Monday, January 27, 2014

Wedding Planning Quick Tips: The Guest Book

Ideas and Inspirations

There are so many new ideas floating around about how to utilize a guest book. Each idea is as creative as the next but we are seeing the traditional book with a plum style pen fade into the distance. This is a personal choice and preference but one that your guests expect to see.

At every wedding regardless of the size you should have something available to sign. This is always an anchor point to where everything else important is (card box, information, gift table) and it also anticipated. People want to let you know they were there. If they have room most will even write you a note. This is as sentimental to them as it is to you!

Below are a few ideas that have surfaced in the last few years. And different ways to use them.

The Traditional

Most of these sets are available at wedding and craft stores. These usually come with a book that has lined pages with indication of name, address, and room for a quick note.

 Pros: These books are readily found and available. Any Michaels or wedding shop will carry them. You can usually find them in your colors or have them custom made to match. These come with a matching pen and stand with no headaches or questions of what is going on. These are standard and widely used in most weddings.
Cons: Where's the creativity? If you're on a time crunch and this is a low item on your list then no problem but this is something you can have fun with and make it a memorable point at your wedding! Also you have to think of storing this. These will sit on a shelf or in a box for the rest of your life. If you can't imagine leaving it out for the next 6 decades then pick something you will enjoy forever!

The Photo Book

Make a book using Shutterfly or another website then leave room on opposite pages from your pictures for your guests to sign.

 Pros: These books are less expensive ($30.00) and can be completely customized with pictures of the couple. I've seen people do all engagement photos or do photos starting when they were babies and ending with their engagement pictures. These handy books are great for coffee tables and are slim and easy to store. They also have tons of pre-made pages that you quickly can insert your photos into.
Cons: The smears!!!! These pages are always glossy even if you choose the matte version. Any regular pen will leave smudges on any page it's signed on. ONLY USE SHARPIE MARKERS! You can find these in any color and they come in sets of metallic that will show up on dark backgrounds. (Target for 3.99 for gold, silver, and bronze.)

 The Religious

This can be used for any religion (if you don't have a problem writing in a Bible, Qur'an, Talmud etc.) Have your guests find their favorite verse or saying from your religions book and either circle or write their names next to the verse.

 Pros: If you are religious this can be a very sentimental keepsake from your wedding day. These can be placed anywhere in your house and are still useful even when written in. It's fun to page through and find new verses every time you look through it. If you don't want to buy a new one you can always check thrift stores or used bookstores for a wide selection of religious texts!
Cons: Not everyone attending your wedding may be your religion or religious at all for that matter. You wouldn't want to make anyone uncomfortable who isn't familiar with whatever religious text you chose. Having a small journal for signing next to your bible or ect. is an easy way to alleviate any awkward feelings. Also, make sure to be very clear about what's going on. Have your wedding party sign it first so your guests understand they can write in it. Having a sign with directions on the table can never hurt!

Signature Letter

Find a giant letter of your new last name initial and have your guests sign it.

 Pros: These are fun, inexpensive,  and usable after the wedding. You can hang it anywhere in your home and it will always stay timeless. You can find these at any craft stores and some stores like Michaels even sell these in kits with the marker included. You can always paint it your wedding color using acrylic paint and having a metallic marker for writing. These are very customizable.
Cons: Limited space. If you have a huge wedding with a lot of guests this may not be for you. There's only so much room for everyone to write their names on and in most cases there isn't enough to write a note beyond "congrats." If you're having a smaller wedding this is a perfect option.

Puzzle Lovers

Have your guests each sign a puzzle piece. Put together you can have an image of the couple on the other side.

Pros: This is a unique way to have your guests interact and leave a note for your wedding. These are easily found online and you can order customized ones in different types of materials i.e. wood, standard cardboard, or ceramic. They can also print a large picture on the other side of the completed puzzle which is fun for you and your significant to do on your anniversary or whenever you are feeling nostalgic.
Cons: These may be hard to keep track of and after the ceremony whoever is assigned to pack them up might lose a few in transport. Also, with limited space some people's notes may not be legible. Some of the older folks may not enjoy writing on tiny pieces so make sure to have a small book for people who aren't wanting to participate.

Side note - with small pieces like this make sure to have a jar or a vase for the finished puzzle pieces to be in. This will also alleviate missing pieces after the wedding.

For the Lushes

Have family and friends sign a wine cork with a quick message and a signature for a whimsical take on your guest book!

 Pros: There are so many to this one it's hard to list! Wine corks are easily found. If you decide on this as your form of a "guest book" then call all your family members and have them save their corks. Call in a favor to your favorite bartender to save ones from the bar. They will gladly hand them over seeing as they usually go straight in the trash. Since these are popular as decor right now you can also find brand new corks at craft stores and even some home stores. These are without wine stain on the bottom and don't have holes in the top. However they sometimes are expensive depending on where you find them. These are perfect for decor after the wedding and many stores have cute cork cages that you can display them in (see below).

