Your Guide to Albums and Guest Books

April 13, 2012 in
Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Julie and Mitch Bray
solidio

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.

Of all the things you buy for your wedding, you only get to keep a few; the cake is eaten and the flowers fade. Your guest book and photo album, however, 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 factors you need to consider when choosing a book or album.

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. 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 with your theme. If your wedding is filled with red roses, but your home décor doesn’t contain much red, keep that in mind.

Cover materials range from silk to wood, leather, paper, metal and a variety of oddball materials. This is truly a personal choice, and my best advice is to search the options available. 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.

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Binding Style
The binding is important for two reasons: it affects the way the book lies on the table, and determines whether you can add pages to the book. 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. 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. These books often have standard page sizes: 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.

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Post-bound Albums

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.

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Book-style Albums

Over the years, brides and grooms have struck out on their own, seeking more unique solutions to guest books and albums. Alternative guest books are growing in popularity, shattering pre-conceived notions of how wedding memories can be preserved. Now, guest books come in the form of wooden puzzles, tree ornaments, wooden blocks, picture frames and large artwork.

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There are many options to fit just about any taste, or you can take this opportunity to contact a seller and see if they take custom requests. Many artisans 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!

  • ModernShabby

    ModernShabby from ModernShabby says:

    Love this note to brides! Many customers that come to us have forgotten about the book until the last minute then because we are a smaller business can't get them one in time, thus they don't get the book they want =( . This is a great reminder to get a book you like and get it early!

    8 years ago

  • thevicagirl

    VaLon Frandsen from thevicagirl says:

    I am so torn about how I want to store the memories of my wedding, good thing I don't have the man yet so I have time. But the traditonal book is so simple and slightly overused. I am never going to look at it. But, the alternative ways are also very odd sometimes. But, I may just want a scrapbook type thing. Or, or maybe I could make it with baseball card sized things... like my trip scrapbooks, very interesting ideas coming to mind.

    7 years ago

  • Spellbinderie

    Karen from Spellbinderie says:

    Happy to see this blog on buying a guest book. As a bookbinder myself, I enjoy working with the couple to create a unique keepsake for them to treasure for many years. There's so many incredible options on Etsy!

    6 years ago

  • scrapavenue

    Kim from PaperTraits says:

    Love all the beautiful varieties featured on Etsy. I am a big proponent of finding a guest book that can be a special keepsake. It should not only hold signatures but fond memories for the happy couple.

    6 years ago

  • sebillstein

    Sarah Billstein from AClaimToFrame says:

    My shop also features a creative guestbook idea by hanging handwritten notes with clothespins in a picture frame. These can then be removed and bound into a book. The frame can then be reused, such as for wedding photos. Check it out here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/185685918/20x24-rustic-wedding-barnwood-frame-with? This is also available as a custom order.

    6 years ago

  • kingfamily2000

    RoseMary King from PaperFabricJournals says:

    My shop features a great journal for the Bride-To-Be. Using the bride's favorite colors and lots of info from her, I create a journal that is so special and will become a treasury for years to come.

    6 years ago

  • MaryDeets

    MaryDeets from MaryDeets says:

    And I'm seeing brides requesting blank corks for guests to sign and they then make a large cork board with them! I have a large selection of corks that are perfect for winery wedding ideas!

    6 years ago

  • MaryDeets

    MaryDeets from MaryDeets says:

    That would be at DontTellMama.etsy.com

    6 years ago

  • BellaPuzzlesToo

    Lara Braithwaite from BellaPuzzlesToo says:

    Julie and Mitch, you may not be aware that Canadian seller MemoryLanePuzzles is not taking orders at this time for health reasons. Their shop has been in vacation mode for months now. Thus the link to their puzzle guest book shop is a dead end for Etsy shoppers. I am taking guest book puzzle orders for summer weddings, and I'd be happy to talk to anyone who is interested in a guest book puzzle. All my best, Lara

    6 years ago

  • ekohaus

    FeltWoolSlippers S from FeltWoolSlippers says:

    Beautiful albums. My shop alsom features the Photo albums from Natural Linen. I like fresh bright colors such as blue linen, mustard linen, fuchsia linen. But if the customer will ask about natural colors, I am ready to make. https://www.etsy.com/listing/165341408/handmade-linen-photo-album-hot-pink Customization is available, I can make in a different sizes and etc.

    6 years ago

  • cestlea1

    Leslie Cox from CestleaAndMore says:

    I really like this article. I create one of a kind vintage inspired journals and albums. I think it is great that brides are looking for different alteratives that the standard books and albums for a keepsake. I create both lined and unlined journals and books or a mixture. I am happy to do custom orders.

    6 years ago

  • hulapenula

    Penny Andrea from PennysPostcards says:

    I have had quite a few couples contact me to order postcards that they can have the guests write on and then put into their guest book. There are many variations; one person said she added a stamp to each card and asked that the guests write on and mail them. Some folks prefer vintage cards, some like a mixed assortment so that guests can pick out a card that identifies their style, while others may want modern scenic postcards depicting the beauty in this world. Whatever your style, I think it's a great idea and I can put together a custom-tailored packet with the couple's needs in mind.

    5 years ago