Create your own wedding album to treasure

Making your own wedding photo album allows you to relive the occasion while expressing your creativity. Find out how with our expert tips.
A selection of wedding prints laid out on a table, with a hand holding up a black and white image of the two grooms holding hands and laughing.

A great wedding album tells the story of a couple's once-in-a-lifetime day together, preserving and displaying treasured memories for generations to come. However, ordering a wedding album created by a professional may put pressure on your already-stretched wedding budget, and doing so also risks detaching the couple from what can be an incredible chance to reminisce about their special day. So why not do it yourself?

Hannah Millard, aka Camera Hannah, has been a full-time wedding photographer since 2010 and has a passion for capturing the emotion of magical moments as they unfold. Internationally renowned, she has won a string of awards for her work, which has taken her from her home in Derbyshire, England, to exotic locations around the world. She is also a photography teacher, offering full-day workshops and online and in-person mentoring sessions, as well as a crafting enthusiast and self-proclaimed "massive geek". Here, Hannah shares her tips for couples looking to create their own truly unique wedding album.

1. Gather all your image choices

A person holding a homemade wedding album filled with photos of the reception. Glittering gold letters spelling PARTY TIME have been stuck at the top.

"Crafting albums with prints you make yourself can be very satisfying," says award-winning wedding photographer Hannah Millard. "There's also the option of creating special, personalised albums as gifts for family and friends."

The obvious place to start is by gathering all of the images you have of your special day together – both the official ones, taken by your chosen pro photographer, and the non-official ones, snapped by your family and friends.

"Most wedding photographers are happy to supply high-resolution digital images as part of the package," says Hannah. "These are ideal for creating your own photo prints and should be of very high quality. I use a Canon EOS R6 and my go-to lenses for weddings are the Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM, Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM and Canon EF 100 f/2.8L Macro IS USM, via the excellent Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R, so I know the image quality will be fabulous.

"I'm also about to buy a Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM. Its wide-angle zoom range and bright aperture gives great versatility for group shots and indoor wedding photography."

As most, if not all, of your collated images will be in digital format, you could make your wedding album using an online photobook service, where you upload your favourite shots and the company does the printing and packaging for you. This is a great option for those who'd like more say but are short on time. Alternatively, for around the same expense, you can do the printing and creating yourself.

2. Make a date with your partner

A screenshot of an image editing program, showing a selection of colour and black and white photographs from a wedding day.

Choosing your favourite wedding pictures for the album can be a lovely way to think back to your big day and relive special memories.

A person lays out wedding prints of different sizes on a table, holding two up to examine them closer.

Once you've narrowed down your favourite images from the digital files, print them out. This will help you refine your selection.

"I think it's really important for a couple to go through all their wedding images together," says Hannah. "It's like a date night, when you can share some quality time reliving the wedding. Going over the photos can also be a great bonding experience, as you share your recollections of the day. As you talk it through, you'll discover not only which are your favourite shots, but which photos mean the most to your partner and why. It's not just about the pictures themselves but the emotions that lie behind them."

3. Start with the must-haves

A woman adds a decorative corner to a montage of pictures in a homemade wedding album.

"Wedding receptions are often a riot of colour, as well as having different light sources of varying colour temperatures. Creating black and white prints can strip away overly colourful distractions and put all of the focus on the emotion of the moment," says Hannah. "But if you're combining several colour and monochrome images on the same page, it's best to avoid having just one of either type."

It can be harder deciding what to leave out than what to put in when you're creating a wedding album.

"Try starting with the 'must-have' shots," advises Hannah. "Every wedding is a story that has key moments throughout the day, like exchanging rings, the first kiss, and the signing of the register. Later on at the reception, there's throwing the bouquet and the first dance. These are all iconic moments that you'll want to include as part of the storytelling process. Equally important are pictures that really speak to you and pull you back into a particular moment, for whatever reason."

4. Give your favourite images plenty of space

A pair of hands arrange an image of two grooms embracing on the first page of a homemade wedding album.

Choose a balance of larger and smaller prints for your album, and be sure to leave white space around them so the pages don't feel too crowded. Smaller images could even be those shot on instant camera printers, such as the Canon Zoemini S2, taken on the day by your guests. When it comes to aesthetics, it's also important to give a few of your most favoured images room to breathe.

"From the must-have shots, it's good to pick three or four hero images," advises Hannah. "These will be your absolute favourites, and you'll want to give them space in the album. It's a common mistake to make pages look visually crowded with too many images fighting for attention. Devoting whole pages to hero shots creates a better mix and a sense of balance. Good hero shots will have strong visual impact, great composition and often capture a moment when everything comes together perfectly.

"The flip side is that some images work better with other smaller pictures around them," continues Hannah, "like candid shots of guests at the reception and people showing off their moves on the dance floor."

5. Don't forget the establishing shots

A pair of hands holds up a selection of images from a wedding day including one of the two grooms embracing and a three-tier wedding cake.

To ensure your wedding album tells the full story of your day, make sure to include establishing shots of the various locations, as well as images of your chosen cake, flowers, etc. These are easily forgotten elements that you'll love being reminded of in years to come.

"I shoot a lot of video at weddings, and similar rules apply to creating an album from still images," says Hannah. "Start off with some 'establishing shots' to give context. Pictures showing the location of the ceremony will set the scene and the same applies further on for the reception, if it's at a different venue. They might not be your favourite shots but, if you leave them out, you risk losing that sense of occasion. It's also good to flesh things out by adding detail. Shots of things like the flowers, on-the-day stationery and table decorations work well, and give a visual flow if you're going from one location to another."

