Joy Magazine

Document the day

Custom guestbooks make memories last

When Gail Etchie's daughter started planning her wedding, she knew she wanted everything, including her guest book, to be as personalized as possible. Etchie, an avid scrapbooker, gladly took on the challenge.

"We made a book in the wedding colors," she says. Then, she glued tiny envelopes onto each page. Blank, deckle-edged cards were mailed with the invitations. "We instructed each guest to write a wedding wish or a piece of advice for the couple on the card," Etchie explains. "They mailed them back to us with their RSVPs."

At the reception, the guest book was placed on display, and there was no backlog of guests waiting to sign. The book now has a prominent place in the couple's home and makes a charming conversation piece.

Some brides have had guests contribute a favorite recipe, compiling favorite dishes into a personalized cookbook for the bride and groom that cooks up fond memories with each meal.

Emily Cox, wedding planner and owner of P.Cox Productions, has seen dozens of clever variations in recent years. "One idea that's been very popular lately is the photo mat. Guests personalize a white mat with gel pens, and the wedding photo goes inside." Hang the piece in your living room, and this option guarantees that you'll look at it often.

Cox remembers one wedding where each guest was instructed to include a self-portrait when returning the RSVP card. The couple created a caption for each photo and had small books made containing all the pictures. Each guest received one as a favor, and at the reception, pens were provided so guests could autograph the newlyweds' copy.

Another couple rented an instant photo booth, and guests pasted their funny photos into the guest registry. One benefit of this idea: The computer saves copies of each picture, so even if guests take the printouts with them, the bride and groom can retrieve a copy.

Recent bride Amanda Clark also used photos to create a custom guest book. She purchased a large scrapbook with black pages and attached a photo of the couple on each page.

"The photos started with our first date," she explains, "and led up to our engagement photo shoot."

The guest-book table was stocked with silver and gold gel pens and a sign that read, "Remember when ... " Each guest was instructed to write down a memory about moments shared with the bride or groom. Clark and her husband look at the guest book frequently.

"It's displayed in our office on the bookshelf. Every time we look at it, we are reminded what we have been through from the beginning," she says.

Photos aren't the only way to go. One artsy Central Point couple provided guests with paint, brushes and a large canvas. The artwork they created now hangs in their hallway.

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