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DIY Style Memory-Keeping

Martha Stewart Weddings, Winter 2010

It used to be that a bride's wedding keepsakes consisted solely of a framed formal portrait from the big day; a dried, faded bouquet; and her dress (likely stowed away in an attic or lonesome closet somewhere). Times have changed, and today a bride has many varied and vivid ways to preserve her memories, from digital movies to savvy websites to professional albums.

But if you're the type of bride who prides herself on doing everything a little bit differently, a mantel groaning under the weight of a gallery of wedding photos probably isn't your style. That isn't to say that you don't wish to commemorate the event -- you just want to do it in a way that reflects your personality and doesn't involve a poster-size shot of the two of you hanging in the foyer.

Good news: We've got a host of creative ideas to help you remember every last moment, from the brainstorming beginnings to the petal-strewn finish. Some of the results are modern, some more sentimental; some have their roots in scrapbooking; and some are all of the above. Whether it's a planning binder that elevates bills to high art or a shadowbox that reflects your honeymoon travels, our projects offer elegant, unexpected ways to pay tribute to your wedding -- ones you'll be proud to have on display for years to come.

Design Partner 
Arm yourself with a pretty binder and a three-hole punch, and you're halfway to creating this visual reminder of all the sweat and joy you put into planning your wedding. Punch card stock (or envelopes, even) to hold and display ephemera like swatches and ribbons; glue them on or secure with paper clips slipped into slits you've cut. Even easier: Buy protector sheets to hold bills, buttons, and other bits that went into designing your big day. Binder, $23, Michael Roger Press. Trading-card pages, $2 for 10, The Container Store. Slide holders, $6.50 for 25, BCW Supplies.

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Meet the Press 
Keep your bouquet for years without going the dusty, dried-flowers route. Snip blossoms and lay them on newsprint. Fold newsprint over to cover, and insert in a flower press (or between the pages of a phone book). Leave them for 10 to 12 days, until dry and papery. Use tweezers to transfer the flowers to card stock and arrange. Above, we've composed dusty miller leaves and hydrangeas (pansies, daisies, and violets also press well) alone, in pretty grids, and in a heart shape. Use tweezers to gently lift each blossom, and a paintbrush to apply a dot of glue to the underside, then press into place. Let dry, and frame. 8-by-10-inch "Ribba" frames, each $5, Ikea. "Nature Press" leaf and flower press, $13, Nature's Pressed Flowers.

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Image Enhancers 
You could simply frame a posed picture of you and your groom at your wedding and call it a day. Or you could capture the images from the best time of your life in a way that is arresting, alluring, and surprising. Here are three ways to an awesome photo finish.

Strips of a Lifetime 
Having a photo booth for your guests is a fun, interactive alternative to a traditional guest book. To keep that playful and conversation-starting spirit going long after the event, frame the strips and display them on your walls. Most people hide them away between the covers of an album, but why do that when a cinematic collage like this is an instant touchstone -- a reminder of who was there to witness your vows -- not to mention a visual wow. What you'll need for the project: card stock that fits your frame, along with 20 to 30 photo strips per collage. Be sure to take your time deciding what order they should go in; you could place them randomly or divide them into friends and relatives, for example. Once you've got everyone just where you want them, arrange the strips so they overlap slightly, and mount using archival double-stick tape, securing one strip at a time, starting from the left side. 11 3/4-by-34 3/4-inch "Ribba" frames, each $20, Ikea. "Sussex" sideboard, $3,550, The Conran Shop.

File Under Genius 
Every bride has some excess stationery lying around. Why not put it to good use and make this accordion file cum brag book? Simply take an envelope, fold back the flap, wet the sticky edge, and adhere it to the next envelope. Stick together as many as you'd like; then, when done, fill the pouches with photos and make a special delivery for Mom -- or anyone else who might like a few snapshots.

Mat Trick 
Here's another way to recycle your invites -- and to give a framed photo extra edge. Using a craft knife, cut out a decorative motif from your wedding stationery set and have it act as a picture mat. (If your invites feature artwork on all four edges, you could also cut out a rectangular mat.) It's a subtle, tasteful way to remember your big day. Invitations, Carrot & Stick Press.

