Having a wedding welcome sign greet you at a venue is fast becoming commonplace, but it’s by no means a dyed in the wool tradition. So, should you follow suit and commission your own unique wedding sign and if so, what should be displayed on it?
A wedding welcome sign is an excellent way of giving guests directions and important information when attending a large venue or when multiple functions are happening in the same place. Wedding signs are not mandatory but they have several benefits in terms of cost, personalization & efficiency.
So, you may be on the fence about whether or not you really need a sign for your wedding and exactly what the point of it is, so let me set the context for you.
After all the tears and arguments with the vendors, your multi-colored; crossed-out; re-written; 12-month wedding planner is looking just a little overwhelming. Nah, cross that out and let’s be honest, it’s stressing you OUT. At this point, you want to say screw it and run to city hall and just say those two words and be done with it all.
And now, now after all those months of dedicated planning, you’ve stumbled across wedding welcome signs.
Perhaps it was that floral wedding inspired Instagram feed or that rustic, mahogany influenced Pinterest board to blame. Either way, you might be dreaming of a scene where your guests are swept into the venue by this magical sign, announcing to the world your happy union. Or, honestly, maybe you just don’t want that relative from the in-law’s side (you know the one) to get confused and end up in someone’s quinceañera, again.
Also, a sign can help prevent unwitting wedding crashers. If you are worried about more determined wedding crashers, check out my article on this problem here.
So the question remains ‘Do I really need a wedding welcome sign?’
Is a wedding sign needed?
Well, that depends. I know, roll your eyes at me but firstly, let me quote Ryan Gosling from the Notebook, ‘What do you want?’
Are you also going to have a program listing the projected activities and events of the ceremony? Do you want to showcase the theme and style of the wedding before the guests walk in? Did you plan for a wedding welcome sign in the budget? Will you also have a wedding website? Do any of your guests include the following type: easily lost, confused, and/or unfamiliar with who exactly is getting married?
Depending on the type of welcome sign you provide, it can serve a number of purposes. Pragmatically, it can direct the guests to the ceremony, it can assert the theme of the wedding and it shows the names of the people getting married (that’s you!).
If we expand the definition of a traditional wedding welcome sign a little more, it also allows you to get rid of a program by listing the events of the ceremony on it, and you can personalize it by including a ‘quote of the wedding’.
Want to digitally immortalize your wedding through the perspective of your guests? Include a unique hashtag on your welcome sign and have guests tag any uploaded photos of the ceremony using the hashtag so you can look it up whenever you want.
Lastly, for the sentimental types (which really, is all of us), it can also serve as a beautiful memento that you can take home and display in your future house with your spouse (or apartment, because, and repeat after me, ‘IN THIS ECONOMY?’).
At the end of the day, it’s a beautiful personal touch to a ceremony but most often acts as an addition rather than as a stand-alone piece.
‘But Phil & Lea what would I even write on my wedding welcome sign?’
What to put on your wedding sign
Great question, dear reader. There are various things you can write on a wedding welcome sign, so it’s up to you how big you want to go with it!
The standard wedding welcome sign includes the names of the people getting married, the date, a warm welcome and a quote that symbolizes the union of the soon to be newlyweds. I personally rather like the quote ‘Choose a seat, not a side, we’re all family here.’ The quote ultimately sets the mood and I obviously like the bad Dad joke mood. You are more than welcome to change it up and add more to the sign. You can also include the names of:
- The officiant
- Maid of honor
- Best Man
Tips to make your wedding sign do more for you
Ditch making and printing a program sheet for the guests and include it in your wedding welcome sign. Write down the timeline of planned activities and events of the ceremony so the guests are up to date with everything that’s going to be going on during the wedding.
In fact, it might serve as a great reminder for the staff to be prompt and well aware of what event is happening next so they may efficiently and adequately provide for the ceremony.
Private Instagram photography team
As we mentioned above, if you’re up to date with social media and technology this could be a great way to immortalize your wedding through the lens of your guests.
By including a hashtag (and your preferred social media platform) that is unique to the wedding and yourselves (a hashtag that you can remember and feel proud of decades down the line when you’re scrolling through version 45 of Instagram on your holographic sonic device) you can have guests privately or publicly upload photos of the wedding using the hashtag so you can have an easily accessible collection of photos that your guests took on their phones!
