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How to Create a Vintage 1940's Style Guest Book on a Budget for Your Wedding!!

When I was starting to plan my wedding, nothing could have been better for me then to add my favorite decade to the special date. After a wedding which was created with a 1940s flare.. I couldn't help but keep it going into the reception and guest book.

When I think of retro or even the 1940s, I almost always think of those elegant hotel desks, with the dark wood and slots for mail. I loved the feel of the old keys in my hand as well, and how they looked hanging on a board waiting for the guest.

So when I was thinking of guest book ideas.. the only perfect match for me was this idea of making my guest book like a hotel registration desk from the 40's.


Blank Library Cards
Library Pockets
Folding desk
Hotel key board
Philosophy key chains
OR Retro key tags depending the decade you're representing
vintage hotel keys
Instant Camera
chalk boards
service bell

To add that special touch.. personalized rubber stamps and signs to say just what you want them to say.

Creating the Feeling of a Retro Hotel Desk

If one has ever seen the Cary Grant movie "My Favorite Wife" they would see a seen where he checks into a hotel. The registration card seemed to be on a lazy susan. That was my first idea, however, with the space I had to work with at the venue, I had to change that thought process to clip boards and bank style chained pens. It still worked in my mind.

Signage: We created a sign that stated to the guests that it was a photo guest book and what to do from step one to the next. Chalk boards also helped direct our guests. A huge "guestbook" sign from in our colors helped direct the guest to the book.

Sign in /Telegram: I love the idea of retro and telegrams. I actually wanted my invitation to be a telegram at first, but I was afraid it would be lost in mail assumed as junk mail. I felt that would have been easy to do today with the way junk mail appears these days. However, I didn't give up hope.. when I found a rubber stamp maker on that had a telegram style stamp. She kindly created for me to read as if the wedding guests telegrams for us were wedding wishes. I wanted cards that would easily go into a pocket so I can add to a scrapbook later, blank library cards helped me create this idea. One one side was a stamp that read "sign here" that was to represent the guest "registering as a guest" at our hotel per se. The other side was our "wedding wishes" telegram that they were to put in the slot and send off to us at the "folding hotel desk" which I also purchased off the internet.

Folding Desk: We loved this desk for it was the best way to create a portable hotel desk look with the mail slots for the telegram wedding wishes to be set in after they were filled out. We also added to it a personal vintage touch with wedding and romantic pictures of our parents and grandparents.

Last but not least the wedding favor: We used actual vintage hotel keys purchased from eBay. We created our own tags and we also added philosophy tags to create a more personal gift. Rubber stamps also helped with the tag, creating the perfect messaged we wanted that would represent us and our wedding and how grateful we were that they attended our special day with us.
Depending on the decade you can get the actual vintage retro keys with the tags, which can be expensive. Another route is actual having some custom create for you, yet another expensive route. I was lucky to have found blank tags on eBay, but we didn't end up using them. Extra keys and tags we are going to sell on eBay ourselves.. so keep an eye out if this is the look you wish to achieve.

Added touches: I collect retro radios.. so having a little retro radio on hand was easy. There are lots of personal and retro items you too could use depending the decade and look you want to achieve.

Putting It All Together

So the wedding is over and you have a stack of cards with wedding wishes on them and a stack of pictures of your guests... what do you do with them? This is where your library card pockets come into play. I purchased a 8x8 scrapbook in our colors, and some scrapbook ledger paper in the size of 4x4. I also purchased 8x8 retro wedding scrapbook paper. I created a page for each guest which had their picture, with cute black tabs on the corners of the pictures to hold it in place to the ledger paper. I then attached the library pocket to the ledger paper and tucked the wedding wish cards of the guest that matched the picture into the pocket. I stamped the page with a "received" stamp and attached the ledger sheet to the bigger page. I added adornments such as the rubber stamp with our names and wedding date to the retro looking ticket stub.

I think this is one of my favorite parts of the scrapbook. It's a great keepsake and is something I don't think I'll ever get sick of looking at. I found it was more interesting then just a page full of signatures.

Another special touch which added a personal touch from our wedding guests was a fingerprint tree. We ordered ours from and it comes in all different sizes. Due to the fact we were having a small wedding we choose the smaller size. We included the wedding party and some guests.. who went to high shool with us.

We went to high school together, and reconnected 20 years later. Almost 22 years to the date we graduated, we married at the same church our graduation with 18 seniors took place. It was like a mini high school reunion at our wedding. The place where we left to start our lives.. was the same location where we met again to start our live together as one. The fingerprint tree, also helped bring that personal note to home and hearth for us.


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