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Blanket Statement 
This pretty quilt, made of alternating squares of silk taffeta and handkerchief linen and bearing messages from guests, can be kept on the end of the bed for now -- and passed down to future generations later. Simply array fabric squares and fabric pens at the reception for guests to write wellwishes on. Collect them postparty, and craft into a warm reminder of your big day. To get started, cut 4 1/2-inch squares of fabric (4-inch with a 1/4-inch seam allowance). Place squares so the writing all faces the same direction, creating a pattern that pleases you. Pin sides together, right sides facing, to form rows, then start sewing. Press all the seam allowances in the same direction (rather than open, as for clothing); this will make them stronger when the batting is attached. Our directions below walk you through the rest of the project. "Setaskrib" marker, $2.69, by Pebeo, from Blick Art Materials. Louis-Philippe armchair, $3,280, Ochre

1. After you've sewn the patches into rows, pin the rows together, lining them up and measuring an exact 1/4-inch seam allowance. Sew the rows of patches together, and iron the seam allowances in one direction. 

2. Lay the patchwork onto the batting, leaving 3-inch excess on every side. To avoid slippage of the layers, safety-pin each square to batting. Sew the two pieces together by "stitching in the ditch" (sewing exactly over the seams). 

3. Cut 1-inch bias strip from backing fabric; fold, and pin to quilt face, aligning raw edges. Cut backing same size as quilt; lay on top, right sides facing, and pin. Sew, leaving a 12-inch opening; turn right side out, hand-sew shut. 

4. Safety-pin layers. Using embroidery floss, hand-sew a tufting stitch across each intersection of four squares (stab needle straight through quilt, 1/8-inch to either side of intersecting point). Tie square knot, and trim ends.

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Second Acts 
Three projects bring your wedding to life long after your big day. 

Put a Ring On It 
Find renewed purpose for your ring pillow: Put it in a pretty box and presto, you've got yourself a jewelry chest -- perfect for rings and earrings (just poke them into the pillow or tie them onto the ribbon). Small keepsake box, $4, Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft Stores. Jewelry, from Twist.

Box It Up 
Display a shadowbox flat on your coffee table, and you can fill it with honeymoon ephemera like maps, shells -- even a bowl of sand. Shadowbox, $99, Pottery Barn. "Colton" table, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.

Make It Flourish 
Craft a bouquet fashioned from leftover wedding stationery for a wilt-free souvenir of your day. All you'll need is a heart punch and a 1/2-inch circle punch to make it.

Flower How-To 
Curl five hearts around a pencil to create a slight curve. Interlock them at the valley of each heart. Glue a 1/2-inch circle to the back of the flower, in the center. Poke a length of floral wire through another circle, bending it to create an L. Then glue the two circles together, sandwiching the wire. For leaves, glue two hearts, with wire between them, together and fold.

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Instant Recall 
Put away your crafting shears. With these customized keepsakes, all you'll need is your credit card. 

From a porcelain plate bearing your vows to a one-of-a-kind album you don't have to lift a finger to make, these ingenious products will take you back in a flash. 

A bespoke CD case to house your photos, videos, or songs. $14, Michael Roger Press

Get the dish -- a porcelain plate personalized with your vows. $19, Custom Sepia

Make every slice special with an engraved cake cutter. "Darling Point" Mr. and Mrs. dessert set, $60, by Kate Spade New York, from Lenox. Engraving, Academy Engraving

Give Good Stock your photos and love story -- and they'll give you back a beautiful, hand-bound, customized album. 48 pages, $995, Good Stock

Use iPhoto's template to create your own softcover wedding book. Small picture book, $11.97 for 3, Apple.

See even more DIY memorykeeping ideas.

Comments (3)

  • duchanne 17 Feb, 2011

    WOW. I copied and pasted exactly what they wrote in the description above, hit "submit", and their own description got bleeped out with ****.

    Awesome. :)

  • duchanne 17 Feb, 2011

    I don't know... an "accordion file [filtered word] brag book"? "Wet the sticky edge"? Really, they couldn't have found a more, er, tasteful way to describe that? ;)

  • bmartinez 30 Jan, 2010

    This a great idea for my wedding items. I have already created a shadowbox keepsake that includes our napkin, flowers, and picture of our honeymoon. I'm loving the envelope idea. Thanks.