Why Bella Puzzles are the best wedding guest book alternative.

Posted on March 01, 2016 by Lara Braithwaite | 0 Comments

Congratulations! You’ve found the right partner to spend the rest of your life with.

Of course, you want your wedding to reflect all those qualities you admire in each other and I’m flattered that you’re considering a wedding guestbook puzzle as part of the celebration.

But I’m going to guess you know a little less about puzzle making than you do about love, so let me bring you up to speed on what you’re looking at.

Whether you end up with a Bella Puzzle or a wedding guest book alternative made by somebody else, here are the things you ought to look for:

Substance. You want a guest book that will last as long as your marriage. Longer, even. If you end up with grandkids, you’ll want to pass the memories along to them. So take a close look at the materials. A cardboard puzzle will be cheaper, but how long will it last?
Depth. If all you wanted was a puzzle that would last forever, you could get one made out of plastic. Not from me, of course, but you could. I work with high quality 1/4" birch plywood. It’s durable, which means you can actually use your puzzle, not just look at it. But it also has the warmth and heft of wood.
Fit. You can tell when two people fit together. And you can tell when puzzle pieces fit together. I cut each custom puzzle by hand, using top-notch tools, delicate scroll saw blades, and eleven years of puzzle-making experience. The result is a puzzle that fits together as well as you two do.
Uniqueness. You’re not ordinary. Isn’t it wonderful that you found someone who not only appreciates your quirks, but has cool quirks of their own? Turns out, puzzles can have quirks, too. We call them “silhouettes”, “figurals”, or “whimseys”. They’re special pieces cut into shapes that have meaning to the people I make the puzzles for. A couple who met in an apple orchard, for example, might want to have figurals in the shapes of apples. But it’s not just the special pieces that can be different. You can get your entire custom guestbook made into a special, meaningful shape. 
Looks. I know, when it comes to love, looks don’t matter. But when it comes to luxury guestbooks, well, let’s allow ourselves to be a little more superficial. Find something that looks good. If all the other pieces are there, you’ll be happy for a long time. 


See? Choosing the right guest book alternative isn’t that hard. Not as hard as finding true love – and look at you! You did that already.


Chalkboard instruction sign for Bella Puzzle wedding guestbook


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5 secrets for gorgeous photo puzzle guest books

Posted on February 27, 2015 by Lara Braithwaite | 0 Comments

I can’t even see you as I write this, but I know you’re worried. Will you look good enough on your wedding day?

You will.

Want to know why? Because it’s your wedding day –– the day you and the person you love most in the whole entire world get to officially start your life together. That smile on your face? Nothing is more beautiful than that. 

Years from now you’re going to look back at the pictures from your wedding and you will be stunned at just how amazing you look. Stunned. Trust me on this.

You’re also going to get out your guest book puzzle –– the one you’re going to ask me to make for you –– and you know what you’re going to say to yourself? You’re going to say, “Wow. I sure am glad I read that blog post about how to choose the right picture.”

The very blog post you’re reading now.

The reason why is because I’m about to tell you five things to remember when you’re choosing the photo you’re going to ask me to turn into that luxury keepsake –– the wedding guest book alternative that’s also a puzzle.


1. Make sure you’re in focus. Both of you. The photo you’re sending me is probably a lot smaller than the custom puzzle I’m going to make from it, so if you’re fuzzy in a 5 x 7, just imagine how fuzzy you’re going to be on a puzzle.

2. Subject matter. A simple, timeless, and classic photo is the way to go. With any luck, your photo guest book is going to be around in fifty years. Perhaps it will be in a frame on your wall. Select an image that will stand the test of time.

Photo puzzle guest book by Bella Puzzles. Engagement photo taken by Kate Headley Photography http://www.kateheadleyphotography.com/ and used with client's permission.

3. Make sure you’re not too big in the frame. Not because you’re not gorgeous –because you are – but because the bigger you are, the more likely your face is going to have to be cut in order to make a decent puzzle. I use tiny scroll saw blades to cut my puzzles, but even with the finest blade I can get, a cut is a cut. And a face is a face.

4. Make sure you’re not too small in the frame. And this one, yes, is because you’re gorgeous. I hand craft each and every guest book puzzle with superior materials so that 70 years from now, you’ll be able to get out the puzzle, put it together, and see just how gorgeous you are right now. You don’t want your grandkids to look at it and go, “Which one’s you, Grandma?”

Photo puzzle guest book by Bella Puzzles. Engagement photo was taken by Jamee Photography, http://www.jameephotography.com/, and is used here with written permission of client and photograher.

5. Color. A black and white photo can make a stunning puzzle, but for sheer enjoyment’s sake, I recommend a color photo. A color photo puzzle is also easier to assemble.

Photo puzzle guest book. Engagement photo taken by Jenny Schartner and used with client's permission.

Consider all these factors when choosing your image. You’ll have a guest book alternative you’ll be proud to display at your event and for many years to come.

That’s all there is to it.

You feel a lot better, don’t you? I knew you would.


