There is something really special about a beautiful book in which to record thoughts and heartfelt wishes to the bride and groom on the wedding day. After all, as a guest, this is your chance to write something really beautiful that you might not otherwise be able to say, because the moment never presents itself, or you feel you are a klutz with getting the words just right. Beckoning Designs makes it easy, with beautifully crafted, high quality guestbooks, to do just that. Beck prides herself on her workmanship, and I think you’ll agree, they are stunning! What a wonderful gift these would make from the bridesmaids or from the parents of the bridal couple!
Why did you decide to start Beckoning Designs?
I began Beckoning Designs when I couldn’t find a pretty guest book that suited my style and was well made for my own wedding day. I LOVE pretty, stylish things and there was just nothing on the market that I really loved. I found it really frustrating knowing that a bride could have endless choices for just about everything else for her wedding day but really no choice for guest books. Not only that, I wanted a pretty guest book that was made for me, with my own personal elements in it and there was just no-one who could do that for me. So I decided to make my own.
How did you learn your craft?
I am largely self-taught. Through each guest book I’ve designed, I researched every component of how a book goes together, the grain of the board, the best glues to use, drying times, pressing times, everything. The first 5 years after my initial idea was literally spent trialling and recording notes and findings of each book I’d made and how it sat and how the pages turned etc. I also did a few bookbinding courses and I had the good fortune to live a short drive away from a very experienced bookbinder, who gave me a lot of time and taught me quite a lot of the essentials as well.
What I’ve come to learn over the last 8 years, is that there is so much you have to know about making books for it to all come together properly; more so recently since I’ve taken the time to record every step I do to making a book and was really surprised to see how much actually goes into my craft.
Image by Beckoning Designs
Why should bridal couples consider a guest book? Why are they so important?
The one thing I talk about with brides is how important a guest book is. Apart from your wedding photos, it’s also one of the only things you’ll have and keep from your wedding day. It is essentially a recorded snapshot of one of the most important days of their lives, which they can never get back. So including their guest book as a must-have is just so important. People use the guest book to write the most beautiful and heartfelt messages, things that you may not have even heard from family or friends before this day, so to have all those emotional messages contained in one beautiful book, is a cherished keepsake that the newlywed will have for such a long time.
How do you help couples decide on which guest book best suits their style? What is the process couples go through when they contact you to design their guest book?
Generally my first question to a bride is, “What do you want to see in your guest book?” Most if not all brides want a beautiful, but fun guest book, that they’ll actually enjoy re-reading after their wedding day. It’s very refreshing for brides to learn that when they visit my website or consult with me they see that there are so many ways to use a guest book and most of them do not include plain old signatures, which guest books were traditionally used for.
There are many other factors at play to ensuring the guest book is suitable for the individual bride, and the consultation with each bride in choosing what’s right for them plays an enormous part in my job.
Things such as, the size of the wedding, whether they’re having a photo booth or using a polaroid camera.
Do they want to see messages, or messages and pictures and stamps?
Do they have specific questions they’d like their guests to answer?
The guest book needs to reflect the bride’s style and personality, if they’re going to love it and want to re-visit the book again. Once the bride knows what they want to see in their guest book, we then move onto colours and personal elements like a personalized inscription on the cover. This is such a popular choice for brides, because it really personalizes their guest book. Most if not all brides, choose to have their name and their husband-to-be’s name and the date of their wedding underneath.
So as you can see, when brides choose Beckoning Designs to create their guest book they’re really getting a beautiful guest book made just the way they want it, rather than something impersonal and generic off the shelf.
Image by Beckoning Designs
To give us some ideas, can you mention some different styles for the pages of the guest book?
Depending on the guest book size a bride chooses, there are several options for the guest book layout.
The most popular style across all my guest books, is the blank option. Mainly because it allows so much creativity with stamps, drawings, photos and of course messages.
The next most popular is lined. This layout is quite traditional and appeals to a more formal style, whereby guests will leave their name and write their message next to it.
I also have the option of custom questionnaires, which allows the bride and groom to come up with a series of questions that they’d like the guests to answer. One of the advantages of this particular layout is that it ensures there’s no blank pages left over.
Brides can also opt for something custom for them, like a combination of questions and creative frames for adding hand drawn pictures, or something completely unique and meaningful to them.
How do you come up with all the fresh and different ideas when you design your guest books?
