A wedding takes the average couple over a year to plan, and passes by far too quickly on the actual day. Between getting dressed, traveling to and from ceremony and reception spaces, and the number of traditions most couples try to incorporate, one of the happiest days is also one of the most fleeting. Which is why many choose to incorporate a wedding guest book at the reception for guests to write a funny, heartwarming, or even raunchy message to the bride/groom on their wedding day.
Enter the wedding guest book: a simple accessory that couples may overlook, or even skip altogether. But wedding guest books are an excellent way for couples to remember every person that was at their wedding, and also a great way for guests themselves to feel welcome and a part of the celebration.
Elements of an awesome guest book
It can be important for couples to preserve memories they can reflect on years down the road. Sure, you can choose a simple and elegant bound book with pages and photos, and those work for many brides. But why not something more fun? When choosing a type of wedding guest book, we think it’s worth asking yourselves a few questions:
Do you want your guests to write an actual message? Or just sign their names? (We think messages are a more personal touch)
How many people are in attendance/do you expect to participate in the guest book?
Do you want to look at it often over the years, or do you fully expect to look at it once and then put it in a closet forever?
Do you want to walk away with one BIG thing, or lots of little items?
With those in mind, let’s dive in to some truly clever ideas to let your guests put their mark on the wedding and leave you with words of wisdom.
12 alternative guest book ideas:
The Guest Book Bench
Rustic, barn-chic, or classy country. Whatever you call it, buying (or building) a wooden bench for all your guests to sign is a really fun and functional way to record the memories of that great day. Guests can sign their names in Sharpie paint markers, and the bench can then be placed in the entryway of your first home, or out in the garden.
What we like: You can really make the wedding bench match your style, from totally rustic to funky and colorful. Great for small and super large weddings alike.
Something to think about: Transporting it home
A Guest Globe!
For the couple who is known to jetset, having everyone sign a vintage globe is a really cool spin (get it?) on traditional wedding guest books. Alternatively, if you have guests coming from all over the world, they can sign from where they’re from! We think old fashioned globes are something that will always look styling in a home, unlike some other trends. If you have the time, keep your eye out for awesome globes in thrift stores and antique shops.
What we like: A map never goes out of style, and it doesnt need to be a globe. You can go for a big wooden state map if you love your local roots!
Something to think about: There’s only so much space on a globe, so probably best for a smaller wedding.
Vintage Postcards for Guests to Sign
Similar to the globe above, this definitely gives the travel vibe, and is one of our favorite
wedding guest book alternatives. Search around for really cool, vintage postcards (or hop on Etsy to make your life easier). There’s plenty of ways to display these cards for guests to sign (with clothespins, pretty wooden boxes, etc.), and they will be easy to store to refer back to in 20 years to re-live your big day. If you’re extra crafty, you can use them to make a collage or coffee table!
What we like: Guests have plenty of room to write a heartfelt message or just their name. If they screw up (or write something weird), it’s not permanently attached to a larger guest book.
Something to think about: With everything going on, there’s a chance these will end up in a shoebox. So be sure to do something cool with them!
Guest Board Quilt
If you are a die-hard craftsperson, this is the most time intensive, but the hard work pays off in our opinion. The idea is having each of your guests sign an individual fabric square, which can then be sewed into a quilt later. For years to come, you can literally keep warm by the kindness of your friends and family.
What we like: When your friends come over to visit, they’ll want to find their square!
Something to think about: This takes time. And effort. Lots of it.
In this modern age, let your guests try their hand at using a traditional typewriter to write their sentimental note to you and your spouse. Using a typewriter for wedding guests is not only fun, but is a nice call-back to traditional times and if you have a vintage/boho/or mid century decor, it will fit write in. It also ensures that they think hard about what they write! Be sure to give them a nice little booklet or box to place their letter in afterward. As far as alternative guest book ideas go, this is one of our favorites, because it takes a little effort to track one of these relics down.
What we like: It’s super engaging and a very hands-on process. Everyone wants to hear the *CHINGGG*!
Something to think about: These can be pricey to buy at an antique store. If you’re using Guestboard to connect with your guests, put out a message to see if anyone has one you can borrow (and then thank them).
Dictionary Guest Book
In a similar vein as the typewriter, if you’re a big reader (or maybe a professional writer), a dictionary is a fun way to get your wedding guests to sign something that gives them some options. You can provide some instructions as an added level of fun to have your guests find a word they think describes you (or them!). Old dictionaries are relatively easy to find in used bookstores.
What we like:There’s LOTS of space for guests to go wild. Big doodles, long messages, hidden little silly notes. If you have a 300 person wedding, they’re not even getting close to filling this up.
Signing a His/Hers Sports Jersey
Maybe trendy DIY decor isn’t your thing. In fact, you both are more likely to be caught watching the game with a beer and some nachos. That’s no secret to you, your families, or your guests. Show your team spirit with custom jerseys that your guests can all sign – after all, your friends and family are the real MVPs!
What we like: These can be easily framed and hung in your home for years to come (in a game room maybe!)
Something to think about: Be sure to give your guests a nice big surface to lay these out on.
Signing Drink Coasters
So you like beer, but maybe without the sports. Having your wedding guests sign custom coasters is a fun way to give them room to write a fun, short message onto a useful little item! There are all sorts of design styles you can take these little circles: wood, elegant, playful, or casual. We know a couple who simply brought real coasters from dozens of breweries they had visited throughout their relationship, and had their guests sign those. Or, you can check etsy for custom guest book coasters with lines to write on.
What we like: Quite useful, fun, and let’s you focus on each single message as you use them. They’re surprisingly personal in this regard.
Something to think about: Think of a cool box to keep these in – just storing them in a drawer or in a stack on a counter isn’t very fun for how special these are!
Guest Book Jenga!
Using a Jenga game for a guest book is a very clever little idea that can be used for decades play with your spouse, friends, and even your children. Like the coasters above, each piece lets you think of that individual guest that was a part of your special day, and with a small sharpie, guests can fit quite a good amount of writing on each piece!
What we like: We like Jenga, so it’s probably the item we’d use the most after the wedding.
Something to think about: Don’t lose any of the pieces! (But if you do, finding replacements isn’t hard).
If you’re looking for more ways to give your guests a voice and feel like part of the family, sign up for the Guestboard waitlist! Guestboard is a simple wedding communication platform that lets guests interact, allowing them to share flight/hotel deals, post questions, share their excitement and more!