From your wedding photos to that cherished piece of wedding cake tucked away in the freezer for your first anniversary, there are only a handful of ways you can memorialize your nuptials after the fact. And while many couples have traditionally set up a designated station at their wedding for friends and family to sign a standard guest book in commemoration of their big day, those guest books tend to get sidelined to a bookshelf or storage box once the festivities come to a close. But as more couples move away from traditional guest books, unique and functional guest book alternatives are showing up in the most creative ways, and we are definitely here for it.
What Is an Alternative Guest Book?
An alternative guest book is any unique item guests sign in lieu of a traditional book. While a traditional book typically includes blank pages or signature lines for guests to pen their names, an alternative guest book may include the opportunity to add a sweet note to a sign, the personalization of a game, or offer advice in an interactive way.
Benefits of a Unique Wedding Guest Book
An alternative guest book offers a great opportunity to capture the memory of your wedding day. “It can allow you to capture memories in a more detailed way and create a keepsake,” says Darci Greenwood, founder and creative director of Greenwood Events. But because a guest book alternative may be more interactive, sometimes even incorporating an activity, Greenwood advises that couples remember to allot time for it in their day-of timeline.
Choosing to incorporate an alternative guest book also offers the chance to infuse even more personality into your wedding. “An alternative guest book can give couples another way to really personalize their wedding and to get a little quirky and original with their guest book,” says Aleah and Nick Valley, founders of Valley & Company Events. And while there are certainly plenty of gorgeous options out there for traditional guest books, an alternative may offer more of a statement décor piece as you officially begin living together as a married couple. “Couples can choose to make an interactive guest book that lets guests get to know more about the couple and to have fun experiencing the guest book," they suggest. "It's all about having fun with the guest book and using whimsical and clever ideas that you'll really enjoy years from now!”
- A unique guest book captures a memory and serves as a keepsake.
- A guest book alternative can infuse even more personality into your big day and teach your guests about who you are as a couple.
- It can serve as a functional or decorative piece in your home.
Meet the Expert
- Darci Greenwood is the founder and creative director of Greenwood Events, a full-service wedding planning, production, and design company in Montana.
- Aleah and Nick Valley are the founders of Valley & Company Events, a full-service wedding and event planning, design, and floral company based in Seattle, Washington.
Ready to bring your own alternative guest book idea to life? Here are 30 unique wedding guest book ideas to use as inspiration.
Form a Quilt
We love the approach one couple took to craft something truly memorable and homemade at their wedding. Consider setting up a sewing table, with square pieces of fabric and pens for signing. Guests will love the interactive activity of signing a piece of fabric. After your wedding, compile all of the personalized swatches to either sew the quilt yourself or ask someone to do it for you.
Make a Modern Calendar
Set yourself up for success in your first year as a married couple. Plan ahead with this custom piece, adding your names and wedding date to a printed calendar. We love the idea of setting up your calendar for guests to sign throughout the pages. As you make your way through your first year as newlyweds, you'll open each month to notes from your nearest and dearest.
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Take a Polaroid Selfie
Ditch the guest note route completely; instead, encourage wedding attendees to cozy up for the camera and leave their marks with a Polaroid selfie. "When we have stepped away from something more traditional, we’ve incorporated taking a Polaroid, posting the photos into a book, and having people handwrite personal notes," says Greenwood. Set up a selfie station just for the task, and prepare for an overload of fun captures from your guests.
Write It in the Stars
Take "written in the stars" to a literal sense, allowing friends and family to pen sweet notes around a constellation map from any date and location of your choosing. Consider including the date and time of your wedding or commemorate another memory such as your first date.
Sign a Globe
Globe-trotting couples, we have your alternative wedding guest book covered. Let your guests make their marks on your own little world. Purchase a globe you love and set it up with your favorite pens for a fun activity. This will serve as the perfect showpiece in your living room or office.
Commemorate With Wine Corks
Obsessed with wine? This unique guest book alternative is perfect for those couples who know every varietal. Have each guest pen their name on a cork, and utilize this memento as a piece of décor in your home. We love the idea of surrounding the piece in greenery or adding a bouquet to make a decorative statement.
Set up a Custom Canvas
Commemorate a favorite location or vacation memory with a custom painted canvas. "A couple marrying on Maui had guests sign a beautiful canvas illustration of the island," says Aleah and Nick Valley. We love the idea of utilizing your ceremony location to create a beautiful canvas to celebrate where you're tying the knot.
Play With a Puzzle
Love board games or doing puzzles? Why not incorporate your favorite hobby into your wedding. Guests will love this interactive option, selecting a piece to sign their name. After your wedding, this will be the perfect activity as you settle in at home.
