The Great Guestbook Debate

Here’s the thing.

From waaaaay back when, before I was engaged but around the time I started thinking that I’d quite like to marry Paul one day actually, there were certain elements of our wedding that I always knew I’d have. Like the ribbon noticeboard. Or the festoon lighting. Or the hand-painted wooden signs.

So far all three are sourced/bought/made/in development, and although I know they are all on the verge of being done to death in Wedding Land, I have no doubts or regrets.  None of these elements have cost a fortune, or rather, I don’t begrudge the money I have spent on them. It’s all coming out of the (generous) styling/décor budget I’d set aside anyway.

But there are certain elements I’m struggling to spend money on. There’s very little money left, if I’m completely honest, but of the (many) DIY bits still to be done, I’m having to start prioritising which elements I really need, and which I can do away with.

The Photo Guestbook is one such item I am currently questioning.


Image via Oh-Brides

I have ALWAYS wanted a polaroid guestbook. There is absolutely nothing unique about it, but getting your guests to stand in front of a colourful/humourous/interactive backdrop, take an instant picture of themselves and stick it in a scrapbook immediately livens up what is essentially a pretty dull tradition.  And whilst I love a Photo Booth (who doesn’t?), I’m really rather drawn to the more retro, simple, ‘handmade’ version that the instant-camera-and-scrapbook provides. Plus photo booths are extortionate.

However, with Polaroid Guestbook on my list of To-Dos this month, I’m starting to realise that this is going to be a pretty extortionate option as well. Having had a good look on both eBay and Amazon, it looks like you can pick up either a Polaroid 600 or a Fuji Instax for between £50 and £100. But it’s the film that really hits you in the stomach, knuckle duster stylee. With 10 exposures costing around £10-£15 EACH, we’re talking over £200 just to get a photo of each of your guests.  Not to mention, the scrapbook, the pens, the backdrop, the frames and the printing for ‘instructions’…

The best case scenario if I decide to go for it, is buying the minimum number of exposures I think I can get away with (say 100 for 130 people) and enlisting my coordinator to encourage group shots and ‘man’ the camera/ensure the photos are stuck in properly for a couple of hours.

The worst case scenario is that my coordinator will have other things to do, the camera will be a free for all, people will start stealing pictures for themselves because they like them, or alternatively, taking several because they don’t like the original photo that was taken… and before you know it the film has run out by 9pm with only 24 guests having taken photos, and half of them missing. And I really don’t want to spend several hundred pounds for that to happen.

Of course, there are other options out there, having done a bit of t’internet research. The Pogo printer is a possibility: a phone-sized printer that attaches to your smartphone and can instantly print out business-card sized images on a special kind of sticky-back Zink (zero ink) paper. But it’s the fiddlyness that puts me off this, and, I’m ashamed to say, the look. It just doesn’t have the coolness or novelty value that a polaroid camera has, and will my older relatives really be able to work out, or be bothered to work out, how to use it? Probably not.

Image created by Sarah Danaher with a Canon EOS 30D

Seriously- who wouldn’t want an image like this?
Via The Sweetest Occasion

Some other suggestions have been a standard digital or disposable camera with the pictures being developed and stuck in the book at a later stage.  But again, if I was a guest that wouldn’t appeal at all. The whole excitement of an instant camera is waiting for the picture to develop, laughing at the result, and writing a message in the guestbook that is inspired by said shot.

‘Tis really an all or nothing thing for me, I think.  If I decide against the expense of a polaroid guestbook, I don’t think I’d have a guestbook at all. I’m afraid I don’t see the point when most people bring cards with a lovely message in any way. I’m toying with the idea of providing a few permanent pens and asking people to cover my US mailbox with nice words instead- it might be a nice memento for my home/office in that sense…. but will I regret not spending the money  on something that I have always wanted?

So over to you, dear Readers, and I really am interested to hear your thoughts, stories and words of advice today.

Did you have a polaroid (or other instant camera) guestbook, and was it worth it? How much did you spend roughly, and did it work out the way you intended?

