Fun alternatives to wedding guestbook that I can maybe display at home?
August 8, 2016 4:20 PM   Subscribe

I'm getting married in a month! Thinking of creative ways to invite our guests to share something of themselves with us. Guestbooks are cool and if that's what we end up with, no problem, but wondered if the hive mind has seen something cooler? Recently saw a wedding where the outcome of this was something that could be displayed, and it got me wondering.

A month ago I went to a friend's wedding and they invited each guest to tie a colorful Tibetan looking ribbon around two ropes that represented their union. Sweet idea, and everyone had fun picking a color and tying a ribbon. But that doesn't leave much room for personalizing a message.

We have a photobooth and thought we'd ask people to include one copy of their pictures in signing a guestbook. This is a nice potential option. But I'm wondering if there are others ideas for inviting guests to express themselves in a way that might result something nice? Videos? Crafts? Something digital?
posted by namesarehard to Grab Bag (37 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
We ordered a guestbook tree from Etsy and love it. We had it matted and framed using our wedding colors and it's displayed in the entryway of our house.
posted by notjustthefish at 4:31 PM on August 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

We had people sign fabric squares that I made into a quilt after the wedding. Would require you or someone you know to have that skill!

We also had a photobooth and part of the package was a guestbook that people could leave their second set of photos in (it automatically printed two). It was great, but I would recommend making sure the book is big enough because ours ran out of room quickly!
posted by wsquared at 4:32 PM on August 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

At our wedding, we asked our guests to write notes in colourful ink on a blank puzzle.

My sister-in-law had guests write messages on Jenga blocks. Fun!

For something that can be displayed, I've been to weddings where the guestbook was a mat for a picture frame intended to eventually house a wedding photo.
posted by bibliotropic at 4:32 PM on August 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'd hand out nice cards and ask guests to write something (advice, stories, etc.) to be opened on your first anniversary.
posted by mochapickle at 4:38 PM on August 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

One year, for my birthday, I put out half-sheets of paper, crayons and markers, and a manila enveloped labeled "Advice for amtho's 29th birthday". I got some lovely stuff. One older person even took a week and wrote me wonderful poem. It's great having things in people's handwriting. I specifically asked for people to feel free to be anonymous if they wished, too, which ended up being cool even if most people signed theirs.

I always meant to compile it into a book.

Bonus: it gives people something to do, and to talk about, at the event.
posted by amtho at 4:39 PM on August 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

My sister-in-law and brother-in-law had an engagement photo framed with an extra large mat. During the wedding reception they asked everyone to write a message on the mat. It's still framed over their fireplace.
posted by killy willy at 4:50 PM on August 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

My sister-in-law and brother-in-law had an engagement photo framed with an extra large mat. During the wedding reception they asked everyone to write a message on the mat.

Yes, this is what we did also. Though I'll confess that it's not currently on display in our house.
posted by primethyme at 4:52 PM on August 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

We did the signed photo mat. It had our Save The Date photo in it at the wedding, replaced with a wedding photo after. We bought it, purpose-made with frame and glass and all, at either Michael's or JoAnn's.

I've seen the photobooth sticker guestbooks, and I think what I'd like best is the mat - a huge one, lots of room to work - and the photobooth stickers + maybe blank stickers and markers and stuff so people could take something to their table and do it up and then take it back over to the mat.

You do sort of have to know you have decent grownup friends/family though, if you're going to do that, or be prepared to put some colorful stickers over your nephew's boobs graffiti etc.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:55 PM on August 8, 2016

If not a photo of the bride and groom I've also seen people do a map of their home state/where they met/arrows and hearts between their long distance relationship/ a picture of their dog/etc
posted by raccoon409 at 4:56 PM on August 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Are you a fan of Board games like Carcassonne? A couple I know had each guest sign a tile, then pieced them together into a map and framed it.
posted by chrisamiller at 4:58 PM on August 8, 2016

Some friends of mine are Quaker and in their religion there is no minister/officiant at the wedding -- your guests actually sign to make the contract legal! They then had that framed and it looks lovely on their wall. Here is an example of what it looks like.

Now, I'm assuming you aren't Quaker, but I'm sure you could get one of these custom-made that didn't have the solemnizing aspects but was more of a big frame-able guestbook (in fact, that specific Etsy listing I linked to above would do it).

Another wedding I went to had a bunch of Jenga pieces and everyone signed one. Now, that's not a "display" but is something you would use.
posted by rainbowbrite at 5:13 PM on August 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

We did the guestbook tree thing. It worked well for our smallish (~70 person) wedding.
posted by quaking fajita at 5:17 PM on August 8, 2016

We bought a Lego house and out out the bigger pieces, with a sharpie. After the wedding, my stepson and I built the house together. We still have it displayed. Our moment of involving him in the ceremony came when we explained the 'guest book' at the reception and ceremonially presented him with a child Minifig to add to the box of pieces, to represent himself.
posted by ficbot at 5:21 PM on August 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

"We had people sign fabric squares that I made into a quilt after the wedding. "

I did this too, a display size (not a bed size), and it hangs in my den. Still love it 14 years later.

