A guest book, like wedding photography, is a special way of preserving the memories of your wedding day for years to come. It’s an extra chance for guests to connect with the bride and groom and leave a lasting message that they can cherish long after the reception comes to an end.
In recent years, couples have been finding increasingly fun and creative ways to put their own twist on the guest book tradition. Yet, no matter what form your guest book takes, there are a few guidelines you’ll want to follow to ensure that everything goes as planned!
- Location matters. You won’t get too many signatures in your guest book if your guests can’t find it! It’s important to set up your guest book in place where it will be out of the way and yet easily noticed. A good idea is to place it on a table or easel near the entrance to the reception so that guests will be able to see and sign it on their way in or out. Signage can also help draw attention to your book and ensure that it isn’t overlooked.
- Provide guests with a prompt. If you’re hoping for more than the typical “Congratulations!” and signed name, it helps to provide guests with a sort of prompt, such as “What is your fondest memory of us?” or “What piece of marriage advice do you have for us?” Not everyone is a whizz at coming up with heartfelt prose on the fly and giving your guests some sort of direction can help guarantee that you are left with lots of fun comments to read through.
- Plan for the future. Guest books aren’t just books anymore! For many people, they’re a chance to add a very personal accent to their home décor. To this end, lots of couples choose a guest book format that can be framed and hung on the wall or that can be displayed on a table. When you consider what form your guest book might take, think about whether you would like to display it in your home and what would fit the style and color scheme in your living space. Obviously, whatever you choose should also mesh with the style of your wedding and reception, but you don’t want to get your beautiful new guest book home and realize that it looks out of place.
- Minimize the mess. Non-traditional guest books can be a lot of fun, but it’s important to think about whether the materials will be practical for the setting and occasion. For instance, you don’t want your guests accidentally dipping their suit sleeves in paint or knocking over containers of dirty watercolor water. If you choose, as many couples do, to have a thumbprint art guestbook, make sure the ink you provide is washable and set out containers of moist wipes so that guests can clean their hands after they make their mark.
- Give guests some guidance. If the guest book you have planned is a little outside-the-box, you may need to think about providing your guests with instructions on how and where you’d like them to sign it. You don’t want them mistaking it for just another decoration! You can even have members of your wedding party and family sign it ahead of time so that guests have something to go on. If guests know exactly what’s expected of them, they’ll be a lot more likely to sign.
- Provide the right tools. This one may seem obvious, but make double sure that the writing utensils you set out for your guests to use are fit for the task! Some pens won’t write on slick surfaces or will smear while others will bleed right through the page if the paper isn’t thick enough. If the writing surface is dark, make sure the ink will show up well against it. It’s always a good idea to test your writing materials before the big day to avoid disappointment and don’t be afraid to research what will work best. On a related note, be sure you provide plenty of pens, inkpads, etc. for guests to use. People have a habit of unconsciously pocketing pens when they’re done using them, so be prepared for some of them to disappear over the course of the night.
- Give them space. Whatever form you choose for your guest book to take, you’re going to want to make sure there’s enough space for everyone to sign/write a comment. If you’re going to have an actual book as your guest book, make sure it’s one with a few extra pages than you think will be necessary. If you’d like your guests to sign an object, either make sure it’s sufficiently large to comfortably hold a number of signatures equal to your head count or provide multiple items that can be displayed as a set. As an added note, try not to choose something that will be particularly difficult to sign, either due to its shape or size.