My parents have exactly 18 professional images from their wedding. Eighteen. I know them inside and out. I could describe each image to you so well that a sketch artist would be able to recreate them.
How do I know them so well? Because I’ve looked at them hundreds of times. I’ve looked at them hundreds of times because they were on display, in an album. An album that was made by a professional, filled with prints made through a professional lab and bound in a book available only to professionals. From the time I was a little girl I was fascinated by it — seeing my parents so young, my grandparents and aunts and uncles surrounding them. It was a simple leather book, with the images slipped in and preserved behind plastic but it held up surprisingly well over time. Even though I looked at it more times than I could count. Even though this May those images will turn 42 years old.
But what about couples that marry today? What if they decide to forgo an album? What if they decide it’s not worth the cost? How many images do you really think they’ll put into frames? Five? Ten? Maybe that first year married, they’ll have a bunch. But then, kids comes along. Baby pictures replace wedding pictures in those frames. They move, things change. In 40 years, how many pictures do you think their children will know by heart? How many pictures will they have even seen?
Don’t get me wrong, I think that getting the files from your day is great. Today’s couples probably get up to 1,000 images from their wedding, WAY more images than my parents did. After all, what happened to all those other images from my parents’ wedding day? They probably sat, negatives in a box, at their photographer’s studio never again to see the light of day. So I think it’s wonderful that couples get ALL their photos. But what worries me is that even with that option, it won’t mean that today’s couples will necessarily be better off. My fear is that today’s couples will actually end up with LESS than what my parent’s got in 1971.
Think about it, will the computers of 2055 even have DVD drives? USB ports? Will they even have hard drives at all? If the past is any indication, the answer is no. You know what the big technological advancement was when my parents got married? Eight-track players. What if their images were stored on the equivalent of that? How in the world would I see those images today?
But you know what never becomes obsolete? What never goes out of style? Photographs. And not just any photographs. Not photos printed at a drugstore. Professional photographs, printed by a professional lab. Those are the photos you find in an attic. It could be a 100-year-old photo, but it still looks good. Because back then, the paper photographs were printed on was high quality and developing them was an art form. There were no machines that spit out pictures onto cheap paper with inexpensive ink. I actually have to stop myself from intervening when I see people at those automated machines in a drugstore. Whatever they’re charging, it’s too much. Because those prints aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. They will fade. They will curl. They will not stand the test of time. Not even close.
Your memories are worth more than that. And your wedding images? They are worth TONS more than that. These aren’t snapshots from a vacation. They aren’t pictures from your iPhone. You cared enough about these moments to hire a professional to photograph them. Follow that through by having a professional print them. Have that professional print the pictures you put into frames and have them design you a high-quality wedding album that you will cherish for decades.
If you purchase an album through your photographer, you can see a sample in person. You can touch and feel it and make sure it is worth every penny.
I know that albums are expensive. That’s for good reason. They are custom-designed books, usually hand-stitched and hand assembled and made just for you.
But of all the things you spend money on for your wedding, your wedding photographs are the ONLY thing that will increase in value over time. As the years pass, you’ll be more and more glad that you have them. Especially, if you can experience looking through them by flipping through a gorgeous custom-designed album instead of sitting in front of your computer and clicking “next” with your mouse.
So, figure out a way to make it happen. Figure out a way to afford that album. Forgo a centerpiece. Cut back on your guest list. Opt out of the vintage car you’ll drive in for all of 20 minutes.
Don’t just do it for you. Do it for your children. Do it for your grandchildren. Because when they root around in your attic in 2075, they will have no idea what do with a USB key anymore than they would with a laser disc player.