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What's Up Weddings

Nontraditional Guest Books

Mar 19, 2012 11:17PM ● By Anonymous

Gone are the days of guests simply signing on the line in a leather-bound book. Now, couples are choosing to let their wedding guests interact and truly leave their mark on the bride and groom’s big day.

The standard choice has always been a simple book that your guests sign to keep a record of who attended the wedding. An elegant update that has also become standard is the photo frame, where wedding guests sign their names next to a photo of the happy couple.

There are other ways to use photos, though, which are more interactive and allow your guests to have fun in the process.



Fun with photos

Make your guest book more than just a guest book—make it a memory book. There are three ways to do this: Using photos of your guests, using photos of you two as a couple, or asking guests to bring photos to the wedding with them.

Are you renting a photo booth for your wedding? This is a great way to make use of those photos. Right next to the photo booth, set up a table with a book that holds a space for the photo your guest just took with their personal message alongside it.

If you don’t have a photo booth, you can still create this book with a digital camera and its accompanying printer (or, if you want to go the old-school route, use a Polaroid camera!) Ask a good friend or family member to be a guest book attendant and take each guest’s picture, print it out on the photo printer, and have the guest write his or her merry message next to it. Both of these options give you a chance to remember your guests exactly as they were at your wedding, fancy clothes and all.

If you’d rather make the guestbook more focused on you and your soon-to-be spouse—and you’re at least a little bit crafty—create a scrapbook to serve as your guest book. You can either create a scrapbook of each of your lives or one that focuses on your relationship. Ask the guestbook attendant to encourage your friends and family to reflect on the pictures from the early days of your relationship.

This is also a great use for your engagement photos. Without this opportunity, it’s likely your guests will never see those photos and have a chance to admire how photogenic you two are. In the future, as you look back on the guest book, you can admire the memories of both your relationship and the warm wishes of the guests who celebrated your wedding.

A third photo option gives you a chance to integrate your younger life into your married life. Ask your guests to bring a photo of you together to insert into the guestbook. You never know what you’re going to get—your aunt might bring an adorable picture of you at age 2, while your college roommate could bring a hilarious photo of you two at a Halloween costume party. Display small pieces of cardstock that guests can write messages on and attach to their photo. You can later organize them into a proper combination guestbook and scrapbook.



Genealogy Chart by Elena Dweck

Words of wisdom

The best advice comes from those who are already married (and the funniest advice comes from those who are not). Get your guests’ input on what you should do in your marriage by asking them to share words of wisdom with you and your new spouse.

On each table, place a stack of cards that asks guests to give you their best marriage advice, and then sign their name. Place a jar on the gift table into which they can drop the card. You never know what shocking piece of advice Aunt Millie is going to offer!

In a similar vein, another option is to collect your guests’ wishes for you two rather than their advice. A wishing tree guestbook makes a lovely display piece at your wedding, as well as a sentimental souvenir afterward. Create a wishing tree by purchasing large birch branches, available both online and at craft stores, as well as flowers with long stems. Place them in a decorative vase or pot on the gift table with a framed sign that explains to guests that you’d like them to write their wishes for you (along with signing their names) on small cards tied with ribbon. Once they’ve written their wish, the guest can tie the ribbon to a branch of the tree.


Handcrafted Options

As the wedding industry grows, the options for something as simple as a guest books have gotten more and more creative. Two unique options are the wedding tree and a genealogy chart.

Talk about getting personal—this wedding guest tree leaves a mark of each guests’ most unique aspect. Guests dip their thumb in ink (make sure to offer up a baby wipe so they don’t get that ink on your white dress!), and then stamp their thumbprint as a leaf on the tree. They sign their name next to the leaf so you know whose mark is whose.

The genealogy chart is something quite different—like a traditional family genealogy chart, it maps how people are related, but it instead includes all the guests as your wedding and how they are connected to the bride and groom. The chart is printed on a large poster and framed. Guests sign their name on the side of the chart (and can even leave little messages if you leave enough space around the margins).

A graphic artist can create these types of guest books for you and customized the format and layout to your liking. The best part is that after the wedding, when the charts have been signed and frame, it creates a beautiful piece of artwork for your new married home.



Designate a Guest Book Captain

Too often, a long line forms in front of the guest book as your friends and family take their time to write a heartfelt message to the happy couple. Instead of keeping the guest book in one location, designate a “guest book captain.” This is a close friend or family member who mingles with each table throughout the reception, bringing the guest book along with him or her.

Choose a bubbly, personality-filled person who doesn’t mind ramping up excitement about signing the guest book. Ask her to start by taking the guest book to the tables holding your closest friends and encourage them to write in really personal messages or draw a fun illustration of the two of you. The other guests, who might not know you as well, will follow suit when they see what others have done.