It’s difficult to say exactly where and when the concept of a Wedding Guest Book first began. What is certain, however, is that what once was a simple custom has, at many contemporary weddings, been redesigned and redesigned again. Once upon a time, tradition held that upon arriving at the church or other ceremony location, each wedding guest would sign his or her name in a book reserved for the purpose. Perhaps because a blank page offers such a temptation, guests soon began to embellish by writing simple messages to the bride and groom. Suddenly the Guest Book was being transformed from simply a list of guests to a recording of their good wishes. Encouraged by this beginning trend, couples began putting “instructions” into their Guest Books which asked their guests to write more than just their names. 

Weddings have traditionally become fertile ground for creativity. Leave it to the modern bride to inspire her guests so they would help in the creation of what could easily become a family heirloom which the bride and groom would treasure. The Guest Book tradition has taken on a life of its own. At some weddings, the book is passed from table to table at the reception, so rather than having to write a message “under pressure,”guests have an opportunity to stop and collect their thoughts before writing them down for posterity. No longer relegated to its former location at the front of the reception hall, new opportunities for creativity emerged. 

At some weddings, the bride and groom have been known to provide a really high quality scrapbook along with marking pens, crayons, colored pencils, calligraphy pens and a variety of other artistic tools. Guests are asked to kindly use the blank page for the creation of a personal wedding memory for the bride and groom. Some guests write poems, some tell a personal anecdote or short story and some draw a picture. Whatever the means of expression, the resulting book becomes a precious collection of memories. 

Another way to create a “Guest Book” is for the couple to take a photo of themselves and enlarge and mat it (their engagement photo would be perfect). The guests are asked to sign the mat, which, after the wedding is framed and hung in their home, as a wonderful reminder of the special people who shared their special day.

One wedding consultant told the story of a bride and groom who took this concept one step further. As each couple arrived at the reception, the best man snapped their photo with a Polaroid camera. Some posed in a silly way, some were serious. Each photo was taped to a page, and the guests were asked to write a message “built” around the picture. 

This idea expands on a concept used frequently at Sweet Sixteens and Bar & Bat Mitzvahs. It calls for the “Guest Book” to be developed in the form of a poster. On a large piece of oak tag or poster board, the couple print a love poem or other quotation that has significance to them on their wedding day. Guests are then asked to sign around the edges of the poster, which, after the wedding, is framed and hung in their home.

Ceramics classes and studios have become very popular of late. For the creative couple, this “Guest Book” will combine their handiwork and the signatures of their guests. The prospective bride and groom design and decorate a large, flat ceramic plate. Paint pens are provided at the reception for guests to sign the unfinished plate. After the wedding, the plate is brought back to the studio to be fired. It may then be kept by the couple as an interesting and unusual wedding momento.

Sometimes the guest book becomes so much of a project that the bride and groom are concerned that it may actually draw undue attention from the wedding day itself. In an avoid that problem, couples may “create” their Wedding Guest Book in advance of the festivities. The logistics are simple. Each guest who responds with a positive reply is mailed a sheet of card stock weight paper. They are asked to prepare their entries at home, before the wedding, and to bring the results of their handiwork with them to the reception, where there is a table waiting to “collect” them. The content of the entries are limited only by the guest’s imagination. One might choose to write, to draw, design a collages, sketch a cartoon, paint a watercolor, create a poem, or even to submit a photos of themselves as a part of their activity. The actual Wedding Guest Book is assembled by the Bride and Groom (or by a kind volunteer) at a later date. 

Whatever your choice of the format for a Wedding Guest Book, it will be a way to relive the meaningful shared sentiments of friends and family who joined you on your very special day.