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How to Set Up a Polaroid Guest Book Table at Your Wedding

Sep 15, 2023

Depart from the traditional guest book with Polaroids.

Photo by Tonhya Kae Photography

Weeks, months, years, even decades after your wedding day has gone, you will stop, smile, and recall the day’s events. As the nostalgia hits hard, you may have the urge to flip through your guest book. So, how can you make it extra special now? You simply need the help of a camera and a little imagination.

Consider a Polaroid guest book as a way to remember your wedding day. Typically a hardcover wedding photo album, the guest book contains both Polaroids of your guests and thoughtful messages to the married couple. Ahead, experts Jessie Whitfield, Natasha Miller, and EJ Dilley explain how to set up a Polaroid guest book—including inspiration from real couples.

Meet the Expert

Setting up a Polaroid guest book is both affordable and easy to do. If you’re ready to DIY this part of your reception, you don’t need to buy a load of expensive gear. Here’s a quick shopping list to get you started:

If you’re looking to add some pizazz to the day (and it suits your wedding style), you could also invest in a few photo props for the pictures. Think about how this will fit with your reception before choosing yours.

Once you've gathered all your materials, it’s time to think about where to set up your Polaroid guest book. The exact location will depend on your venue, however, there are a couple of pointers to keep in mind. Put simply, your station should be in an area that’s easily accessible to guests, won’t get too busy, and has enough space.

“The best place to set up a Polaroid guest book is in an area that is well lit and that your guests can see throughout the night as well as in an area that is dry and not windy,” explains Whitfield. “Places not to set up your Polaroid guest book include next to the bar as it’s too congested, next to the band or DJ, or out of sight.”

Needless to say, your wedding reception is likely to be a busy affair. The last thing you want is for the photo station to be in the way of the soirée. Instead, guests should see it the moment that they walk through the door so they can wish you well, take a quick snap of themselves, and stick it in the guest book.

“Choose a location where the booth doesn’t get in the way of the party or doorways, but also where guests won’t miss the station,” Miller adds. “This could be next to the seating chart for the reception.” The choice is yours!

Ready to have your guests say "cheese?" Before you get to work, there are a few extra tips you may need. Let’s take a look at some expert advice to help you make your Polaroid guest book a recipe for success.

Is there a specific person you can trust to oversee the photo station? “Guests that are not familiar with Polaroids could ruin entire packs of film, so that is something to keep in mind,” Dilley reveals. “Since the film is rather expensive, I encourage you to have a person or a couple of people take turns overseeing the guestbook.”

Don’t leave your guests guessing. While taking a picture and writing a message is hardly rocket science, your loved ones may need a helping hand. "Have a list of instructions for what you want your guests to do,” adds Dilley. “For example: ‘Stand 6-10 feet away from the camera, take one picture, glue the image in the guest book and sign a short message under the image!'"

Worried that your photo station will get too busy? You may want to consider setting up a couple of tables where guests can do their thing. "If guests are taking their own photos consider having more than one station set up, as there could be a bottleneck,” says Dilley.

Lighting can make or break a picture. When you’re choosing where to set up your Polaroid guest book, keep this in mind. "Indirect sunlight from a window is great if you are indoors at midday, covered shade if you are outdoors midday, and constant light if you are indoors at night,” says Dilley.

No natural light in sight? Don’t panic. "You could set up a simple ring light for the station or face the booth opposite a window with natural light coming in if the reception is during the day,” says Miller. “Some couples set up lights on their backdrop with fairy lights or a string of warm white or colored lights.”

While creating your own Polaroid guest book may be more affordable than other alternatives, you still need to budget for the cost of materials. The camera itself can cost anywhere from $65 to several hundred—and you may require more than one depending on your guest count. Film packs start at around $15 and vary depending on the number of photos per pack and brand. (Luckily, these items won't go to waste as they can be reused after the wedding.) Plus, you will need to factor in the price of the guest book itself (depending on how crafty you want to get), markers, tape, lighting if necessary, and any additional accessories you choose.

