. Remember: You’re telling a story. It might be easiest to arrange the album chronologically, but it’s okay to deviate from this.

Another important concept to consider is flow. Pay attention to how one segment leads into another. One way to make your album smooth yet dynamic is to choose meaningful transition shots. For example: A shot of the bride and groom walking away from the ceremony venue holding hands might be great transition into the reception portion of the album.

You can also experiment with page layouts at this point. Some pages will feature one 8"x10" portrait, while others will have a 5"x7" staggered with smaller shots. Even a program as basic as Microsoft Word can be used to design layouts. See, creating a great album is a snap.

-- The Knot

See More: Wedding Photo + Wedding Video , DIY Wedding Ideas