Cons: These are a little more space hogging than a book would be. You may run into the same problem as the post above about losing them since they're small or having problems with writing on the odd surface. These also soak up marker so make sure to have either sharpies or thick ball point pens.

Leafy Tags

Have pre-cut tags with ribbons or twine through a punched hole available on the table. Have your guests sign the tags then hang them in a tree branch that's in a vase or pot.

My mother-in-law did this as the centerpieces for the tables at our rehearsal dinner. Each guest wrote out a piece of advice on the tag and hung them in the tree. I have since put them into a scrap book with all my family and friends advice. It made for a cool memento!

Pros: These cute tags can be bought from craft stores in an array of colors. Or if you don't find your color all craft stores have a hand punch in a large tag size that you can custom make your own out of paper with a pattern or your wedding colors. These are easy to assemble if you're hand making them and are low cost. Cut a branch from the backyard and anchor in some sand or rock in a vase for a rustic look. These are also easy to turn into a scrap book by simply gluing them to pages with the advice side facing out.
Cons: Guests may be confused as to what to do. If you don't have complete and visual instructions you may end up with an array of odd things written on your tags. Make sure to have a frame or a sign that states to either write a note to the couple or advice - which ever you prefer. Again with the small pieces! These are even easier to lose since they're light and can fall off the tree if it's moved. Make sure to have someone keep an eye on it so none are left behind!

For the Wanderers

This is perfect for a couple that likes to travel or has had many adventures together. You can find these new online for a reasonable price or you can hunt through vintage and thrift shops for your perfect globe.

 Pros: This will always be a conversation piece in your house and it will stand as timeless as the countries it boasts. These fit perfectly into any one's home decor and can be easily read after the wedding. Guests will have fun signing and looking at the map!
Cons: Watch your markers! These surfaces are not always the friendliest to ink and may smudge if touched when wet. Your best bet is to use sharpies and do a test run with a bridesmaids signature. Also these are limited on space. You will always get that obnoxious relative that thinks it's funny to write in huge letters, "LOVE UNCLE GEORGE". Simply put a courtesy sign next to the globe stating to keep your signature small so all guests can write. Easy and message delivered.

My Own Guestbook - Pocket Notes

Here's a different version of a guest book. I found a scrapbook that was blank paper pages with no plastic film cover like traditional scrap books. I cut and folded paper to make pockets and secured them to the pages with photo glue squares. The white designs on the front of each pocket were made with a cricut. I then cut card stock that would fit in the pockets for people to write notes on. I included a sign with instructions where to place the notes and had my wedding party sign first so people got the concept. A much easier way is to buy and glue down mini envelopes. I couldn't find ones in my colors so I sucked it up and did it the hard way!

Pros: I settled on this idea because my family and friends could write a lengthy note to my husband and I without fear of other people reading what they said. With other guestbooks the notes are on all pages for everyone to see but with a pocket book they can write their sentimental message and stick it in it's own pocket. I actually found that some of the men who would have otherwise just written "congrats" actually wrote a heart felt message. This is a great keepsake and it fits nicely on a shelf with other books. Also, we didn't have to worry about smudges or loss of paper because the pockets held everything in place.
Cons: Paper scrapbooks are hard to find. I stumbled across mine at a wedding consignment store for under $5.00 but when googling them I didn't see many. You can always check thrift and antique stores because these were common before the scrapbook craze. This also took a fair amount of time to make and complete. We had a really long engagement and this was the first project I did so I wasn't on a strict timeline yet. Make sure if you're taking this on that you call in the bridesmaids for help! This was fun to make but it was time consuming!

Other Ideas Not Pictured

  • Love Stones: Collect or buy flat white stones that your guests can sign. These look nice in a tall vase and are fun to go through when you want. Like everything else small make sure to have signage with directions and a place to put them once they are written on!
  • Family Tree: Have family and friends put their finger prints on a pre-made tree with room to write a note next to it. With all the finger prints on the branches it will look like leaves when finished. These are cool to hang but your guests may not be thrilled to have inky hands. Leave a jar of wet wipes next to it if you pick this option.
  • Clothes Pins: Use these to have your guests write their signatures on. They look cool in a glass jar or you can hang them on a string and have them clamped holding wedding pictures. You can hang this on any blank wall for an interesting take on printing your wedding photos.
  • Family Quilt: If you have a member of the family who is skilled at quilting this is a cool option. Have cut fabric squares in the colors you want and have your guests each sign a square. After the wedding or when you're on your honeymoon you can pay or have a family member make your quilt. When it's done you can read all the messages and forever have a keepsake of your day. These are also cool as heirlooms.

If you don't want a guestbook at all - no problem! Everything "traditional" in a wedding is never permanent. You can do whatever you like! If you're not keen on having anything of the sort you can always have a jar with paper that people can write advice on. Or even just use it for people to write their address on so you have a current address for when you send thank yous!

Remember to have fun with this! It's a small part of the whole day but it's one of the few things you can keep and display after the wedding. Make sure to pick something that fits your taste and style!

Stay Crafty!


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