Create a slideshow that your guests actually want to watch
Are you snickering at the words you just read? If you are, I bet that you’ve been to a wedding reception where you watched cute pictures of the bride and groom accompanied by pounding rock music. Or you’ve been held captive to 30 minutes of reliving their entire life history in 500 photos or more. It doesn’t have to be like that. It shouldn’t be like that.
A wedding reception slideshow is ABOUT the bride and groom but it’s FOR the guests. The slideshow should tell the story of two separate lives coming together. When it’s done well, it will elicit emotion and allow your guests to more deeply feel their connection to you and your fiancée whether they are family and friends who have watched you grow up or they are the people with whom you have crossed paths later in life.
Organizing your show
Think about your show in chapters. Three chapters work well and will give you a show that is about 9 – 12 minutes long, depending upon the music you choose. That would give you a chapter for the bride growing up, one for the groom and one chapter for pictures of you together. But you don’t have to do it that way if that isn’t meaningful to you. You can just have one chapter for the growing up years or skip that entirely. Just make sure that each chapter has a theme that is different enough to make it interesting. You could have a chapter about a trip that you have taken, or one that shows a common interest that brought you together. You may not know what your final chapters are going to be until you start going through your photos.
You need about 25 – 35 photos per chapter. When you start going through your photos, it might be hard to condense your selection. First, disregard any photos that are blurry or of poor quality. The exception to this might be if there are very few photos to choose from. Just remember that if the audience can’t figure out what it is, it won’t mean anything to them. Second, start to pick out your favorite pictures. If you are going through an album or scrapbook just mark the pages at this point. Although your wedding guests expect to see the bride and groom in the slideshow, they are secretly on the lookout for pictures of themselves. Unless you can get all of your favorite people in a few choice group shots, limit this to the very closest family and friends otherwise the show really will turn out to be about them and not you, the couple.
After you have been through all of the photos that you want to consider, start doing some elimination. One way to do this is to consider a group of four to six photos at the same time. Which two do you like best? Then which one? Keep going until you have about 50 per chapter. Then do your scanning if you need to and get all of your selections in digital form. Copy these into folders on your computer and label the folders with chapter numbers or names. Next, rename the photos with 01, 02, etc. to indicate chronological order. You still have to eliminate about 15 photos so now look to see how your story flows and only keep the photos that best illustrate your story. Give yourself lots of time for this process and enjoy it! If you are doing this with your fiancée, or your mom or some other special person, take pleasure in this special time with them. Talk about your memories. Laugh and remember the good times. Reflect on how you made it through the difficult times. I call this photo therapy.
Selecting the music
The music is the part of the show that sets the mood and pulls people into the story by engaging their emotions. Start out reflective and light. Then go for something a little different for chapter two either retaining a reflective mood or bumping up the energy just a bit. Turn up the energy a little more to make the last chapter upbeat and bright. Don’t use music with lyrics. There are some exceptions to this rule, but lyrics are usually distracting. If you don’t want to worry about breaking copyright laws, use only royalty free music and you may need to purchase a license.
Putting the show together
It is nice to have an opening that introduces the show, sort of like an overture. Give the show a name. Start each chapter with a simple title. Have a concluding message at the end of chapter three. These can be as simple or as clever as you like but keep them short. Pan and zoom effects applied to the photos, and transitions between photos are going to make your show interesting. This is your chance to show your style but again think of your audience. Too many effects are going to take the attention away from the story.
Watching your show
Find out what kind of equipment is available at your reception venue and make sure that the show is created to work with the specifications of this equipment. If you are bringing your own equipment, make sure that you have everything you need including any cables and extension cords. TEST your show before the big day. Test it again. Notice the lighting in the room. Are you going to have to turn out the lights or shut the curtains in order for the show to be seen? Have a reliable techy friend be in charge of this to help you to think of all the details and take care of any glitches if they occur during the presentation of your show.
Your show as a keepsake
Have DVD copies made of your show for your parents, grandparents and any other close relatives. Some of your guests may want to see the show one more time and there will be people who couldn’t make it to the wedding that might enjoy seeing it so you might want to have your show available in an online gallery or video sharing channel. After the wedding, your slideshow is your keepsake. Pull it out whenever you want to recall the story of how your two separate lives came to be together.