All Framed Up: Our Anniversary Photo Tradition

Deck progress drags on, so we’ll be back with more details for you on Monday (wish we had more full days to devote to it, but it’ll probably be a weekly update situation like our first house’s bathroom reno and our kitchen redo since it’s such a big undertaking). But I just couldn’t resist sharing this in-progress picture of John and his dad telling the auger who’s boss:

Oh but the time it’s taking us to build this deck isn’t what I meant by the title of “half a decade” (at least we hope it won’t take us five years to get ‘er done). That has to do with our five year wedding anniversary, which is coming up on July 7th. How crazy is that? We can’t even grasp that it has been half of a decade since our little backyard wedding. And it means that seven years ago we shared our first kiss (we picked 7/7/07 as our wedding day because 7/7/05 was when we started dating – yes we kissed on the first date, haha).

There are some parts of our wedding that we remember so vividly it easily could have been a month ago. So funny how time flies. And as some of you know, it has been a little tradition to take a picture of our family on July 7th in honor of our wedding day, like this:

This was last year’s picture, with just one wiggly kid…

… and with both of them…

We like to frame each year’s picture in small differently shaped capiz frames that we’ve found over time (from Target, thrift stores, Hobby Lobby, etc). But our sink was getting cluttered with four full frames and the latest empty one that we snagged from Target a few weeks back in anticipation of our fifth photo. So we decided to tackle a little photo-hanging project to get them off the sink and enjoy them in a nice little grouping on the wall next to it.

For some reason hanging frames seems to be something we get asked about the most, so we thought we’d break down the process for getting these guys on the wall without any oops holes. Either folks are just plain intimidated to hammer a nail into a pristine hole-less wall or they’re not sure how to settle on “the right” arrangement. The good news is there are probably always at least ten arrangements that would look good, so we just like to put the frames on the floor and play around until we have a little grouping that we like. Like this:

The next step is to make little paper templates for each frame, so you can map out where you want to place them (and only make one hole in the correct spot for each frame instead of ten bad ones). We just laid the frame on top of white printer paper, traced the outline, cut them out, and taped them to the wall, shifting things around until we liked what we saw:

We had also taken a second to mark where the nail hole needed to be on each one by holding it up against the back of the frame before taping it up and pushing a nail through to rest on the hook on the back of the frame. So when we taped them up they already had these nail guide holes to completely take the guesswork out of things.

Some of our frames didn’t come with hooks for hanging them on the wall (since they’re meant to be tabletop frames) so we just picked up a pack of picture hanging hardware at JoAnn for 99 cents (for four of them). Then I crazy glued them to the back of the frame and pulled off the little flap that you use to stand them on the counter (since the flap would make them sit away from the wall more than we wanted them to).

Next we just hammered through the pre-made hole in the paper template where we knew the nail should go for each one.

Which looked a little something like this:

Then we left the nails in the wall and pulled the paper templates off. Less then a minute later we had everything hanging. And then I ran outside to grab some flowers, because I’m girly like that.

It’s sweet to see four anniversary photos all together on the wall, with that blank fifth one just waiting for our latest family pic in a few weeks.

Think Clara and Burger are going to cooperate this year? Nah, me either. But that’s half the fun.

Oh and we thought this could also double as a budget blooms post since we’re woefully overdue for one of those. See all these flowers I mentioned running outside for? Yup, they’re all free from the yard! They’re clippings from the hydrangea bushes out by the patio, and a giant man-eating (not really, but it’s huge) butterfly bush in the back yard.

I just stuck a little glass vase full of water in the middle of this giant ceramic planter (from HomeGoods a while back) on top of a cardboard box to lift it up so the stems of everything didn’t have to be impossibly long.

I love the little pointy butterfly bush clippings mixed in with the lace-like balls o’ hydrangea. I wonder if they’ll live long enough to see us put our next picture in the empty five-year-anniversary frame?

Probably not, but they sure are pretty for now.

I especially love how you can appreciate all the different types of capiz frames since they’re not all jumbled in front of each other on the counter anymore.

And come to think of it, hydrangeas are pretty fitting for that vase beneath them since they were in my little homemade wedding bouquet.

Oh my gosh, was that really five years ago? I’m in denial. Haha. Anyone else have any anniversary traditions or frame groupings you’ve been hanging up? Do you use paper templates to simplify things? Or do you have another easy hanging method? Share and share alike!

Psst- We announced this week’s giveaway winner, so click here to see if it’s you.


  1. Karen F says

    what a sweet tradition! and the frames look awesome on the wall. Not to mention that the pictures seem to totally coordinate with the flowers! I love that it seems like you have all these meaningful little nooks in your home – so nice!

