Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Seeking: A NON-Velvet Wedding Album

Hi esb,

I just passed my two year anniversary and am finally looking at putting together an album of the day. But I'm having the hardest time finding a rad album and hope you might be able to recommend some.

I don't want overpriced velvet (or any velvet), faux leather or shiny polyester fabric. And I don't want all my photos reprinted into a coffee table book either.

The other question I have is, is it better to get an album where I buy the stickers and stick them onto the paper which is covered with that soft white paper, or to get an album where the photos sit behind plastic?

Side story - I was in a stationery shop and asked the clerk about photo albums and when she asked "for what?", I reluctantly admitted it was for wedding photos. She took me to the shelf of gaudy, embellished, shiny, white albums, just the kind of albums I don't want. She then noticed I was wearing a single ring (that has diamonds) on my ring finger and exclaims "oh you're getting married!!!!!! How long have you been engaged?" and I said "No, I am married already" so she snaps back "How am I mean't to know you're already married if you only wear one ring!?" W-T-F right!? I left the shop pretty soon after that.


Um. You do realize I'm the lady who's still "storing" her wedding polaroids in the refrigerator three years later?

I emailed my lady Christina Richards to ask if she had any advice for us. Here's her reply:

I wish I could be more help to you here. I've been looking for affordable diy albums since I got married but without much luck.

I actually just ordered a sample of that velvet book. The 10x10 is $150 at Jenni Bick and it's made in the usa with archival materials so I don't think the price is crazy (just my 2 cents).

Since you're not into the look of it anyway what about a book cloth or paper covered album?

Rag and Bone and Kolo both make paper page (you mount the prints) and photo-sleeve versions.

Mounting the prints in a paper page album can be a little tricky, you will need to have a lot of patience to get those prints in there perfectly. Whatever album you end up with it's best to use prints from a professional lab and make sure the album and adhesives are archival.

Maybe some of the readers have found better resources, I would love to hear more suggestions.

Editor's Note: I kind of don't hate the velvet album. I kind of like it a lot more than the Rag + Bone with the stupid flowered diaper-bag fabric (just my 2 cents).


  1. Depending on how needy you are about your wedding photographs (are you planning to scrapbook them all with captions, or is your backup plan similar to esb's storage solution?), something like this might be cool:

    You can get sleeves for recipe cards, I think, so your pictures would be protected. And it's a nicely casual approach to wedding pictures, I think. I might do this myself, if we ever get around to bothering with printing wedding pictures.

    Even better? Find a vintage one.

  2. http://www.etsy.com/listing/77758477/old-drawer?ref=sr_gallery_5&ga_search_submit=&ga_search_query=recipe+box&ga_page=2&ga_search_type=vintage&ga_facet=vintage

    This? Killer.

  3. Not sure how tricky these would be with mounting/printing etc, but we'd found these a while back and we think they're pretty cool:


  4. ps- I kind of LOVE those vintage velvet ones.

  5. We just put together photo albums for our parents (but have yet to make ours). The albums we found on etsy were great:

    Shipping took a little while, but the albums were really well made. It took approximately forever to choose and print the pictures, get the layout right, and stick all the photos in there with little photo corners, but they turned out well and our parents were so happy to have physical photo albums in their hands.

    Whether we'll do all of that photo cornering for our (probably bigger) album someday remains to be seen...

  6. Vintage albums are so much more fun, just searching Etsy or Ebay for "vintage guest book/album" will come up with so many great finds, from the gorgeous to the hilarious.A lot of them have non-attached binding so you could refill it with archival paper. I was going to suggest this one-
    but sorry, I ended up getting it for myself, as it basically describes my recent wedding.

  7. that green velvet one is gorgeous - it LOOKS vintage.

  8. ...and expensive. Will actually read the post next time.

  9. We used Molly West albums for our parents. Some of the designs are very wedding-y and some are diaper bag-y, but we found a really nice blue and brown silk-covered ones. The quality is very good.

  10. Yeah, I like the Velvet Raptor ones (which is the link Christina shared).

    I've always thought Kolo albums were nice and simple: http://www.jennibick.com/kolo-photo-albums.html

    What about a glam metallic one? http://www.jennibick.com/pinetti-metallic-lizard-embossed-leather-photo-album.html

    I'll stop posting links from the site Christina already shared.

  11. Really? Veils are snooozeville, but wedding albums are the talk of the town?

    sorry ESB. Dull dull dull.

  12. I'm a huge fan of the simplicity of Kolo. I bought and used vintage ones before, but they tend to be so fragile, I get nervous about them safely housing a gazillion dollars worth of photos.

    If you want gorgeous, expensive leather ones, I recommend Epica (http://www.epica.com/).

  13. Um, anon... if you're not interested in how to find cool wedding stuff WHY ARE YOU READING THE RADDEST WEDDING BLOG I KNOW?

    The veil issue has been done to death. Albums not so much, and acutally, I'm interested.

    *scuttles off to see links*

  14. http://weheartit.com/entry/9384488

    urban outfitters album, out of stock until next month, but this is the one i am getting.

