The day you’ve been waiting for is finally here. No, not your wedding day—the day that comes a few months after your wedding day when your wedding photos finally arrive. When the highly-anticipated email from your photographer shows up in your inbox it’s like Christmas morning. But wedding photos aren’t like toys you simply open and play with or clothes you get to throw on and wear. What to do with wedding photos once you receive this precious gift is a bit less straightforward.
Obviously, you will look at them. But what do you do once you have spent hours pouring over every wedding picture? From simple and straightforward ideas to preserve them to fun and unique ways to showcase your favorites, we’ll show you how to enjoy these precious snapshots over and over again.
Before we get to the fun stuff, we have to go over a few housekeeping issues around organizing and storing your beautiful images for safekeeping. Follow these simple steps to ensure your wedding images won’t go anywhere, plus make them easier to access in a flash.
First things first: if your photographer emails you a link to an online gallery, you need to download all of the photos to your desktop. Yes, they will take up a lot of space, but they don’t have to (and shouldn’t!) live there permanently.
Online galleries don’t last forever and photographers don’t have the space on their computers or cameras to hang onto the photos from your wedding forever either. If you don’t take action and save your photos, you could lose them and be unable to get them back. This is why downloading the photography from your wedding is step one—it’s crucial.
You probably received hundreds of photos—yes, hundreds. So, the next thing you’ll want to do is organize them into folders. Most importantly, create a folder of “favorites” that contains all of your, yep, you guessed it, favorite wedding images from the day. These are the photos you will want to see over and over again and use for things such as your wedding album, gifts, holiday cards, prints in your home, etc.
In addition to a “favorites” folder, you may also want to create a “family” folder, a “friends” folder, an “us” folder, and so on to help you organize the images even more.
This is just one time when having a folder of your favorite images comes in handy, because while you probably don’t want 600 four-by-six prints, you probably do want some of your favorite images in print, whether to frame and place them around your house or just to have physical copies. We recommend printing a variety of sizes, so you have options to choose from.
The best way to keep your wedding photos safe and secure is to store them properly. Now that you have both digital and print copies of your photos, learn how to keep both versions safe.
Store your digital wedding photos on an online photo storage site with a cloud storage service, such as Google Photos or Dropbox, so you can easily access them from your phone or computer anywhere and don’t have to worry about running out of space on your devices. And since technology isn’t foolproof, it's a good idea to back up the digital copies on an external hard drive as well.
Store printed copies in a secure opaque box that will shield the prints from light, water, and other things that could damage them. A box will also help you keep all the photos in one place, so you can easily access and transfer them as you need.
If you’ve found yourself wondering what to do with wedding photos once you’ve downloaded and stored them securely, you may be surprised to find that there are quite a few options. Here are some of our favorite ways to view and enjoy your wedding photos.
A wedding album is one of the most enjoyable ways to view your wedding photos all in one place. When created well, it tells the story of your wedding day from start to finish, so you can relive it and anyone who views it can imagine it.
You can use Zola’s wedding album design generator to easily create a digital album or DIY a wedding scrapbook with printed photos. There are so many styles and layouts to choose from, so you won’t have any trouble finding an album that suits you and your spouse’s aesthetic. And once you’re done, you’ll have a beautiful keepsake that not only holds and displays your wedding photos, but also looks great on your bookshelf or coffee table.
One of the most fun aspects of receiving your long-awaited wedding photos is sharing them with your friends and family. Don’t be shy about sharing the photos from your big day on your Instagram and Facebook accounts—getting married is a big deal, so it’s OK to brag about it (within reason). Change your profile photos to reflect your new status, too. And while you’re at it, update your computer screensavers and phone backdrops too. If you love your wedding photos, why not look at them every possible chance you get?
Your parents and grandparents will want to get their hands on your wedding photos no matter what, so why not present them in a thoughtful way by giving them a framed photo or album as a gift. Or, consider a fun photo gift like a mug or a deck of cards. This goes for members of your wedding party as well. These people were a big part of your big day and a photo (featuring you and them or the entire wedding party) is a great way to say “thank you.”
Speaking of thank yous, you can also use your wedding photos to print custom cards to thank your guests for wedding and shower gifts and to send to the vendors you worked closely with. In addition to thank you cards, you can also use your favorite wedding photos for holiday cards.
Everyone needs a calendar, so why not have one with you and your new spouse’s face on it? A calendar is a great way to use your wedding photos, because you can include so many of your favorite images and see a new one each month. There are plenty of cool and beautiful (not cheesy) custom calendars that are easy to create and will give your wedding photos a great home for the year.
Hanging your wedding photos at home is one of the most obvious ways to put them to use, but can be easily overlooked, especially if you decorate before you receive them or aren’t keen on decorating the walls in the first place. From wood to acrylic, there are so many unique frames out there. Alternatively, you can have your photos on a variety of surfaces, from canvas to plexiglass.
Once your selections have arrived, you can create a gallery wall with an array of photos or choose one favorite image and hang it in a special spot. With all of these ways to show off your wedding photos, you’re sure to find one you love that commemorates your wedding day and also blends with your style and home.
A painting (or some other style of artwork) of a picture is a new and unique way couples love to remember their weddings by. If you have an affinity for art, commission an artist to sketch or paint a representation of one of your favorite wedding photos. Hang the finished product in your home, or give it as a gift to your spouse on an anniversary.
Now that you know what to do with your wedding photos, don’t wait. You’re more likely to actually make use of all of the beautiful portraits and treasured memories from your wedding day if you do so right away.