My memory keeping framework, Part 2

Now that I’ve done Part 1 of my memory keeping framework, I’m hoping Part 2 will be a lot easier to write! Thanks for all your kind words in response to that post too – I’m glad that you guys found it inspiring and helpful. So last time, I wrote about how I’ve documented, organised and stored all my photos and memorabilia from childhood till my post-university/pre-Rick years. This time, I’m going to share with you how I’ve documented and organised all our photos and memorabilia as a couple.

Our memoir books

I shared this on the blog with you last week: our R&R memoir books. Basically, these are a record of our personal journey as a couple, and also of all the milestones and important events that we celebrate and continue to celebrate together.

The items that are included in these memoir books are:

  • our notes and letters to each other
  • head shots of us which we like to take ourselves
  • photos from our dates and weekend aways by ourselves as a couple
  • photos of my pregnancies
  • photos from important events in our life together, including our birthdays, the birth of our children, their subsequent birthdays, Cameron’s anniversaries and our family holidays.

These memoir books are only updated once a year, and I deliberately choose to only include a handful of photos from every event or special occasion. The aim is not to document all the every day details like I do with our Project Life album, but to establish more of a bird’s eye view of our life together whilst also providing a place for me to include all our notes, letters and cards to each other and to highlight the dates and trips we go on as a couple (even more precious nowadays since they’re so rare). These books are also a great reason for me to remember to take photos of just Rick and myself (sans children), which is something that increasingly slips my mind these days.

These R&R memoir books are precious to me because they are about us: Rick and Ronnie. These scrapbooks celebrate us as a couple, because as I wrote in my other post, at the end of the day, our relationship/marriage comes first – even before our family. Yes, we are father and mother to Cameron, Angus, Peter, James and Edward, but even more importantly, we are husband and wife to each other.

Our engagement/pre-wedding album

Somehow, we managed to take only a handful of photos at our engagement party nine years ago, so consumed we must’ve been with excitement at the prospect of marrying each other! Because of this, I was able to include all the photos as well as all the cards that we received from our family and friends into this one album by Coral Coast. I chose a black leather look dry mount album, as I liked the classic look and also because I knew that I would probably choose similar albums for our wedding photos. For the cover, I simply chose a photo of the engagement cake which Rick’s mum had prepared for us.

As there were still many empty pages leftover after I’d stuck in everything from the engagement party, I decided that I would also include all the photos and memorabilia from my hens party, my kitchen tea, Rick’s bucks and our wedding eve (where traditionally, in Chinese culture, the father of the bride combs his daughter’s hair surrounded by family and friends). This included all the camera photos, Polaroid photos, e-invites that were sent out, and the messages my family and friends wrote for me at my hens and kitchen tea. Just flipping through the album now reminds me of all the fun and festivity of those six months.

Our wedding albums

These were albums that I put together – separate from the official one that we received from our photographer, Matt Lee. The package that we’d chosen included a hard copy proof of all the photos that he took on the day of our wedding, so all I had to do was go through, choose my favourite ones and stick them down into a set of dry mount albums. I did this in chronological order (naturally) and ended up filling four albums with his beautiful photos. I did no captioning whatsoever in the albums, as I wanted to keep it as minimalist as possible. I still love the leather look of the albums that I chose, and I’m glad I went with black instead of any other colour as they look timeless to me. Being able to customise the cover with a photo was also wonderful, as it meant you could see from a glance which part of the wedding day a particular album was about.

Apart from the professional photographer, I had two more friends who took photos for us on the day, and so I filled two additional albums with their photos. Because we also had a Chinese banquet the day after our wedding (organised by my wonderful parents), I did one more album just for those photos. I made sure that I converted all the cover photos to black and white, to match the other four albums.

Our wedding scrapbook

I’d chosen this scrapbook from Coral Coast before the wedding. It came pre-loaded with white acid-free paper that you could easily remove from the page pockets. So on the day of the wedding, we laid these out on a table near the church entrance, and guests were asked to sign their names and leave a message as they arrived. This meant that after the wedding, I was able to simply slip ‘the guestbook’ (so to speak) back into the sleeves of the scrapbook. Worked a treat!

