Creative Ways To Make A Wedding Guest Book You’ll Love For Years To Come

For the longest time, I never really got the point of a wedding guest book.


I mean, you know who you’re inviting to your wedding, you know who’s coming to your wedding, and between your shower and wedding, every guest gives you a card with a nice sentiment written in it, so why do you need a guest book? Right?


Well, in the last 7-10 years, guest books have really taken on a life of their own. This once minute and somewhat boring detail of a wedding has now really grown into something really special and personal. No longer are they a formality, but a very personal creative keepsake of your wedding day. From thumbprint trees to puzzles and everything in between, guest books are rarely ever books anymore.


Because this detail is often something that’s very personal, many couples tend to DIY it, or at least purchase one on Etsy, made by someone else. Since it’s a very crafty and creative element of your day, we decided to reach out the largest DIY wedding resource to get their insights into what you can do for your guest book at your wedding.




Do you need a guest book?


wedding guest book

Photo Credit: Emma Cleary Photo and Video

The short answer is no. You can have whatever you want at your wedding, and you can also eliminate whatever you want at your wedding. Actually, most of the weddings I’ve gone to haven’t had a guest book at all! Remember, like I always say, there are no ‘rules’ when it comes to weddings.


Why have a guest book?


“Guest Books are a staple piece for the bride and groom so they can remember who came to their wedding or wedding shower,” says Debbie Louis, owner of the DIY Bride website and chief wedding planner and designer of A La Mode Events .“It also allows the guest the opportunity to share a memorable message (congratulatory or well wishes) to the couple… It can also be creative to represent the theme of the wedding.”


Just like your photos, your guest book is a tangible memento from your day. It’s really cool to look back years later at something people sign or create on the day of your wedding. Imagine your little flower girl or ring bearer signing their name the way little kids do, and then looking back at it 10 years later when that little guy or girl is now a teenager. Imagine seeing a message in your grandparent’s own handwriting and having that sentiment to keep forever.




What kind of guest book should you have?


If you are going to do a guest book, I’m a big proponent of not having anything at your wedding that you can’t reuse again. So, I’m always in favor of having a guest book that you can actually use or display in your home. My first thought is to make this something fun. Look at your style, your passions, interest or decorating style to give you an inspirational starting point. Louis says “I Love pictures that tell a story, colors or a theme. You can get über creative with these simple three things. But you should dig deep and figure out what you love in order to properly personalize.”


Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

For example, my husband loves baseball, especially the New York Yankees. Knowing that I didn’t want just a plain old book, I thought about something that was a bit of a novelty, something that was different, and something that we could hang in our new home. After doing a bit of research, we decided that our guest book would be a baseball bat with our names and date etched into it that everyone could sign. It was a HUGE hit!! People loved it and were talking about it for weeks after. In fact, one guest wrote on the knob (the bottom part of the bat) “Best guest book ever!” It’s now hanging in our home office. I guess we knocked that one ‘out of the park!’ Sorry, more bad puns…I can’t help myself.


Anyway…take a look at your overall theme, what makes you happy and choose something that really depicts your personality and something that will be fun for your guests as well.


What are some unique, easy and personal types of guest books?


“Some really cool guest book ideas are puzzle pieces,” says Louis. She also suggests if you love to travel, you can have people sign decorated globes, or another idea is to have guests sign a photo mat surrounding an engagement photo which you can then frame and hang in your home. You can make a photo book and have everyone sign it. “Also the photo strips from a photo booth are usually easy and classic,” Louis says.


So, we want to know if you are having a guest book, and, if so, what type of ‘book’ is it going to be?


Featured Photo Credit: Emma Cleary Photo and Video

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What Is It Really Like To Be a DIY Bride?

When it comes to weddings, the “Do It Yourself” trend is here to stay. With more and more couples wanting to incorporate personalized aspects into every part of their day, DIY weddings seems to be the way to go. In addition to making their wedding personalized, many couples are planning weddings with limited budgets or at non-traditional wedding venues, and so, DIYing elements is a perfect fit.

