Have you ever seen your parents’ wedding guest book? If your experience was anything like mine, it was likely a small, dust-covered book, half-full of pages with signatures, tucked into the back of a linen closet with a box of mementos. The years have clearly put this wedding token on the back shelf of your parents’ wedding memories, and it may not instill a desire to have a guest book when you tie the knot. But as with most wedding traditions our parents’ generation kept, many couples see the value in revising old traditions to make them fit their wedding vision and personalities.
Guest books are any written log of the people in attendance at a wedding or event, and the value of the memento is in having the handwritten names of those who actually came out to share in your special day – not just the list of invitees who may or may not have made it. For some couples, guest books are an unnecessary item to worry about, and they may decide to scrap the idea altogether. After all, the photos from the day carry more value in showing who was in attendance, if your photographer manages to capture a shot of each guest. But for those who want to keep the tradition alive, there are many ways to bring about your creativity and wedding day style in choosing and executing your guest book.
Traditional Guest Book
For those who love the classics, there is nothing wrong with opting for a standard guest book – often with a sturdy cover and filled with lined pages where guests can sign their names. Small personalization can be included, like having your photo and wedding date on the front of the book.
A step up from the tradition, some couples make good use of their engagement photos by having an album printed with their images. Lots of margin around each photo gives guests the space to leave a love note along with their signature. The increase in space encourages guests to be more creative and write something that you’ll enjoy looking back on.
Quaker Marriage License
If you only want guests’ signatures but don’t want a standard book, having a Quaker Marriage License is a fun way to collect and display your guests’ signatures. A large document, often on parchment, is printed out to resemble a marriage license, while all the guests in attendance sign as witnesses to your union. The document can then be framed and hung on a wall at home.
Amanda & Aaron’s Beer Garden Wedding – Photo Credit: Krista Moll Photography
Along the lines of displaying your guest book, you might opt for a display you can hang. Perhaps a wooden slat is cut out in the shape of the state where you get married, or a fun chalkboard and paint markers are used to capture guest names. Another option is to have guests sign a large photo frame of the couple with a window marker.
Amy & Chris’s Durham Hotel Wedding – Photo Credit: Sean True Photography
Arts and Crafts
When a couple is surrounded by creative people, it makes sense to let the guest book be an extension of that creativity. Paint a tree on a canvas and have guests leave their fingerprints as leaves. Have a cocktail napkin doodle contest and collect the designs for a scrapbook. Encourage guests to write down their favorite memory with the couple.
Katy & Monica’s Rad Private Estate Wedding – Photo Credit: Kivus & Camera
Fun and Games
For the kids at heart, a personalized board game covered in signatures may be the way to go. Have guests leave a short note on Jenga blocks or Monopoly spaces. Buy a craft card deck for 52 unique card signatures and designs. Nearly any board game with surface area that can be signed makes for a fun option, and you’ll be able to think back on your wedding guests every time you play.
Stephanie & Roscoe’s Celestial Museum Wedding – Photo Credit: Kivus & Camera
Photo Booth Strips
Combining photos of your guests with their love notes and well-wishes can be easily accomplished with photo booth strips. Leave a blank scrapbook beside your photo booth and have the booth print an extra copy of each strip to paste into the book. Guests can then sign the book next to their sweet or goofy photos, and it’ll give you the opportunity to laugh along with them at their over-sized cowboy hats and feather boas. Don’t want to splurge on the photo booth? Get an instant-print camera so guests can snap their own shots to paste in the book!
Rachael & Michael’s Rustic Fall Wedding – Photo Credit: Laura Sydney Photography