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wedding home > unique wedding ideas > reception > personalized instant photo guest books

Personalized Instant Photo Guest Books

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What is an Instant Photo Guest Book?

An instant photo guest book is the marriage of a photo album and a guest book. Photos are taken of guests at the wedding and put into the instant photo guest book where the guests then write messages to the bride and groom in the moment. It's a real time memento of the special day.

Why would I want to have an Instant Photo Guest Book at my wedding/event?

A traditional guest book is typically placed at the entrance of the reception, and guests duly sign their names and sometimes other contact information in this little book. There are always more pages than guests, and the book generally ends up in a drawer somewhere, and you never look at it again. Why would you? You already know who was supposed to be there and where they live. After all, you had some sort of spreadsheet or fancy website with a relational database capability or in my day a recipe box filled with 3" x 5" index cards on which the names and addresses of the guests had been lovingly typed by my mother with a manual typewriter. No kidding. The traditional guest book is just plain boring!

An instant photo guest book, on the other hand, IS something you'll look at again (and again, and again) because it captures more than names. It captures more than a candid shot. It captures the spirit of the celebration from the perspective of your guests. The instant photo guest book is about the fun of the party, the spontaneous poses, faces, smiles, the personality, the heart of the event as seen from your guests eyes and hearts to the pages of your guest book.

What are my options?

There are basically two ways of doing the photography for the Instant Photo Guest Book—Polaroid or digital/35MM—and two classes of products available to put them in - do it yourself or those made specifically for this purpose. Here's a quick comparison of those options and the advantages and disadvantages of each:

  Advantages Disadvantages
The Pictures:
Polaroid Polaroid instant photos really are INSTANT! You point, click and whish! Out comes a picture! And you have a memory when you leave your event. There is only one copy of the Polaroid, although you can scan them after the fact and digitally reproduce them. Polaroids are pricey, about a buck a piece.
Digital /35MM You can print as many copies off as you want, in the case of digital, have a back up of all the images on a CD or on your desktop. The digital companies are claiming that you can get prints for as little as $0.29 a piece. As much as we’d like it to be, digital still isn’t instant. The images have to be printed, and in most cases, from a timing and technical perspective, doing them on the spot is not an option. So it sort of defeats the “instant” aspect of the concept since you have to come back later and put the photos in the guest book. They claim to resist fading, but I’ve got a bunch of digitals that I printed that have crapped out after a year in my wallet.
The Guest Book:
Do it yourself You can purchase any number of plain photo albums or scrapbooks in a variety of colors, materials, qualities and price ranges and even decorate them in any way your creative little heart desires. This method can save you a buck or two in materials. You have to affix photo corners or have double sided tape handy to get the photos into the album. And if you’re doing a Polaroid version, you still see the ugly white border. If you value your time at all, it could more than make up for the buck or two you saved in the cost of the materials AND the finished product can look “homemade” unless you’re really, REALLY talented creatively (I mean REALLY!) They can be lumpy.
Adesso Album® This product was designed specifically to be an instant photo guest book. The photos slide into the die cuts in each of the pages – no tape or glue or photo corners needed. They’re understated, chic and elegant.  

But c'mon, aren't Polaroid photos inferior to digital or 35MM?

Let's be honest...you're not going to get a professional grade photo with the Polaroid picture. But that's not the point. You're going to get an INSTANT photo that is fun, that you get to take with you as soon as the event is over. There are instances of Polaroid photos that were taken in the 1960's that are still around and in good shape today. As long as they aren't exposed to air 24x7, the "shelf life" of the photos can be 50+ years.

Who does what and when?

Lots of choices here! You can ask a good friend/s or family member/s to take the photos and get people to sign PROVIDED they are outgoing and will take the job seriously so that EVERYONE is a part of the finished product. As a single person, I've done a number of these for friends primarily because it's a wonderful and thoughtful and unique gift, but also because it gives me a reason to "mingle with a purpose" and generally meet some very interesting people. If you don't want to impose on a friend or family member, and are using an event consultant and/or a professional photographer, you might see if (for an extra fee) he/she could provide an assistant during the celebration to circulate with the instant photo guest book and present you with the finished product at the end of the event.

Isn't it an imposition on the guests to ask them to be photographed?

Heavens no! And it's WAY easier for people to express themselves on a page in a book than to say something on a video recording. Once they understand what a special gift it is everyone wants to participate. It's the one thing all the guests have in common - YOU!

What's the advantage of an Instant Photo Guest Book over some of the other popular ways of recording your guests?

Sure, there's the signature mat, the wish bowl, the ceramic platter, the wish tree, all kinds of ways to capture the guests at the wedding. But none of these provide you with a multi-dimensional (photos and sentiments) keepsake that you can TAKE WITH YOU as you're leaving your reception. Hard to schlep a framed, poster-sized, signature mat with you on the plane to Maui, no?

How much will it cost?

Depends. You can do it on the cheap with a vinyl binder from Walmart and vinyl sleeves to slide 3" x 5" index cards and photos in or go top shelf and buy an album that's made specifically for this purpose. Depending on the number of guests at your wedding it could cost anywhere from $50 all the way up to several hundred.

Is it worth it?

Absolutely! The friends and family that gather for your wedding may never get together in the same way again, and they're all there for one reason - YOU! You can't really put a price tag on that, now can you?

Click here to learn more and purchase.

Lesley Mattos is the Founder and President of Adesso Albums, Inc., headquartered in San Francisco, CA and the mother of four grown children. After a 25 year career in which she provided finance, treasury, investor relations and executive communications guidance to some of Silicon Valley's most visible CEOs and CFOs, she is now living her dream of helping the world capture the NOW of life's important moments.

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