What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you brainstorm gift ideas for your wedding party? Matching earrings wrapped up in identical packages? Cufflinks sporting his initials? Really, that’s the best you can do? These are the guys and girls who have been by your side through it all—from your dating-and-breaking-up days to your falling-in-love-and-getting-engaged days. Here’s your opportunity to give a gift that’s more about what your friends mean to you than whether they’ll all have matching accessories in your pictures. If your wedding party is closely knit, you can create a single photo book that chronicles the history of those friendships over the years. In this case, make sure you give equal representation to everyone in the wedding party, save for maybe a few extra shots for the Maid of Honor and/or the Best Man.
If you’ve acquired close friends in different places over the years and they don’t know each other particularly well, make a separate photo book for each member of the wedding party. Include lots of pictures of your adventures together, plus words and captions that pay tribute to either the direct support they’ve given you and your soon-to-be-spouse or the indirect part they’ve played in making you the person you are today.
Whichever type of book you create, punctuate your collection of photographs with other types of scans to add more dimension and meaning. Scan a fortune-cookie prediction that rang true, a handwritten note that made the difference, or a menu from a café that played a key role in your relationship.
All this deep meaning will likely pull some heartstrings—even for the dudes—so make sure you end your book on a light note. After all, laughter is sure to have played a huge role in your friendship.
Stereotypes are often a rich source of comedy, and your wedding party photo book is no exception. Play into those clichés about bridesmaid dresses and do a little montage that superimposes ugly gowns onto your BFFs. Examples of hideous bridesmaid dresses are generally not hard to find, but uglydress.com makes your task even easier. Simply upload the Ugly Dress picture right into your Mixbook, then drop a circular Mixbook sticker on top. Size it to approximate the head of the poor individual who actually had to wear the dress, then drop your friend’s photo in place. Same goes for the guys. Check out some of the getups on blacktieguide.com for some priceless backdrops to your debonair dudes. Bonus points for finding shots of your BFFs with big bad hair from back in high school to really make the most of your fake wedding party shots.
And if you’re one to look back on your long line of exes with a sense of comedy (and a huge sigh of relief), including photos of members of your wedding party making funny faces (either real or helped along by juxtaposing photos out of context) at your exes—or adding mustaches or devil-horn stickers to their faces can be a fun way to act out any latent juvenile anger. You can even end the series with a picture of the bride or groom with a halo over his or her head. Just make sure this section comprises an appropriate amount of space in the book—say half a page out of 20.
Between reminiscing about all the years that have gone into the making of your friendship and imagining wonky wedding wardrobes or musing some of your more humorous dating follies, you’ll hopefully conjure up the perfect combination of laughter and tears. What other wedding party gift will have your Greatest Girls and Best Dudes howling and shedding a tear or two in turn? Earrings or cufflinks can’t do that.