If you want something done right, do it yourself. And if you want something so wrong it’s right – do it by committee! That’s the spirit behind the collaborative photo book project. Okay, I’m kidding about the ‘so wrong’ part, but there’s a kernel of truth there. When you create something on the fly that’s a little of this, a little of that – totally ersatz and brimming with love, it’s bound to have a je ne sais quoi quality that could never have been engineered by a single author. When one person is at the helm, everything is tidy and parallel and chronological and matching. With lots of pages created by different people, you start to see the real fabric of a person’s past come into living color. And – especially when you’re about to celebrate something big – that’s a beautiful thing. After all, your collective experience is really what got you to the wonderful place you are now.
Invite friends and family members to contribute to a collaborative online Mixbook photo book, then have the book printed to give as bridesmaids’ or groomsmen’s gifts or party favors. Simply start a wedding photo book, then add contributors. Make the parameters for your book clear regarding content and completion date. Anyone who chooses to add to the book should also know who will be receiving copies of the final publication, since that will likely (hopefully!) play into what they choose to include.
For the Wedding Party Whether the members of your wedding party – both bridesmaids and groomsmen – have known each other for a decade or they’re just getting to know each other during the lead-up to your wedding, they’re all close enough friends to you that they’re deeply invested in your happiness. So it goes without saying that being a part of your wedding is a big deal. Either in addition to a wedding party gift or in lieu of a bridesmaids gift / groomsmen gift, consider creating an album of sorts that lets each member of the wedding party take two pages or more to add photos from over the years, plus quotes, stories, captions, jokes and toasts. As the bride or groom, you can certainly oversee the project if it sounds fun to you – or pass it off to the maid or matron of honor and the best man. Print your books a few weeks prior to your big day, wrap them in pretty paper and ribbon and pass them around to your cherished friends. The wedding party will love having a bit of your history together to take home with them.
For the Guests When you send around your wedding invitations, include a little insert (a Mixbook card is perfect!) that invites guests to contribute to a book that celebrates your relationship with each person coming to the wedding – and even those who can’t be there. Suggest that they go to the URL you provide, add a photo or two of themselves taken with you, plus a few words on their memories of you, their perspective on love and a happy marriage, or their well wishes for your future. Make sure that each guest knows you plan to print many copies of your album, just so they’re clear that their notes and photos won’t be private. A few weeks before the wedding, order enough copies of your book that you can give one to each guest as a party favor. Choose a beautiful hardcover with a dust jacket, or go with a 6 x 4” mini landscape photo book with a softcover for only $6.99 each. Guests will delight in having a memento that says so much about the history of both the bride and the groom. It certainly is a lot more special than a bag of Jordan almonds printed with the bride and groom’s names and tied up with a bow.
For the Family If you choose to create a special wedding photo book just for family members, create a special note to include with your formal invitation that makes it clear to your family members that they’re among a few important people invited to participate in a very special book celebrating your past – and sending you off with good wishes for the future. As above, make it clear to each person invited to contribute how many pages they can use – you can even go into your photo book template and label who gets to use what page (make sure you make it even!). Invite them to drop photos, text, letters, wishes, memories or anything else they can think of that would be special to share within your close-knit family. And since this book is intended for just a few guests, there’s no need to have it complete for your wedding day. After your big day, take the opportunity to include a few wedding photos in your album – reserve that front-cover spot! – and also a few happily-ever-after honeymoon photos at the end! Then package them up and send them as thank-yous for supporting you as a couple. Close family members will revel in having this VIP-only commemorative album that captures all that was and is special about you and your beloved finding each other.
Oh! One more piece of advice: while you’re purposefully inviting others to contribute to your book with the hopes that it will turn out to be a beautiful mess of memories – remember that ultimately you’re in charge! If someone contributes something that doesn’t make you smile from ear to ear, it’s your right to take it out. You can create a wonderful book by committee – we know! But a few edits here and there to rein in Verbose Aunt Matilda, Crazy Uncle Joe or your still-flailing friends from college? We think the committee at large would vote yes.
Happy Mixbooking! Happy collaborating! And…happily ever after!