Hill City Bride | Virginia Wedding Blog » a wedding blog to inspire brides

Your guests travel near and far and take time out of their day to celebrate you and your love! What a special day filled with memories that you share with your closest friends and family. It is fun to have a record of who is there that day, and a traditional guest book will do just that … but there are so many alternatives to guest books out there! Enjoy this post on a few of the ideas that I found.

This is such a cute idea … why not have guests write down a little tried and true advice? It is a great way to have a wedding keepsake, a record of who was there and some sage things to read. I can imagine a couple getting back from their honeymoon and having a great time reading through the anecdotes.

This one is somewhat common, but a large frame with a lot of white space can be picked up fairly inexpensively (Michael’s and AC Moore often have 40% off sales, or you can at least use your 40% off coupon from the Sunday paper on a full priced frame). Pop in a wedding photo, and you have a visual reminder of your day and those who were there with you to celebrate.

If you know someone who sews, why not have each guest sign a fabric square which can be turned into a quilt to cuddle up with? Interesting to say the least!

Who says that “families” need to be related? A cute “wedding family” tree can be designed as a wall hanging. I love how the bride and groom are two cute little birds on the branch together. Darling!

Photo booths add a lot of fun to a reception, so why not capture those memories into a signable book? It will provide laughter and entertainment for years to come! Click here to find out more about renting a photo booth.

Yes, a guitar may be an odd choice, but why not think about purchasing something that you can display in your home that can be signed? Maybe there is something meaningful to you as a couple that guests can sign to commemorate your wedding. Either way the piece will decorate your home and have you thinking fondly of those who attended your wedding.

You need to read the instructions, but this couple purchased origami paper. Once the guests wrote a note, they put the paper into a vase, and then the couple took the papers and folded them into origami. I can picture the origami figures and such hanging as a mobile in a stunning array of color in the home of the new Mr and Mrs. Fun!

 *Photos are all from Flickr, and just hover over the photo for crediting.*

  • Linda Hall - Love Is In The Air - Decor, Cakes & Catering - Love all these ideas! Love Is In The Air does have a crystal wish tree that our brides can use. Afterwards, the cards can be removed and placed on a ribbon for the bride and groom.

  • Caren - Great Ideas!!

  • Jessica - The wedding quilt idea is awesome. I love it!

  • Amanda - I love these ideas! First one is fabulously delightful and of course I am in love with the photo booth idea!!

  • Breanna - Those are cute! I love the oragami, and the quilt! So creative.

    Have you seen… http://www.guestbookstore.com?
    I got my guestbook from there, its really neat and different. But not really DIY. :\ lol

    Your blog is so great Jen!

  • Jennifer - Awww … thanks SO much, Breanna!!

  • Jessie-Lee - I used a nautical map of the area where we were married in Maryland. It was hanging on my wall before the wedding, and now it has a ton of lovely signatures!

You will notice a little change with “Newly Wed” this month … a change in author! I greatly appreciate all of the time and effort that Rachael Eberle put into this column (she did an amazing job, and just click here to view her articles), but it was time to hand it over to another newlywed. I met Shelby at the Bridal Expo, then she attended Bliss, a fine wedding fair (her husband’s name is Bliss!). I have had the opportunity to get to know Shelby, and she is such a sweetie. I know you will enjoy getting to know her, too!

Shelby has been married for less than two months, and I am looking forward to hearing about her journey and experiences as a newlywed through “Newly Wed”. Welcome aboard, Shelby!!

Hey everyone! My name is Shelby Spillar and a little over a month ago I had the privilege of marrying the greatest man I know. Bliss is an excellent husband, charming, intelligent, and a total stud. What more could a girl ask for? Being married to him is wonderful, but living with a man is much different than any thing else I have experienced.  Here are a few stories from our first month and some lessons I have learned along the way.

No toilet paper, no fun. No woman likes to be left stranded without toilet paper. It’s especially no fun at 3:30 am. I let out a big (loud) sigh as I thought “how hard is it to replace the roll of toilet paper”. I climbed back in bed still slightly frustrated about what had happened minutes earlier. My husband rolled over, kissed my forehead and said “I forgot to put the toilet paper back on the roll didn’t I?” Apparently my frustrated sigh gave it away. He apologized, and I realized it was an honest mistake. We laugh about it often. Be gracious in the little things, you never know when you may need him to be gracious too.