The most budget-friendly option is to have a DIY photo station at your wedding. However, should you have room in your budget, hiring an expert could make this memento look professional. "If you're able to hire a photo booth company to run your Polaroid guest book experience we highly recommend that because it will streamline things and ensure you have a high-quality guest experience,” says Whitfield.

Looking for some inspiration to help you along the way? We have you covered. Here are some of our favorite Polaroid guest book examples to get your creative juices flowing.

Photo by Meraki Wedding Photo & Film

Once the party gets started, it will be difficult to reign in guests' attention. Capitalize on the opportunity while you can by including the card box and an outline of the evening's itinerary like this couple did at their rustic Colorado nuptials. We love the chalkboard signage used to get the point across!

Photo by Laura Memory Photography & Videography

Don't forget the pens! This is the perfect time for guests to leave you sweet messages and love notes under their photo.

Photo by Caroline Yoon Photography; Planned by Emily Coyne Events

Simple yet sophisticated, the Polaroid guest book station at this wedding is a classic setup. We love the addition of framed instructions, too.

Photo by Damion Hamilton Photography

Share the instant pictures with your guests by giving them somewhere to hang them. You can take the pictures down at the end of the event and create your own guest book.

Photo by Alex Carlyle Photography

If you do plan to hang up your pictures, why not make a whole wall of Polaroid snaps? Weaving the photos between climbing plants makes for a cool, modern effect.

Photo by Abby Jiu Photography

Keep things clean and simple. When you’re setting up your Polaroid guest book, ensure that the cameras you choose match the décor.

Photo by Sasithon Photography

Show the guests how it’s done! If you want to get the ball rolling, be the first to take a quick snap and add it to the front of the Polaroid guest book.

Photo by Love & Light Photographs

Styling your Polaroid guest book table doesn’t have to be hard. You can add a mirror to help guests perfect their selfie look and a couple of choice extras.

Courtesy of Ginger Ray

Make your guest book into a real piece of art. Mix things up with message tags and Polaroids to create a cool framed keepsake.

Photo by Rach Loves Troy; Event Planning by Tara Skinner Weddings & Events

Fun and creative, adding some colorful markers to your photo station is a sweet idea. You could also ask guests for some helpful marriage advice to boot.

Courtesy of RichDesignCo / Etsy

Rather than writing out the instructions for your guests, take things to the next level. Getting a bespoke acrylic sign for the photo station screams of sophistication.

Photo by Madison Hope Photography

Classic vignettes don’t get much more elegant than this. For this wedding, the couple matched the Polaroid camera to their timeless theme.

Photo by Gretchen Gause

Feeling beachy? We love this bohemian Polaroid guest book setup for a romantic summer wedding.

Photo by Lance Nicoll

Most guests won't have access to some of the more intimate moments of the wedding day. By displaying Polaroids from different scenes, like the bride getting ready at this romantic Bay Area wedding, you'll lend an inclusive lens into your world while guests take their own Polaroids to offer you their personal viewpoint.

Photo by Ke-Lie Photography

Should you want to add a splash of fun to your Polaroid guest book, why not get some colorful films for the camera? It’s easy and super effective.

Photo by Rach Loves Troy; Event Planning by Tara Skinner Weddings & Events

Planning to hang your Polaroids up for all to see? You can use the venue’s features to your advantage and find the perfect place to string things up.

Photo by Katherine Ann Rose

Encourage your guests to be as creative as they please with their poses. Everything looks good in black and white. We love these shots from John Scheer and Tracy Nour’s sophisticated wedding day.

Photo by Flora & Flauna; Event Planning by Tall & Small Events

Whether you’re planning an indoor or outdoor soirée, setting up a Polaroid guest book couldn’t be easier. Try the no-fuss approach like this gorgeous but effortless aesthetic.

Photo by Love and Wolves

While you have your guests' attention, take the chance to gift them a polaroid from the wedding as a favor. Love is all about finding the balance between giving and taking, right?

Polaroid camera and film. Guest book. Display.Marker pens. Double-sided tape. Hand sanitizer.