When you're organising your wedding, there are dozens of things to think about (and pay for!) Probably quite low down on your list is the wedding guest book. You might be tempted not to bother with one at all...
Do you need a wedding guest book?
It's not mandatory as per the rules of wedding etiquette. However, you don't need a guest book because it's necessary it's purpose is to create memories of your big day. One adds a touch of class to your ceremony too, in a way that greetings cards don't, and all for a reasonable price.
The best thing is that they're sentimental. Not having one would be like not taking photos of your ceremony and reception. So, yes, you can skimp out but it won't do you any favours!
What's a Wedding Guest Book?
A wedding guest book is a kind of flip book, that looks a little like a notebook. They usually have a ring binding on one side, like many notebooks do. But unlike a regular notebook, the guest book is specially made for a wedding. It has:
1) A special design on the front in the colour and style of your choice
2) The words 'Guest Book' on the front
3) The name of the happy couple, and often, the date of the wedding day
(A few examples are below)
Inside are a number of pages. The idea is like that of a guest book in a hotel each guest or couple will write their name/s, followed by a message for the couple getting married. The greetings will be like those in a greetings card, except they're all kept together in one place.
The guest book is usually at the exit or entrance to the ceremony space, wherever you might have chosen. But this isn't a matter of strict etiquette you can then bring the guest book with you to the reception and have any stragglers sign it who didn't manage to do so the first time around.
What's a Wedding Guest Book For?
A wedding guest book isn't as useful as a hotel guest book. It isn't a necessary tool that the bride and groom use to keep track of who arrived and who didn't at the reception, for example.
Rather, the point of a wedding guest book is two fold. It allows guests to write down a happy message for the happy couple, saving them the time and expense (and environmental waste!) of getting a card.
Having a guest book also allows you to create a memento of your wedding day. The more memories you make, the better!
Why Have a Wedding Guest Book?
The idea behind a guest book is a sweet one but you may think it's an unnecessary expense. If you don't want one at your wedding that's understandable, you can always keep the greetings cards that you receive on the day instead. These cards serve the same purpose anyway.
However, there are good arguments for having a guest book. Some of these you may agree with some you may not, ultimately though it's up to you!
It's a Lasting Memory
A main reason why you should consider having one is that it's a memento that will stand the test of time. High quality guest books have hard covers, like books do. This will prevent them from being damaged when they're stored.
Greetings cards can easily be bent, damaged, or have something spilled on them immediately ruining them. So, in that sense wedding guest books win out. Not only that, but greetings cards can have designs on them that you might not like. That would tarnish the memory a little if you kept it as a memento.
It Doesn't Take Up Much Space
If you wanted to keep your guests' greetings cards instead, that's fine; but greetings cards are awkward to keep. These days, they're all different sizes. Some have big designs on the front that stick out. You'd have to keep them in a bag of some kind, or at the bottom of a drawer. Or, you could stick them in a book, but then you'd end up with a makeshift guest book instead!
A wedding guest book, on the other hand, fits perfectly on a shelf with other books. It's not cumbersome or awkward to store at all.
Sometimes It's Good to Be Formal
Few people these days are formal, unless you were born in a manor! But that's precisely what makes weddings so special, they're perhaps the most formal day in most people's lives. You have to walk a certain way, sit a certain way, wear expensive clothes, even repeat highly formalised vows.
Wedding guest books are formal, too. They're far more formal, at least, than a greetings card. But adding to the formality of your big day can be a beautiful thing, if that's what you want!.
Some Guests Might Expect One
While they aren't entirely ubiquitous, guest books are common enough that your guests might expect one to be there. They're a feature at lots of weddings these days, so while this isn't to say that yours would be the 'odd one out', it's worth remembering.
This is especially the case if there was a wedding in the family not long ago. If your relative had a wedding guest book, then guests who went to their reception and are now coming to yours might expect to see one. It won't be the disappointment of the century, but they may have been figuring out exactly what to write... And if there isn't a guest book there, then that's all for nothing!
Can You Use Something Other Than a Wedding Guest Book?
If you're certain you don't want a wedding guest book it's possible to use a cheap alternative. You can use anything from a spare piece of paper through to a regular notebook. In truth, you can use anything that can be written on or in so long as you have a clean surface and a pen your guests can write their well wishes on anything.
The only real issue with doing so is how it feels. To use a regular notebook feels less formal, less special, if a guest book cost the same amount as an expensive stylish wedding dress then it would be understandable that you want to save a little on your expenses, but they aren't expensive at all.
That's the beauty of a guest book. It lends seriousness and formality to the occasion, a feeling which extends to every guest who wants to sign it. You can't put a price on that.