Wedding Guest Books are a tradition for many years, but what is the purpose of them, is a wedding guest book still necessary, and how can we ensure our guests actually write in them? We’ve answered these questions, and everything else you need to know about Wedding Guest Books.
When it comes to organising a wedding, there are so many different elements to think about, that some customs and traditions may end up falling by the wayside. But if there’s one tradition that remains as popular today as it was in years gone by, it’s the practice of having a wedding guest book.
For many people, a guest book is an important way of documenting who was present on their special day, and it can also provide them with a lasting memento of the occasion. But where did this custom of signing a guest book at a wedding come from, and how has it evolved over the years?
What is a Wedding Guest Book?
A Wedding Guest Book is usually a custom made or purpose-designed hardcover book for wedding guests to write their names and pen words of well-wishes and wisdom for the newly married couple. Many couples also choose to include photos as part of their Wedding Guest Book, ask specific questions for Wedding Guests, or even ask them to make guesses about their future together. There are also hundreds of ‘alternative’ wedding guest book ideas which we’ll touch on too.
What is the History & Tradition of a Wedding Guest Book?
The use of Guest Books for Weddings can be traced back to the late 19th century, as mentioned in the book “Something Old, Something New: A Blessings Novel” by Beverly Jenkins.
It wasn’t until the late 19th century that the custom of signing a guest book at a wedding began to catch on, during the reign of Queen Victoria. This coincided with the rising popularity of photography, which allowed people to capture images of their special day to treasure for years to come. Before this time, weddings were typically marked with a variety of different customs and traditions, but the idea of having a guest book was relatively new.
Initially, guest books were fairly simple affairs – just a notebook or a bound album where guests could sign their names and offer their congratulations. However, as time went on, these books began to take on a more decorative appearance. Couples would often choose a book with a special cover or add their own personal touches, such as pictures or quotes that reflected their relationship.
Although some couples may choose to forgo the tradition, many people still use guest books at weddings as a way to look back on their special day and remember the guests who were there.
Do I still need to have a Wedding Guest Book?
With so many beautiful wedding traditions to choose from, it can be hard to choose which ones to include and which ones to omit. It is not always feasible to uphold all the traditions, as not every one of them will fit into your big day, or your wedding budget. Nevertheless, if you value nostalgia or prioritize community, then having a wedding guest book is a tradition that you shouldn’t overlook.
While having a wedding guest book is not strictly necessary, like the traditional ‘ledger’ it originated from it’s something that many couples treasure long after their wedding. A guest book serves as a wonderful keepsake that couples can look back on and reminisce about their special day. It’s also a great way to capture the love and support that guests have for the couple, and also provides something for the guests to do, in between canapes and speeches, or to have a break from dancing as the night goes on.
How to Make Sure Your Wedding Guest Book is Actually Used
Firstly, make your Wedding Guest Book visible and accessible. Place it on a table near the entrance or exit of the reception venue, and decorate the table with flowers or other decorations to make it inviting. You could even set up a photo wall nearby, to encourage guests to come over and also fill in the Guest Book.
Consider setting up a photo booth or providing a Polaroid camera for guests to take pictures and attach to their messages. Additionally, have a selfie station or photo booth – you can program both to print two copies of each photo, one to paste into the Guest Book, and one for the guests to take home.
Lastly, it’s important to have someone designated to remind guests to sign the book, such as the MC before the speeches, or if there’s an attendant to the photo booth, they can also encourage guests.
Remember, the guest book is a keepsake that the newlyweds will cherish for years to come, so encourage guests to take their time and write something meaningful. It may help to provide a chair for older or less able-bodied guests to rest in, near the Guest Book table.
Another suggestion is to provide writing prompts or questions to guide guests in what to write. This can include questions about how the guests know the couple or their wishes for the future.
Whose Name Goes First on Wedding Guest Book?
Traditionally, the bride’s name is listed first on a wedding guest book, followed by the groom’s name. However, in modern times, some couples may choose to list their names in alphabetical order or in order of who asked who to marry.
Today, the tradition of the wedding guest book remains as popular as ever, although it has evolved in some ways to reflect modern tastes and styles. From personalised message boards to interactive photo booths, there are now countless ways for couples to capture the memories of their special day and create a lasting memento that they can cherish for years to come.
Is it bad luck to put a date on a wedding guest book before the wedding?
There isn’t a widely recognized superstition or belief that says it’s bad luck to put a date on a wedding guest book before the wedding. However, some couples may choose not to put a date on their guest book if they feel superstitious.
If a couple changes their wedding date for any reason, having the date on the guest book could make it seem outdated or inaccurate. However, if you are planning on having a Guest Book for your Engagement Party or other pre-wedding events like bridal showers, it may be a good idea to personalise your guest book with a date.
What are some unique ideas for guest books that are not the traditional bound book?
There are plenty of creative and unique alternatives to wedding guest books that can help add a personal touch to your big day. Here are some ideas that you may consider (each title is linked):
- Polaroid Guest Book: Instead of a traditional book, set up a photo booth or provide Polaroid cameras and have guests snap a photo of themselves, stick it in a book and write a message next to it.
- Audio Guest Book: An audio guest book is a type of wedding guest book that allows guests to record an audio message instead of writing a message.
- Jenga Guest Book: Have guests sign individual blocks of a Jenga set, so you can read their messages every time you play the game.
- Message in a Bottle: Ask guests to write their well wishes on small pieces of paper and place them inside a bottle, which you can open on your first anniversary.
- Signature Frame: Have a large frame with a wide border and ask guests to sign the border with a marker. You can display it in your home as a memory of your big day.
- Wine Bottle Guest Book: Have guests sign a bottle of wine or champagne that you can open on a future anniversary.