In addition, I used the other pages of the scrapbook to store all our other memorabilia from the wedding: our wedding invitation, our order of service, the lunch reception menu, our place cards, our tea ceremony invite, a copy of all the speeches from the ceremony, reception and banquet, all the red packets that we’d received from family and friends, the guestbook pages that my parents had organised for our Chinese banquet and a printout of our gift registry. Amongst all the memorabilia, I included several of my favourite shots from the wedding as a sort of ‘divider’ to indicate the different parts of the wedding – the ceremony, the reception, the Chinese tea ceremony, the banquet, etc.

Our wedding cards

As for all our wedding cards, there were so many of them there was no way I was going to fit them into the scrapbook. I decided I liked how I stuck all our engagment cards into the dry mount album so I bought the same one and filled with it all the cards we received for our wedding. For the cover, I simply chose a photo of my wedding bouquet. I liked the end result of having all our wedding photos and all our wedding memorabilia on the same shelf, showcased in albums that looked similar to each other (you know how I like my sets!).

Our photo albums

When Rick and I met, he’d just purchased a digital Olympus point and shoot camera, which subsequently became our camera for many years. It was my first taste of digital photography and I remember how amazing it was to be able to pick and choose which photos to process (something I now take for granted). Even so, i was not shy about getting our photos printed!

For our photo albums, I chose these blue Buckram albums by Coral Coast (the same as the ones that hold my high school photos, just a different colour) and over the years, I managed to fill up eight of these albums (each holding 300 photos). My system was simple enough: photos were slipped in chronologically and for captioning, I simply wrote the date and name of the event or occasion. Remember, this was back in the day when I had no concept of taking photos of the everyday, so pretty much all our photos were event-based. For each of the album covers, I would choose my favourite ‘head shot’ photo of us from within that album. These eight albums cover the period from the moment we started dating till the birth of Angus.

Our photo books

A year and a half ago, I decided I would put together a photo book to document our journey together up until the birth of Angus (at which point I knew I would start making photo books for the family). Obviously there would be overlap with our other albums, but the point of the photo book would be to showcase some of our best photos from our years together. it wasn’t difficult to choose our favourite photos, and the process of designing the photo books probably only took me a few days. I ended up with two volumes, which I was happy with. Funnily enough, I still haven’t printed the books yet, but I’m planning to do so this year. When I do, I’ll be sure to share them here with you.

Our box of memorabilia

This is a box of all the letters, notes and cards that we’ve received from other people from the time we got together till the present (remember that the material we’ve written to each other goes in our memoir books). When I was going through the major cull of memorabilia before we last moved, I left no stone unturned. I think we had at least two or three boxes of stuff that I’d collected since we got together but by the end of the purging, I’d gotten it down to this one box. Basically I decided that I wasn’t going to keep any invitations to weddings, parties, etc or any orders of services (the latter took up a lot of room). In a way, those were other people’s memories – not ours. Instead, I decided that we would only keep personal letters, notes and cards that were addressed specifically to us both or either one of us (this included birthday cards, thank you cards and Christmas cards). Once I’d reduced the amount of memorabilia based on this criteria, I then sorted everything out by year, and grouped each yearly bundle with a Kraft envelope, a handwritten label and an elastic band where needed. I absolutely love this system I set up because it means I know exactly what I need to keep going forward and what I can throw out. Everything that’s to be kept gets put into a box in my studio and at the end of each year, I’ll bundle it all together and add it to this big box of memorabilia. (I’ll talk about our children’s memorabilia in the next part of this series.)

* * *

I would love to hear how you organise and store your photos and keepsakes as a couple, if that’s something that you do.

And, even though I didn’t time this post deliberately for today, Happy Valentine’s Day!

26 comments

Caroline February 14, 2013 at 11:18 am

We have a book that we write memories in every time we go away or do something interesting – rather than write long sentences, we often choose words or headings that remind us of that time & stick in tickets, postcards, photos etc.

