Ways to Honor Family and Friends at Your Wedding — Pt 1: Photos and Video

ellis island centerpiece

Today starts a new series on the blog — 100 Ways to Honor Your Family and Friends at Your Wedding. Yes, this is a freebie from my e-book, so enjoy!

First up is ideas for your photo and video display at your cocktail party or reception:

Family Photos and Video

  1. At your engagement party, set up a table filled with photos of your own courtship and engagement portraits – guests love to see those – and also display photos of your parents’, grandparents’ and siblings’ courtship and engagement photos, with a sign saying, “We come from a long history of love.”
  2. In addition to framed photos of your engagement and courtship photos, set up a digital photo frame to play a slideshow of those family photos.
  3. At your wedding, fill your family photos table with framed photos of your parents’, grandparents’ and siblings’ wedding portraits, and again set up that digital photo frame to play a slideshow of those gorgeous all-wedding pictures.
  4. Do a treasure hunt of those fabulous, old black-and-white wedding photos from your great-grandparents’ era. Ask relatives if they have any way-back wedding pictures in frames or in photo albums, and you’ll likely find some amazing treasures in the family. Take those photos, and – here’s the secret! – bring them to a professional photographer or qualified photo shop to have them digitally-restored. Marks and spots can be erased, the shade can be freshened to provide better contrast, details such as the lace of your great-grandmother’s dress will stand out. Your new and improved old-time photos go on display at your wedding, and – surprise! – you give copies of the new-and-improved photos to the relatives after the wedding.
  5. At your bridal shower, create a Lovely Ladies photo table with amazing pictures of you and your mom, grandmom, your sisters, favorite aunts, your mom with her sisters…it’s a table tribute for all the fabulous women in your life. You can also do a separate table of framed or digital photo frame slideshow images of you with your best female friends.
  6. On the family photo table, mix up framed family wedding photos with framed printouts of each relative’s wedding song lyrics or their vows. If the color scheme works, using parchment paper gives an elegant look for all the print display items, or choose a colored paper like blush blue or blush pink to coordinate with flowers that will be displayed on the table as well.
  7. Add to your family photos table framed quotes about family, love, and marriage. They might be the same quotes used in your parents’ wedding, or simply quotes that remind you of them. Visit www.quotegarden.com to get inspiration, or look for quote memes on Pinterest.
  8. Of course, if you have children, create a family photo table featuring great pictures of you with your kids, and just of the kids themselves. They might be your self-taken photos, or you might schedule a professional, styled photo shoot to take all-new family and kid photos. They might be the classic everyone-dressed-in-the-same-colors group shots on the beach, or they might be themed like a 1920s-era costumed photo shoot, even something fun and playful like all pictures at the zoo.
  9. Line an entryway wall with fun photos of your extended family, with a budget display method: suspending them at different heights from a hung rod via colorful ribbons. Be inclusive, though…line the opposite wall with photos of your friends and their spouses, or solo photos as the case may be. It’s best to ask permission from everyone, and have them submit photos they’d like shown, rather than grabbing pictures from everyone’s Facebook albums.
  10. Prior to the wedding, take photos of relatives, especially kids like your nieces, nephews or your own children, holding up DIY’d signs saying ‘Reception This Way,’ ‘Ceremony This Way,’ or ‘Welcome to the Wedding’ and then enlarge and display these photos as a great twist on the classic wedding signs that direct guests to the different locations for your celebration. Having the little ones in those photos is an adorable way to give them a spotlight in what would otherwise be just another wedding décor item.
  11. This one is more for the engagement party or for the rehearsal dinner. Send out an email asking all of your relatives to respond with the story of how they met their spouse, and send you a photo of themselves. You can then scan these to make an inexpensive photo book at Shutterfly or other budget-friendly site, and put it on display at your family-attended party…with your ‘how we met’ story right up front.
  12. I love this idea I saw on Pinterest: as aisle or pew décor, hang up pretty, 4” x 4” framed photos of your relatives, not as seating chart markers but just as pretty and personalized family-centric ceremony décor. If you wish, make them all black and white to suit your all-white floral scheme and black-and-white aisle runner, or use colorful photos in all matching frames tied on with a wide ribbon and bow.
  13. Use that digital photo frame to show family photos at the rehearsal dinner; showcasing photos of the family and best friends at this VIP event is a great tribute to them…way better than showing just photos of yourselves.
  14. Guests who cannot attend the wedding due to distance, illness, pregnancy, deployment or other situations can tape and send video greetings to you, and you can play them during the rehearsal dinner. Skyping one close relative might be an option, but keep it as a plan for just one or two close relatives. If you have a dozen, your party gets taken over by a lot of on-computer time.
  15. I love this idea! If your ancestors arrived in this country via Ellis Island, go to www.ellisisland.org to run a search on your ancestors by last name. You may find amazing views of their signatures on the arrival records or ship list, as well as a photo of the ship on which they arrived. These too can go on display on your family photo table, or as a fabulous display of its own at the cocktail party.
  16. Within family keepsake treasures, you might find your great-grandmother’s journal with an entry about her upcoming wedding, or her sweet feelings for her suitor. With family permission, you might scan and enlarge these priceless hand-written entries and display them in your entrance hallway, above the guest book, and or even at the bridal shower. It’s easy and inexpensive to take written family heirlooms, scan and process them and put them on display for your wedding celebration.
  17. Instead of a book of ‘how they met’ stories with photos, consider putting together a photo book that pairs family wedding portraits with copies of their wedding vows. It could be a scan of their original, hand-written vow notes, or you might type them up in pretty font and in a coordinated layout style for a sentimental keepsake that can be built upon in the future by other relatives and maybe your own children someday.
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Free Wedding Worksheet! From my book “Your Wedding, Your Way”