- Artwork Guest Book: Provide guests with a canvas and art supplies to create a unique piece of artwork that they can sign.
- Travel Map Guest Book: If you’re a travel-loving couple, use a map as your guest book and ask guests to sign it with their favorite travel destinations.
- Thumbprint Tree: Have a tree design printed on a large canvas or paper and ask guests to “leaf” their thumbprint and sign it as the leaves.
What should we ask Guests to write in our Wedding Book?
Some guest books have pre-written prompts in them, but in designing our Wedding Guest Book ‘With Love‘ we opted for lined pages rather than prompts, for good reason. While all of our other journals and memory books have prompts, we decided that a Wedding Guest Book would be more personal if each guest could choose what to write, so instead, make a personal list of questions or prompts with the Book, to provide inspiration. You could put each suggestion on little business-card sized pieces of paper to match your wedding stationery or colour theme or provide them on a guest book sign to position near.
- Well-wishes and advice: Guests can share their words of wisdom and offer tips for a happy and successful marriage.
- Favorite memories of the couple: Guests can recall their favorite moments shared with the couple and write them down for the newlyweds to enjoy.
- Favorite love quotes or poems: Guests can share their favorite love quotes or poems that they feel represent the newlyweds’ love for each other.
- Bucket list suggestions: Guests can suggest activities or places for the newlyweds to explore together in the future.
- Funny stories: Guests can share amusing stories or anecdotes about the couple, adding a touch of humor to the guest book.
- Relationship goals: Guests can write about what they admire about the couple’s relationship and what they hope to emulate in their own relationships.
- Personal messages: Guests can write heartfelt messages to the newlyweds, expressing their love and appreciation for the couple.
Whatever messages are penned, a wedding guest book is a wonderful, tangible keepsake of your special day. It’s an exceptional reminder of your big day and you can look through and reflect on the messages for the rest of your lives.
How Many Pages Should My Wedding Guest Book have?
Ultimately, the number of pages in a guest book will depend on your personal preference and the size of your guest list. It’s important to choose a book that has enough pages to accommodate all of your guests, but you also don’t want to choose a Guest Book which will have so many pages, it will be left half blank. Unfortunately, it’s unusual for all guests to fill in a wedding guest book, so I would estimate based on between 60-80% using it, and most couples or families filling in one page together.
Our Wedding Guest Book is 100 pages, which we think will be suitable for most weddings of up to 200-220 Guests, while not being so long that it will be left with many empty pages for smaller weddings.
‘With Love‘ is also designed in a way that it can be used by the couple to continue well after the wedding, as each remaining page can be filled in with an anniversary note. As each page begins with “A Note To Say” and ends “With Love From” it is extremely versatile.
How to Set up your Wedding Guest Book Table
Setting up your guest book table is an important part of ensuring that your guests will participate in leaving their well wishes and signatures. Here are some tips on how to set up your guest book table:
- Make it visible: Place the guest book table in a prominent location where it can be easily seen by guests as they arrive at the venue, but not in the entranceway, where guests will only walk past on the way in, and way out. If the guest book table is transportable, consider moving it as the night continues, such as close to where guests are having cake, to remind them to sign as they eat.
- Decorate it: Add some decorations such as flowers, candles, or other decorative elements that complement your wedding theme. If you have time, you could even have a photo wall, or some framed photos on the table of favourite moments in your relationship history.
- Provide clear instructions: Make sure that there are clear instructions on how to sign the guest book. You may want to provide a sign or a note to instruct guests on what to do.
- Include a pen or marker: Make sure that there are plenty of pens or markers available for guests to use. I highly recommend our Artline pens – they dry instantly, have no bleed-through and are lovely to write with.
- Provide seating: Provide a chair or some other comfortable nearby the guest book table, so that guests can take their time to sign the book.
- Use props: If using a photo booth or having a polaroid camera, consider using props or accessories that complement your wedding theme, such as picture frames or props that guests can hold while taking their photo for the guest book.
- Assign someone to manage the guest book: Assign someone to manage the guest book table, to make sure that everything is running smoothly and to encourage guests to sign the book. Ask one of your wedding party to check in on the guest book at regular intervals, and if it’s not getting enough attention, ask them to pass it around with a pen.
How to Choose your Wedding Guest Book
If you’re still not sure which Wedding Guest Book is for you, here are a few considerations:
Choosing a wedding guest book involves considering a few key factors:
- Theme and Style: Choose a guest book that complements the overall theme and style of your wedding. Whether you’re going for a classic, rustic, modern, or whimsical look, there is a guest book out there that fits the bill.
- Size and Format: Consider the size and format of the guest book. Do you want a small, portable book that can easily be passed around or a larger, more substantial book to make a statement? Do you prefer a traditional bound book or something more unique, like a wood or acrylic frame or a set of individual cards?
- Personalisation: Look for ways to personalise the guest book, whether it’s by adding your names, wedding date or personalised initials on the cover, or by choosing a guest book that incorporates your wedding colors or theme.
- Guest Experience: Think about how your guests will interact with the guest book. Do you want something that encourages them to write long messages or something that allows them to simply sign their name and leave a quick note? Consider including prompts or questions to guide their writing, or incorporating interactive elements like a photo booth or fingerprint tree.
- Practicality: Finally, consider the practicality of the guest book. Will it be easy to transport and store after the wedding? Will it hold up over time? If it is going to be a piece of art, will it complement your home? Does it have enough pages to accommodate all your guests’ messages? Keep these practical considerations in mind when making your choice.
- Quality: Of course you are going to keep it forever, but if you are also going to be pasting photos in, ensure you choose a book with a high GSM (page thickness). Ours is 150 GSM, to ensure no bleed through, and so that each page looks as beautiful and crisp as the last. We also recommend our Artline pens, no matter which Guest Book you choose.