Let’s not forget, too, that for the bride or groom who just have a knack for crafting or making things, a wedding in the perfect playground to let your creative juices flow. It was for me.

However, DIYing your wedding is not always as easy or as “perfect” as you think it’s going to be. While, what we see in magazines or on sites like Pinterest are beautiful and are great for inspiration, when it comes to actually recreating what you see and doing it yourself, it’s not always that easy. We asked two Hudson Valley DIY brides – Michelle from Suffern, and Lauren from Poughkeepsie – to give their real, first-hand experience on what it was like making their wedding come to life.


Why did you DIY?

Photo Credit: Susan Pleiman

Michelle – “DIY has always been in my blood. I am a crafter at heart, and absolutely love to create things and be able to put my own personal spin on it. If I can make it, why buy it? It means so much more when you can personalize things. Plus, it gives a sense of empowerment and gratification. Creativity is so important to me; it keeps my sanity! After finishing a project, what’s better than admiring it and saying ‘WOW!!! I did that!’ ”

Lauren – “The biggest thing that inspired me to go DIY with our wedding was seeing all of the amazing ideas on Pinterest and thinking, ‘Why spend all that money when we can do most of this ourselves?’ I knew finding a stylist for the ideas I liked would cost an arm and a leg and I figured, I’m great at copying ideas, why not do it myself?”

What did you DIY?

Photo Credit: Susan Pleiman

Michelle – “I wanted to carry a unique bouquet that would last forever. That’s when I came up with my brooch bouquet idea. I had asked my friends, family, and patients to donate their favorite pieces just to make it THAT much more special. Another thing that I made were my invitations.

“The theme of the wedding was ‘rustic-vintage,’ so there was a lot of lace, doilies, burlap, wood, and chalkboard that was used. I made all the menus, the fans, the place cards, the ‘table numbers,’ the takeaways and had my centerpieces bought from Bed Bath & Beyond with Shoprite flowers in the vases.’

“I decided to have each table with ‘Love’ in different languages in the center. The ‘Love’ phrase took place of the table numbers. For the place cards, I had small honey jars with squares of lace on top, complete with twine wrapped around. They held little tags with my guests’ names and the ‘Love’ phrase in whichever language their table had on it.

“We had a ‘photo area,’ in front of the fireplace mantle where the reception was held. I had made all sorts of props on long dowels complete with eyeglasses, old-fashioned mustaches, chalkboards, and large picture frames for people to hold up in front of them…I wanted to have a cute takeaway for the end of the night, so we went with milk and cookies.”

Lauren – “Personally, I made the bridesmaids’ bouquets, I did my own makeup, I made all the signs and decorations, set the tables and their settings up myself, I made all the decorations for the centerpieces. We had my husband’s aunt make all the desserts and the cakes and his friend make all the food (taco bar). We set up the ceremony area and decorated an arbor with a lot of things we found around my sister in law’s house (we had the ceremony and reception there).”

What does DIY really mean in terms of saving money or invested time?


Photo Credit: Susan Pleiman

Lauren – “While we didn’t spend nearly as much on a wedding as most people do (in the end we spent about $9,000-$10,000 total including attire on a 100 person event), it was still a lot when all was said and done. Every time you turned around you’d be spending money on more things. When you hire someone to do something, like the centerpieces, you just pay money and it’s there looking beautiful. But when you’re doing it yourself, every little piece you envision has to be purchased or found on some crazy scavenger hunt. So it takes a lot more time than you would think.

“In addition, I think because we were doing it all ourselves and didn’t really have “deadlines” other than the day of the wedding, procrastination ran high and we spent a lot of the morning of the wedding running around trying to set everything up, finish decorations, run out for last minute items, and just worried about the little things (like not having a tap for the keg!).”


What advice do you have for those interested in DIYing their wedding?

