Guestbook Buyer's Guide: How to Choose a Guestbook?

We have created this guestbook guide to assist you in the process of deciding which guestbook is right for you amongst the myriad of choices.  So, how do you choose, and how do you determine what's most important to you? 



I.  Aesthetic

The first thing you should determine is the aesthetic of your guestbook. What style are you looking for and what is the formality of your event or purpose? 

If your event is more formal, you will need a guestbook to mirror its formality.  More formal guestbooks range from leather to silk and satin.  Gilt edged pages, where the edges of the pages are gold (sometimes silver), are another indicator of a finer, more formal guestbook.  Ribbon page markers are another characteristic of fine guestbooks.

There are many styles to suite all tastes - from embellished covers, to simply elegant covers, in all colors and in all materials.  With many styles of guestbooks, it’s easy to select a style for you but it can be daunting when choosing a style for someone else.  Considering these tips will help, since it is best to mirror the person’s individual style:

  • How does the person dress – trendy or traditional, solids or patterns, bright or more subdued colors?   
  • How does this person decorate his/her home – any particular colors or design elements that are repeated and is any furniture leather and if so, what color and style.
  • What color jewelry does this person wear – this is a good rule of thumb when choosing personalization color for embossing and foil stamping.
  • What activities/hobbies does this person participate in?
  • What is this person’s age/generation?

There are themed guestbook covers, such as baby shower guestbooks, bridal guestbooks, and funeral guestbooks.  Each theme has general trends, such as baby motifs on pink and blue covers for baby shower guest books, or ribbon on ivory or white guestbooks for weddings, or darker, more sophisticated design elements to funeral guestbooks.  You can choose to follow the trends, or create your own path. 

While there are many styles to choose from, there is a limit to the choices of guestbook styles and types.  If you are looking for something very specific or want something personally unique, designing your own guestbook may be your best bet. 

II. Book

Once you determine the style of your guestbook, you can decide upon the other factors, such as the size, binding and page type.  You will want to prioritize your criteria because, while many options are out there, it is sometimes difficult to find the perfect guestbook that “has them all.”

1. Pages: HOW you’d like your guests’ participation in the creation of your guestbook is an important question to ask. 

  • If you are looking for a list of names of those who attended your event or visited your store, then you need lined pages
  • If you are looking to capture guests’ information such as mailing or email addresses, you will need a guestbook with lined pages or prompted sections for the information you require. (If you want specific information, a custom guest book with custom printed pages may be your best bet.)
  • If you want to capture messages from your guests, you will want lined pages for a cleaner appearance, prompted sections with an area for comments, or unlined pages for unrestricted freedom to write messages. 
  • If you want complete freedom to have your guests write messages, draw pictures, or add photographs for example, you will want blank or unlined pages.
  • Guestbook pages are typically white or ivory.  Those with lines or sections typically have a small, unique flourish on the page.  Unlined pages do not.  The ink of the lines, text and art vary but are usually a soft, neutral color.

2. Size: The size of your guestbook is important. 

  • How many guests do you need to accommodate? – History shows that you will need space for 60-70% of your attendee headcount because families and couples generally sign together.  So, if your wedding has 100 guests, you will need to make sure the guestbook has enough lines for 70 signatures or 70 messages.
  • Do you want the book to have a significant presence?  - A larger sized guestbook may be what you are looking for.  10 x 8 is large compared to the average guestbook.  There are larger guestbooks but they are rare and often don’t meet all the buyer’s criteria.  Many photo albums with paper pages can accommodate your desire for a more substantially sized guestbook.  Ring bound albums and guestbooks tend to be larger as well and often have the option for lined pages.  Remember that a guest book will be open on the table so the "wing span" will be minimum of twice the width.  
  • What is the size of your event? -  Smaller events lend to smaller guestbooks and vice versa. 

3. Binding: The way your guestbook is bound is relative to how you will be using your book.

  • Sewn Bound (aka Smyth Bound, library bound): The pages are bound in signatures that are sewn together and then bound in the book.  Sewn binding is permanent and typically lies flat when open, hard-bound books in particular.  The ability to lay flat on a table is important for guestbooks when the guestbook is going to stay on a guestbook table unattended.  Open guestbooks are inviting. Sewn bound books are not the right choice when photographs and other dimensional items will be added to the pages as sewn bound books will splay or “bulge”.    
  • Post Bound: Post binding is a scrapbook or photo album style guestbook and is perfect for photo guestbooks, or when you want just the right amount and style of pages in your book.  Bound with a binder’s post and screw, you will have the ability to add and remove pages and you have the exact kind of pages you want such as a combination of lined and unlined pages. The binding post and screw are usually concealed with a nice flap for a professional appearance but allows for the binding to be easily accessible.  Post bound guestbooks’ cover will lay flat when opened but often the pages do lay perfectly flat.  Paperweights often do the trick. 
  • Ring Bound: Ring bound guestbooks have the functionality of both sewn and post bound guestbooks, however, their ring mechanism shows.  This is a deterrent to many people even though many ring mechanisms are high-quality, strong and plated with gold, nickel, brass and other fine materials.  Ring bound guestbooks have the ability for the pages to lay flat, hold dimensional items, and has the flexibility of page type and style. 

III. Personalization

Most guestbooks have the ability to be personalized which is a great way to make your guestbook personally unique.

  • Embossed Personalization:  Heat embossing presses the letters into the guestbook’s cover and can be silver, gold or blind.  This permanent personalization looks sharp on a guestbook’s cover and is a blend of old world elegance and modern style. 
  • Other Personalizations: There are many other standard personalization styles - from printed designs, to custom printed cover pages, and monogrammed covers. Custom guestbooks often have their own personalization type for the most in original style.

Traditionally, guestbooks have served the purpose of keeping track of those who attended an event or visited a location.  Today, people are using guestbooks for the same purposes but they are also using them as keepsakes to remember the special occasion.  To make the keepsake more meaningful, a wide variety of guestbooks have emerged to fulfill this ever increasing need – to do something a little extra, a little special.  To help, we have a laundry list of wedding guestbook ideas that can be applied to any event. Click here to read this article.