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Pink Ronnie February 14, 2013 at 11:30 pm

Hi Caroline,
I’m the same with journalling actually – I tend to write less rather than more. Often an image or a ticket brings back all the memories all by itself…
Ronnie xo

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Mary February 14, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Happy Valentine’s to you!

Wonderful post! I am amazed at what you have kept over the years and how beautifully you’ve organized it.

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Pink Ronnie February 14, 2013 at 11:30 pm

Thanks Mary! Hope yours is a beautiful day.
Ronnie xo

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Chloe Moon February 14, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Happy valentine’s day!! I need to get organized with my memory keeping. I have photoboxes for each year I’ve been dumping things into…it’s crazy madness and I need to take your much appreciated advice!! =)

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Pink Ronnie February 14, 2013 at 11:32 pm

Photo boxes by year is a great start, Chloe!
Ronnie xo

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Latrina February 14, 2013 at 7:27 pm

You should host a Memory Keeping party, Ronnie. Not kidding! Soo many people would benefit from it. :)

I am so glad I read this today because I always find myself going through my husband and I’s “boxes” on Valentine’s Day.. so hopefully while I do so, I can organize them a bit while I reminisce!

I especially like how you organized all of your cards, too. Right now I have boxes (galore) that are labeled “Notes” — and some as “Pictures” — but currently not by year, so I have things from 2000 mixed in with letters from 2010! I love that you organized everything by year, I will have to do this. :)

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Pink Ronnie February 14, 2013 at 11:33 pm

That’s so sweet Latrina – enjoy your trips down memory lane today.
Happy Valentine’s Day to the two of you! :)
Ronnie xo
p.s. If you ever come to Sydney, I will have to host a MK party in your honour! :)

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libbywilko February 15, 2013 at 3:11 am

Great to see how you organise your memory keeping !

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Pink Ronnie February 17, 2013 at 11:34 pm

Pleasure, Libby!
Ronnie xo

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Yin February 15, 2013 at 6:26 am

Happy Valentines’ Day, Ronnie!
I’m so inspired and excited by the idea of your R&R memoirs book. Not sure how I missed that post last week, I love, love , love the idea of a Story of us album, the way you have conceptualised it! After nineteen years of marriage, thirty if you count from the year we met as teenagers (yes we have photos from that era!), I have countless haphazard albums and letters and stuff that dissipated into family albums once the children came along. I am thinking how I will start this for ourselves already! You are so right that our journeys as a couple, our love story though our lives should have it’s own story told through it’s own special place.

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Pink Ronnie February 15, 2013 at 11:20 pm

Hi Yin,
You could definitely put one together for you and your husband! It’s never too late to create something precious like that. :)
Ronnie xo

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BrigittaR February 15, 2013 at 10:57 am

You put me to shame Ronnie. To shame.

“I would love to hear how you organise and store your photos and keepsakes as a couple, if that’s something that you do.”

my reply: bahhahahahaha organise? no.

;)

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Pink Ronnie February 15, 2013 at 11:20 pm

LOL! I totally get it’s not everyone’s cup of tea… :)
Ronnie xo

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Marie February 15, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Wow, this is amazing! I really MUST learn that from you!!! On our side, everything is in boxes (but it’s not organized AT ALL… let’s say it’s even a terrible mess (sorry…)). But the older I get, the more I feel urged to put everything in order and/or in albums. Project Life is really a good start but I have so much behind!! OK, work on it Marie, work on it and take example on Ronnie!!! Thanks for sharing all this. xoxo

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Pink Ronnie February 15, 2013 at 11:30 pm

You can definitely do it Marie! Just figure out a ‘framework’ for yourself then tackle it one step at a time. Thanks for all your sweet words.
Ronnie xo

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Fiona February 16, 2013 at 9:55 am

