As spring blossoms into the warm, sunny days of summer, friends and families are gathering to celebrate pending nuptials and births in communities across the U.S. It’s the season for baby and wedding showers—parties that used to be held exclusively for brides and expectant mothers but today have grown to include “couples showers,” where the guests of honor include grooms and fathers.
These are increasingly elaborate events, requiring invitations, thank-you cards, and simple decorations, at the very least. Depending on the budget, however, many shower etiquette blogs encourage party planners to invest in themed decorations, matching invitations and place cards, and personalized party favors as a great way to impart extra care and planning into the celebration.
The summer months, June through September, are the biggest season for weddings in the U.S. Births are more evenly distributed, giving you a year-round opportunity to market personalized photo products for these potentially lucrative events. As a photo retailer, you may have access to a team of talented designers and all the equipment necessary to handle your customers’ requests. If not, you can consider teaming up with a provider that offers a wider range of resources—practically everything needed to plan a truly personalized and memorable event.
Shutterfly is one of several online printing companies that partners with specialized sites like Wedding Paper Divas and Tiny Prints, thereby expanding their offerings to include hundreds of shower-related products and designs.
Wedding Paper Divas, based in Sunnyvale, California, was founded as a high-quality wedding stationery company. Today it provides everything from menus and programs to party decorations and gifts—many created by top industry designers.
Tiny Prints focuses on kids, from birth to graduation, plus business, holiday and adult party planning and printing. Both sites offer coordinated themes and designs that tie together shower invitations, thank-you cards, place cards, notepads and gift tags. They also offer photo gifts for the guests of honor—from books and calendars to serving platters, wall art and other home décor.
Shutterfly provides the ordering and printing services for personalized photo books and calendars, including Wedding Paper Divas’ new storytelling albums, Wedding Collections, with themes such as Engagement, Bride to Be and Guestbook. Available in a variety of sizes and covers, the books can be made using auto or custom layout features that allow the storyteller to chronicle a couple’s history through photos and words. The Wedding Collection Guestbook, “Show Us Some Love,” features spreads filled with photos of the couple, along with spaces for comments and well wishes, and themed pages where guests can answer questions, check off lists or fill in the blanks to describe their feelings about the bride and groom. You can check out Shutterfly’s affiliate program at shutterfly.com/affiliate/welcome.js.
Baby showers used to present certain design challenges. Invitations were decorated with drawings of gender-neutral babies or cartoon moms in flowing maternity wear, but pregnancy is no longer the big mystery it once was (is it a boy or a girl?). And mothers are now proud to show their “baby bump” in pictures, often hiring professional photographers to create memorable portraits of their pregnancy experience.
Zazzle, The Make Engine, is a customized product platform that offers shower invitations, decorations and gifts in a wide variety of themes and designs. These include photo cards that incorporate pregnancy portraits of the mother-, parents- and even the baby-to-be.
In Redwood City, California, Zazzle brings together artists from all over to create unique products for special occasions. A few of the artists, like PixiePrints, use baby ultrasounds in their designs. The Little Whispers Pink Invites card incorporates two photo windows—one for a portrait of the mom-to-be and one for her baby’s ultrasound. It’s a trendy, high-tech introduction to the new baby before it’s born.
BlackNWhiteMoments, another Zazzle-affiliated design company, continues this theme with its custom baby ultrasound announcement postage stamps—an eye-catching decoration that doubles as U.S. postage. zazzle.com
WH Candy, or WrappedHersheys.com, specializes in edible gifts—offering baby and wedding shower favors in the form of personalized Hershey’s chocolate bars. The company was founded in 1993 by Ed Carson, a businessman looking for a creative way to celebrate his granddaughter’s birth.
Instead of passing out cigars, he looked at a Hershey’s chocolate bar and thought to himself “Here she is!” He printed his own wrappers, basing them on the Hershey’s design, and passed them out to the nurses at the hospital. They were so popular that Carson made a deal with Hershey Foods Corporation, giving him permission to use the terms HERESHEIS, HEREHEIS and HERETHEYARE along with the Hershey’s trade dress. Twenty-one years later, Carson has retired, but WH Candy continues to grow, offering hundreds of candy wrapper designs for all occasions, including “Add Your Photo” options for babies, weddings, graduations, anniversaries and more.
Beau-Coup.com, based in California, offers hundreds of unique party favors, decorations and gifts, but one of its specialties is printing photos on goodies—everything from popcorn bags and mint tins to party favor boxes and a variety of elegantly wrapped confectionaries, including cookies, biscotti, lollipops and Rice Krispies treats. They’ll even create custom cartoon cookies that look just like the guest of honor. These cookie-cutter-style vanilla cookies are handcrafted from a photo of the subject by a local San Francisco bakery, using all natural ingredients and low sugar. They, too, have an affiliate program: beau-coup.com/affiliate-program.
Couples’ showers typically offer a more relaxed atmosphere than traditional all-female gatherings for the bride or mother-to-be. Shower blogs suggest serving foods and drinks that will appeal to male and female guests. Windsorvineyards.com is an award-winning winery in the San Francisco Bay area that offers custom wine labels to celebrate almost any occasion. Their personalized photo labels would add an elegant touch to a wedding shower.
Shower Them with Gifts
Once the invitations, decorations and favors are ordered, there’s still a need for shower gifts. Even couples that register for baby strollers or coffeemakers appreciate receiving unexpected treasures, such as family keepsakes, engraved with names, dates and photos, to celebrate the big event. Items like personalized wedding albums, frames and home décor have the added benefit of being passed down from generation to generation.
Personal Creations specializes in one-of-a-kind gifts for all occasions, including personalized frames and albums for babies, etched acrylic photo blocks and interlocking Puzzle of Life frames. The puzzle frames are created by partner company P. Graham Dunn and handcrafted in Ohio’s Amish, Mennonite community. Their unique design allows you to personalized each piece with an event, date, name and special message, so couples who receive a starting set for their wedding can add additional pieces to commemorate important family milestones.
Like most of the sites listed in this article, Personal Creations offers an affiliate program for businesses that would like to offer their products. For more information, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.