6. Make prints of your chosen selection

A woman stands in front of a Canon PIXMA printer, examining photos that have just been printed.

The Canon PIXMA TS7440 printer is the perfect match for newlyweds looking to make a DIY wedding album. It makes short work of printing, outputting full-colour 6x4-inch borderless photo prints in as little as 43 seconds.

Even if you decide to have your album made professionally, it still helps to mock up a design of how you'd like your album to look and what pictures you'll use beforehand by following all of the steps above. Another key part in knowing how the album will turn out, regardless of who assembles the final product, is seeing a physical representation.

"Viewing images on a phone or computer screen doesn't give you the look and feel of how a wedding album will turn out. Whether you're going to have your album professionally printed or craft your own, it's much better to make physical photo prints to play around with," suggests Hannah. "I've been using a Canon PIXMA TS7440 printer and am really impressed with how the whole process is so quick and easy, and that the quality of photo prints is so good. You get the option of creating bordered or borderless prints, both of which can work well. I find borderless is usually best if I'm putting the prints on white pages, whereas, for coloured or textured pages, a white border around photo prints gives the appearance of an attractive frame."

7. Try a range of photo papers to see which you like best

A selection of wedding prints and packs of Canon printer papers laid on a table.

When it comes to choosing the paper for your wedding prints, Hannah says: " Glossy, semi-gloss, luster and matte photo papers have a different look and feel, so it pays to try different options. For the best possible print quality, it's also really important to change the printer settings every time, to match whatever paper you're using."

When printing images for your album, Hannah suggests testing out different photo papers to see which you prefer.

"I love the way I can try different photo papers when making my own prints," she says. "Glossy, semi-gloss, luster and matte photo papers are all available in a wide range of different sizes, so you can experiment and find what finish you like best. Semi-gloss is my favourite, which gives really beautiful, professional-looking results without too much shine. Glossy photo paper also works well, especially for pages that are loaded with lots of different, very colourful images, as the contrast and saturation really come through. Matte paper gives a more subtle, muted look.

"The beauty of making the prints yourself is that you can mix and match papers to suit individual images or pages."

8. Create a storyboard to check placement

A selection of wedding prints lie in front of an open laptop, while behind them a woman examines a photo which has just come off the printer.

"When you're working out the size and placement of photos for your album, start with small prints and work your way up, printing bigger copies if and when necessary," says Hannah. "It’ll save time and money."

"To give pace to your wedding album and ensure that it tells the whole story, it's good to create a kind of movie director's storyboard," explains Hannah. "Start with the hero and must-have shots, then add the establishing shots and set all the prints out in a timeline. It gives you an easy visual reference to the complete story, and makes it obvious if there are any gaps in the narrative that need to be filled. It'll also show you if there's a lack of balance, for example with too many shots of the speeches, or too few candid shots of the guests."

9. Go pro with printing

A screengrab showing a portrait image being paired with a burnt orange text box displaying the words: Best. Day. Ever.

"When the paper size doesn't match the aspect ratio of the image, pay careful attention to how it's cropped. With the Canon Easy-PhotoPrint Editor, you can drag the image in the print preview for the best composition," says Hannah.

A person looking at wedding images on a laptop, while also holding a photograph from the same wedding in their hand. On the desk around the laptop are several more prints.

"The Auto Photo Fix tool in the Canon Easy-PhotoPrint Editor can improve print quality," says Hannah. "I'd suggest printing two versions, with and without a correction, so you can see which you prefer. For images that have been carefully edited and supplied by professional wedding photographers, it's usually best to leave the correction switched off."

"I really like the Canon Easy-PhotoPrint Editor," enthuses Hannah. "When I'm planning out pages, I'll use it for printing multiple images on, say, a single page of 10x8-inch or A4 photo paper, which I can then stick directly onto the page of a scrapbook. This really helps when you're working out the layout of individual pages and how they work with facing pages.

"Printing multiple smaller images on a single page also saves the time and effort of trying to align them precisely when sticking them into the book," she continues. "The Canon Easy-PhotoPrint Editor app and software have a variety of ready-made templates you can choose from. You can then go on to replicate the layouts in the design tools of an online photo printing company, to create your final wedding album. And the photos that you print won't ever be wasted. You might want to hang onto them yourself or give them to family and friends as gifts, maybe popping them in a frame for good measure."

10. Get creative for added impact

A pair of hands arranges a page with four scene-setting images, opposite a page with two larger photos of the wedding set-up.

"For sticking photo prints into a scrapbook, washi or craft tape works well, or there's a wide range of plain and decorative adhesive 'photo corners' to choose from," says Hannah. "Another alternative is to use double-sided sticky tape for a really clean look. When experimenting with layouts, masking tape gives a temporary fix and you can peel it off again without damaging your prints."

"I think there's a lot to be said for crafting your own wedding album with prints you make at home," concludes Hannah. "It works best to buy a fairly large-format craft book, for example with 12x12-inch pages, which gives you the flexibility to use a mix of large and small images. The DIY approach is brilliant for adding different elements to a wedding album, like invitation cards, special messages and handwritten notes, the order of service, pressed flowers and other mementos.

"Ultimately, you can hand-craft a truly bespoke wedding album yourself, with top-quality prints that will last long enough to hand down to future generations. It's a really fun thing to do and is amazingly inexpensive, compared with just about everything else involved in a wedding."

Written by Matthew Richards

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