Freebie! 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 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 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.

Newlyweds, Plan for a 5-Year Photoshoot with a Professional Photographer!

Photo by Rich Penrose,

Photo by Rich Penrose,

I can hardly believe it’s been 5 years since Joe and I got married, and as I’m preparing for our anniversary celebration, I’m thinking we should book a 5 Year Photoshoot with our professional photographer! We have gorgeous photos from our wedding day, and we have more than a few framed in our home…and as I’m looking at tons of Pinterest engagement portrait photos, I’m thinking, “We should definitely have that experience!” The beautiful location, the setting sun, the way professional photographers capture the light and snap those priceless moments out of regular things like a kiss or laughing together. There’s true artistry in professional photographers’ work, and couples who get engagement portraits love those chic and stylish photos as much as their own wedding day photos.

Many pro photographers offer 1 year anniversary photo sessions as part of their package, which is brilliant. That first year of marriage is blissfully romantic and exciting, with lots of firsts and new beginnings. A 1-year photoshoot is free of wedding nerves, and turns into a pretty splendid day!

After 5 years, you’ve been through some stuff. Your new house had some pipes break under your entire first floor (that happened to us,) illness might have happened (I had radiation for an early stage breast cancer,) parents may have passed away (I miss my Dad!) And great stuff happens, too, like hearing the garage door open and getting as excited as a puppy that your husband is home, spending holidays with family and watching your spouse grow close to your cousins, milestone birthdays call for parties, vacations get romantic, adventures abound, and there are lots of flowers and new Louboutins (thanks, honey!) Five years should be celebrated!

So let’s make the Five Year Photoshoot a Thing, so that newlyweds — and you’re still considered newlyweds at five years! — can style a whole new, dreamy photoshoot, dress up, and capture that gorgeous look of love that’s grown only stronger over the years, through everything, the good, the bad, the richer, the poorer, the sickness, the health, the forsaking all others, the new, the old, the borrowed…

We’ve got the photographer in mind, and a 5 Year Photoshoot is definitely on the horizon, along with many, many more years of married bliss.

A cute 5 Year Photoshoot idea!

A cute 5 Year Photoshoot idea!

Or THIS! Photo courtesy of

Or THIS! Photo courtesy of


What to do with all those digital images from wedding events?

Over the course of your wedding weekend, you’ll collect tons of photos on your own digital camera, friends will share the photos they took at your wedding and pre-wedding events, and you’ll have those one-time-use cameras pix from your guest tables…all stored on different disks, on photo-share websites, in shoe boxes (even pretty, bridal-designed ones.) Now, Kodak has a brilliant opportunity for you to take all of those gorgeous pictures and create a professional-quality heirloom album on the best paper possible, designed by their layout pros. Compared to this, those slip-in plastic photo sleeve albums are laughable!

We just started putting our wedding photo album together, using the easy software upload, one-click photo upload, and just a few days later, we got these great proofs:

Gorgeous, right? I love the layout and the way it gives such a pretty new life to our ‘leftover’ wedding photos, the ones our pro photographer didn’t take [actually, some of these were taken by a paparazzi who was trying to cash in on our wedding photos! We captured him and got full rights and ownership of our wedding photos!] And now, instead of sitting in a blue shoebox, they’re going to be in this album!!

Strongly consider getting Kodak’s Professional Collections for your wedding pix, ask parents to get it for you as a gift, and hey, wedding vendors, this service would be a great way to have album design pros take all of your digital images of your work and turn them into albums that you bring to bridal expos! It’s the real deal, upscale photo design for the ultimate keepsake!