Photo Credit: Susan Pleiman

Michelle – “Although being a DIY bride was stressful, and tough, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. As long as you prioritize, and plan things out, you’ll be fine! Lists were my best friend. And get friends to help put things together! Not only does it save you money, but it really puts a sense of self into your wedding. And people will notice. Do not have a cookie-cutter wedding…get your creative juices going!”

Lauren – “Don’t be discouraged if things don’t turn out exactly how you envisioned them. Some of the items you see in pictures are nowhere to be found, or crazy expensive! So improvisation can be key in this regard. Just go with the flow. Also, don’t procrastinate! Things will go wrong or not turn out right, but you can eliminate a lot of that if you set a deadline to get everything done, like a week before the big day so you can just relax until the ‘I do!’ ”

What advice do you have for those who love the DIY look but don’t have the time or know they don’t have crafty genes?


Lauren – “Employ your crafty friends and family! Show them the picture of what you want and ask them to help or bring any creative ideas to the table (even though everyone will already be throwing ideas at you). In terms of making things from Pinterest, don’t expect it to look exactly the same. Go into your crafting knowing it won’t, but that you’re also making things for your own, unique wedding. If you’re determined to have everything looks the same to a T, expect even more money or investing in the help of a professional.”

Featured Photo Credit: Susan Pleiman

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DIY Wedding

3 easy ways to DIY your wedding when you don’t have the time or crafty genes

You love DIY. You have visions of your wedding day being full of crafty, hand-made goodness. However, it’s been years since you touched a glue gun, and the last time you crafted anything was back in high school art class.  Maybe the thought of a DIY wedding is tormenting you because, even though you love to craft, you just don’t have the time to do it.


If any of these circumstances sound like you, have no fear. The DIY fairy is here! Well, not really; I don’t have wings and a little tutu, flying around with glitter and ribbons … though that would make an awesome Halloween costume. What I do have is real, practical, advice that will help you.


DIY Wedding

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

DIY Option #1


First, let’s start with DIY for the those born without the craft gene. I mentioned in an earlier post that, by now, you should have a good idea of your crafting skills. If they are not where you would like them to be, don’t use your wedding as the time to practice.


Look to your family, friends, bridal party, and especially your maid of honor. If any of those people have a craft skill you are envious of, ask them for help. I can almost guarantee they would be more than happy to help. Now, this comes with a big BUT. You can ask for help, BUT do not micromanage! I can’t stress this enough, and trust me, whatever it is you are tweaking or fussing about to make just right, no one will notice. Some people you ask might be hesitant, and that’s because of that dreaded word “bridezilla.” They want to help you but are afraid of the repercussions.


DIY Wedding

Photo Credit: JT Sander Photography

Now, I know you aren’t like that, but to make things easier for all involved, start with some photo inspiration and sit and talk with that person about what exactly it is you like about a particular photo. Keep in mind that what you get may not look exactly like the photo, but will be inspired by it. Then, you can offer to pay for the supplies, or tell that person in exchange for doing the DIY, they don’t have to give you a gift. Before that person goes ahead and makes hundreds of anything, ask to see a sample, that way you both have a chance to see what it looks like and change anything. Once you give your OK, that’s it. Leave it be.


DIY Option #2


If you don’t know anyone who is crafty, another option is to look online for local crafters. Etsy is a great starting point, as is your local art society. Don’t forget to talk to your venue and florist for ideas as well. Remember, they’ve seen it all and could have some great suggestions for you. Who knows, there could be a DIY craft (such as mason jars filled with fairy lights to be placed down the aisle) that would be a cinch for you to make, even if you don’t have a crafty bone in your body or the time to day anything. That would be a really simple DIY project.


DIY Wedding

Photo Credit: JT Sander Photography

DIY Option #3


Speaking of time, if you really don’t have the time to deal with any DIY, hiring a wedding planner may be a great option for you for several reasons. First, similar to your florist or venue, they’ve done it all, AND they have all the supplies – or, at least, know where to get the supplies – so it’s out of your hands. You don’t have to worry about a thing.

