With just a couple weeks left till our wedding I’m final starting to find a bit of time to work on some of the more wish list DIY projects, like DIY Marquee Letters. I love the look of this ‘modern-vintage’ trend and wanted to find a way to have something similar as decor at our reception.
Originally I had found a business who’s pricing was significantly lower then the going rate for marquee letters and held off on buying them till we were closer to the wedding date. When I reached back out the price had more then doubled so I decided to take the project on myself. Moral of the story: If it’s a good price, buy it when you find it!
My DIY Marquee Letters are a bit more homemade looking then the standard ‘box’ set of letters you can rent or buy pre-fab but I am really happy with how they turned out.
1/4 sheet of 1/2″ MDF
1/2″ Paddle Drill Bit
Estimated Cost: $40
If you have access to a projector one of the fastest ways to make sure your letters have the shape you want is to project the letters onto a sheet of wrapping paper and trace around it. I wanted to have 24″ tall letters and unfortunately I was not able to move the projector quite far enough away from the wall for the image to be large enough to trace. Since the & was supposed to be 18″ tall the projector worked perfectly.
To create the pattern for the actual letters I used wrapping paper that included gridlines on the backside. This allowed me to freehand the letters a lot easier then if I had be drawing by hand alone.
Use a marker to transfer the letters onto your MGD wood. I first cut the letters out of wrapping paper and taped them onto the board. This allowed me to determine if I had enough space to cut everything out of just the 1/4 sheet of wood.
Use a jigsaw to cut the letters out. The staff at Home Depot suggested that we use a 10 tooth blade to make just that the MGD wood did not split of fray. Jigsaws do not turn easily so making curves or angles is a lot more difficult then you would think and sometimes you have to cut out small pieces to remove the larger parts.
Measure how far apart you’d like your lights to be and mark the locations you plan to drill with a pencil. For our letters I placed the lights 3″ apart. Since I only had one chance to drill the holes this was a step I was very careful with. Next use a hand drill and 1/2″ paddle drill bit to cut out the holes where your lights will go. Make sure to hold the drill directly up and down and apply firm pressure to the back otherwise you might crack the wood.
Paint the letters. I used silver paint because that is one of our wedding colors but traditionally Marquee letters are painted red. Make sure as you are painting that you cover the edges well.
Insert the lights into the holes. With 1/2″ holes you will need to unscrew each bulb and play with the placement to make sure you are have enough cord without creating a tangled mess on the backside of the letters. For the 2 large letters and one small letter I used 2 – 25 bulb strings of lights. The Room Essential lights from Target are perfect for this because you can remove the bulbs you don’t need [like the ones in between each letter] without breaking the circuit. I left 3 bulb placements open at the beginning of the letters and 2 bulbs in between each letter. This allows us to move the letters around.
The tricky thing about making lights in this manner is that the lights will not stand up on their own. This is perfect if you plan to hang them on a wall or lean them up against something. Since we will be placing these in front of our head table I purchased plate stands from the Dollar Store to make sure that the letters would be propped up correctly.
From start to finish (including two trips to Home Depot and 1 to Joanne Fabrics) this entire project took about 4 hours to complete.