It happens at nearly every wedding--a wrinkle in the otherwise smooth fabric of an organized wedding day. A wrinkle that could easily be ironed out, if coordinators and brides were aware that it happens so frequently.
The bride nervously waits with her girls for the coordinator to tell her it's time to start walking in. The coordinator is running around, trying to make sure the music is ready, the parents and ushers are set. And then she sees it. The line of guests still stretches out the door, guests needing to be seated before the wedding can commence.
Now the coordinator tries to snag an usher's attention. "Come on and seat these people already," she thinks, even if she is too calm and polite to say it like that. But the ushers have seated everyone who is ready to be seated. The line of people are waiting to sign the guestbook. At this point, experienced ushers and coordinators whisper to the line of guests, "Sign the guestbook on your way out." Ushers and coordinators with less experience get nervous and look despairingly at the clock and conclude that the wedding will start late. And sometimes, the photographer will nudge the coordinator and suggest having people sign the guestbook after the wedding. Part of our job, after all, is to help a wedding run as smoothly as possible.
So now that you're aware that the dreaded guestbook pileup happens, what can be done about it? There are several things that can help, but one really simple solution that trumps all the others. Why not make a nice little sign beforehand, and tell the guestbook gals to prop it on top of the guestbook five or ten minutes before the ceremony is scheduled to start? The sign could say, "Please sign the guestbook on your way out." Or, "Latecomers will forfeit signing the guestbook, and will not be recorded in the history of our special day." I'm guessing most brides would prefer the first wording!!
A standard guestbook or photobook with pictures from the engagement is such a lovely tradition and keepsake that I would hate to suggest ditching it in favor of faster guestbooks. Just be aware that if you only have one or two people who can sign at once, you do need to put more thought into planning how to take care of the last minute pileup.
I've seen a lot of creative guestbook ideas that involve more that one or two people signing in at a time. Puzzles and wooden hearts are just a few of the unique ideas at weddings recently. You're only limited by your imagination and Pinterest when it comes to "out of the book" ideas. Pileups can still occur, but having a few more pens and options does help.
Or, you could just start your wedding late. It wouldn't be the first time, or the last. But if you want to save your coordinator some last minute stress, you might want to think about it.