Just look up the hashtag on whatever social media platform you told the guests to upload on and viola all the wonderful pictures! #weddingwelcomesigns
My wedding, my rules!
If you’re the type to prefer an unplugged, offline wedding ceremony you can state that on the wedding welcome sign.
This way the guests are fully present and engaged in the ceremony. An example of a sign you can use might be ‘There’s a photographer here to capture every beautiful moment, so please rest your phones and other photo-taking devices. We invite you to breathe in the moment and be present for our ceremony.’
Making a statement
If you are particularly passionate about a topic and want to mix business with pleasure, your wedding sign can also be a soapbox if you so choose.
Perhaps you want to raise awareness of a charity you patronize, well, you have a captive audience here who you can share that story with. Alternatively, you could show your support for your political candidate if there is an election coming up.
Whatever you choose to do, it’s your day and as long as your spouse is on board, there’s nothing that this wedding sign can’t help you achieve.
Although a painful thought on such a significant day of your life, a wedding sign can be an ideal place to include a memorial to a recently departed loved one.
If that loved one will be sorely missed then this is a great way to include them and have the entire congregation at your wedding remember them.
In our case, my father-in-law, whom I never met, was never far from our thoughts when we tied the knot (officially for the second time) and was memorialized in verse on the wedding signs we had on our special day.
Show us the money
Now comes the difficult question, ‘can a wedding welcome sign fit into our budget?’ Depending on the type of material used for the sign, whether or not you hire a calligrapher or if you get the sign made or get busy with some DIY, costs can vary wildly.
If you are the DIY type, you can vastly cut costs by sourcing the material and writing your sign yourself (or with the help of a particularly talented friend).
Other options include going to a wedding planner and buying a premade or custom made one. If you are like me and live for online shopping, Amazon and Etsy also have wedding welcome signs that you can personalize from $10- $200 depending on the cost of labor and material.
If you build it, they will come
This brings us to the next part, what kind of materials for a wedding sign should you use?
So, there are a few ideas for a wedding sign and all rely on the theme of the ceremony itself. For a formal, vintage ceremony perhaps you want a wedding sign that resembles something of the turn of the century era (fine china-like calligraphy and decorations?), or perhaps you prefer a woodcut etching style of wedding signs, then you have the options of laser cutting, engraving or etching whatever type of wood you like.
If this sounds like something you and your spouse would be interested in, MDF is a popular cheaper type of wood that could help you cut the cost of the material. If you miss that gorgeous wood grain that often appears on maple, oak or cedar but still want to keep the cost down, you can always paint it on.
Other material options include canvas for a rustic, outdoorsy type ceremony, a marquee welcome sign with flashing retro style light bulbs for that rockabilly couple or even acrylic with a gorgeous glassy finish.
The writing’s on the wall
The writing itself is a key piece of the sign and if well done, can really elevate the theme of the ceremony and bring out the best of the material it is on. Options include ink, chalk, gold foil, carving, paint, balloons and whatever else your heart desires.
Whilst not entirely necessary, and can sometimes lead you to enter treacherous territory, decorations and additions to the wedding sign can be employed to personalize a welcome sign, especially if it’s not DIY or custom made.
A tactful picture of the happy couple (perhaps an engagement photo) can be made as a background or stuck on to the sign. Flowers, especially on wooden signs, can delicately complement the welcome sign and really assert the color scheme and theme of the ceremony.
For the really daring and adventurous, neon lights are a unique and exciting option to either decorate the sign with or to frame it. This could even be a backup option for a rainy or cloudy day wedding ceremony, I mean who doesn’t swoon over the sight of neon lights reflected off a rainy background?
A sign of the times
At the end of the day, wedding welcome signs are really a personal choice of the people getting married. If you do decide to employ one for your wedding ceremony; like anything else you do for wedding planning, make sure you either buy or DIY the sign weeks in advance of the ceremony.
Meticulous planning and execution are crucial elements to a successful ceremony and leaving a wedding sign to the last minute could leave you with a sign that leaves you disappointed.
Remember, a wedding sign is often the first thing your guests will see and while you don’t need to necessarily impress them with a welcome sign, you definitely don’t want to leave them confused if it doesn’t match the theme of the wedding. So remember, plan ahead and accordingly to schedule!
In closing and to help you decide, either way, it is your wedding; a celebration of a beautiful union of two individuals who are committed to a lifetime of love for and to each other. And really, having or not having a welcome sign is not going to change that.