When you’re a bridesmaid, you have to fulfill a crazy variety of unexpected roles, and unfortunately, tech expert is oftentimes one of them. Enter the rehearsal dinner slideshow. Almost every wedding has one—it’s an epic aspect of the wedding event. This slideshow will showcase the bride and groom as children, and then gradually portray a visual timeline of their lives together as a couple. It usually has cleverly coordinated musical selections that allow the guests to get lost in the moment and get to know the background and love story of the bride and groom. And they are a fantastic opportunity to garner a few laughs in a comfortable and secure environment.
But I can’t tell you the number of times I have been at a rehearsal dinner, ready to start the stupid slideshow of bride and groom baby pics that I have so arduously collected and organized chronologically from their day of birth until basically five minutes before the dinner starts, when something goes wrong. The sound won’t work. The projector won’t properly display the image. Or worse. There is no projector.
I love these slideshows. I get super weepy both making them and then watching the final versions in all of their glory. But there is nothing more disheartening than being ready to show off the final product and having something go wrong. To prevent this feeling, be prepared.
Here is how to make a foolproof rehearsal dinner slideshow:
1. Start by using a reliable program. Windows Movie Maker comes standard with most PC operating systems and it’s surprisingly efficient. For Mac users, iMovie isn’t too shabby either. But if you have an Adobe subscription, I always opt for Adobe Premier, which works on both Mac and PC. It’s a gem. Regardless of which program you choose, you can add in music, transitions and adjust the timing for each photo to really tell a meaningful story.
2. Preview your work. Sure, you’ve spent hours on this darn thing. But once it’s finished, take a quick break, pour a glass of wine and try to watch it like it was the first time. Then you can check for sound errors, misplaced transitions and anything else that has gone awry. Make the changes, then repeat until it’s perfect.
3. Backup everything. Yes, the final product is backed up on your laptop, but still burn it to a CD and bring that with you as well. This allows you to use someone else’s laptop in the event that yours does not have the proper hook up for the projector (no matter how many times you confirm in advance, this is a real possibility). Then, just in case the backup laptop doesn’t have a disc drive, have it uploaded to Vimeo or YouTube so you have another playback option.
4. Confirm projector details. Projectors are not something that most venues update as frequently as an iPhone. So odds are, your newly purchased MacBook Air doesn’t have the right three-prong hookup for the 1999 projector. Call in advance and find out what you’re working with. Then buy every possible outlet just in case someone is lying. You won’t regret it.
5. Bring backup speakers. A projector system does not always include sound. So pack up a set of speakers that can be plugged into your laptop to play the music. A slideshow in silence without music is very awkward. Trust me.
But the most important thing to remember is to roll with the punches if something goes wrong. Panicking, crying and making a scene isn’t going to take you very far—in fact, it will just make everyone uncomfortable. Work with what you have and then if you have to amend the slideshow after the fact, make the changes and send a copy for the bride and groom to enjoy once they get back from honeymooning. That will make all of the difference.