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The Basics of Wedding Guest Books

Your guests will be sure to sign these.

Spending quality time with each and every wedding guest can be a challenge, but a guest book, where friends and family pen special sentiments to the happy couple, can be a great way to fill in the gaps and relive the moments of the day. Read on for five creative twists on guest book tradition.

Pre-printed Questions

What it is:

Avoid a book full of variations of "Best wishes! Love, Aunt Nancy" by gently directing guests to be more reflective and creative on cards printed with fun questions to answer.

How it's done: Think about the stories and sentiments you'd like to read (and revisit) most and have cards printed with these type of questions (like "who are you happiest to see today?"). Spread them out on a table next to a big glass bowl where guests can drop their completed cards. Whatever you do, make sure to include a space for guests to sign and date them.


The key to getting good responses? Do not make your guests feel as if they're doing a homework assignment. Stick to one or two fun-to-answer questions per card:

  • How did you first meet the bride and groom?
  • When did you know they were in love?
  • What's the secret to a great marriage?
  • Can you share a funny memory about the bride and/or the groom?

Get more DIY wedding ideas.

Toast To Tradition

What it is:

Like the true oenophiles you are, mark the milestones of the first few years of your marriage with fabulous bottles of wine, surrounded by the loving tributes of your friends and family.

How it's done: At the reception, set out five bottles of vino, one for each of your first five anniversaries. Tag each bottle with the specific anniversary that it will commemorate. Start with a great champagne, and then include four special vintages that will improve with age until their scheduled opening time. Gather a bunch of pens that write on glass (silver and gold Sharpies work well), and then invite your guests to cover the bottles with their well-wishes for that anniversary.

Tip: Be sure to store the champagne cork up, and the other four bottles on their sides in a dark, cool environment (a wine cellar or dry basement is best) until you're ready to enjoy them.

Branch Out

What it is:

Just about anything, including tree branches, can serve as an easel for your guests' sweet sentiments.

How it's done: Purchase a small sapling from a local nursery or take a piece from an existing tree with sentimental value (like a willow tree in your parents' yard), and plant it in a decorative pot. Cut paper flowers from card stock and have guests sign the blossoms and attach to the tree's branches with ribbon. To make hanging a breeze, punch a hole in each card and loop a ribbon through. Double knot it to make a loop that can easily slip on the branches. At the end of the night, you'll have a tree in full bloom. After the event, gather the blossoms in a book, and for those who used a real sapling, plant the tree that has now been anointed with the loving and supportive words of your guests.

Green Note: Save space and paper by doubling the guest book cards as escort cards. On the back of each guest's calligraphed table card, print, "A note to the newlyweds." Place a pen at every place setting (favor idea!) so guests know to fill them out.

Sign Language

What it is:

Create a sign-in board that doubles as a piece of art for your newlywed home.

How it's done: Find a great eight-by-ten photo of the both of you (use a fun candid, or your engagement photo. Find a wedding photographer to take the perfect shot.) and mount it on an extra large white mat. For an elegant and classic look, use a black-and-white photo. At the reception, encourage guests to sign their well-wishes directly on the mat. After the festivities, frame it and hang in a place of honor.

Tip: For something a little less traditional, have guests sign card stock cutouts (in some relevant theme) that you then affix to your mat. For instance, if your photo is of the two of you against gorgeous fall foliage, have guests sign little mini leaves, which you can later arrange on the mat around the photo.

Wish Upon a Ribbon

What it is:

Incorporate wedding guest sentiments directly into your ceremony décor with wishing ribbons.

How it's done: As guests enter the ceremony, assign someone to hand them 2-inch-wide and about 2-feet-long satin ribbon pieces in your wedding colors, plus a pen to write a message (you might need a fabric pen). A few minutes before the ceremony, have someone gather the ribbons and tie them to the ceremony arbor or archway. It's especially great for outdoor ceremonies, as the ribbons will flutter in the breeze.

Tip: Too labor intensive? Use wishing stones instead. As guests enter the ceremony space, hand out a small stone that they can hold during the wedding ceremony to make a special wish for the couple. Afterward, they can drop the stones in a large vase that you can display in your home. See more wedding ceremony ideas.

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