Nesting is just not as important to him as it is to you. If your man is anything like mine he has no clue what you are talking about when you use the words: Duvet, Euro Sham, or Valance. All of which were important elements to me as we decorated our bedroom. Blue paint was blue paint to him, but to me it was “Stonewashed” or “Distressed Denim”. I saw the bedroom as a place we would share some of our most intimate moments, discussions, and even fights. I wanted the room to be pleasing to the eye, as well as, relaxing. Once I communicated my vision he was more enthusiastic in helping me capture my vision for the room.

Be patient, he isn’t going to know what bugs you unless you communicate it. My husband had a funny habit of placing his dirty clothes on top of the hamper and not inside the hamper. I was frustrated every time I walked by and opened the lid and placed the clothes inside. I mentioned it to him, and ever since the clothes have been in the hamper. As I look back, his room while we were dating indicated he had no idea what a hamper was. So I guess having the clothes at least on the hamper was progress.

Quantity vs Quality. A honeymoon is a wonderful way to start your marriage together. I loved having a week with just my husband sharing plenty of quality time with none of the distractions of “real life”.  Going back to work certainly cut back on the amount of time we were able to spend together. I realized that when we were together, we had to make good use of it.  Living in the same house did not change our need for intimate time together. We are sure to set aside time to take walks together, have coffee dates, and meet for lunch.  We put it on the calendar, and it gives us both something to look forward to.  It has helped us to continue deepen our marriage and friendship.

Yes, that IS an actual photo of Bliss and Shelby on their honeymoon!!

Well, I hope you enjoyed our funny stories and took to heart the lessons we have learned. I look forward to sharing more newlywed stories and lessons with you over the next year.

See you in August!

Photo credits from top to bottom: Capture It Photography and Events, Flickr by Roel, Flickr by labkdesign/fergusandme, Flickr by Crashmaster007 and Shelby’s own collection of honeymoon photos.

  • Michael Newman - Great article! My poor wife had to go (and is still going) through some things learning to “live with a boy.” Part of it’s our personalities as well. 🙂

  • Jennifer - I am sure we girls have some things for you guys to get used to, too! It’s all part of the fun. Thanks, Michael for stopping by!!

  • Jeremiah Stone Blue Productions - So glad you’re writing for HCB. Great article.

  • Sammye Baker - The article is very well written. Thought the humor was really fun. Proud of Shelby. Marriage is worth all the effort.

  • Jennifer - I am glad to have Shelby on board. Thanks, Sammye!

  • Alison Howard - Great article! So well written and such high quality pictures too! I’d love to see more pictures of Shelby’s house and real life adventures with Bliss. Can’t wait to read more!

  • Jennifer - That is wonderful to hear, Alison! I am looking forward to more with Shelby, too … she is such a great person.

  • Rachel Go - Shelbs, I cracked up with the toilet paper story! I love you and am so proud of you for becoming an author of a column! Brilliant work my dear friend!

I adore the fact that our HCB family is full of wedding expertise, and who better to give you guidance on what to wear to your engagement session than Crystal George of Crystal George Studios? I hope you have fun reading her ideas and making them your own!

One of the questions I most often receive is, what do I wear? A photographer’s job description can encompass many things, and styling is definitely one of them. Styling is also one of my very FAVORITE things to do, so here are a few ideas for you ladies (and gentlemen).

The most important thing is that you want you to look and feel like a million bucks, and a million bucks doesn’t happen by accident… there has to be some planning involved. The first thing to decide is what kind of look are you going for? Coordinating with your photographer on what your final product will be is important. Are you going for modern, vintage, funky, grunge, or urban? Or is your style a combination of a few of those? Personally, I like a classic look. Whether you are going for vintage or modern, I think that simplicity allows you and your love story to shine through. And, after all, you and your fiance shining is what it’s all about.

