, , ,

I believe in DIY everything. From decor, to arts and crafts and yes, even weddings. DIY not only saves you money, but with the right attitude and accomplices it can be a darn good time.

For my own wedding, I had to make DIY a major part of my wedding details since my budget did not allow for every precious little detail my heart desired. Some of my best memories of wedding planning involve crafting with my best friends and bridesmaids in preparation for the big day.

One of my favorite projects was the series of signs we used to welcome and direct our guests. I was going for a rustic, home away from home feel for our wedding, so the homemade look fit right in with our venue, a 200 year old manor house. We were using almost all parts of the grounds for different parts of our wedding, so directional signs were not only a special detail, but kind of necessary. Yes, necessary – if your extended family is anything like mine you’d find half of them lined up at the bar while vows are being exchanged and the other half on the reception dance floor, sans music, dancing to their own beat.

Never one to stick to what’s been done, I wanted to come up with fun, creative text for the signs instead of the traditional ceremony, reception, cocktails, etc. So, I came up with…

For the ceremony:

(photo courtesy of Paul Morse)

For the cocktail hour:

(photo courtesy of Paul Morse)

For the reception dinner, since our dinner was separate from our dancing:

(photo courtesy of Paul Morse)

For the reception dancing, which was on the portico in front of the manor house:

(photo courtesy of Paul Morse)

And of course, in front of the manor house to welcome guests in case they forgot what they were there for or something (crazier things have happened):

(photo courtesy of Paul Morse)

The final product turned out exactly how I wanted – and cost less than $30! A similar custom designed sign would run you more than $100 – in some cases a few hundred. You don’t need to be the next Frida Kahlo to make these signs look good, here is what you’ll need:

  1. At least 2 paint colors, one light and one dark. I purchased two of Home Depot’s test color cans for $3 a pop. If you want to do more colors, go for it! Just make sure at least two are contrasting light and dark.
  2. A set of paintbrushes of varying sizes, with at least one detail brush. If you’re recruiting help, buy two sets.
  3. One or two (depending on how many signs you have) 8 foot 1×6 piece of non-pressure treated, pine lumber. Have the store cut the lumber into 2 foot pieces. If you need more than 4 signs, purchase 2 pieces of wood. If you think you’ll have a lot of text, you can also buy a 1×8 piece of lumber to give you more room.
  4. Wooden stakes to act as the post for the signs.
  5. Wood glue
  6. 1 tarp (newspaper will work fine too, but I am a renter, so I didn’t want to take any chances with the floor!)
  7. A pencil
  8. Letter stencils if you aren’t comfortable writing freehand

Optional – a bff, bridesmaid or other acquaintance who shares your love for weddings and DIY crafts. I was fortunate enough to recruit the help of my crafty friend, Nicole.


  1. Lay out the tarp (or newspaper) and your materials on top of it. Have everything out of its packaging and laid out in an organized manner. This will make the entire process easier.
  2. Begin testing your different phrases/text on the signs. Make sure what you want to say fits on the sign and that your text is large enough.
  3. Once you’re satisfied break out the paint and paintbrushes!


  1. Begin by painting each sign and the sides their designated color. You may want to mix up the colors, as I did, keep them all the same or paint the sides a different color, too. Whatever you want – have some fun with it!
  2. Time to watch the paint dry, literally. It shouldn’t take more than 30-45 minutes.
  3. Once the paint is dry, use a pencil to lightly outline your text on the wood. Don’t press too hard with the pencil as you don’t want it to show through the paint. If you purchased stencils, stencil on your letters. If you’re confident with your freehand painting skills, you can forgo this step entirely.
  4. Paint over your pencil using your alternate color and a thinner paintbrush. I found using the side of a smaller 3 inch brush was the most effective.
  5. Watch your paint dry, again. It shouldn’t take more than 30-45 minutes, but test the paint to make sure it is dry because in the next step, you’ll be flipping the wood over to paint the back. You don’t want the paint on the front to smudge.
  6. Making sure your paint surface is dry, flip over the sign and paint the back your color of choice.
  7. Once that coat is dry, put some wood glue on a stake and affix it to the back of the sign. You can align the top of the stake to the top of the sign, or move the sign down the stake a bit if you prefer that look. Be generous with the glue because the wood is heavier than you might think.
  8. Repeat this step with all of the signs and put a textbook or other weighted item on top of each sign where the stake meets the wood to help the stake affix to the sign.
  9. Leave overnight to try, test the glue in the morning to make sure the bond is strong enough to withhold some movement.
  10. Voila! You’re signs are ready to go for your big day!

A few tips – pack the wood glue with you on your wedding day in case you need to do any quick repairs. If transporting the signs might be an issue, you can always wait to glue the stakes to the signs, just make sure you will have at least 8 hours to let the glue dry. You can also paint the stakes if you like. Quite frankly, I ran out of time for that step, but did like the way the unpainted wood came out.

Here was the final product, prior to applying the stakes!

20120814-223230.jpgIf you want to try this project out yourself, feel free to leave your questions in the comments section!