Have you ever been to a wedding where you didn’t know a single person outside of the bride and groom? And you’re just waiting for the cake to be cut so you can make a beeline for the door? Rachel and Lorne Hofstetter didn’t want people feeling this way at their wedding, where they had guests coming in from all over the country. So to prevent it from happening, they drew inspiration from that other awkward time in everyone’s life: the first year of college.  “At a lot of schools, before freshmen arrive, they get sent a book in the mail, and it includes a picture, their name, and where each freshman is from,” Rachel tells InStyle.com. “We thought, ‘We should do that for the wedding.'” And so they did, which led to friends asking them to re-create the book for their nuptials, which eventually led to the couple quitting their respective jobs to launch Guesterly, a publishing service that utilizes professional writers and graphic designers to create a custom, perfect-bound book all about a couple’s wedding guests. 

Here’s how it works: Writers interview the happy couple for tidbits about guests, and the couple logs onto Guesterly’s secure website to upload photos via Facebook (it takes all of 15 minutes, Rachel says). Next, a graphic designer customizes the book based off direction from the bride and groom; the couple proofs and signs off on it, and the magazine gets mailed to guests about a week before the big day. What’s more, guests have a one-of-a-kind keepsake. “Brides want their wedding to be the best wedding ever, and I think we had the best wedding ever because we made the guests feel like the most important people,” Rachel says.

Prices start at $3,500 for a guest list of 100, or for $10 per book, you can write the guest bios yourself and have the Guesterly team do the design and photo gathering for you. (Find out more here.) Rachel says that no matter how the book gets customized, they all have the same end result. “What happens is, that first night [at the rehearsal dinner], everybody is chatting and by the time everybody sees each other the next day, everybody is like old friends,” she says (from experience). “You wouldn’t even know who didn’t know each other the day before!” Check it out at guesterly.com.

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— Jennifer Merritt