lace wedding dress hanging for wedding shadow box

Wedding Shadow Box Ideas: 15 Creative Options We Love

Aug 2, 2022
By Wedding Spot

Whether it’s a thoughtfully-curated set of family heirlooms or a coordinated hodgepodge of all the wedding day items you love the most, wedding shadow boxes are a creative and fun way to commemorate your big day. So, to help you put together the perfect keepsake as special as your love, we compiled a list of our favorite and most unique wedding shadow box ideas.

In this blog post, we take a deep dive into all things related to wedding shadow boxes and wedding shadow box ideas and offer design tips, creative twists on classic additions, and much more.

Ready to craft the wedding shadow box of your dreams? Let’s get started!

Here’s everything you need to know about wedding shadow boxes

What is a wedding shadow box?

A wedding shadow box is a beautiful and artistic way to display your most special wedding day moments. They’re typically displayed on a vanity, mantle, or wall where they can be enjoyed by loved ones for years to come.

Wedding shadow boxes can display all of your wedding's special items, highlight one favorite piece, or become a time capsule for items too important to be put in storage. Couples typically choose to include mementos such as invitations, bouquets, and photos. They may also add in wedding dresses, preserved boutonnieres, and wedding favors.

Wedding shadow boxes can be made out of any material, but the most common options include wood or plastic containers with a clear glass or acrylic window. Choosing a sealed wedding shadow box ensures your precious items are kept safe from outside elements that could damage or dirty them.

What do you put in a wedding shadow box?

There is no limit to what you can put in a wedding shadow box. Use this opportunity to bring together items you love that look nice together. The most common wedding shadow box items include:

  • Invitations and save the dates
  • Flowers
  • Photos
  • Dresses
  • Pearls
  • Decorative fillers like lace

You can choose to use only items you cherish the most or curate the wedding-related items that pair well together, such as family wedding day photos surrounded by your favorite picture from your own big day. The choice is yours! 

How do you make a wedding shadow box?

You can make a wedding shadow box by DIYing it with supplies from your local craft store. Or you can order one to be made for you by individual crafters on Etsy or independent artists.

Follow these steps if you plan to craft one yourself:

  • Get inspired. We’ve provided unique wedding shadow box ideas below, but you can also source inspiration from ones your friends and family have made, or on Pinterest.
  • Start with your theme. This is your opportunity to hone in on your vision. Want your shadow box to match your living room decor, feature food-specific elements, or simply display your too-pretty-for-storage wedding outfits? The options are endless, so choosing a theme will help guide the project as you move forward.
  • List your items. You may already have items available but need to wait for others. Keeping a list will help make sure you don’t seal your box and realize something is missing moments later.
  • Choose a layout. Choose a focal point and arrange the rest of your items around it. Shadow boxes that creatively use the container often stand out more. Consider hanging items, placing some on the interior side walls, and resting objects on the bottom to spice things up.
  • Purchase or make your shadow box container. Stores such as Michael’s, Walmart, and Target all carry shadow boxes. You can also work with a custom framing store to create a box for larger items. Consider what type of display options the box offers, too. For example, a shadow box designed for display on a mantle will have a picture frame backing, which may give you the option to hang it from the wall later if you move or rearrange decor.
  • Arrange items. Once you’ve collected your items and have your container ready to go, you’ll need to arrange everything inside before adding glue or sticky tack. Stick to the layout you made before or try some other variations. Take a photo of each one and compare them side by side to make sure you’re happy with your choices.
  • Finalize and secure your design. Try to use temporary adhesives wherever possible. Allow the glue to dry before hanging or moving your wedding shadow box.

Memorialize your wedding day forever with these 15 wedding shadow box ideas

Want to find wedding shadow box ideas that go beyond your expectations? We’ve got you covered with these suggestions for wedding items, art, and uses you and your partner will love.

1. Find a vintage postcard.

Wedding Spot chatted with recent bride Kacie Tafer (congratulations, Kacie!) of Pico MES about how she created her wedding shadow box. Her wedding took place at the Elizabeth Park Rose Garden in Hartford, Connecticut. Tafer knew she wanted to embody the history and beauty of her wedding venue in her wedding shadow box, which is why she chose to include a vintage postcard of the garden that she found on eBay.

“Since our venue is an old historic site, there are endless vintage postcards that exist throughout the decades,” said Tafer. “The one I bought on eBay is postmarked from 1940. My fiance and I are vintage lovers and we collect postcards ourselves from everywhere we venture to. It brings me so much joy to give this little snippet of someone else's journey, a new life in my own memories.”

2. Buy a personalized dress hanger.

We here at Wedding Spot have personally gifted a bride a personalized dress hanger that we are proud to say has made it into their wedding shadow box! Items such as this Etsy listing for a hanger that can be twisted into a custom phrase are shadow box VIPs because they’re classy, add texture, and are perfect for displaying a dress or tux jacket. Use the phrase “Mr. & Mrs.” (or any other gender combination) or have it spell out your last name. The choices are endless! 