You can’t dive into wedding planning without first knowing what you and your groom really want for your big day, and setting up a wedding plans Priority List helps you protect your plans from well-meaning parents who have their own suggestions. With your priorities listed out, you know where the biggest chunks of your wedding budget will go, and you’ll be able to tell your parents that you’ve already decided on the location for your ceremony, the kind of cake you want, etc.

These free wedding planning worksheets will save the day:

Our Wedding Priority Lists

Bride’s Top Priorities:

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2.

3.

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5.

Groom’s Top Priorities:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

Lesser Priorities Others Can Help With

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

 

From Sharon Naylor’s bestselling wedding book Your Wedding, Your Way, www.sharonnaylor.net

Wedding Planning First Step: Your FREE Excerpt of “Your Wedding Your Way”

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It’s time for another free excerpt of one of my top new wedding books! This time, using this freebie from my book Your Wedding Your Way, you and your groom will talk about the basics for your Big Day, just to get your style set, and combine your wishes.

 

Chapter 2

How to Decide What You Both Want for Your Wedding Day

 You both have to be in agreement on the various ways you will create your wedding your way. The best way to get in agreement is to talk about everything. Here’s a little quiz to get the discussion started. Take this quiz together, and use different-colored pens to check off your answers and make additional notes. Don’t worry if you’re not in total agreement right now—few wedding couples are at this stage. You’ve already gone through the checklist in the introduction about why you’d like to have a nontraditional wedding, and now you’re getting in a little deeper.

 

1.         How comfortable are you when you’re at formal celebrations, such as black-tie weddings and dress-up events?

            a.         Very comfortable. I love getting dressed up, looking my best, and enjoying “the good life” at formal weddings.

            b.         Somewhat comfortable. Being in high heels or a suit is fine for the first few hours, but then I’d rather be home in pajamas, watching television.

            c.         I hate it. Nothing’s worse than being forced to wear high heels or a suit just because someone wants everyone to look good in their pictures.

2.         What’s the best location for your wedding?

            a.         Right here in our hometown, which is going to be gorgeous at the time of year we’re getting married, and it’s close for all our guests to get to.

            b.         It would be dreamy if we could get married at our favorite vacation destination that we go to every year, get married on the beach at sunset, and have foods from our favorite restaurants there.

            c.         Someplace we’ve never been before, like our dream destination ofHawaii. And to bring everyone else with us? That would be amazing.

            d.         Someplace not in our hometown, but also not a five-hour flight away, either.

3.         How do you feel about an outdoor wedding?

            a.         It’s perfect! Nothing says “wedding” more than gorgeous scenery, everyone in the gardens, surrounded by flowers.

            b.         I’d be too worried about the weather and bugs ruining the day.

            c.         I’m all for it if the place we book has an indoor ballroom we could move into if it rains.

            d.         I’ve always hated outdoor parties. Who wants to bring sunblock to a wedding and sweat through her dress?

4.         What is the worst part of a traditional wedding?

            a.         Having the same old food.

            b.         Having the same old music.

            c.         It’s expensive no matter how you plan it.

            d.         Having to go by the rules of a church or reception hall.

5.         How important is it for you to invite everyone you know to the wedding?

            a.         Very important. It wouldn’t be a wedding without all our relatives and their kids, and all our friends there.

            b.         Not too important. I’d be happy with just a small circle of close relatives and friends.

            c.         I really don’t care, as long as we get married.

6.         How do you feel about a wedding being funny, having laugh-out-loud moments?

            a.         That makes it great! Our guests would love it, so we’re going to insert some humor in the ceremony and in the emcee’s wording at the reception.

            b.         That would offend our parents and other relatives.

            c.         I think weddings should be solemn and serious—funny toasts and the like should be done at the rehearsal dinner only.

            d.         We’re all for it if any toast-makers want to be funny, but we’re not going to plan special comedy moments for our big day.

 

You’ve just discussed some basic, fundamental issues as you co-create your personalized wedding day. These questions may have even sent you off on tangents, discussing your thoughts and suggestions for your dream-wedding day, planned your way! Notice there’s no “scoring,” no “if you circled mostly B, then . . .” rules. This exercise was just to get the discussion on the table. Take notes on every inspiration that arises as you work through this section. Some ideas will work and some won’t, but that’s the creative process.