Here's Exactly What to Write in a Wedding Guest Book

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Dina Cheney - The Knot Contributor.
by
Dina Cheney
Dina Cheney - The Knot Contributor.
Dina Cheney
The Knot Contributor
  • Dina writes for The Knot Worldwide, specializing in food, travel and relationships.
  • With more than 20 years of experience in service journalism, she also pens articles and recipes for publications, such as Good Housekeeping, Parents, SELF, Health, Men’s Health, Men’s Journal, Prevention, Fine Cooking, Weight Watchers and Diabetic Living.
  • Dina graduated from Columbia College, Columbia University and The Institute of Cul...
Updated Aug 01, 2021

What you write in a wedding guest book might seem unimportant. Yet, it can be more meaningful than you think. In fact, messages penned to the married couple are everlasting, says Lisa Mirza Grotts, a certified etiquette professional, former Director of Protocol for San Francisco, and a member of the International Society of Protocol and Etiquette Professionals. "I still have my wedding guestbook, and every few years, I read some of the messages our guests wrote." Etiquette expert, Liz Bryant, agrees, adding that guest book entries "provide a meaningful keepsake for newlyweds, who will delight in reading the messages for years to come."

So, how can you pen wedding guest book messages that will stand the test of time? Read on for some guidelines; then approach wedding guest books with confidence and ease.

Keep it short.

Wedding guest books are probably not the time for soliloquies. Instead, keep your messages brief and to the point, says Grotts. "A gift book generally gives one line for messaging, so there's not much room to write anything but congratulations and a few extra sentiments."

However, if you have the option of more space, feel free to write a few sentences, says Bryant. "Just remember that many people will want to sign the guest book, and you don't want to monopolize the signing time or the available space in the book." Also keep in mind that everyone else signing the book will be able to see your entry, so avoid being too personal.

Let your relationship with the couple guide you.

How close you are with the newlyweds should impact what you write, says Bryant. A work colleague may offer a message that's simple and straightforward, while dear friends can be more personal, she explains.

In fact, those closest to the couple might consider sharing more specific or emotional sentiments in a handwritten note. If you go that route, make sure to mention both members, even if you know one much better than the other. "This is a wedding, after all, and it's about the two of them," says Bryant.

Adapt your message to the format of the wedding guest book.

Naturally, you should also tailor your message to the wedding guest book format—whether it's a traditional guest book or a guest book alternative. For instance, a chalkboard or Jenga guest book, in which each attendee pens a message on a Jenga block, may lend itself to a short, quippy note. While others, like a book that includes a polaroid photo of each guest, may require nothing more than a smile and your signature.

Be careful with humor.

"Humor in the written word can be tricky," says Bryant. "What I might think of as funny may be received quite differently by others. My experience has been that it's best to stick with a fond memory, a compliment, or something that won't be misinterpreted in the translation." Nick Leighton, etiquette expert and host of the weekly etiquette podcast, "Were you raised by wolves?," also advises caution, recommending leaning towards sincerity instead of humor.

That said, humor can work if it's used in good taste, says Grotts, offering the example of a relatively generic statement such as, "You finally found someone who understands your silly jokes."

If you attempt comedy, be sure to keep your message appropriate, clean, and positive, says Bryant. "This isn't the time or place to embarrass your friends, even if you think it might be funny. That's a quick way to embarrass yourself too, and potentially harm the friendship."

Plan your message ahead of time.

"The best way to avoid not being able to think of anything beyond 'best wishes' is to think ahead of time about what you'll write," Bryant advises. "You can even jot it down and then copy it into the book. That way, you can be sure that the message you want to convey is the one that makes it into print."

Steal these sample wedding messages:

From anyone:

"Two is better than one. We are thrilled you two found one another. Get ready for quite a ride from a couple who has been there for more than XX years."

"Well wishes on your wedding day for a happy marriage and lifetime of love."

"Best wishes to the happy couple on their big day! From saying 'I do' to your first year of marriage and beyond, I wish you lots of love."

From a work colleague:

"Wishing you both much happiness as you begin your new life together."

"What a lovely celebration of your marriage. So happy I could share this wonderful day with you."

From a close friend:

"You both mean the world to me. Being here with you as you start your married life together is something I'll never forget. Thank you for including me in your special day."

From a future family member:

"We are so happy to welcome you to our family."

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