Slideshows put a personal stamp on a wedding

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Jennifer Cocchiara wants guests at her wedding to understand how she and her fiance fell in love, so she plans to present a slideshow with photos of them growing up and growing together as a couple.

It also will include shots of the people who are important to the couple -- the people who will be viewing the photos.

"We want it to be more interactive for the guests and interactive for all of us -- it's a group celebration," said Cocchiara, of Ewing, N.J.

Slideshows have become common at weddings. Experts say they must be done properly to succeed, but are generally a fun and simple way to personalize the day and help guests get to know the couple better.

"It's an extra way to remind you, as a guest, where you are and how special it is you are there," said Anja Winikka, editor of TheKnot.com, a wedding planning Web site.

A slideshow can be included in any part of the wedding weekend -- rehearsal dinner, cocktail hour, post-wedding brunch or reception, she said. If a couple is uncomfortable stopping the festivities to show the slideshow, it can be played in the background, on a loop, for guests to view at their leisure. Some couples run a slideshow on digital photo frames near the guest book or even in the restroom area.

Winikka cautions that slideshows should be "crafted in a meaningful manner." They should be organized chronologically or by theme, and should feature photos that don't embarrass anyone and are appropriate for guests young and old. The equipment used to display them should be tested beforehand to avoid any glitches.

And, Winikka agrees, there should be photos of more people than just the bride and groom.

"It's great to see pictures of the two of you, but (guests) really are there to enjoy themselves with your friends and family, not just the two of you," she said.

Photo slideshows can be created through various Web sites, for free or a small fee, and on common computer software such as Microsoft PowerPoint. You can rent a projector or audio visual equipment to show it.

Couples may create the slideshow themselves, or let a family member or friend do it. For those who aren't good with computers, professional photographers can craft a slideshow that features artfully edited photographs and video clips. Rates can run from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Some wedding planners are against the whole idea.

Cristina Verger, owner of Cristina Verger's Tasty Thoughts, a high-end wedding planning and event design service in New York and the Hamptons, said she's never done a photo slideshow at a wedding because it "really requires everyone's attention, and you are interrupting ... You have to stop to make everyone sit down and pay attention to the slideshow, which is kind of an imposition to your guests."

If a couple feels strongly about including a slideshow, Verger said she would suggest it be shown with no sound during the cocktail hour.

Experts say slideshows should complement the wedding activities, not make everything come to a standstill and that a good time for viewing is during dinner. Slideshows also should be no more than 10 or 15 minutes.

Cocchiara said she and her fiance, Damien Glonek, 37, are horror movie fans who attended horror movie conventions as youngsters and eventually met at one of them. Their slideshow, she said, will likely include pictures of them in Halloween costumes and posing with the actors from some of their favorite scary flicks.

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