A wedding guestbook alternative should be unique and a reflection of you and your spouse to be.
The first thing guests see when they walk in the door at the wedding reception is the guestbook. It’s been a tradition for hundreds of years – and for good reason.
While well-wishing at weddings will never go out of style, the way couples ask that their guests leave them messages is always evolving – and for couples who love whiskey, a real barrel head guest book is a brand new way to collect and display the loving stamp of approval from friends and family.
We offer online tools to build the perfect guestbook for your wedding and also offer design help if needed. Just reach out!
Why do you need a Wedding Guest Book?
Believe it or not, the wedding guest book tradition comes from a legal background. In the times before Instagram accounts, wedding hashtags, and even photography itself, guest books were a legal document affirming those who were witness to the event, in case it was ever needed in court.
We no longer need them for that function. Guest books gave way to marriage certificates, which now come with their own lines for witnesses to sign. By the time we switched to more official documents, guest books had already become a lasting custom for American weddings, and not just for the sake of tradition: the signing of the guestbook is still a very important ritual.
Guestbooks help you remember who was present when you said your vows, who partied with you late into the night, who laughed and told secrets with you in the photo booth, who traveled so very far to be there with you and your partner, who gave you meaningful gifts and sage wisdom as you embarked into married life.
It may not seem like you will need a guest book. You may look around your wedding and think to yourself, “How could I ever forget who was here with me?” But years down the line, that will change. While the most important people– your bridal party, your parents and grandparents, siblings and their families– will always remain at the forefront of your mind, you may forget the others: work friends that you love, cousins who you cherish, or even old friends from growing up who you thought you could never live without.
On top of that, your guest book becomes a literal document of love. Think about it: in twenty years, when your friends have scattered across the globe, your family has grown, and, most importantly, your eldest family members have moved from this life to the next, a simple signature and message from a loved one on the most important day of your life can bring tears to your eyes and a warm, beautiful memory to mind.
Each person named in your guestbook is someone who is close enough to your heart that you wanted to spend the money and effort to have them there. They are the people who you have laughed with, cried with, gone on adventures with, and spent the most important, white-stone moments with throughout your whole life. Whether they are an aging family member, childhood friends who have traveled from many miles away, or even coworkers who put up with the worst of human existence alongside you, they are important and they deserve to be commemorated.
And on an even more basic level– they help you remember where to send your thank you notes!
Which type of guestbook is right for my wedding?
If you are here, you probably like whiskey or bourbon, and the obvious choice is one of our Custom Bourbon Barrel Guest Books. But we realize that there are differing tastes so let’s take a look at all the options.
If you search for wedding guest books online, chances are you are going to become very overwhelmed– there are thousands of different options. We’ve narrowed them down into different categories to help you decide what’s best for you and your spouse before the big day:
Yes, in the world of Pinterest and YouTube crafting videos, there are STILL actual books you can buy to record your guests. And you can get them to fit just about any theme, and even personalize them.
Pros: Lots and lots of room if you have lots and lots of guests. Heck, one person can even take up a whole page with memories, advice, and love!
Cons: Impersonal and usually regulated to some back shelf with old picture albums you look at every ten years or so. It’s hard to display a guestbook in a way that’s engaging– even at the reception. Some people may just pay it straight by.
We’ve seen a huge variation of these in recent years, and unfortunately, they tend to wind up being great ideas with not-so-great execution
Pros: It’s DIY, so it can literally be anything you want!
Cons: It’s DIY, so unless you’re crazy crafty, it might not always look as perfect as you want. And even if you are crafty, you’re going to have a LOT of other things to take care of on that day– a guestbook should be the least of your worries. Also, the longevity might be called into question. Sure, you’ve gotten all off your family and friends to put their fingerprints on that cool family tree design you saw on Pinterest, but if exposed to light and not properly sealed, they might fade before your tenth anniversary.