Second, they have the time. They are hired to help you and to help make your vision a reality. For example, let’s say you want antique teapots on each table as centerpieces or to hold the table numbers. Well, without a wedding planner, you are stuck with sourcing the teapots, so that means taking the time to drive to antique shops, searching, buying, and then what do you do with all of them after your wedding? Unless you collect them, chances are you want to get rid of them.


DIY Wedding

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

Vintage rental companies are another great option. If you don’t want to hire a planner, you can hire a vintage rental company to see if they can provide that vision for you. They would have the supplies, and best part, they take them back with them.


The last thing you want is to be stressing out over this. These are just a few options. If you have an idea or thoughts that you’d like to run past someone before you begin, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We love to craft and could suggest some great ideas for you.

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wedding makeup

This is the one mistake that can ruin your wedding photos

Did you know having professional makeup done for your wedding has a direct effect on wedding photography? If you were thinking of doing your own makeup for your wedding, I strongly encourage you to reconsider.


You might be thinking makeup could be an area where you can save money by doing it yourself. While saving money is great, try to find other areas to make the cut. It’s crucial you don’t forgo the importance of professionally applied makeup.


Professional makeup vs. DIY makeup


wedding makeup

Photo Credit: Myles Studio Photography

First, let’s start with the basics. We asked some of the Hudson Valley’s top hair and makeup professionals to break down the benefits of professionally applied makeup versus doing your own.


Ada Seymour, Owner and Salon Coordinator of Salon Lucere in Chester says professionally applied wedding makeup helps every aspect of your wedding day: “It helps your gown look better. It makes your photos come out better. It makes your day better because you’re not constantly touching up. Touch-ups are not necessary if it’s done professionally.”


wedding makeup

Photo Credit: Salon Lucere

To be specific, professionals go by that name because they are experts in that field. Just as with all the other professionals you hire for your wedding day, makeup artists are no different.


Rebecca Lee, Owner of Bella Luci Salon in Poughkeepsie, explains, “With doing makeup yourself, you tend to not have that eye for where the colors lay and how they mix well with your face to enhance your look.” She also says the untrained person may not necessarily know how to enhance her features or skin tone the way a professionally trained makeup artist will. “Even the small amount of makeup, with a trained eye of a makeup artist, it can create big changes that you don’t necessarily know how to do yourself,” Lee says.


Why professional makeup is best for wedding photos


wedding makeup

This is me giving a thumbs up on a great job at Bella Luci Salon! My MOH took this photo the morning of my wedding

Wedding makeup goes far being just making you look good; it serves a bigger purpose. Professional makeup balances you out. “When you’re doing wedding makeup,” Lee says, “you really need to take into account pictures, photography with lighting and flash, and things that reflect off your skin differently.”


You want your skin looking smooth and your complexion enhanced so you don’t look washed out. “Some things that we do with the contouring of the face are so minimal…but in a picture completely enhances your face,” says Lee.


I mentioned in my post earlier this week that, at least when it comes to DIY crafting, doing it yourself is not always cheaper. The same applies to wedding makeup. It might be cheaper that day, but in the long run will cost you in the form of regret. “Pictures last forever,” says Cheryl Conklin, Platinum Stylist and Bridal Coordinator also of Salon Lucere. “Of course you remember the day; but really, when you look back on that day, you look at the photos…and you want to look like what you think is perfect…that wouldn’t be the place where you should cut back.”


The photographers’ opinions


wedding makeup

Photo Credit: Myles Studio Photography

Still not convinced hiring a professional is a good idea? We asked Hudson Valley photographers to share their thoughts on professional wedding makeup, and you may be surprised at what they have to say.


Myles Pinkney, Owner of Myles Studio Photography in Highland, says having professional makeup done serves many purposes. First, it makes the day run so much smoother. “Often times, when brides do their own makeup,” he says, “difficulties arise because they can’t find the right color, or lose track of their mascara, because they have so many other things to worry about.”