There are a ton of great resources out there: blogs, online magazines, and websites (like www.etsy.com) to help you browse and find ideas. I also recommend www.pinterest.com. It’s a great way to organize those ideas and come back to them to help you make a decision.

Another important thing is to find a color story. Color is very important because it plays into the direction you are going. Here is an inspiration board for a modern style with a bright green and yellow color story. I love bright color for modern engagement sessions, especially ones shot in a city or urban location. Color pops off the grays of the cityscapes and looks fantastic with the clean lines of a modern style. I heart Sarah Jessica’s dress here. Yes, please! If you are not that adventurous, it’s easy to bring that modern color feel with just a pop in your shoes or your jewelry.

For the vintage look, it’s really important to choose a color story a little more toned down, close to the neutral family. Especially when you are throwing back to an era bear in mind the spirit of that era, and look for things that express it without being too old fashioned. For example, I love that Anthropologie dress with a chunky cameo necklace and a hair piece. Done. Beautiful. Vintage can be done almost anywhere… city or country… so it’s super versatile and super fun.

Last, but certainly not least, let’s talk about the boys. If your man doesn’t feel good, he’s not going to look good. That’s the truth. You want your fiance to feel amazing in what he is wearing! I’m a huge fan of the J Crew looks for men. Classic. They can transition easily from modern to vintage.  Layering looks amazing on most guys. Whether you put a sweater over a tie and a button down (YES!) or you go for simplicity with a sweater/shirt combo, layering always works. A classic t-shirt and jeans combo is a great option too.

Have fun with your E session!  Be who you guys are, and feel good and look good. Your pictures will reflect that, no matter what color, style or direction you go in. Happy styling!

Thank you again, Crystal! If you would like to visit the blog of Crystal George Studios, just click here to view Crystal’s amazing work.


  • Crystal - Can I comment on my own article? Haha! Thx Jen! 🙂

These adorable invitations for Lauren and Andrew Venell’s wedding are creative and fun, but to find out that they were a DIY project was truly a dream! The invitations were used to invite guests to their wedding among the redwoods. Their wedding had such natural beauty and simple sophistication that we just had to check out the entire event. We were thrilled to find out that the wedding was chock full of DIY goodies!

The invitations make a statement in and of themselves with the arrow pointing at the category and the window answering the age old questions of who, what and where. The invitation is a perfect way to beckon guests to a forest celebration, and a template for these invitations can be purchased through Lauren’s etsy store, Burning House Design.

Guests were asked to submit recipes along with their RSVP cards, and Lauren compiled the recipes into a wonderful keepsake book for the attendees. What a great and useful idea!!

Redwood trees made a breathtaking backdrop for the ceremony, and the great outdoors can provide beauty like nothing else.

Lauren took eucalyptus branches and cut discs with a mitre saw. The names were then printed on clear labels and used as place cards displayed in a tray of moss. What a cute little keepsake for the guests!

Andrew enjoys art, and he used his creativity to make small scale “disaster” sculptures. Lauren says, “We thought it would be funny if each table was represented by a typical California disaster rather than a boring old number. This is the sinkhole table but we also had things like ‘Wildfire’, ‘Tidal Wave’ and ‘Mountain Lion’. Sadly, most of the sculptures were pilfered or ravaged for their toy pieces (like this car).” Even the idea of ditching traditional table numbers for something different adds a bit of fun to the reception and makes a great conversation piece (and obviously a keepsake in Lauren’s case!).

Lauren even had her gown commissioned by a dressmaker because she wanted an original design that expressed her personality. She describes it as “40’s Style Goddess”, and we agree!  Special thanks goes out to Lauren and Andrew for sharing their special day with us, and please view their personal DIY wedding gallery.

  • Rachael Eberle - I am utterly wowed by how creative this wedding was! It’s those little details that set this wedding apart and made it unique to the couple. Love it!

  • Jennifer - Thanks, Rachael … the invites caught my eye, and then I was wowed by the rest!! 🙂

  • Ann Martin - Wow, this wedding must have been so much fun to attend! I’m crazy about the place cards, table numbers, invitations, well, everything really – so creative!

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