I love this! I haven’t ever thought of making a series of albums of our relationship together, but I think I’d like to give it a shot. Our memorabilia is, if memory serves correctly, currently in a plastic bag because I “needed” the box it was in for something else. Better correct that pronto. I have made a few mini albums of trips away and our first and fifth wedding anniversaries. I was planning something similar for our tenth this November, but maybe that will be a set of albums of us instead. Thanks for the inspiration! Hugs, Fiona xoxo P.S. I just love hearing about your Chinese traditions, too! So cool xoxo

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Pink Ronnie February 17, 2013 at 11:35 pm

Happy to hear it’s been inspiring Fi, would love to see what you end up doing.
Ronnie xo

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Donna R. February 17, 2013 at 10:37 pm

This post was so timely. I just decided to do “something” with all the photos that our photographer took at our wedding. While I love that album, it’s not something I take out often to look at. I also feel like so many wonderful pictures that were taken are sitting in the box full of negatives we received after the wedding. I also have all the memorabilia from the planning of our wedding, including the food choices from the restaurant where we were married (which is good, since I didn’t eat a thing!). Thank you so much for the inspiration. It’s exactly what I needed, when I needed it. One question. What do you use to mount your photos?

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Pink Ronnie February 17, 2013 at 11:37 pm

I do think it’s nice to put wedding memorabilia into a scrapbook of some kind, because then you’re more likely to look through it again in the future. Glad this has been helpful for you. I use those blue photo dots to mount photos and memorabilia, because they don’t damage anything and you can easily move things around if you change your mind.
Ronnie xo

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jacqueline 》upon wild stars February 18, 2013 at 12:40 am

This post is heavenly. I am so inspired beyond words. Have been meaning to start getting organized but haven’t found the time. Just discovered you through Latrina at oftreesandhues and will be exploring much more. Thanks for the great ideas, gorgeous Ronnie!!! Xo

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Pink Ronnie February 18, 2013 at 10:39 am

Hi Jacqueline,
Thanks so much for your sweet words, and for taking the time to stop by! It’s truly lovely to have you here. Glad you’ve found this helpful!
Ronnie xo

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Julie February 19, 2013 at 3:17 am

Another fantastic post Ronnie! Your wedding albums and scrapbooks are gorgeous- I love the classic black too. I actually read this right after spending an hour in the basement digging up memorabilia. It amazes me how much stuff I cling to, some sentimental, but mostly just junk. In the next few days I plan to do a major purge. We’ll move again this summer and I just can’t have this stuff floating around with me any longer. You raised some very good points in your post- like why hang on to wedding & shower invitations, when it really is someone else’s memory? Your framework posts have further inspired me, so I’ve set aside a box for the memorabilia pertaining to my husband and me, as well as a box for each of my three girls. You seem to have a great system for paper memorabilia, but what do you do with three-dimensional objects that can’t be scrapbooked and may take up too much room in a box? Do you photograph them and then purge? Thanks so much for the inspiration- we’ll see how this week goes!

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Pink Ronnie February 27, 2013 at 11:20 pm

Hi Julie,
Sorry I missed this question of yours! Just wondering what sort of three-dimensional objects are you referring to? At the moment, I can’t really think of anything that I’ve come across that haven’t fit into scrapbooks or the memory box. But then, my definition of ‘keepsake’ is very narrow… if you can give me an example, I’ll be happy to share what I would do with it! :)
Ronnie xo

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Julie March 13, 2013 at 1:35 am

Hi Ronnie,

Sorry I missed your reply! Some three-dimensional objects that come to mind are a college sweatshirt that my brother wore and handed down to me (we attended the same college, 8 years apart), a jewelry box my daughter made for me (she used a craft store kit), and a pair of margarita glasses that my daughters painted at a pottery studio. These items are reasonably sized for a box, but it seems like I have too many boxes! I wish I had better examples offhand, but I guess I’m looking for a methodology to use when I purge. As in, would I be heartbroken if these items perished in a fire? As I continue going through the basement, I know I’ll come across more items that are random in nature, but seem to carry sentimental value. I’ll let you know when I do. In the meantime, I enjoy reading all of your posts on organization and memory-keeping. Thank you for your continued inspiration!

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I love hearing from you!

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