Secondly, he says not all makeup is created equal and may look different when photographed. “A true professional,” he says, “will have the appropriate makeup to look good in photos, and often will have makeup that will last longer. They also know what makeup looks best with certain skin tones.”


wedding makeup

Photo Credit: Christine Ashburn Wedding Photography

Christine Ashburn, of Christine Ashburn Wedding Photography in Cold Spring, says looking great in person and looking great on camera are equally important. “A professional makeup artist knows what looks good on camera, the importance of matching the right foundation to your skin tone and what colors and contouring to use that will make your features pop,” she said.


Beyond outward looks, there’s so much work that goes on behind the scenes, in editing, if makeup is not done properly and professionally. Ashburn says, “There is nothing worse than having to color correct every single photo of a bride because her foundation color was off and she looks orange in pictures. Worse is having to Photoshop a bride’s photos whose foundation is not blended well and reflects artificial light poorly resulting in a ghosting, washed out look, or a spotty look in the photos.”

Are you having your makeup professionally done? What made you decide to get it done professionally? We’d love to know.

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DIY Weddings: 5 things you need to know now

This is the first in a multi-part series about DIY weddings


For many, the term “DIY wedding” conjures up thoughts of saving money or maybe saving time. Maybe it makes you think of vast seas of burlap and mason jars. Maybe it’s the opposite. Perhaps you think DIY means “cheap.” Whatever you envision when you think of the term DIY wedding, I’m here to tell you, it’s probably not true.


Here’s why: I was a DIY bride. I made everything – from save-the-dates, to menus, invitations, programs, envelope box, decorations at the cocktail hour, place cards and even favors. You name it, I made it.


Did I do it to save money? A little.

Did I do it because I thought it would be easier and faster? No.

Did I do it because I wanted our wedding to be really personal? Kind of.

Did I think my wedding would be “cheapened” in a way by doing DIY? Not one bit.


The real reason I DIY-ed my wedding was because I love to craft and make things.

bubble tags

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

That, my friends, is the ONLY reason why you should consider DIY-ing your wedding. It’s the ONLY reason why I did it. I was working a very high-stress job at the time and knowing that I could come home and craft got me through the day. It was my way of destressing, decompressing, and just relaxing. Those of you who have any hobbies know when you really get into it, you kind of zone out, and that’s what I needed at the time.


Would I do it again? Heck, yeah! In a heartbeat. It was so much fun! But again, it was fun because it’s my hobby. If it’s not your hobby, if you don’t enjoy it on any level, don’t do it. You will be absolutely miserable throughout the whole process and will end up hating it. Just like with anything else, if you are assigned a project and end up hating it, it will show through your work.


If you have never DIY-ed anything before, I strongly discourage you from using your wedding as your first project. It is too large of an undertaking, and the pressure is too high so it will cause a lot of added stress that you don’t need.


If you have crafted before and are considering some DIY for your wedding, I’ve taken the most common DIY myths and broken them down for you:


DIY-ing my wedding will save me money


escort cards

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

Yes and no. It really depends on what you are doing and how many people you have. For example, if you are making programs, menus, save-the-dates, invitations or any type of decorations, you are probably going to need really good cardstock (not the kind that’s prepackaged). Cardstock, when you buy it as single sheets for one project is relatively cheap. When you need to buy it in bulk for a massive project like a wedding, it adds up pretty quickly.


Same with paper cutting supplies. Remember, too, there might be supplies you need for a particular wedding project and then may not ever use it again. You need to weigh the pros and cons of that. If you are OK with spending money on a tool that you may never use again, then go for it. If you are hesitant about that, then DIY-ing may not be for you.


You also have to take into consideration ink. We all know ink isn’t cheap, and trust me, you will be do an awful lot of printing, and reprinting…if you make a mistake.


