Wedding Mementos: Quirky Keepsakes

Think out of the box—or out of the jar—when you want to immortalize your special day.

Adobe Stock © kichigin19

When the wedding day is over, what sentimental bride doesn't stash away a few initialed napkins, the cake topper or her garter for posterity’s sake?  But some couples have gone beyond the traditional and preserved memories of the day with some unusual mementos.

“Around midnight after our wedding, we realized we were starving. We hadn't eaten a thing other than the obligatory two bites of cake for the photos,” recalls Tallahassee attorney Erika Goodman. She and her new husband, Jimmy, changed out of their wedding attire and hit a nearby convenience store. “We made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in our hotel room,” she recalls with a laugh.

For the next nine years, the jar of grape jelly sat on a shelf in their refrigerator. “I wouldn’t let anybody eat it, but I couldn’t throw it out, knowing it was our wedding night dinner.” Luckily, she says, her young son Jack never even knew it was there.

Just catching a glimpse of it could bring a smile, she says. But last year, they got a new fridge. “It was time for the jelly jar to go.”

Now she gets the same happy, nostalgic feeling looking at the prominent display she created in her home office with other mementos of the day: Her dried red rose bouquet that sits in a vase alongside a unity candle, the glasses they used to toast, and a poker-themed centerpiece complete with chips stamped with their wedding date, July 1, 2007.

“That’s not going anywhere,” she says. “I’m sure when we move into a nursing home one day, I’ll put it all in a box, and my son will have to take care of it.”

Rebecca Tompkins saved what has become a very useful jar of rainwater from her very wet August 12, 2006, wedding. “I remember my mother saying it rained cats and dogs on her wedding day too, and that it’s good luck,” says Tompkins of South Carolina. A family friend collected some of that morning’s rainwater in a Mason jar and suggested they use it someday to baptize their offspring.

Tompkins and her husband, Jonathan, did just that when their son was born in 2010, followed by their daughter a year later. “The water originally symbolized the beginning of our new family,” she says. “It took on new meaning as our family grew.” The jar—now half full of water—sits on a shelf in their den.

“When I look at it, I am reminded about our wonderful wedding day. I tell my children the story about it raining so hard and then the sun shining brightly during the ceremony.” 

Saving cherished keepsakes is a way of holding onto memories of one of the most important days of your life. Some couples stash away even ordinary objects that may have special meaning simply because of their role in the day: a jar of coins used for the parking meters at the ceremony, metal wedding bells adorning the cake that have since become Christmas
ornaments, and unopened mini bottles of wine that served as favors.

For years after her wedding, Laura Hanrahan of New York saved all of the RSVP cards because of the funny and personal notes that their wedding guests had added. But then a few years ago, in a massive purge, “I mailed many back to the original senders. I thought they would enjoy reading what they had written 25 years before.”

Doris Basner of Staten Island, N.Y., says most of her keepsakes haven’t survived the ravages of time. Her cake topper broke, her father ate the wedding cake that was preserved in the freezer, her wedding lingerie yellowed and fell apart, her silk flowers got dusty and faded, and her dress turned into a moldy mess after a flood, making it “too gross even to be used for a Halloween costume.”

But, she says, after 31 years, “I still have the husband”—perhaps the best memento of all.

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