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Handmade Weddings: Choosing the Perfect Wedding Album & Guest Book

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As we near the end of the Handmade Wedding Series, it’s time to think about preserving all of the memories.  Thanks to solidio for her great ideas on guest and scrap books! 

Of all the things you buy for your wedding, you only get to keep a few.  The cake gets eaten and the flowers fade, but the guest book and the album for your photos are items that you will  have forever.

There are probably as many options available for handmade books and albums as there are Etsy sellers, so I narrowed it to  two key decisions you need to make when choosing a book or album.

Decision one: The Cover
I like to think of the cover as the personality of the book. It’s the first thing you see, and is also a  tactile element of the book. Remember that the guest book should look good in your wedding and also in your home. So choose a cover you like!  It doesn’t have to match your wedding perfectly, but should blend in with your theme.  If you are having red roses at your wedding, but your home décor doesn’t have much red in it, keep that in mind.

Cover materials range from silk to wood to leather to paper to metal and a variety of oddball materials.  There are advantages and disadvantages to each – and each has it’s own feel to it.  This is truly a personal choice, and my best advice is to search the options out there, and if you have an idea for a cover, find someone that works in those materials and ask them if they can make a book or album for you.

Take a look a these —

Nina Judin Books’ Leather with copper details:

Pamela Tang’s  Silk:

Decision two: Binding Type
The binding is important for two reasons — it affects the way the book lies on the table, and affects the ability to add pages to a book.  (I’ll be talking more about functionality and style in this article, not techniques or terminology. I’m not a bookbinder!)

One type of binding used for albums is called post-binding, and it is commonly used in scrapbooking.  This type of binding allows you to add or subtract pages by unscrewing the posts that hold the pages together.  You can then add, subtract or move pages, and screw it all together again.  The pages of the book do not lay flat, but they do tend to stay open while you are looking at them. You can usually find pages to add at your local craft store, and they are very easy to use with photos.  These books often have standard page sizes, like 12×12, 8×8 or 8×10.  This binding is a logical choice for an album, but could also be filled with blank pages for a guest book.

A cool post-bound example from Sleeping Forest Studios:

The other type of binding is constructed in a variety of ways, but has the common trait of looking like a book – it lies flat on the table and you cannot add pages to it.  These are your typical journals or sketchbooks.  They sometimes use beautiful knot patterns, and can have an exposed or covered spine. This type of book would be a logical choice for a guest book, but can also be used as an album. You will need to attach your photos directly to the paper with photo tabs or adhesive.

Here’s a great example from LaPaperie:


Other terrific options —

You can find an Etsy seller like jennysbooks and ask her to make a custom cover for a traditional guest book or album that you already have. Here’s an example of one of her covers:

You can also find an Etsy seller (the one below is from scrapbooks) make a custom wedding scrapbook for you:

In the end, there are two major choices with albums and guest books: cover materials and binding.  There are many options to fit just about any taste, or you can take this opportunity to get a custom book designed to your taste through Alchemy.  Many artisans/crafters will take the time to walk you through what choices they have and go over options with you. Keep in mind that a custom book could take 6-8 weeks to make, so order early!  And enjoy the process.

Wedding Gift Guide | Wedding Category | Wedding Showcase | Handmade Wedding Series

Julie and Mitch Bray decided to start a woodworking shop based on the common desire to create well-made objects that are beautiful, functional and lasting. Their studio, Solidio, is based in western Pennsylvania, where they salvage wood and scrap metal to make furniture, belt buckles and more.

  • hans1247

    hans1247 says:

    Tip to those who will wed: have a guest book attendant or a nice little sign by your guest book letting people know what to do with it. We used a Moleskin notebook that I had embellished with stamps. We were hoping to get words of advice or something in addition to a guest list, but instead we just got the first names of about 1/3 of our guests...on 2 pages of the book. D'oh.

    7 years ago

  • Vanessa Admin

    Vanessa says:

    oh, that's a good tip!

    7 years ago

  • IWillFly

    IWillFly says:

    we used our guest book in three ways. first, the officiants used it to hold the script during the ceremony (which was printed on regular paper so it could be removed easily), then we put it in the reception room as a guest book with a little note on one page asking guests to leave us a note to remember our special day by, and afterwards we added more pages to use it as a photo album/scrap book.

    7 years ago

  • TheFleeciestBaby

    TheFleeciestBaby says:

    If you would like an awesome custom made just for you album/guestbook - check out my sister's. She has made them for all sorts of family and friends and everyone we know who gets married says, "Can you make me one of your guestbooks." They're awesome!!! http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=9366296

    7 years ago

  • PMPJuniperbry

    PMPJuniperbry says:

    My store is still a work in progress on etsy, but I wanted to write to say that for my smallish wedding in September '08, I made one of my picture frames for gusts to sign, instead of a book that I couldn't really find a purpose for. To us, it's not intended for people to write little messages, but to sign their names. I can either put it on a table, wall or somewhere else creative. One of these days, I may get a picture of it uploaded to share and see if someone else out there thinks it's as pretty and functional as I did.

    7 years ago