When it comes to favors, same thing. If you do want favors, keep the end in mind. What do you want your guests to do with them? I knew I didn’t want to spend money on a little tchotchke that would just sit on someone shelf collecting dust. I wanted something edible. Buying local edible treats was a strong contender, but everyone knows and loves our family recipe for fudge and so, that was my favor.


It actually costed more than just buying something, but my end result, giving my guests something edible that I know they would love and was personal, was worth it. In addition to the cost, it all had to be made, cut, wrapped and put in boxes (which were purchased and hand-assembled), and I also put a note in it which stated what flavors they were.


DIY-ing is easy and fast


fudge favors and menu

Photo Credit: Majestic Studio

This is a resounding NO. DIY-ing is not easy or fast by any stretch of the imagination. It’s much easier and faster to have someone do it for you or just purchase the items that you are DIY-ing. It took me hours and hours – I’m talking at least 5 hours a day, more like 8-10 each day on the weekend, to DIY my wedding. Weekends were spent sourcing craft supplies in local stores, scouring the Internet and Pinterest for design inspiration, making prototypes, trial-and-error, printing and cutting so that during the week, I had a finished prototype and the pieces for it so I could just assemble. I had a long running list of everything that I needed to do and, as the days and weeks passed by, I kept adding to it. Was it easy? No. Was it faster? No.


Let’s look back at my favors for a second. Fudge (good, real fudge) is highly perishable and melts very fast. Therefore, it could not be made too far in advance and always had to be kept cool. That meant it took up room in more than one fridge. Not only did it have to be made a week out, but I couldn’t pack and wrap it until two days before the wedding! It was a bit stressful, and very time consuming. But, was it worth it for me? Yes, and I have some great memories of family packing and wrapping fudge.


When you decide whether or not to DIY, you really need to take into account how much time you have and what you want to be doing with that time. Do you want to be knee deep in crafts, glue, ribbon, cutting or do you want to spend that time relaxing or maybe doing other fun wedding planning activities? If you don’t mind the thought of crafting for hours, then DIY is for you. If you don’t, don’t do it.


If I don’t have elements of DIY, my wedding will be cold and impersonal


cocktail hour decor

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

Many couples feel they need elements of DIY in their wedding to make it personal. You can still add personal touches without doing any DIY. Think about what personal elements you want in your wedding. Do you want a unique guest book, or cake topper that resembles your hobbies? Do you want a memorial table with photos of passed loved ones or do you want a family tradition implemented into your ceremony? These are all things that add that personal touch without doing any DIY yourself.


Think about weddings you’ve attended and what you liked about them. Was any part of what you liked related to DIY crafts? If so, then that’s a good indicator that type of work means a lot to you and you should have some in your wedding. If not, what was it? Maybe it was a small affair, maybe they had special readings, maybe the music was nostalgic or they had really unique food or perhaps even a food truck. If so, then you don’t need to worry about DIY.


DIY weddings look ‘cheap’


guest book baseball bat

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

Again, this is really subjective. The first thing you need to realize is no matter what you do at your wedding, no one is going to appreciate it as much as you, and everyone has different tastes. You are not going to make everyone happy. Your wedding could be gilded in gold, and someone would still complain.


I’ve seen DIY crafts that are so good you would think a professional made them, and I’ve seen others where it looked like it came from an art class for 5-year-olds. The results of each come with practice. If you are really worried about something looking “cheap,” I suggest doing a few things.


One, take a step back. If you’ve crafted anything in the past, you’ve probably gotten feedback from others on the work you’ve done. If it’s good, then don’t worry about it. If it’s not, you might want to reconsider…if you are worried about what others think.


Two, practice or ask a friend or family member for help if you know your skills aren’t where you would like them to be. If this is you, do not take on more than one or two projects and don’t make those projects ones that have a lot of focus on them.


With that being said, your wedding is your day. You have a vision and you owe it to yourself to make sure your day is one that you look back on with no regrets.


So, we want to know. Are you DIY-ing your wedding? What are you DIY-ing? Photo comments are best…let’s see your work!

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