I have a habit of getting bored quite easily, so finding new ideas is crucial to keep me interested. I’m such a sucker for pretty, feminine designs, particularly French ornate designs, so I’m constantly on the look out for new fabrics and cloths to create new and pretty covers for my guest books. Because I can custom create for brides, a lot of new ideas come from my very creative brides, particularly layout ideas. Once brides know they can pretty much create a guest book the way they want it, they give me ideas I might not have thought of before; and I LOVE that!
Image by Beckoning Designs
How does the paper differ between guestbooks?
I’ve designed 3 guest book types for the size of wedding and purpose of the book. Using the right paper is crucial in being able to use the guest book the way you want to.
The paper for each of these books is specifically designed to either accommodate writing and drawing, or for photos and messages.
So the small and medium guest book has your basic paper weight of approx. 80-100gsm, these are designed to be used for writing or drawing in, or a combination of both. Photos on this weight of paper is not recommended.
The large photo guest book has been designed to include thicker card stock paper to hold the weight of the photos. But it’s also the binding style which will help not only store photos but ensure that the book can naturally expand and not fan out, when the photos are inserted. As when you’re inserting photos, it adds essentially another layer or page to the book. If the book cannot expand to accommodate the photos, it will fan out and not sit nice and flat.
The smallest guest book is a particularly different binding style that doesn’t allow natural expansion outside the included pages in the book, which is why I don’t recommend the inclusion of photos for the smallest book.
What should guests write in a guest book? Should you (the bridal couple) include prompts so that guests can write more than just their signature?
The possibilities are endless really. I always suggest having a chat with their partner to talk about what they’d like to see in their guest book after the wedding day.
The one crucial element that is forgotten with the guest book is having the right guest book sign, which can make all the difference for the end results.
Many brides unknowingly have a guest book sign which reads,”Please Sign the Guest Book”. What they ultimately end up with is either a bunch of signatures and maybe some brief messages alongside it.
However if you create a guest book that tells guests exactly what you want them to do, you’ll end up with some amazing results.
Ideas for guest book signs include:
Write 3 wishes for us.
Tell us how you knew we were meant for each other?
Where do you see us in 3, 5 or 10 years?
List your 5 best date night ideas.
Tell us what you loved about our wedding day.
Image by Beckoning Designs
How can guests ensure that they write something meaningful to the bride and groom in the book?
Again this comes down to having the right signage on the guest book table or a specific layout in your guest book that tells the guests what you want from them.
If brides are wanting to read something emotional, then one of the best ways is to create questions for the guests to answer.
How did you know we were meant to be?
What are 3 favourite things you love about us as a couple?
Where do you see us in 5 years?
Directing questions that compel an emotive answer is by far the best way to get the guests to write something meaningful.
Image by Beckoning Designs
How can we (the couple) bring more individuality to a guest book on the wedding day?
There are many ways to produce a guest book that is more individual to the bride. One of the best ways to do this is to have it custom made rather than bought off the shelf.
A custom guest book such as ours is selected by the bride to include all their personal elements that will not only tie in with the rest of her wedding stationery, but will also remind her of this important day in her life. Most brides choose their desired colour of their guest book based on either the wedding colours or a more classic design that will never date. The most popular way of personalising their guest book is by having their names and wedding date on the cover. Some brides even choose a personal message, or poem or song or a favourite quote to be placed on the first page.
Tying in all the above mentioned elements is what make their guest book unique and personal to the bride.
How important is the font you select for your inscription on the cover of your book?
Most brides love to see consistency across all their wedding stationery and of course this applies to their guest book. Long after their wedding day when all the rest of the wedding stationery has been used and thrown away, the reminder of what fonts they chose for their wedding day will be there for them.
Image by Jo of Celebration Design Studio
What sorts of options do you suggest for the cover of the book?
There’s 2 schools of thought here for choosing the guest book cover design and or colour.
Choose the main colour from your wedding colour scheme or go for a more classic and timeless design or colour. Some brides like choosing the main colour as a reminder of what colours they had in their wedding. Some brides love the idea of timeless design, knowing they’ll love that design forever. I have over 40 different designs and colours on my website to choose from. Most brides have a clear idea of what they want when they come to me and often know it instantly as soon as they see the design or colour. If a bride can’t decided then there’s the option of having samples sent out, so they can see how the colours/designs look, first hand.
Where do you ship your guest books?
My guest books are shipped Australia wide and worldwide.
Thank you Beck for sharing your story. To find out more about Beckoning Designs visit the website.
Headshot by Jo of Celebration Design Studio.