Your guests are a big part of your wedding but it is a very busy day for the bride and groom and so you might not get the chance to talk to all of them in any real depth. So having a wedding guestbook is a great way to let them pass on their messages, good wishes and even advice to you on your wedding day and can provide a lasting and much loved souvenir of the day. There are certainly some fabulous guest books available online and even on the high street that would be a lovely addition to your bookshelf or coffee table but there are also some great other guest book ideas (most of which aren’t books at all) that you might want to consider instead. Below are the top five categories – don’t be afraid to think outside the box (or book!)
1. Photo Booths & Photo Guest Books
A picture speaks a 1000 words or so the saying goes so let your guests share their wedding wishes for you in pictorial form. You can hire lots of different types of photo booth – some look like standard passport booths, some are free standing and out in the open so everyone can join in the fun (the addition of a props or ‘dressing up box’ can make it the process a real spectator sport) and I’ve even seen some where guests climb into the back of a ‘taxi’ to get their pictures taken. Usually the guest gets two copies of the photo, one for them to keep as a memory of the day and one to put into your guest book where they can add a message or pin onto a board for all to see. If you love the idea but are not looking to spend out a great deal on offering this, polaroid cameras and film can are available reasonably cheaply and your guests can just take pictures of each other and add them into your guest book (beware about leaving this out after the drinks have really started to flow though, the last wedding I saw this at had some quite frankly shocking photos added to their guest book after the camera found its ways into the gents toilet!) However you choose to make your photo guest book work, the idea is that your guests have fun creating the images for you and that shines through in your finished book.
2. Wishing Trees
If a book doesn’t seem a big enough feature for you, then consider a whole tree! Wishing trees are already a huge tradition in America and it generally follows that what is over there, ends up over here eventually and so it can be expected that we will see more of these over the coming years. Some are quite modest tree shaped models which you provide for your guests along with pens and some kind of token that they can write on. The most common ones are luggage tags either in paper or wood, but I’ve seen lots of variations. The basic premise is that your guests write their wishes for you onto the token and hang it on the tree. If you are having a smallish tree, it can make a great ornament displayed in your home after your wedding. Then I have seen some very glorious wishing trees which are either whole trees (if it is in a pot you can enjoy it in your garden afterwards of course – you’d have to remove the tags, it would still be like the tree was carrying everyone’s wishes for you), suitably shaped and sized trees at the wedding venue or branches displayed in a container. Alternative tokens could include paper birds, paper fruit, paper butterflies, paper flowers, basically anything you can think of. Add some fairy lights and you have a beautiful centrepiece for your evening reception – sure to be a talking point…
3. Other Things your Guests can Sign
A blank piece of paper is strangely quite daunting to lots of people – they want to write their good wishes but a whole sheet staring up at you can make you feel that you are under a bit of pressure to fill it all up. So give your guests something smaller to work with and you’ll find that their words can flow a little more freely. Some ideas might include, flat smooth pebbles (perfect for a nautical, beach or seaside themed wedding), a huge wine or champagne bottle (you can get glass marker pens at most hobby shops but just test it first to make sure it doesn’t smudge), a plate (lots of towns offer ceramic painting shops – might be a fun activity for the two of you before the wedding), wine corks, pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, vintage postcards or even Jenga game pieces. The limit is really your imagination. The best thing about a lot of these ideas is that you can display them in your home afterwards so your guests wishes will become part of your every day lives together.
4. Other Ways your Guests Can Leave their Wishes for You
With a bit of imagination, there’s lots of ways for your guests to let you know they care on your wedding day. Here’s just a few ideas to get you inspired…
If guest books are a bit ‘old school’ for you, then you can set up a ‘Guest Blog Station’ where guests can visit a laptop or computer and add their wishes to a blog, even including webcam photos or video of themselves. If you’re not sure that all of your guests will know what to do, it’s probably best to assign an Usher or Bridesmaid to ‘Guest Blog Support’ so they can advise the less techno-savvy. It’s a great idea if you have friends and family abroad who are unable to attend the wedding, as they can leave messages from their homes as well.
Don’t like the idea of everyone just writing in a book, then bring out your guests’ creative side by making prompt cards part of their place setting. These can ask for their best wedding memory, their best piece of advice for you or even for a sketch of the two of you together (or anything else that takes their fancy). That way they’re not under pressure to come up with witty wedding wishes on the spot with other people waiting to sign standing behind them, but they can create you a real masterpiece throughout their dinner. Don’t forget to add a container for them all to get posted in so they don’t get lost or cleared away by the table staff.
Get your guests to leave their messages on a small piece of paper which they roll into a scroll, tie up and drop into a bottle. A great twist on the ‘message in a bottle’ idea and perfect for a beach or seaside themed wedding.
Set up an old fashioned typewriter and a ream of paper and let your guests express their love for you in ‘clickety clack’ form. You can bind them altogether in a book afterwards.
There are some commercially available guest book alternatives that come in kit form and are designed to be displayed on a wall of your home after your wedding day – Etsy.com is a great place to start searching for this kind of item. There are sets with tiny paper hearts or butterflies for messages which you mount and frame, which look like gorgeous artworks when they are finished. Also you can take a totally different approach and not ask your guests to write anything at all – instead leave out some coloured stamp pads and ask your guests to add their fingerprints to a picture on a board which you can frame afterwards. Alternatively provide stamp pads and pens and let your guests add their fingerprint to a book and turn their prints into little characters. It’s a good ideas to also include some wet wipes as part of the display so that guests don’t have to spend the whole day with inky fingers!
5. Guests ‘Books’ you don’t Open Straight Away
This is just a fabulous idea as your guests wedding good wishes get to travel along with you on your married life together. One very simple idea is to have a calendar as a guest book (one with big enough spaces for your guests to get a few words in). Invite your guests to find their birthday and write their message to you in that slot. Then you’ll have fresh good wishes as you turn the pages throughout the year. You could start a ‘time capsule’ by asking your guests to write their messages for you and put them into a lockable box or container which you promise not to open until your first wedding anniversary. You could arrange empty wine bottles with numbers on the labels in a wine rack and ask your guests to add their wishes and advice for you into as many bottles as they wish to. You then read the messages in each bottle on the corresponding anniversary. I just love the idea that you’ll be able to look back on what the people who love you wanted for you on your 10th, or even 20th wedding anniversary!
Weddings are a time when everyone is full of messages for the bride and groom, and guest books are a great way to let them share these with you. However there are lots of other creative and exciting ways that let your guests express their love and good wishes for you both, that can provide a great feature and talking point at your wedding as well as letting you create something you might be able to keep on display in your home and enjoy throughout your lives together.