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Wedding Guest Book Ideas: Engagement Photo Album | Virginia Wedding Photographer

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Wedding guest books have come a long way since our parents’ wedding days. They used to be plain books with blank pages for people to sign their names to. But the creative wedding guest book alternatives I’ve seen as a Virginia wedding photographer are amazing! I’ll share some wedding guest book ideas in this post, but you’ll mostly see what one alternative I love most and recommend to all my couples. Keep reading!

Ideas for Wedding Guest Book Alternatives

Because wedding guest books can take any shape or size nowadays, I always recommend doing a little research before settling on one idea. Try to think about where your guest book will live after your wedding day. And also think through how you want your guests to “sign” it!

A quick search on Etsy will bring you loads of inspiration, but here are the three types of guest books I’ve seen that are worth considering.

For the Walls

Many of my couples opt for a guest book alternative that they can hang on a wall in their home! Etsy has a ton of options for this, as it’s probably become one of the most popular in recent years. Here are some ideas for a wall hanging/wall art wedding guest book:

  • A large monogram of your newly shared last name (for example: a big wooden letter “P” for Petroccione – my new last name!) with guests signing the front in metallic marker (or the back if you want signatures to be hidden).
  • A “___ family est. 2022” sign with your last name customized
  • A large-print or canvas photo of the two of you (you can have it matted to have guests sign the white matte around the photo, or allow guests to sign ontop of the image itself in the negative spaces
  • A map
  • A fun poster of something you both enjoy (for example: comic art, a band poster, movie poster, etc.)
  • A cross or printed Bible verse
  • A vinyl album

For the Shelf

Guests books can also take the form of 3D objects that add a pop of vibrancy or interest to your home. Whether you find a place for it on a bookshelf, floating shelf, or atop a piece of furniture, the options are seemingly endless with a little imagination and creativity. Here are some ideas I’ve seen:

  • A globe
  • A customized wine or champagne bottle
  • A bowling pin (or other sports item for a sport you both love/play)
  • A flower vase/plant pot
  • A wooden chip/heart that gets placed in a shadow box
  • A sea shell
  • A book
  • A Bible (bonus points for having them highlight their favorite verse!)

For the Coffee Table

Lastly, some guest books are just meant to be looked at… often. Or even used! I call them coffee table wedding guest books. This may not necessarily mean they belong on your coffee table, but they can be shared with friends and family that visit as you gather in the living room. Or perhaps you pull it out once in a while to reminisce together as husband and wife. Or even use it during some down time! Here are some ideas to bring this to life a bit more:

  • A puzzle
  • A board game (have guests sign the game board of your favorite game!)
  • A photo album (more on this coming further down…;)
  • A collection of printed photos (have guests sign the back)
  • A chess set (have guests sign the board)
  • A recipe box/book (have guests share their favorite recipes! Be sure to ask for this ahead of the wedding day so they come prepared)
  • Christmas ornaments
  • Special date night ideas
  • Love notes for your anniversaries

Engagement Photo Album Wedding Guest Book

Photo album wedding guest book idea | Guest book alternatives | Northern VA Wedding Photographer

#weddingplanningtips #weddingguestbook

Of all the alternatives to wedding guest books that I’ve seen as a Virginia wedding photographer, I do have a favorite. It has to be the photo album wedding guest book. Especially if the couple uses their engagement photos to create a wedding guest book! This is exactly what my husband and I did for our guest book. We designed a special photo album using only images that our wedding photographer took for our engagement session. And it turned out BEAUTIFUL. Guests loved it, because they got to flip through and see our photos before leaving us a sweet note.

Here’s what I recommend if this sounds like the perfect choice for your wedding.

Tips for Creating a Photo Album Wedding Guest Book with Engagement Photos

  1. Use professional images. This is something that will hold special value to you, so it’s worth the effort making it look a bit more upscale. I offer a complementary engagement session for all my wedding clients, so my ENP Couples easily will have loads of professional images to choose from if this is the route they want to go!
  2. Choose a quality printer/manufacturer. Nothing kills a wedding photo album guestbook faster than off-color or poor quality prints. I will give some recommendations below for every budget, but remember that cheaper options such as Mixbook, Walmart, or Shutterfly may not exude the same quality that a professional, luxury quality brand will. As a wedding photographer, I have access to some of the best manufacturers in the industry. I personally love designing wedding guest books with Millers because of how fast they ship products and how beautiful their albums are, but other options I offer my clients include Kiss Books, Artifact Uprising, MILK Books, and more.
  3. Outsource the design. As a wedding photographer, I design wedding albums all the time for couples! I even designed my own wedding album using the same manufacturer and design templates that I utilize for clients. It’s worth getting an outsider’s perspective in putting together a beautiful album. There’s an art to curating and laying out images in a design-friendly way. Leave it to professionals to guide you in the right direction and take this tedious task off your plate! You have plenty to do as you plan your wedding as it is.
  4. Consider where guests can sign their names/add notes. Create intentional spaces for your guests to sign. This could be in the white margins on the pages, around your photos. Or if you’re afraid a goofy groomsman will draw a mustache or two on your faces, you could do what we did: assign the last two+ pages for signatures/notes! Whatever option you go with, be sure to leave instructions at the table next to your guest book. Be brief but specific about where and how you’d like guests to sign. Maybe even design that last page with a header that says “Guestbook” or “Love Notes From Our People” or something to that effect with a large blank space below it.

Where to Order a Photo Album Wedding Guest Book

Photo album wedding guest book idea | Guest book alternatives | Northern VA Wedding Photographer

#weddingplanningtips #weddingguestbook

Now that I’ve shared all my best tips, ideas, and inspiration for your wedding guest book, it’s time to take action. There are so many places you can go to get a photo album printed. But not all printers are created equal. Here’s a simple breakdown to guide you in the right direction.

$$$ – Hire your wedding photographer to design an engagement photo album wedding guest book for you! This might be the priciest option, but in my opinion it’s the best one. Not only will you ensure quality, but you also don’t have to go through obtaining a print release or transferring files of your engagement photos. They already took them for you and have them on hand! It cuts out those beginning steps and truly lets a professional take the utmost care in designing a beautiful wedding guest book for you.

$$ – Design and print your wedding guest book from Shutterfly, Mixbook, or Zazzle. This will take the most time but if you want a fair quality product on a budget, these are good options. Obtain a print release from your photographer to use your engagement photos before you proceed! Some printers require you to upload proof of permission to use those photos before they will print your product. Also, make sure you double check the design BEFORE ordering! Glitches can happen or you can notice a photo didn’t upload in full resolution. You don’t want to hit order until you know everything looks right.

$ – Old school DIY, scrapbook the album! Order cheap prints of your photos and then go to a Michaels or Hobby Lobby to pick up an album book. Then have fun scrapbooking your photos into the book! Be sure to have a space for guests to sign. If you get an album that has the plastic covering on each page, don’t instruct guests to sign the plastic. It might wear off. Instead, leave a sheet of paper out or a couple of note cards that you can later stick in the album after guests sign.

If you’re looking for help on designing your engagement photo wedding guest book, look no further! This is easily a service I can provide to any of my wedding clients. But I can also design wedding guest books for anyone! Just contact me to start chatting about your vision, and I’ll respond back with a quote for pricing and process. I’m so excited to help!

Looking for more wedding planning tips like these? Check out the below blog posts next!

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