  15. I've been in love with a particular album from Red Otter for quite some time, I just haven't executed the purchase yet. Not this one (bc duh, why would I encourage someone to buy the album I'm wanting?) but close: http://etsy.me/oh9QR3

  16. I'm an archivist, so I preserve photos (and other things) for a living- a couple of points- please please, no "sticky" photo albums where the photos are behind plastic, that glue will damage your photos. Christina is very right, buy an album with archival quality paper and mount the photos in yourself, preferably with those little photo corners so that you don't actually apply anything glue-y to the photographs themselves. There is no such thing as "archival quality" glue even if it is advertised as such. "Archival quality" in terms of paper generally means acid-free, so your photos won't rot away (think of old newspapers- very acidic paper).

    The recipe box suggestions are cute but unfortunately not sound for the long term, even if your photos are in envelopes. Wooden boxes are acidic and may contain varnish that will off-gas and harm your photos, plastic boxes will similarly off-gas. This is all assuming you wish your wedding photos to out-live you!

  17. Get on Etsy, there are some beautiful ahndmade things on there that are great value.

    Also Paperchase is a UK based shop that may well deliver to the US they have great photo albums, in fact all of mine are from there

  18. If you're looking for something simple, maybe look at these photographer's portfolios from Pina Zangaro. http://www.pinazangaro.com/ You can get a myriad of sizes, and different cover options. (aluminum, bamboo, powder-coated metal, press-board etc.)

  19. Leather Craftsmen makes a beautiful, updated version of the classic standard WASP wedding album (green Italian leather, tiny initials embossed in gold on the cover, etc.) if you're into that. They have a vast array of options, but I'd start with the 800 matted album series because it's so customizable. leathercraftsmen.net

    * full disclosure, three+ years and we *still* haven't made our wedding album.
    ** and I only wear a teeny-tiny thin-as-angel-hair platinum band, so that stationery wench can stuff it;)

  20. I loved to do the whole thing with the corners and beautiful albums/paper when I was studying abroad in college and had nothing else to do, but it really takes forever, at least if you're a perfectionist about it (which you pretty much have to be if you don't want all the pictures to fall out).

    Since then, I've loved Raika albums because the leather's nice, they come in different sizes/layouts/colors/textures, and you can add pages if necessary.


  21. I have a question for y'all expert people. I bought a nice journal (it looks like it's for writing) and I was planning on storing my wedding photos there. Just bye the soft white paper, some self-adhesive corners and voila.
    But, why are there *specialized* journals for this task? Isn't it every paper fine for putting photos on top of them?

  22. @s - Could I ask you clarify something for me? 3M makes adhesives for mounting photos, they are a kind of double sided tape. 3M says they are acid free, permanent, and photo safe. It sounds like you would not recommend using this, could you just explain why that is. Is there any product (besides photo corners and dry mounting) that you could suggest? Thank you!

    @Anon(asking about using a journal for photos)
    Some papers contain acid and that can damage photos over time. If you are going to spend lots of money and time printing photos and mounting them I would try to find something that says the paper is archival or acid free.

  23. Hi, an archivist here. I would hate hate hate to put any kind of adhesive on a photo, whether it claims to be acid-free or not. Go with professional archivist level stuff -- there's a whole album kit here: http://www.gaylord.com/adblock.asp?abid=1185 or just buy some clear photo sleeves from Gaylord or Talas or Light Impressions and put them in a fancy binder of your choosing (just make sure they are mylar [polyester] or pure polypropylene with no PVC). You can put archival paper in the clear sleeves to make it look nicer.

    I suppose since everyone's doing prints of digital photos these days it doesn't matter as much, but might as well do it right...

  24. leave it to portland to come up with a solution! lol. they do awsome custom work too. like a bamboo cover with laser etched names. http://hsspdx.com/

  25. Glad to hear another archivist chime in!

    @Christina, I really wouldn't recommend anything other than photo corners for displaying photos. Like I said, no such thing as "archival quality" glue, I don't care what 3M says! I know that there are artificial aging tests which they may or may not have undertaken, but generally glue can seep through the photo paper and damage the image, and/or leave the photo paper in a more fragile state over the long term. If you want to be super thorough, any photo product you use should pass the Photographic Activity Test:


    Archival supply companies will be will to tell you if their products have passed this test or not.

    @Anon, asking about your journal paper, if you're dead set on using a specific journal and you're not sure if it is acid free, you can get a pH pen to test it:


    If anyone would like me and the other anonymous archivist to lecture you about preserving photos in digital format, I'm sure we could both oblige!

  26. It's been five years and I still have not put together my wedding album -- thanks to the commenters and this post I may actually get this finished this year!

  27. Hi all. Question asker here.

    You are all SO much help. Thanks for all the archival help, seriously. I can tell this is going to take a fair amount of time to figure out.

    So far I'm digging the recommendations from Dominique and Emily Elizabeth. Love the rawness of them.

    And I absolutely agree with esb. Those Rag & Bone ones are fugly. Sorry :(

    Last thing: anti velvet is a personal preference to do with hating the texture of velvet. Hating hating hating.