For our 10th wedding anniversary, I wanted to create a photo book that celebrated us. I am blessed with a wonderful husband—and after a decade of marriage I can honestly say that I feel lucky in love. As lucky as I did on our wedding day. But a lot happens in ten years. I’d been thinking about doing something special for our tenth for a long time, but in all honesty, time got away from me a little bit and—in the weeks prior to our anniversary as the significance crept up on my—I found myself hit with a sudden urge to chronicle what the last decade has been about—*aside* from the two kids, countless jobs, multiple moves, and several (okay, many) gray hairs that have punctuated these ten years. I wanted to chronicle a decade of us acting like a couple. Just us. At this point in our lives, we are so many things to so many people—elementary school parents, preschool parents, mommy, daddy, boss, client, colleague, neighbor, friend, daughter, son, businessman—I wanted to gather pictures of us just being US. Here are the guiding principles I used in the creation of my book:
All years represented
Because my husband and I started dating in 1999 (even though this was a wedding anniversary, I did include the pre-wedding pictures) and got married in 2002, there were a good five years of pictures that weren’t digital. This was definitely the biggest challenge, which required some digging and some asking around. I came up with a stack of 30 or so printed pictures of us together in the early years of our relationship. Because I was pressed for time, I took them into FedEx Kinkos and had my 6-year-old son help me scan them in bulk. It went really quickly, and my son loved pushing the buttons and watching the pictures appear on the screen. It felt like a big jump-start on my project to have knocked out that many scans that fast. I then went through our entire library of digital photos, dropping every single couple photo I found into an album entitled “the decade.” Once I had all my pictures in one place, I simply started my Mixbook project (I used the White Portfolio theme) and uploaded my photos directly into the Mixbook editor. I then sorted them chronologically and began dragging and dropping them right into the page layouts that I handpicked for each spread.
Together pictures whenever possible
With essentially 13 years worth of pictures (since I included pre-wedding pics), using almost exclusively photos with both of us in the frame helped whittle down the options a lot. It would have been nearly impossible to home in on the right photos for the book without some very limiting criteria like this. In some ways I was relieved to find that there weren’t all that many photos of us together. And in some ways it was somewhat of a realization that we really should make a point to have more pictures taken of us together down the road! In any event, I was happy with the way the book came together organically just by including every couple photo I could find, which essentially represented one from every event, holiday and vacation each year. The rule of including “together pictures” only was especially helpful once the kids came into the picture. Obviously our children are our biggest source of joy and our general raison d’etre, but the goal of the book was to be about us. So the pictures of our children in this context were there for the purpose of representing what they’ve meant to us as a couple. So after the section that was all about having kids, lots of photographs went back to being just us as a couple. I even went so far as to crop other folks (not our kids) out of pictures. There are plenty of opportunities to celebrate our wonderful family and friends, but this wasn’t that moment. When I did crop other people out of our photos to make it into a couple photo, I just tried to be elegant with my crop so it didn’t look like someone was crudely lopped out of the image!
Captions with details, not mushy sentiments
I’m sharing this book with you here on Mixbook because I truly believe that making these efforts to chronicle your life in meaningful ways brings a richness to your existence that might not otherwise be fully enjoyed. And to inspire other people to do the same (especially after seeing how thrilled my husband was to receive this book—and how gratifying it was for me to flip through it with him) feels worthwhile. But this book is intended to be private—made by me for my spouse and my children. So I didn’t feel inclined to add sentimental captions like “he popped the question!” or “our wedding day!” I wanted the setting of the photographs and the emotion on our faces to be what came through. But I did notice that in combing through all these photos, it was really hard to remember WHEN the photos were taken—especially the non-digital images. So I really strained my brain and figured out places and dates to the best of my ability. These were details I was already struggling to remember, so I knew that with time I’d only become more foggy about places and dates. And I wanted our children to be able to flip through this book someday and understand what the first ten years of our marriage looked like. I also included a few notes about significant occasions or epic moments in our relationship lore, but I kept the notes short and cryptic. Those are our memories, after all. Finally, I treated the spine and the back cover of the book almost like a card—with language that both reflects on the decade and looks forward to what the next one will hold.
I hope that my notes on creating a tenth anniversary photo book as a gift for my husband inspire you to take on a similar project! I sure had fun taking a walk down memory lane—all the way back to my walk down that aisle back in 2002. Time flies!