Give a Piece of Your Heart
Have wedding guests lend a piece of their own heart—in wooden form, that is. Set up small wooden hearts with a special box, and have guests write a note or sign their names. You can even customize the snippets with lyrics to your first dance song for an ultra-custom option.
Build a Frame
A built-in frame makes preserving your wedding day memories as easy as possible. Just leave it to your guests to add their own decorative spins. We love the idea of setting this up with an instant Polaroid camera, along with little tags for notes. Guests can choose to do one or both to celebrate your nuptials.
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Personalize a Jenga Set
With alternative guest book ideas, anything goes—including a personalized Jenga set. Game nights with your spouse will be all the more sentimental with this option. Use a blank game set, and have your guests sign their names and write notes on each piece.
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Pen a Portrait
Opt for a custom illustration of the happy couple, and even include your pets. We love the idea of a cute portrait set up with pens or markers. Plus, once it's all signed, it will serve as a sweet framed piece in your home.
Let Guests Get Crafty
Enlist the help of your guests to fly away. Invite them to get a little crafty with ink and their thumbprint to create a unique masterpiece to frame later. Consider opting for ink in the same hues as your color palette to create a truly special memento.
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Ask for Travel Recommendations
As another option for jet-setting duos, invest in a vintage globe. Ask your guests to pinpoint future travel recommendations with their well wishes. You'll love the opportunity to look back on this statement piece, all while gaining a bit of travel inspiration for your next trip as newlyweds.
Create a Song
This is such a special idea for music enthusiasts. Set up a customized blank score to create the most unique love song. Include ink for guests to stamp their fingerprint and a pen to sign their name. If you're musically inclined, you might even try to play your signature song when the masterpiece is complete.
Set up a Custom Sign
Keep it simple with a custom sign, boasting your new shared last name. We love the rustic, chic look of this option. Set your sign up on an easel and opt for one color or multiple shades of paint pens to make a gorgeous piece of décor to later display in your home.
Repurpose a Coffee Table Book
Still hoping to incorporate a book but want a unique alternative? One couple opted to utilize a coffee table book they loved, with plenty of room for signatures throughout. Turn to a specific page for signing, or leave a custom sign with instructions for other spots in the book you'd love to see a little note.
Stay Simple With Acrylic
Acrylic blends in with any wedding style, so you're in good hands with a simple slate for guests to sign. Display your sign with florals from your palette or greenery, and be sure to include a selection of paint pens to really make those signatures pop.
Show Off Your State
Pay homage to your home state with this unique guest book idea. Select any state, choose from a variety of colors, and even add a custom cut-out message. We love the idea of setting this up with a cute frame with instructions and a variety of pens in hues that match your color palette.
Ask for Adventure Ideas
Replace congratulatory messages altogether and promote ideas for future adventures. We love the way one couple encouraged their guests to brainstorm bucket list objectives to complete throughout their marriage. Set up a custom sign with instructions, a vessel to collect the notes, and even consider custom stationery to add a personal touch.
Create a keepsake to display for years to come that will be truly personalized. Use your fingerprints to create a heart with this custom print, and ask your guests to sign around it. In multiple colors and sizes, this option can be such a unique idea as a framed piece of art for your home.
Leave Notes on Postcards
Make your wanderlust the focus of your alternative guest book. One couple asked guests to leave notes on postcards, featuring three locales the pair wanted to add to their travel list. Friends and family were able to pen well wishes on a postcard of their choosing and deposit their handwritten sentiments into a white mailbox for a fun activity.
Sourced from eco-friendly materials, this 3-D guest book will earn you major Mother Nature and post-wedding home décor points. Set up the wooden pieces with colorful markers for your guests to draw a heart or pen a note. Once everyone has signed, assemble the pieces to make a unique, rustic décor piece.
Leave a Message in a Bottle
Give a new meaning to a message in a bottle with this unique option. "Over the years our couples have had guests write messages they placed in bottles for a coastal-themed wedding," says Aleah and Nick Valley. With this alternative, friends and family can drop notes into pretty containers for the couple to read during their upcoming anniversaries. We love the sleek look of this setup, but you could incorporate any type or number of bottles to suit your style.
Incorporate Your Love of Nature
Are you obsessed with hiking or camping, or simply have a love for nature? Bring your love for the trees into your wedding. Set up a tree print meant for signing, and instruct guests to sign on each branch. We love the idea of using one color to really make the leaves and branches pop.
Ask for Advice
Enlist advice or ask for notes from your guests as you become newlyweds. "Another interactive idea we love is asking guests to write little messages and then slip them into tiny envelopes," says Aleah and Nick Valley. "The couple can open a few envelopes every weekend for a fun date night activity." Set up a box or envelopes depending on your preference and allow your guests to have fun by offering helpful tips for your first year of marriage.
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