Pin, Insta URL

3. Use speech printouts.

Allison Williams from Everlasting Occasion told Wedding Spot that printouts of a particularly heartfelt or funny speech given at your reception can be an amazing addition to your wedding shadow box. Place the speech in the center of your box with battery-operated tea lights around it, or wallpaper the interior of your wedding shadow box with the speech repeated over and over again.

4. Include a family heirloom in your shadow box.

We spoke to Jane Kallinger, the editor of Sewing from Home, about the various wedding shadow boxes she has helped create items for or seen clients add in themselves. Her favorite is family heirlooms. As an expert in sewing, it’s no surprise that fabric and veil pieces from the wedding dresses of grandmothers are among her favorite wedding shadow box ideas.

We also suggest creating a future family heirloom of your own by following Kallinger’s guide to free embroidery machine fonts you can use to add your initials to any fabric you include in your wedding shadow box.

5. Hire a caricature artist.

One of the most popular wedding entertainment ideas is providing a professional caricature artist to create a unique and memorable caricature for your guests. This type of art is a great way to mix and mingle with your guests and create a fun and social experience.

Don’t want to commit to having an artist at your wedding but want the whimsy of your own character as a wedding shadow box idea? You can simply hire an artist online through sites such as Upwork or Craigslist and provide them with one of your wedding day photos to work off of.

Either way, hiring a caricature artist will instantly transform your wedding shadow box from conventional to completely one-of-a-kind!

6. Add photos of your seating chart.

Print out an extra large version of your wedding seating chart. Make sure to include guests’ full names for each seat. Edit the image or physically cut and paste faces from your wedding photos to each guest table. Use group, couple, or individual shots.

7. Preserve your place cards.

Line the back wall of your shadow box with guest place cards. Use ones from your actual wedding day or create honorary ones for loved ones who are no longer with us. You can also add them to a clear sleeve keepsake envelope, prop them up on the corner of your box, or use your sweetheart table sign.

8. Make your wedding shadow box your guest book.

Use a creative wood wedding shadow box with slots for rolled-up messages your guests can leave you as part of your welcome book inspired by the below Pinterest example. Or, ask guests to sign heart-shaped tokens you can place inside the bottom of your extra large or tall shadow box.

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9. Try a lightbox.

Layered paper cutouts look magical when lit with a remote-controlled tea light. Get a custom design of you as a couple from Etsy, or DIY your own with tutorials from tools such as Cricut. We love this 3D paper flower example and could easily see these highlighted with small motion sensor light bands at the top of a wedding shadow box.

10. Personalize a shadow box on Etsy.

Hire a professional crafter to create the wedding shadow box of your dreams using your very own items. For example, Etsy designer LKDesign by Stephanie offers several box sizes, classic color schemes, and beautiful calligraphy to complete the look of your wedding shadow box.

11. Display your champagne glasses.

Use the champagne glasses you said cheers with at your wedding reception as the focal point of your own unique wedding shadow box. Fill them with your wedding confetti, rice that was thrown as you left the altar, or dried flower petals from your bouquet to make them even more personalized. Add a custom die-cut sticker with your wedding date and initials to the glasses themselves if you’re feeling fancy.

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12. Add home state or country maps.

Celebrate where you came from by covering your box with new or vintage maps of your hometowns. Mark your maps with red pins, felt hearts, or childhood photos, then tie a string or draw a line between them with your favorite wedding snapshot featured in the middle.

13. Have a unity sand ceremony.

This one takes a little advanced planning. Use pitchers filled with different colors of sand to represent each family member you are bringing together. At your wedding, ceremoniously pour and mix your sand together in your shadow box. You can make your own shadow box for this, but we suggest using one similar to this example from Pinterest.

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14. Use wood slices.

Use a custom engraver to write a nice saying, add your wedding date, and include your names on a slice of wood for an earthy, nature-focused wedding shadow box. Some professional services can even include a photo print on a wood slice. Make your wood slice the focal point of your shadow box then surround it with other natural elements and textures. Items such as twine, dried flowers, and moss all complement each other.

15. Include remote-controlled lights.

Mini string lights, flame-free pillar candles, and even faux tealights set on a timer make for an extra special addition to a creative wedding shadow box. Use battery-powered options only, for safety reasons.

Save this list of wedding shadow box ideas for your next big craft day!

Now that you have plenty of wedding shadow box ideas to use as inspiration, you’re ready to get started. Prepare to display your favorite memories in your home for friends and family to enjoy with you long after you say “I Do!”

Up next: Still waiting on your wedding day photos? Here’s our expert guide on how long it takes to get your wedding photos back.


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Wedding Spot

The Wedding Spot blog is designed to help couples navigate every step of the wedding planning journey. From before the engagement to after you say “I do,” our goal is to give you the tips, ideas, and inspiration to prepare for your big day — and all that comes with it.