We call these the Leave-a-Note because they all kind of fall under the same basic idea: you ask your guests to write some advice on a note that is then enclosed somewhere and opened when needed. Some people include tiny envelopes and ask their guests to write a situation when the letter should be opened (“After the birth of your firstborn,” “After your first really bad fight,” “When you have to move,” etc.).
Pros: These are a great way for older relatives to offer advice to the newlyweds.
Cons: These aren’t usually super compact. Imagine, along with carrying home all your decor, gifts, clothing, and leftover food and booze, you’re also responsible for 50-250 small letters. Something is going to get lost along the way. Also, it might not be intuitive for your guests as you’d like. They’re at a wedding; they want to party, not write a long, sappy note.
We see a ton of these, and frankly, they are the best way to add something unique to your wedding. In past weddings, I’ve seen a buoy, a wooden initial of the couple-to-be, a giant canvas print of the couple, a canoe oar, Jenga blocks, and yes– even a dinner table.
Pros: It’s cute, it’s easy to display, and your friends and family will be talking about it for years to come.
Cons: You might not like that quirky thing in five years to come, or it might not match your decor in years to come.
So, what should you look for in a guest book alternative?
There are a few things that stretch across all wedding themes. You’ll want something –
- Classy but still represents you and your partner and your interests;
- That people will have room to write more than just their names on — such as well wishes, marriage advice, and memories from the night of the party;
- You can share and put on display so you can relive these memories every day, not just put on a shelf and reminisce on every twenty years;
- That is a form of art that you are proud to display in your home, and even prouder to have friends and family see at your wedding;
- That isn’t trendy, that you won’t look back on with regret; something that goes with any form of decor, even as the rest of your home decor changes throughout your life;
- You can customize and make truly you;
- That is a part of your heritage and has a rich and storied history.
- Considering all of these parameters, there really is only one option – The Bourbon Barrel Guestbook
What’s so special about a Bourbon Barrel?
Like the wedding guest book, bourbon is a part of American heritage, and more importantly, a very traditional part of American weddings. From the burying of the bourbon to sharing a tasty and warm treat with your wedding party, bourbon is meant for celebrating, and there is no more important celebration for Americans than a wedding. In fact, many distilleries and brewing companies now serve a double life as a wedding venue.
But even if you don’t have a distillery venue local, even if you aren’t going burlap and lace for your theme, even if you’re having a dry wedding, a bourbon barrel guest book is a rustic, classy, and traditional guestbook for any couple.
And these barrels are REAL. No mass produced made-in-China junk. These whiskey barrels are 100% authentic distillery-used.
Before they distilled the good stuff, they were 100% American white oak, which is a requirement for bourbon barrels in Kentucky.
They have served their lives enriching and perfecting the taste of many of your favorite spirits, and now they are ready to come home and enrich your home decor with memories of the most important day of your life.
How can I Customize my Wood Guestbook Alternative?
We wanted to make this process as easy as possible, while still giving a full-range of design capabilities to make the bourbon barrel truly yours.
Follow these steps:
- You select from one of our whiskey-inspired designs. We put these together with the help of a professional graphic design to ensure you would have something you’d be proud to display for the rest of your life.
- Fill in the fields with your own information: the surname or surnames-to-be, the names of those who intend to wed, the date of the blessed ceremony, and any other details.
- Pick which information you’d like to display based on your own personal preferences. Maybe you’ve decided not to share a last name– that’s totally fine. You can instead include your individual names. Or maybe you don’t want to worry about the location, but the date is what’s important. Also fine! It’s entirely up to you. You can even add in a quote or saying that’s important to you as a couple, if you want. This is your masterpiece; we’re just putting it together for you.
- Change the font and positioning. Try it all over the place, and feel free to get a little crazy. You may come up with something unusual that you really, really like.
And that’s it! You send it our way, and we send your product back in time for you to say your vows. You still get the pleasure of customizing your own guest book, but we handle the trouble of putting it together for you.