16 Ways to Use Photos in Your Celebration

Are you the sentimental types? Then incorporate your emotional sides into your festive occasion -- and create some new mementos along the way -- with these unique ideas.
by The Knot

Prewedding Parties

Shower Yourself with Pictures

Start making memories before the wedding begins with a photo theme shower. Have the shower hostess ask everyone to bring a photo-related gift. The presents might be a memory-making object like a camera, slide projector or mini cam; a memory-keeping object such as a picture frame or photo album; or a ready-made memory, such as a collage of photos of you and your friends from high school or a framed picture of you and your fiance. If most of your guests have been friends for years, you could show a slide show of your shared past during the party. Have a friend or relative on hand to take pictures of the event -- knowing you, you'll want plenty of those!

Go For Glam!

Take your bachelorette party to a photo studio, for a chic set of prints you'll keep long after the wedding. Make this last night out with the girls a full-scale frill-a-thon. If you still want to do the more traditional night out at the bars afterward, you'll be made-up and ready.

Dinner and a Movie

Put together a slide show for the rehearsal dinner. Pillage your old photo albums for great shots of you before you met your beloved, during your early days of dating each other, and now. Ask your sweetie (or his mother) for childhood photos, and borrow any other good shots from both of your friends. Get slides made of the prints from a photo shop and rent a slide projector (or use the one you got during your shower!). Make a tape of your favorite songs -- or the tunes that were playing while your were dating -- to play while you show the slides. Better yet, bring your laptop, rent a projector and do a slideshow with your digital images.

The Wedding Day

The Write Invite

Rather than ordering standard engraved invitations, why not incorporate some of your own great art? Uncover that fabulous drawing of a bride and groom you did when you were five, and do your invites on copies of it. Or unearth that letter you wrote when you were 8 years old, vowing to never kiss a boy (except your dad and brother), and reprint that along with a picture of the two of you. Or, head to an old-school black-and-white photo booth and create a fun photo strip for your save-the-date notices!

Silent Stars

If your parents took baby movies while you were growing up, you could create your own video of the two of you as toddlers. Put it on a loop and let it run silently in a corner throughout the cocktail hour and/or reception; your guests will get to know you even better, and it's a great conversation piece!

Wear Your Heart on Your Chest

You've seen those computerized photo T-shirt shops at the mall. Why not have one at your wedding? Your guests will have an instant outfit to remind them of you whenever they wear it. You can also affix these photos to coffee mugs, plaques or plates. Depending on your budget, you can get the shirts or mugs pre-printed with the date of your wedding.

Blowing Up Baby

At the wedding, have childhood photos of each of you blown up into poster-size prints and mounted on a stiff cardboard sheets or foam-core board. Ask all your guests to sign the poster before they leave the reception. After the wedding, take your posters back home and hang them on the wall next to each other. We know a couple who literally created Memory Lane. They lined the pathway leading to their ceremony site with a clothesline-full of blown-up photos through the years.

Theme Shots

Why not give your guests some instant memories too? Hire a photographer with old-fashioned costumes and a yesteryear backdrop for fun wedding photos. Guests can don the costumes and pose in an Wild West saloon, an old-fashioned malt shop, or a Victorian parlor -- it could even match the theme of your wedding. The photographer can give your guests prints to take home. You can even have individual cardboard frames printed with your names and the date of your wedding to slip 'em into. Another, simpler option is to rent or make one of those stand-up flats with the bodies of famous people or cartoon characters painted on the front. Guests stick their own heads on top of the fake bodies (or stand next to the famous figure). Have someone on hand with a Polaroid, or just let guests use their own cameras.

Sweet Stand

Why let some ready-made bride and groom stand on your cake when you can do it yourselves? Cut out a full-length pose of the two of you from a photo and mount it on thick, solid board. Slide the board into a stand, and then stick yourselves right into the frosting. Or go professional -- a lot of photo shops offer these silhouette-style, solid photos.

Picture This

Use small picture frames as escort card holders. Slide the guests' escort card into the frames, and line up all the frames the way you would ordinary escort cards. Guests will take the frame with them to find their tables, and then take the frames home. Choose silver frames or pressed paper, cardboard-backed frames.

Parental Pride

Display your parents' and grandparents' wedding photos on the entry table or the cake table, creating a sense of history at your wedding and honoring them at the same time.

Scatter Shots

Help your friends and families get to know each other through a visual history of your lives. Scatter handfuls of both your families' photos on each table (or assemble a bunch on a big table in a central location, where everyone will be able to see it), along with a card offering short explanations of the scenes. Sharing your photos can help create the feeling of a shared past, something your families will appreciate, particularly if they don't know each other well yet.

Share the Shooting

Put a few disposable cameras on each table and ask guests to take pictures of anything that seems interesting, or give them a special scanvenger hunt with images to find (bride and groom kissing, cake cutting etc). When you develop the film later, you'll be surprised by what you find.

Gift Giving

Favor Them with Frames

Give picture frames as favors. Find unique old frames at antique stores, or buy matching, elegant silver ones. If you have more eclectic taste, you're sure to find frames that suit you -- in places from Walgreen's to upscale gift shops. Or choose simple frames and decorate them yourself with ribbon or glitter or a mosaic of old, cut-up photos. In the frames? If you can dig 'em up, (and are having a small celebration) put a photo of you or your fiance with each guest in them, so every guest's favor includes a picture of them and you!

Locket Up

Give your bridesmaids silver lockets, with a photo of you both inside. Or leave them empty and let your friends chose whom to wear around their neck (and close to their heart). Get real silver, if you can afford it -- or check out antique stores for great, vintage buys. Present the lockets on pretty velvet cords.

On Being Married ...

Start an Anniversary Album

Decide now to take a photo, or roll of film, on every anniversary, and keep them all together in one anniversary album. Start with pictures of your wedding. Each year, add a shot of the two of you that depicts the changes in your lives -- your new house, your new car, your new kids. When your children get married, they'll have plenty of old photos right in the album to use for their own wedding.

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