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Autograph Matte ?

David Cameron , Apr 24, 2005; 10:50 p.m.

A couple whose wedding I'm doing in June had a neat idea that I hadn't heard of before, and I'm trying to figure out the best way to accomplish it. Instead of having a guestbook to sign at the ceremony, they've asked me to create a photographic alternative. Essentially, they'd like me to take one of the engagement shots and frame it in a 20x30 matte for display at the wedding. The guests will then sign the matte around the photo instead of a guestbook, giving them something to display in their new home, rather than having a guestbook sit on a shelf somewhere.

Anyone have any experience doing something like this? I actually saw a product called "Autograph Photo Matte" at Target yesterday for $59.99, so this is obviously not an original idea, but I don't particularly want the bride and groom to wander down to Target and see their "professional" framed wedding item sitting there on an endcap.

Any suggestions for type of matte to use? Or type of pen?


J Moore , Apr 24, 2005; 11:19 p.m.

My wedding photographer did this for us (it is something he does for all of his clients). We have it hanging above our sofa in the living room. I'm pretty sure he just used a standard mat like you'd get at Aaron Brothers (or any other frame shop) and an extra fine point Sharpee (probably black would work best). The mat, for obvious reasons, has to be a lighter color (ours was a light tan color). Since we had a small wedding (24 people including us) it was wonderful because all of our loved ones had room to write us a note, but I've seen it at huge weddings too.

Bill Clark - Minnetonka Minnesota , Apr 25, 2005; 12:51 a.m.

I've been doing this for a few years. I now use as a supplier framefit.com. They custom make a peuter aluminum square frame with a white mat with a square opening and backer for less than $25.00, then add in the acrylic for around five dollars and it's reasonable and something that won't be found at most retail establishments. You can check out framefit at:

Frame Fit

Kari Douma - Grand Rapids, Michigan , Apr 25, 2005; 06:47 a.m.

This is very common around here. I have had a few brides do this. All of the ones I have done, do the frame and matte themselves. They just tell me what size picture, and they pick up the matte on their own.

Stacy Newgent - Indpls, IN , Apr 25, 2005; 10:29 a.m.

Pottery Barn has a huge one for $99- very nice and heavy. You could always just go to your art supply store- buy some good mat board and cut it yourself to save a bundle- buy some linen tape to make a hinge for the backing board, then buy a big frame- there- you're all set :)

Brenda Hendricks , Apr 25, 2005; 11:34 a.m.

I can't really comment on the type of matte, but I can reccommend that any pen you use should be archival. It will produce a nicer line than any standard ballpoint, and the color will never fade. Considering that this autographed guest book will be hanging on a wall, exposed to many years of light, it would be a very wise choice. A very nice selection of archival pens (and I'm not talking Sharpie here) can be found at any scrapbooking store or dept. Im told that the Creative Memories brand pens are used by the Library of Congress because they supposedly never fade. They come in every color imaginable, too.

J Moore , Apr 25, 2005; 11:35 a.m.

One thing to think about, David, is that you can do this without supplying the frame itself. When my wedding photographer gave me ours it was just the photo professionaly matted, though he does it at his home to save money which someone above mentioned doing, in a clear plastic sleve. It was then up to me to pick out and purchase a frame. I liked it this way better because I could then pick a frame that matches both the photo and my home. Just an idea.

Anne Ruthmann , Apr 25, 2005; 12:16 p.m.

A regular paper matte (rather than a textured cloth) in a neutral color works best. I think ultra fine sharpies and metallic paint pens work great. You want to minimize bleeding and produce a fine/clear signature. VERY popular around here.

You can also check craft stores that do framing- sometimes they have a $20 matte and frame prepackaged for an 8x10 photo.

David Cameron , Apr 25, 2005; 01:15 p.m.

Thanks guys. I think I'm going to make it a lifetime goal to find something about this business where someone won't be able to answer with exactly what I was looking for. You guys rule.

M C , Apr 25, 2005; 05:15 p.m.

I have seen this at several weddings I've been a guest at. I'm concidering how

to offer this as an option to my clients as well without being the "Target" gotten one. The ones I've seen in the department stores are usually banged up and look cheap. For my own wedding this September, I'm going to do 2 or 3 engagement pictures (probably an odd smaller than 8X10 size done on the corresponding # of matts. We're having a huge wedding. I want a "series" of sorts. I believe I'm going to approach a local framing store to custom cut the matts for me. By trying this at my own wedding first, I feel it'll be a good way to figure it all out before presenting to my clients. MC

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