This past January two of my good friends got married. They rented a gorgeous facility, planned a fun day for everyone, and braved the cold when it came time for taking photos. Kate and I were both honored to be in the wedding party.
One month after their engagement we enjoyed a beautiful fall evening with them, sitting in a circle on the patio as we discussed their upcoming wedding. And they had a request. They wanted us to come up with a creative idea for their guest sign in. And not just creative—they wanted something that hadn’t been done before. There was to be no looking on Pinterest for the latest trend. A challenge! I liked it.
But as much as I liked it, I was also going to be realistic. Whatever we came up with, even if we handn’t seen the idea elsewhere, would probably have been done before. Nothing new under the sun, right? But we did stick to the guidelines and didn’t probe the internet for ideas. It was more difficult than expected. We ran through a number of scenarios, but in the end there’s very little time for the process. People arrive a few minutes before the ceremony starts—there’s time for no more than a signature.
They had trees as part of their theme and we focused on that. My father came into play once again as he works on trees. I remembered he had a very nice cross section of a tree trunk in his shop that he offered me in the past, and he readily agreed to let me have it for this project. The pieces he saves, he saves because they’re unique. And this one was unique because the center core of the tree was way off to one side, close to the edge of the section. The rings on one side were packed tightly together while on the opposing side they spread out widely. Plus it had never cracked. That’s rarely the case with pieces like this.
After finding this perfect piece, the process was straighforward. I sanded down both sides. Then just north of the mid point I used a wood burner to etch in their names (or in this case, a combination of their names) and the wedding date. We bought a few Sharpies which people would use to sign the wood and we were done. This would be their guest registry—simple yet elegant. And substantial too—this was a thick piece and quite heavy. It’s back in my hands at the moment as I’m going to lacquer it and attach hardware to the back so it can be hung on their wall.
The sign in process happened very smoothly. I handed each person a Sharpie, asked them to simply sign their name, and requested they leave room around the couple’s title. That last point allowed the wood burned names to stand out amid this couple’s vast “family tree” of friends and supporters.