My sister-in-law did the photo-mat-with-engagement-photo, looks nice in their living room.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:24 PM on August 8, 2016

This isn't for a wedding, but I had my (rather small, very close-knit) class write me notes on coloured paper before we all parted ways, which I then stuck in a nice album along with photos and other ephemera. It turned out really well!
posted by Tamanna at 5:30 PM on August 8, 2016

Our friends had a triptych painting that everyone could write on. It is hanging in their apartment.

We had guests write wishes to us on cardstock gift tags and drop them in a mason jar. I still have thoughts of how to fill in the jar with stuffing of some sort so the tags aren't in a pile at the bottom but I haven't done anything with it.
posted by amapolaroja at 5:33 PM on August 8, 2016

We did a guestbook tree, but we used a large real stick and then cut out little squares of card stock with attached ribbons for people to write notes in (like small christmas ornaments), and then place on branches. It was very pretty during the reception, and we kept the notes after.
posted by likeatoaster at 5:37 PM on August 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I had a Pagan wedding, with handfasting; we had everyone present at the wedding help braid the cord. This doesn't result in something display-able later (we have it, but "braided cord" doesn't belong hanging in the living room, and there's no identifiers on it), but it did nicely work to keep us aware of our marriage being part of the community, and everyone there got to say the actually helped us get married.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 5:44 PM on August 8, 2016

Some friends who got hitched recently did something called a "heart drop": all guests receive a small, thin wooden (plyboard?) heart, which they can decorate and write messages on. Then, these hearts are dropped into a frame. Examples here and here. Looked really cute when it was all done, and a bit more DIY-aesthetic.
posted by Paper rabies at 5:57 PM on August 8, 2016

I had an actual guestbook tree, a small fake bush that my ex-spouse crafted out of stuff from Michael's. We left out tags for people to sign and asked them to tie them to the tree. It looked gorgeous, my one regret was that the tags were too small to write a lot on. It looked awesome in our living room. Oh, I even found a picture! (The foil on the TV tray was to discourage the cat, not part of the installation.)
posted by possibilityleft at 6:02 PM on August 8, 2016

I went to a wedding between two musically-inclined people that had a guitar to sign, and it's hanging over their mantel currently.

One set of friends got a bunch of vintage postcards, some postcard stands to set them on, and had a old small suitcase as the collection container. It was fun to browse through and pick one out to sign.
posted by Fig at 6:07 PM on August 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

For my small-ish wedding, we created a Guest Record using old records - my fiance designed and printed stickers which cover the center of the records, and people used the silver paint markers we provided to sign directly on the record itself. We ended up with 4 signed records, and they turned out pretty great! We framed and hung the records on the cheap using ikea record frames.
posted by namewithoutwords at 6:17 PM on August 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

We had a photo booth at our wedding, and part of the package was a guest book. Guests received an extra copy of each print to put in the book, and they signed next to it. It's fantastic!
posted by Wet Hen at 6:31 PM on August 8, 2016

One wedding I went to recently had a canoe paddle for people to sign, another a wooden bench. Obviously your decor may or may not accommodate these.
posted by mskyle at 6:42 PM on August 8, 2016

I had a caricature done of us, and then had guests sign the matte. It's still hung in our living room, 15 years on. everyone loves to find their signatures when they visit.

I also used the same caricature to make magnet sets for the favour. Many guests still have those on their fridges
posted by Ftsqg at 6:56 PM on August 8, 2016

I've seen a lot of the signing the photo mat board which was later filled in with a wedding picture and framed. Depending on the size of your guest list the mats tend to be a bit small for writing full messages.

I went to a wedding where the couple shared a favorite Dr. Seuss book. They had people write messages throughout the illustrations in the book (the style of Dr. Seuss books provides a lot of relatively blank space to work with) and lovingly display it on their coffee table.

Another one I've been seeing more often is a huge marquee letter (usually the first letter of their new last name) and everyone writes messages on it in permanent marker. I'm personally not into decorating with words/letters but I've seen it done really well. My cousin put her letter on her fireplace mantle and I've also seen it hung on a wall in part of a framed picture collage.
posted by simplethings at 6:58 PM on August 8, 2016

My cousin had a beautiful globe that guests signed on their approximate home location. Different, and she has it displayed unobtrusively in her home.
posted by tatiana wishbone at 7:39 PM on August 8, 2016

I've seen people do a signable platter that they then can display and use for dinner parties
posted by Mchelly at 7:44 PM on August 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've seen a few different ideas for this, all of which I like for different reasons.

My brother- and sister-in-law had a (decorative rather than legal) marriage license that had space for all the guests to sign as witnesses. They have it hanging in their living room alongside some wedding photos, and it's quite nice. Sadly, a lot of the ink has faded on the signatures, so if you decide to go with something like that, make sure that it's on acid-free paper, that you use anti-UV glass when you frame it, and provide pens with a photo-stable and acid-free ink.

