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How wide a mat


CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Dec 14, 2004
Big Rapids, Michigan
Hello all -

In this "Wedding season" brides are coming in to order the new rage of signiture mats.

Does anyone have a rule of thumb for calculating how big a mat one needs for guests to sign.

The most recent bride will have 400 at her reception.

Thanks for any insights.

No rules of thumb but I would probably make the mat 20-25".
(My wife said to leave your thumbs out of it!) :D
Rules? There are no rules!

I'd say for that many guests (although not all will sign) you could make em at least four to six inches.

Don't forget to provide a "non-sign" space of about 3/8" with removeable tape or whatever that the rabbet will cover if only the mat and photo are to be displayed for signing.

We usually put the glass over the photo, then the mat over that to protect the photo.
I do several of these for a hotel. They give them as a going away present for managers who are quitting.

I have been making the mats like 5" and very heavily bottom weighted like 7" or 8" depending on the size of the picture inside.

Carry on
To make sure that the people don't write on the edges, I advise the couple to go and but ribbon in the color/colors of their wedding and put it around the border of the mat...that way people won't be as apt to sign there. Or also put the mat in their frame minus the glass, with my attaching it with the points,and tell them to come back later and I will put it all together for them with the glass. I also advise them to get a good quality pen, like the drafting pens that I can't think of the name of right now but have a ton of in my shop, and to make sure they get at least a .5 or higher...there are those that like to press REALLY HARD! The folks really appreciate that kind of input...less stress on their part.
I never have made a signature mat for a wedding photo; but, I have for office retirements. I made then 4 inches -- the office had but 30 people. The big point is to outline where the frame rabbit will go so that nobody signs up to the edge of the mat. There always is somebody who will write to the very edge, otherwise. Talk with the wedding party: are they interested in the displaying the signatures -- the more, the better -- or the photo with a lot of signatures.
We usually do about a 16x20 for a 5x7 picture and about 100 guests. We either pencil a line or put in the frame without glass to be returned for reframing. We cover the photo, however, under the mat with a small piece of Mylar to keep the 14 year olds from blackening the teeth of the bride. We sell them Pigma Micron pens (pigmented ink), usually 1 for every 30 0r 40 guests. One guy only bought 1 pen for 100 guests. (Cheapskate. They are $2.69!) I lke the ribbon idea. I may start keeping white 1/4" ribbon...
We normally do these in either 16x20 or 20x24. We go ahead and put these in a frame (without glass of course) so that the outside space is preserved clean and gives the guests something to "hold on to" and keeps fingerprints off the mat.

We usually use an engagement photo with a sheet of mylar over it to protect it so that it isn't a "blank" mat.
I've done @ 10 thispastyear---mostly 11X14 w/6-8" mats....mount the pic on FC, put the glass over that whth a touch of atg to fixitin place(could use mylar but havent had any till this mo), wieght it a little, use 810(or is it 811?) removable(some *$#@@! always wants to write upto/onto the bevel) on the inside edge of the opening, & I REALLY like the idea of the ribbon around it all(amazing how the really simplistic works out soo well!!!), and get them back in, to swapout the glass/mats which gives me a perfect opportunity to talk to them about the merits of allowing ME to do up their wedding pix and that the soooner done the better!!!!
I always question the bride to determine if she wants to have a "name only", or is she expecting people "write notes". Both of those will change the space needed.

A v- groove around the couple's picture opening works like the (great) ribbon idea; also doing a raised top mat works well, maybe 1/2" exp for 2nd bottom mat. You get added interest and a 2nd mat sale!

I've also added a outside edge v-grove about 3/4" from the frame edge to provide a outside writting edge border for a unique look.
I have been doing this for years...generally, I leave anywhere from 4" to 10" for a border. I did my husband's and my wedding mat with a dark plum colored mat, hand-painted panel around the opening, fancy-cut opening (double mat), and had the guests sign in copper, silver and gold gel pens. The frame was on it at the wedding so that signatures wouldn't get covered by it later. We used an engagement picture and swapped it out for a wedding picture later...(it actually took me about three years to get around to that) We have it hanging in our bedroom and read the inscriptions from our friends and family often. It's a wonderful way to remember a wonderful day!
I do a lot of these. For 400 people your going to need at least 15", no matter the size of the photo. My landlord had a wedding two weeks ago with 400 people, I used 15" on an 8X8, signature only and it was completely covered.
Remember; even if the couple has the guests just SIGN the mat, there are the "John Hancock’s" out there who’s signatures are BIG.