About the photographers:

1.  Engagement photo taken by Kate Headley Photography and used with client’s permission.

2. Engagement photo taken by Jamee Photography and used with client’s permission.

3. Engagement photo taken by Jenny Schartner and used with client’s permission.

Bella Puzzles guestbooks are great for weddings AND MORE

Posted on February 26, 2015 by Lara Braithwaite | 0 Comments

Most of my clients plan to use their guest book puzzles at weddings, but there are many occasions for which a Bella Puzzle would make an interesting guest book alternative, activity, and heirloom.

  1. wedding
  2. christening
  3. bridal shower
  4. baby shower
  5. birthday party
  6. bar mitzvah / bat mitzvah
  7. anniversary party
  8. family reunion
  9. retirement party
  10. sweet sixteen party
  11. engagement party
  12. quinceañera

Wedding guest book puzzles. How many pieces do you need?

Posted on February 26, 2015 by Lara Braithwaite | 0 Comments

“How many pieces should I order for my wedding guest book puzzle?”

This is a question I hear almost every day. 

Good news! You do not need to get a puzzle piece for every guest. 

A selection of sign and unsigned puzzle pieces for a wedding puzzle by Bella Puzzles

Customers who get the number wrong say:

Ugh! I should have listened to you! Now I have about thirty blank pieces. I’d have saved money if I followed your advice.


I should have ordered more pieces. What was I thinking?! People had to share puzzle pieces and some of them just didn’t bother to sign because they saw the puzzle pieces were all full.

Customers who get the number right say:

 Thanks so much for your advice about the number of puzzle pieces. We had just enough with a couple blanks left over. I was so worried we’d be short, but it was perfect. I’d have spent a lot more on the puzzle if I’d just gone with my gut – thanks for talking me into getting the smaller number of pieces. 

So, how do you figure out how many pieces to order? Easy!

1. Decide how many guests are attending. 

2. Identify the range (low to high) of puzzle pieces you need, given the chart on this page. (This chart is on every Bella Puzzles product page, too. Scroll through the product photos to find it.)

3. Read and follow the recommendations in the right column of the chart. They'll help you decide if you should order near the low end or the high end of the estimate.

4. If in doubt, contact Bella Puzzles for clarification. 


How many puzzle pieces should you order?

Using a Bella Puzzle as Your Wedding Guest Book Alternative.

Posted on February 09, 2015 by Lara Braithwaite | 0 Comments

How do you set up and use a Bella Puzzle guest book alternative at a wedding or other special event?

There are good choices, and there are bad choices.

It all begins with how you display the puzzle.

1. Start with disassembled puzzle pieces spread on a table.

  • Display the disassembled puzzle pieces upside down on a table, next to the pens that came with your puzzle.
  • Make sure there is room on the table for re-assembling the guest book puzzle next to the upside down pieces. It's also good to leave enough space for drinks and purses on the table. Guests may need to set those down while they sign a puzzle piece.
  • Leave instructions for guests to sign the correct side of a puzzle piece.
  • Guests can assemble the puzzle as it's being signed, or they can deposit the puzzle pieces in a decorative container on the table.
  • Be sure to have someone monitor the puzzle - guests sometimes think the puzzle pieces are wedding favors! Appoint someone (the wedding planner or one of her assistants) to collect the puzzle before the event is over.

    Shown here: PHOTO Puzzle.


    2. Start with a puzzle assembled on a table.

      • Display the assembled guest book puzzle right-side-up on a table, next to the pens that came with it.
      • Leave instructions for guests. You might say something like “sign ONE piece, then put it back into its place.”
      • Less space is required if you display the unsigned pieces in their assembled state.

    Shown here: WOOD Puzzle.


    3. Start with puzzle pieces in a decorative container.

      • Display the disassembled puzzle guest book in a basket or other decorative container.
      • Ask guests to sign the puzzle and deposit their signed pieces into a second container.
      • This requires less space than option 1 or 2, but guests will not get to see the signed and assembled puzzle.

    Shown here: WOOD puzzle.

    There are over a dozen styles of Bella Puzzles. View the entire collection here.


    So those are the GOOD ways to set up your guest book puzzle. What are the bad ones?


    4. Mail the puzzle pieces to your guests before the event Please don't do this!

      • We don't recommend separating the puzzle pieces.
      • Some guests will forget to bring them to the wedding, others will simply lose them.  Some guests won't attend, so you lose their pieces.
      • Bella Puzzles CAN replace puzzle pieces, but it is time-consuming, and there is a fee for every puzzle piece you need replaced.


    5. Set a few puzzle pieces on each dinner table at the reception. Please don't do this either!

      • Never separate the puzzle pieces.
      • Puzzle pieces look awful with wine spilled on them.
      • As mentioned, Bella Puzzles CAN replace puzzle pieces, but it is time-consuming, and there is a fee for every puzzle piece you need replaced.

      Shown here: TREE, FLOWER, HEART, AMPERSAND, and CUSTOM SHAPE puzzles

      Please choose one of the three approved methods for setting up your puzzle guest book. 

      I hope these suggestions help. If you have any other ideas for ways to use a puzzle guest book at an event, I'd love to hear about it. 


      All my best,