Guest books are popular for weddings, birthdays, and anniversaries. With a bit of pre-planning, you can create a lasting memory with a guest book that you will revisit time and time again. It may not be as critical as the invitations, but it’s still a pretty important detail to people who want to have as much keepsake of the event as possible.
Here are some helpful tips to maximize its worth and how to use it for the event:
Check the quality of the paper inside the guest book.
Before settling down on a guest book, check the quality of the paper inside. You may want to avoid paper that’s too absorbent. Some papers can “bleed,” which means that wet ink can spread when it touches the paper and causes the writing to look messy and indistinct.
Protect the cover.
However beautiful the cover may be when you get the guest book, it’s worth checking if it can be wiped or if marks can be removed. Otherwise, you may need to cover it with cellophane or something similar for your special day. Guests will all be handling it, and no matter how much you ask people to take care of it, someone will either have grubby hands or have something to drop or spill on it. So, it’s safer if you protect it as a precaution.
Set a guest book station in a good location.
A guest book is traditionally passed around guests at a wedding reception, party, or celebration. They all sign their names and include a short message. Then, the celebrants would have a wonderful keepsake of all the people who were there on your special day.
But nowadays, most guest books have their own “station,” or simply a location that is easy for your guests to find. Set the book, along with the pens, on a table in a well-traveled spot like at an entryway, the entrance, or near the restrooms. Believe it or not, there are many times that guests won’t see the guest book, so make sure to put it in a location that is very noticeable for your guests.
The guest book may take time for guests to fill out, so make sure it’s not placed in a location that will block a walkway.
Style your guest book station.
Style your guest book table according to the theme of your party. Grab people’s attention with decorations or photos of the couple, if it’s for a wedding. You can also hang a banner on the table that says, “Welcome.” Make it look enticing – something that guests would like to see what’s going on.
Assign a person to help out on letting guests sign the guest book.
Too many guest books at weddings and other events are placed on a table, and the host or DJ announces that it’s available for all guests to write in. If that’s all you do, you’re probably lucky to get the signatures and messages from a quarter of your guests. The only way to be sure to get all people to interact with the guest book is to go around them and make sure everyone makes a contribution.
Everybody must know what to do with your guest book, especially if it’s not the standard guest book with an attached pen. Assign a friend, a family member, an usher, or someone from the party coordinator staff to assist guests on what to do for the guest book. Tell that person what your guests need to know – whether it’s to sign their name on a heart drop guest book, write a wish for the couple and hang it on the tree, take a picture and sign on it, or simply sign their name with a short message. That assigned person would inform every guest as they walk into the party.
If you’re having a guest book for a big party or a big reception, about halfway through the party, ask someone to go from table to table with the book so guests won’t miss signing it. Do it early in the proceedings because you may not be pleased with what gets written after guests have had a few glasses of wine or beer.
Leave enough good pens and supplies.
All guests are going to need to sign your guest book, so you need to make it as easy as possible. As much as you trust the people you invited, people will get distracted and walk off with the pens in their hand or pocket without meaning to do so. On top of the fact that it can easily get misplaced, it also falls on the floor and gets broken. So, it makes sense that you provide as many pens for your guests as possible.
Make sure also that you pick good quality pens. Many pens may look cute and fit for your theme, but not all pretty pens work well. The last thing you want in your guest book is ink stains, so avoid using a fountain pen (as very few people really know how to use one, plus they are an unnecessary expense). Also, avoid cheap ballpoint pens because it often gets a buildup of ink on the nib that comes off as a small blob. A good quality pen with a medium nib is probably the best, but make sure you try it out before setting it as the official guest book pen.
Trying pens out before use becomes all the more important if you are using alternative guest books. For instance, if you want your guests to sign on a surfboard, you would need a permanent pen, and it’s best to make sure it works on your surfboard’s surface first. You may also need extra supplies, like film and batteries, if you choose to use a polaroid camera.
Be clear and precise.
If you can’t assign someone to greet guests as they arrive, then create signs that tell your guests exactly what to do for your guest book. Get creative with your signs by incorporating a theme. Frame the signs with a neat and decorative frame, and make sure the font is large enough for guests to read.
Set an example.
To make it easier for guests to figure out what to do, set an example. People tend to follow the leader, so if you have a few people sign in your guest book or write a wish and hang it on a tree before the party starts – others will know what to do and follow their steps. You can ask some of your closest friends to do this before most of the guests arrive, or a few bridal party members do it at the rehearsal dinner before the wedding.
Make sure there will be enough room.
There’s nothing worse than asking everyone to sign but leaving others not able to sign because there wasn’t enough room. This is especially important if you use a unique guest book idea, like having them sign a guitar or a wood slab – you can quickly run out of room on these things. A great tip to help save space is to provide a fine tip pen or have your assigned usher ask guests nicely not to sign their names too big.
You may also check out our Wedding Guest Book Ideas for more tips and recommendations.