Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How to Create a Wedding Slideshow

When Nick and I were planning our wedding, we decided to make a video slideshow of photos [our growing up years through our engagement] which we played prior to the ceremony in place of a prelude. We also played it at our rehearsal dinner so that our bridal party and families could see it. I had some people ask where they could watch it later, so I promised to put it on YouTube. Well, it's a little late but it's finally up!

Besides sharing the video, I also wanted to share some tips for creating a slideshow like this for your wedding. It's easy to put together, but it will take some time. You can display it whenever you want, whether after the ceremony while guests are still seated, or at the reception while guests are waiting for you to arrive. It's a great filler for down time, which can get boring at weddings.

Tips for Creating a Wedding Slideshow

1. Ask for help

One of the biggest challenges to creating a slideshow is gathering the content. Depending on how long you want your slideshow to be, you will need a lot of photos. You will also need photos you might not have access to, like your fiance's baby pictures. Don't be afraid to ask for help gathering and scanning pictures.

I got lucky when I started working on our slideshow, Nick's mom had recently scanned tons of past photos of the family and posted them on Facebook. It was easy to click through and drag-and-drop the photos I wanted to use into my computer's desktop. I had some of my own photos already scanned and saved, but not many. I had to dig through a few boxes of old pictures to find some I could use.

2. Scan multiple photos at once

Rather than scanning one photo at a time, which will take longer, put as many photos as possible on the scanning glass and take turns saving them. Your scanner should allow you to select the area of one image at a time, which you can then save to a folder.

3. Be selective 

Chances are you will find tons of cute, useable pictures and you may be tempted to scan them all. Try to limit yourself and be selective. Choose one photo for each year of your life and your fiance's life, or choose one or two photos that represent a milestone. Make sure you choose at least one photo that includes important family members and friends. You don't want your slideshow to go on forever. 

That being said, you may want to scan a few extra photos in case you need to fill out your slideshow to fit the background music you select. Be flexible with your selections, but keep in mind that your guests don't need to see 25 baby photos of you both. Look for variety.

4. Save all the photos in one place

As you're collecting photos, make sure to put them all in the same folder on your computer. Once you start making your slideshow, you won't have to go searching through multiple folders or remember where you put certain pictures. Everything will be in one place, which will save time and eliminate stress.

5. Pick music that will fit the mood

It's important to select songs that will not only fit with the theme of your wedding, but will also mesh well with the photos you are displaying. Try to find songs that will represent the process of growing up, falling in love, etc. You will want to structure your slideshow so that the pictures fit within the music, which will help determine how many photos you can display per song. A photo should only be on the screen for a matter of seconds to keep things interesting and moving.

6. Use a simple program to create your slideshow

I have a Windows7 operating system, so I used Windows Movie Maker to create my slideshow [if you have a Mac, iMovie is a simple program you can use]. It's easy to use because it involves a basic drag-and-drop creation process. [Drag-and-drop all your photos, then your music.] Once all your photos have been imported, you can select them all and then set the duration of time they will display [I set mine for 3.5 seconds each]. Then you can set animations for each photo, like zooming in or scrolling, which will make your slideshow dynamic.

If you've never used a movie-making program before, it may save stress to ask for help from someone who has. However, neither program is particularly difficult to use, so if you're a fast learner, you should be able to figure it out. I recommend using a simple program because they're easy to use and provide the features you will need and not the ones you won't. The point is to not over-complicate your slideshow, or the slideshow making process. You have a lot going on with wedding planning, you don't need to add more stress. [Also, if you want, you can recruit someone to make your slideshow for you. This may be a great project for your fiance if he's into it.]

7. Save often

I can't stress this enough. If your movie-making program crashes mid-project and you haven't saved it, you will lose everything. Save your project frequently to avoid stress and losing your work.

8. Final touches/recommendations

It's ultimately up to you when deciding how to structure your slideshow, but I have a few final recommendations. First, I recommend placing photos in chronological order. People will like "watching you grow" as opposed to seeing pictures in a random order. In our slideshow, we intertwined photos of Nick and I growing up. You can do it this way, or you could separate your photos and your fiance's, showing one of you growing up and then the other.

Second, choose alternating animations for the sake of variety and interest. Don't give every photo the exact same zooming-in effect. Change things up and try not to use the same animation back-to-back. Sometimes it gets hard to remember which animations you're selecting when you're working quickly. After editing a group of photos, go back and watch them to see how everything looks together.

Third, try to use the clearest, most focused photos you have. Sometimes you have to throw in a grainy or fuzzy pic because that's all you have. But, as often as possible, include high-resolution, well-exposed photos so that your guests can actually see them. If you need to, use a quick photo editing program to enhance your scanned photos. If your scanner doesn't have editing software, try a free, easy-to-use photo editing site like Just make sure you don't get bogged down with editing every single photo. Your pictures should be clear, not museum-quality. 

Fourth, don't be afraid to re-watch your slideshow a dozen times to make sure everything is just right. Get input from your fiance or a couple of friends before you finish. And, add a finishing touch like a fade in at the beginning and a fade out at the end.

Finally, publish and save your slideshow to the proper device. It's important to know if your slideshow needs to be burned to a DVD, saved on a flash drive, or published online. Make sure you know what equipment will be used when the slideshow is displayed. If you have a tech guy running everything, check with him on what is required. When in doubt, save a couple of different ways.

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