  2. says

    Hi Sherry and John, congratulations on your upcoming 5th year wedding anniversary. My how time fly on 7/7/7 I was in my friend’s wedding oh what a special day. Furthermore My husband and I will be married for 20 yrs this coming August I can hardly believe it’s been that long, since I don’t look a day older from when we were first married :) No really! I love you guys and its nothing like working together as a couple it keeps you strong and close. My husband and I had a janitorial business together for years and we were inseparable and 20 yrs later were still a happy married couple. By the way thanks for the tip on hanging photos I’m always trying to master it.
    Thanks again for sharing

  3. says

    We buy an ornament every year to represent our anniversary. Once it was a trip to La Vegas, another a might out to a play, and this year finishing our dining room table. We chose the dining room table for this year because like you we celebrated our fifth and we follow the traditional gift giving recommendations which for year five is wood. It’s always fun having to get creative for our Anniversary gifts.

  4. Jane says

    That’s a great technique guys. I am going to use that one to a hang a bunch of frames in my house..I have a few questions..

    1) How do you hang them using this technique if they have the wire in the the Riba frame do ?
    2) Sometimes when I use a nail like you did and hammer into the wall and then when I hang the picture especially the one with wires..the nail starts to become loose..How do you guys deal with that ? Or Can you help me with I maybe doing wrong ?

    • says

      1) Same way except we mark where the nail should go by holding it up to the template and piercing through right under the wire, so we know where it’ll hang.
      2) You can use a screw and an anchor if things are loose, that’s usually what we do!


  5. says

    I love this – what a sweet tradition! My husband and I just celebrated our first anniversary back in January, and I love the idea of coming up with some sort of special something like this to do each year!

  6. says

    Love the new photo arrangement! All the different capiz frames look great together! Our 6th anniversary is coming up (next weekend actually!) and our tradition is we always make our gifts for each other. We also try to get out of town for a few days, for our fifth we also went to Maui! :) But the handmade gift is fun and it’s always entertaining to see what the other person comes up with.

  7. Amanda C says

    I am working on an “art gallery” in our family room, above our sectional, which right now is really just a small cluster of 3 pictures, and a plate. I keep reading all these tips on the “right ways” to group wall hangings, but me? I just hang ’em where I think they’ll work. No laying things out ahead of time, I just put a nail in the wall and hope for the best! Yes, I live on the edge…..

  8. says

    i use the paper template system too. it makes it so much easier when you’re trying to hang a large grouping. i recently did a mirror wall in my daughter/soon-to-arrive son’s room using this method (

    and happy early anniversary by the way! 7/7/07 is my anniversary date too! wish we had thought to take family pictures on our anniversary each year. maybe we’ll have to start that tradition this year.

  9. says

    Every year, my husband and I stick to the “traditional” gift giving guides for each anniversary (i.e. 1st year is paper, 2nd is cotton, etc.). We started it a couple of years ago, and it really is a lot of fun. This year will be our 9th anniversary and that means pottery. LOL It really is fun to try to find gifts in the sometimes strange mediums. We love it though.

  10. says

    Congratulations on almost 5 years! My husband and I celebrate 6 years on June 24. Our family has doubled since then! We try to do something/see something we haven’t done or seen before each year. Last year, technically was more new to the hubby, but we saw Jekyll and Hyde at the theater (however, it was during the Anthrocon convention, which was kind of crazy, and Pittsburgh was crazy busy so we had to park a zillion miles from the theater and run through people dressed up as animals, in the rain, to make it to the show on time! It was hilarious and we will never forget it!

    This year, we are going to the NHL draft for our anniversary weekend. We are season ticket holders for the Pittsburgh Penguins, and we were lucky enough to score two tickets to the event on our anniversary weekend. We are so excited! So that’s our little tradition! Try something new to celebrate another year of marriage!

  11. says

    We actually celebrate every year by going to a baseball game! We actually had our reception where we had our 2nd date– the baseball field (got married where we had our first date)– people looked at me like I was crazy with a bridal gown on at a baseball game but hey it’s us!

  12. says

    Gorgeous! So fun to look back at the last five years of photos. Congrats on the upcoming anniversary. We aren’t too far ahead of you – just had our 6 year anniversary at the end of May.

  13. says

    We were married overlooking the Susquehanna River. Unintentionally, the first couple of years we celebrated by doing something together along the river. After I realized that we were being drawn to the river every year (either to hike or go to an overlook or have a meal) we decided to make it an annual tradition. This year we celebrated our fourth with a dinner at a fancypants restaurant along the river at sunset :)

    Oh and we always go to the beach, which was completely intentional. That’s why we got married over Memorial Weekend :)

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