I spent a great deal of time considering the look and feel for our wedding. Since it was held at an apple orchard, with the reception inside a barn, it was relaxed and a bit rustic. Even though it was a barn wedding, I wanted to dodge the Mason jar and burlap trends and tried to incorporate some polished details. One of those details was stained wood and hand painted wooden signs throughout the wedding.
In the months before our wedding, I was lucky enough to have access to a woodworking studio and kind friends to help me create different projects.
Many of the signs were very straightforward and were made of cheap plywood boards. I just cut the boards down to smaller sizes and applied a dark walnut stain. The dark stain made even plywood look much more luxurious and interesting.
For the roadside we created a sandwich board to help guests know they were in the right place. Our initials in the laurels was somewhat of a logo that was carried throughout the wedding. This sign was created by adding two hinges to the top of two very sturdy boards. Since the wood was so heavy, it stayed perfectly in place, and didn’t blow over or open too wide.
I created arrows out of a nicer wood that was lying around, using a miter saw and a band saw to cut the angles. I mounted the painted arrows onto a pointed stake with screws through the back.
I created these painted signs for a lot of parts of the wedding, including the place card table (“Find Your Seat”), wedding ceremony (“Please Seat Yourself”), Photobooth (“Strike a pose” with directions), and various menus.
How to transfer the design
If you’re looking to paint your own signs, here’s how we did it. First, I measured all of my cut signage and created designs using Photoshop. I printed the pieces out, making sure to maintain the scale. Often I had to tape multiple pieces of paper together, carefully lining up the edges, in order to have the design and text replicated in real size.
Once I had the sheet of my design assembled, I flipped it over and applied chalk all along the back of the paper. Since I had dark boards, I used a white chalk. If you have light boards, think about using a darker color chalk. However, just make sure the transferred chalk design won’t mix with your paint as you apply your coats of paint.
You only really need to cover where the letters are, but it’s better to chalk too much than to miss a spot. After the sheet in covered, flip it back over and tape it to your sign, chalk side touching the board. Then use a pen or mechanical pencil (with the lead pulled in) to trace over the outline of all of your letters. Afterwards, you’ll be left with a faint, but visible, outline on your board that you can now paint over. We used an off-white interior paint, since that’s what I already had on hand. Detail brushes were our absolute best friends in creating fine lines and angles. On a few of the boards I used white paint pens, but that was a bit of a pain to use, and didn’t look as nice.
Phew! It’s a lot of work, but the final product can really look stunning. The wood itself was pretty cheap, and the stain went a long way. It’s really just about the time commitment to carefully transfer your lettering and then paint over it. So thanks to my buddy AA who helped me for HOURS!
All of the professional photos are courtesy of YTK Photography.