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The Perfect Wedding Slideshow

UPDATE: You may also want to check out this page on choosing the best music, duration and photos for your wedding slideshows and video montages.

If you’ve been to a wedding in the 21st century, you’ve probably seen the photo slideshow, most often running in PowerPoint. In theory, this is actually a great way to add a personalized new dimension to the occasion. In practice, though, I often find them about four times too long and kind of dull.

While at Coby and Margo’s wedding this weekend in Kamloops (here they are receiving guests), I did some thinking about wedding slideshows. As usual, my thinking resulted in some bad charts (click for larger, readable version):

I arrived at some basic guidelines for building a wedding slideshow:

  • Brevity is the soul of wit. Ideally, the show shouldn’t be more than two songs, or about 8 minutes, in length.
  • Every photo should elicit an emotional response. Whether it’s the groom’s mullet in grade 8, or grandma who’s no longer with us, or the bride all kitted out during her hen night (er, bachlorette party), they should each make us laugh or tear up. They all don’t have to be gut-busting or heart-wrenching, but they shouldn’t leave you cold.
  • Keep in mind that most guests will fail to recognize most people in most of the photos.
  • Avoid artistic conceits or complicated narrative structures. From birth to present seems to work fine.
  • Don’t use too much text. Dates and places are fine, but eschew silly captions.

Coby actually did a clever thing with his slideshow. He was a little nervous about 200 people watching him dance the first dance, so he ran the show during the dance, as a sort of weapon of mass distraction.

7 Responses to “The Perfect Wedding Slideshow”

  1. donna

    Longer slideshows work well if you’re running them in the background. One wedding I went to had it on a screen off to the side, looping throughout most of the dinner reception. Worked quite well, since you could stare at it for a while if you were bored with smalltalk with people you’ve never met before and had nothing in common with but the couple. ;)

  2. Darren

    I agree, and that was something I should have mentioned. Most of the above rules only apply to the slideshow that you require your guests to look at. The off-to-the-side model is very sound, and much more flexible.

  3. Derek

    I’ve been to a lot of weddings (I play in a band that gets hired for them), and I suggest, as Donna mentioned, eschewing the mandatory slideshow altogether. Indeed, the speeches should be short too, since the best wedding sentiments don’t require long stories, and there is little more embarrassing than a breezy, long-winded uncle who _thinks_ he’s funny.

    Once the drama of the actual marriage ceremony is over, everyone generally wants to relax and be informal. Sure, have a first dance and cut the cake, toast the bride and the out-of-town visitors, and thank the families and friends. But make those short, let people mingle and eat and dance in between and after, and you’ll be surprised by how many of them think it’s just fabu-dabulous.

    A slideshow off to the side is a nice bonus. So is a band, for that matter. Happy people make a good party when left to their own devices, I think.

  4. Best slideshow wedding songs | Wedding Songs

    […] melodies, so why don’t you take a look and see if something fits for your slide. Usually, a couple’s slideshow must contain songs which have meaning for both lovers like the song of your first kiss, of the […]

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