Has anyone used or is anyone planning on using the Pogo printer? What’s your experience with that?

Is there anyone out there who didn’t bother with a guestbook at all? Any regrets?

As a wedding guest, what are your thoughts?

Or perhaps you have a cheap and ingenious guestbook idea that is both appealing to guests, and will be appealing to Paul and I in the future. If so, don’t keep it to yourself! I promise I won’t copy… *said crossing fingers*

Sama xxx

P.S For those wondering how the 5:2 Diet is going there will be a post next week, after the two-week weigh in.


13 thoughts on “The Great Guestbook Debate

  1. Ohh I love a good picture guest book. I always struggle to think of something to write in a standard book so normally just put a generic message with my name. The photo idea, as you say, helps to inspire the message.

    John is in charge of our “guest book”. We’re having an acoustic guitar and asking guests to sign their names on it. We can use it at our post-wedding campfire and then it will be mounted on the wall in the office. It’ll be lovely to have it there as a constant reminder of the wedding and I’m hoping it’ll be used again and again at other gatherings.

  2. We plan have a guestbook exactly as you describe. Identical to that photo. It’s my favourite option of all the guestbook ideas I’ve come across.

    I’ve tasked a family member with operating the camera and ensuring all the photos go straight into the guestbook no matter how much the guest protests that they must have another taken as the first was terrible. This should cut down on wastage/pics going astray.

    Most of my guests are in couples, so I am not counting the total of images as the number of guests, but as number of couples, so around 40-50 at our wedding. You can get Fuji Instax film 20 packs on Amazon for around £12, so I figure 3 of these will do it!

    • That is a good point, Miss Phirefly! Most people would want to be with someone in the photo I’m sure. Hmm, maybe some new calculations are needed… Still looking at £150 with the book and everything though. I’m so torn!

  3. I am in the exact same position, a poloroid guestbook was something we talked about really early on but then when we looked into costs it became less appealing. I think there is a real risk that people would take multiple pics to get one they like and the film would run out, or nobody would bother replacing the film so you would get 10 and the rest would then go unused.

    It is such a lovely idea in theory but in practice I’m not so sure, I reckon i might just nd up stressing about whether the film was getting wasted / changed etc.

    I’m kind of now leaning towards no guestbook at all, because I never know what to say in one and if anyone wants to write us a nice message they would put it in our card which we are going to keep anyways. Still deciding though…..

    • All day I’ve been thinking I’m not going to bother at all. Or at least just get people to write something on our mailbox. I just wonder if I’ll regret not doing it more than I’d regret doing it… Let me know when you’ve decided!

  4. We did have a photobooth, and we provided blackboards so people could leave a message in the board, we had tons of props and a background (some printed cloth, you can find that cheap), but, of course we used a digital camera with a tripod.
    Some of the nice pics can also be sent to the guests as mementos.
    I put all the pics together in an album later as well. And as an extra, for the old fashioned / shy we had a traditional guestbook (just a nice notebook with some pens).
    It is of course a compromise, I know the instant effect is a whole other deal but I can tell you the photobooth as it was was a huge hit and guests had fun with it, all through the reception, plus it encouraged mingling.

    Here is how we did it, the tutorial is at the end

    • See, it’s the hit things that keeps taking me back to going for it. Guests love a photobooth of sorts! And as you say on your blog, for the majority of guests it’s completely new to them. Thanks for your comment Amanda!

  5. We’re having a thumbprint guest book made as we didn’t want a ‘traditional’ guest book. We ordered the balloon one from

    You get a caricature of you and groom and get people to thumbprint the picture and write a nice message! All I need to get is an ink pad and some baby wipes for the guests. It’s really nice and personal and a lovely keepsake, and the caricature is really good!

  6. We are doing a photobook (of sorts) but I already own an Instax camera so it’s not such a major expense. We also bought a load of film from eBay – it’s come from Hong Kong but was cheap, seems to be the real stuff and came super quickly! I really love the thought of having pictures of everyone – particularly grandparents! Hope you manage to decide & get what you want 🙂

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