My cousin's mother bought them a beautiful silver platter and brought an engraving pen so that guests could engrave their signatures on it. I liked the idea, but the pen was somewhat hard to use and (for me personally) the platter was fancier than I'd want to display in my house.

My husband and I had something closer to a traditional guest book, but tried to get people to add more to it than just a signature and, in my admittedly biased opinion, I think it turned out great. We put out a fancy blank book and a big cup of colored pens, with a sign encouraging people to use an entire page. Some people left drawings, some left notes with advice, and some just signed. We also had some digital instant-print Polaroid cameras that printed photos onto stickers. One was tethered to the table with the guest book, and the other was passed around between the kids we'd invited. People took photos of themselves, each other, and the reception and printed them out and stuck them in the book. It's still just a book that sits on the shelf, but having so much more in it that just signatures really encourages us to pull it out and look at it more often and I really enjoy all the photo out-takes that were left on the cameras as well.
posted by duien at 7:58 PM on August 8, 2016

Response by poster: OMG thanks for all of these amazing answers! :D
posted by namesarehard at 8:31 PM on August 8, 2016

It sounds sort of cheesy, but for Christmas I bought my mom a digital picture frame. We were just visiting over the last week and it's really wonderful to see all the photos, she had it set up in the kitchen and it was a bit....mesmerizing. Actually inspired me to go and set up the 2nd one I purchased for myself. If your photobooth has a digital option maybe it could be configured to receive the photos (on our frame you can just email the photos to an acct and the frame refreshes from the server.) I can totally see buying one and just using it for wedding memories, some frames can receive videos.
posted by snowymorninblues at 11:03 PM on August 8, 2016

My friends printed off a photo of themselves on a very large scale, drew a grid over it of the same number of people who would be attending the reception, cut the picture into those squares, each numbered on the back with their position from the original grid, e.g. A1, A2, A3 etc across the top, B1, C1, D1, E1 etc down the left and so on. Then they got a large canvas, and drew the same grid onto it (in pencil).

Each person at the reception found their square in front of their place setting and were encouraged during the evening to go to the canvas at the back of the room, locate their grid reference, and recreate the colours/shapes on their square on the canvas. Paints and paintbrushes were provided. Because of the large number of squares involved, most people just had to paint a solid colour, and it was arranged so that the people known to be competent artists got the few square that were complicated.

At the end of the night, the guests had jointly recreated the picture of the bride and groom in paint on the canvas.

But in actual fact, it didn't look that great. I think it would have been neat if it had been a more abstract picture, but it's really hard for faces to not look weird if the colours or shapes are even slightly off. The couple still has the picture but they don't put it on the wall!
posted by lollusc at 12:56 AM on August 9, 2016

For our wedding, I designed and printed out loose pages for a custom guestbook. The page was designed to look like an official query form of some sort, with boxes to tick and sentences to complete. There was also a space reserved for a drawing: each guest was prompted to draw a portrait of themselves at the present moment.

During the evening a selection of pens and markers was set out and a page given to each guest; after filling in their pages the guests dropped them in a specified, decorated box.

After the wedding I bound these pages into a book, that I still browse through from time to time. I think the portrait-drawing was the best part: the pictures people drew of themselves are quite glorious, and give further insight into their character.

(For a more American take, you might want to ask the guests to draw a portrait of you and your spouse instead of themselves. However, I believe this will result in "less authentic" drawings, because some of the guests will be afraid of insulting you - either with a lack OR a surplus of artistic ability and perceptiveness!)
posted by honeyacid at 4:25 AM on August 9, 2016

We did a map, similar to this one.
posted by solotoro at 4:53 AM on August 9, 2016

My cousin did a cookbook - Hugh Acheson's "A New Turn in the South" specifically (she is from Athens, GA). Guests signed on the recipe pages that spoke to them. We got the totally appropriate Peach Mimosa page so I thought it was great!
posted by FuzzyVerde at 7:28 AM on August 9, 2016

We did the quilt squares at my wedding-we put them on the tables at the reception with lots of colored markers so people had time to do some pretty intricate drawings, longer writing, etc.

Things I have seen at other weddings: A fairly simple painting (by the bride's brother) with lots of room for people to sign, a premade photo book (from iphoto or similar) where people could sign around the pictures on whatever page they fancied, and simple wooden (flat) Christmas ornaments. I rather like the last one because I imagine looking at each one every year while decorating the tree.
posted by Missense Mutation at 8:38 AM on August 9, 2016

I just attended a wedding where there was a bottle of wine on each table with a gold coloured sharpie attached to it. Guests were told to write messages on the bottle, but were not allowed to open it. The MC announced that if we wanted to drink the wine, we would have to visit the newlyweds house sometime in the future. I thought that was cool. Not sure if you'd want to keep several empty wine bottles around your house once the wine was drunk, but I'm sure you could find a creative way to display them.
posted by yawper at 3:48 PM on August 9, 2016

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