Should you get a wedding album? (Updated for 2019)
The short answer? Yes.
This partly depends on your own personal taste and how likely you are to actually get the photos printed and into a pre-bought album or photobook, which a lot of couples do as they enjoy the experience of crafting their own album, if that’s something you and your partner would both enjoy then you have your answer. However, experience demonstrates that couples rarely look at the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of images that we hand them over in the USB stick - forget CD's, 2004 was 15 years ago. They would look at them twice or so, choose a couple of photos to print and frame, and after that the USB would end up in a drawer somewhere, lost somewhere else, or overwritten by mistake with your son's latest internet fad files because he needed a USB stick and found an old one lying on the back of a drawer.
Best case scenario, in 15 years time you want to show your children how nice the wedding was because they've asked you to. Now go and rummage your room or cabinets looking for that bloody piece of obsolete hardware, maybe it will still work after all these years, maybe it wasn't ruined by damp yet, maybe you have an adaptor somewhere to bridge the old 2014 USB port to the new ones that all computers have in 2031. This scenario is potentially very real - USB-C anyone? - and this is current day, so just imagine in 15 years time.
Now, wouldn't it be great if, when your child requested to see your old photos, you can just pull off a "book" from the shelf and show him or her how much elasticity your skin lost in these 15 years? - That's one way to put it.
One of the best sources parents resort to to show photos of their younger selves, or obscure family members, are wedding albums. Personally, as a young kid, it was one of my favourite albums to look at, to see Mum and Dad in their prime. Not to mention the personal and familiar aspect of a nice album in your hands. That old book smell, the pages creaking, that photo that always gets loose but you never "got 'round" to fix it, looking at each photo and searching for details, touching that photo with the tips of your fingers, feeling the texture of the paper, showing your kid how to turn those pages carefully. Heck, showing him what an album actually looks like, and not those things they see on the internet called 'albums' that in the end is just a photo swipe screen with thumbnails.
No, this would be a true album, an immaculate (or worn and wine aged) luxurious piece of art, literally. Something you would feel proud to display in your lounge for everyone to see and casually pick up. For you to look at a glance on any given Sunday, pick it up and re-explore it with your loved one, giving them a 'still-in-love' gaze as you pick it up from that shelf.
Now consider this: Everything that you invested in for your wedding day will be gone. The flower arrangements, the cake, the band, the food and drinks, the laughs. Everything will be gone, turned into a memory, a cherished memory, but a memory nonetheless. Everything but the wedding album. Your album is forever, a durable photographic archive of a piece of your family history. Something you will look at in decades to come and evoke memories you forgot you even had.
Technology becomes obsolete over time, devices and ports evolve into something else. Cloud services will cease service or change hands as they change companies, login details will be forgotten... Will you then find that CD or USB and pass it over to the latest tech? How much virtual data have you lost over the years with technology shifts, computer formats or forgotten logins? How many people do you know still have their wedding photos in a 20 year old CD? Technology evolution is so fast it's scary.
Another aspect to consider is the array of albums that are exclusively available to photographers only through professional print labs. Not only will your photographer design the album for you, but they have access to beautiful albums that just aren't available to the average consumer.
An album is a long-term investment in an experience that lasts decades and generations, so consider it as a gift to yourself and your children, the memory of a happy day in a virtually immortal format.