Makin’ Loooooove… {DIY Marquee Letters}

Avatar Katelyn | February 4, 2013 1258 Views 0 Likes 0 Ratings


We still get lots of comments/questions about these, so we made a video tutorial! Came up with some new tips that make the tricky parts wayyyy easier. Check out the video below!

You can also click here if you want to see the update tutorial in written form, or keep reading below to see the original one.

[Before we keep going, I want to pause and say if you have a sec it would mean SO much to us if you’d like our video or subscribe to our channel. We’re new to YouTube, so every view, like, and sub makes a huge difference for us. Thank youuuuu!]


Makin’ loooove…letters! As in L.O.V.E, sheesh! Just look below and see what I mean…

DIY Marquee Letters-

We saw these marquee letters at a wedding expo and immediately thought they’d be awesome to have at our wedding. But renting them from a wedding decor company would be hella expensive, so my engineer fiance got to work! First we took some super precise measurements by taking a picture of my arm against the letters so we could eyeball the size later. You can tell by my expression that I totally did not feel awkward at all posing in the middle of the display.

DIY Marquee Letters-

Then we got home and got to work! We figured out from the above picture that we wanted them to be about 2 feet tall, and we went from there. We sorted through my library of 1,300+ fonts (I have a font problem… and I’m not ashamed) and picked one that suited us. Then we made a to-scale image in Photoshop. You can download it here if you’d like to use the font we used as a template.

DIY Marquee Letters-

The little circles are guides for where the light bulbs would need to go. Then we just printed it and boom- instant template!

DIY Marquee Letters-

When it came to supplies, we had to decide if we wanted to use wood, metal, foam core (that’s what most the online tutorials use), or something else. We ended up deciding on wood for the letters and metal for the siding. We found pre-sanded 2-foot-tall birch plywood that said “ready-to-stain” at Home Depot for $14 a pop. Sold! We picked up two of those, a roll of 6″ galvanized steel, some Minwax stain in “Dark Walnut” (because we loved how it look on Young House Love!) and a couple packs of outdoor lights.

We were just sort of wingin’ it and picking up what looked like it should work. We’ll do a full supplies list and cost breakdown at the end of things since I’m sure there will be more stuff we need to get along the way.

Next we cut out our letters, taped them together into something traceable, then laid them out on our plywood and traced away!

DIY Marquee Letters-

DIY Marquee Letters-

DIY Marquee Letters-

Once our letters were traced, it was time for the fun part- sawing! But this post has gotten pretty long, and Evan’s definitely the power-tool-wielding one in the relationship, so he’ll probably write about the sawing stuff. So for now we’ll end things here and pick back up later with part-2! On a side note, I should try to remember NOT to wear my super flattering XXL comfy pants when we’re taking pics for the blog… oh well!

PS- Check out part 2: cutting out and staining the letters, and part 3: attaching the metal siding for the full tutorial of this project! :D

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DIY Marquee Letters-


This post currently has 67 responses.

    • Katelyn Shibley

      February 11, 2014 at 9:37 am

      We had a very large file and told the printer to print the actual size, not “size to fit media,” but everyone’s printers will be different. You can also you a “rasterbating” site (sounds dirty I know, but it’s not, promise!) like this one here:

      • Tabatha

        March 24, 2016 at 9:37 pm

        This may be a shot in the dark since this post is from 2014, but when you put the file in rasterbator, how many sheets to you print wide or high? I’m having trouble with the measurements.

        • Katelyn Sheline

          March 25, 2016 at 12:45 pm

          Hi Tabatha! I don’t remember the exact number of sheets, but for our 2 feet tall boards we made sure the letters were 2 feet tall. It looks like in the photos above that meant 3 sheets tall.

          • Carl

            October 11, 2016 at 2:36 am

            I think the rasterbator has an outline of a man. you can increase the # of sheets to make it bigger. Just trying it out now

          • Katelyn Sheline

            October 12, 2016 at 9:23 am

            You’re welcome Carl! Good luck making it and let us know if you have any questions along the way!

  1. Jess

    March 5, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    Hey Katelyn,
    How far apart did you make your holes for the lights?
    We might try and make this, but use different words!

    • Katelyn Shibley

      March 5, 2014 at 1:51 pm

      The holes on ares are about 3.25″ apart from the center of one hole to the center of the next. That worked with the target lights. But it would help to buy the lights first to make sure the distance works for you. Another thing to consider: lets say the light string has 50 lights on each. If you do 100 holes you can use two full packs of lights, but if you do 110 holes you have to buy a third back for just those 10 extra lights. So I’d suggest buying your lights and plan your hole count (and the distance between holes) accordingly. Hope that helps! Good luck! :)

        • Katelyn Shibley

          September 6, 2014 at 9:32 am

          They gave off some heat, but nothing that made me worried about it being a fire hazard or anything. I certainly wouldn’t leave them on 24/7, but we had them on pretty much all day for the wedding and we have them on for 2-3 hours each evening when we’re home after work and they seem to be fine! If you like, you can always grab a set of bulbs (we got them from Target) and test them out before doing the whole project. If they seem too hot for you, you can return them and look for a cooler alternative :)

  2. Sharlene

    September 14, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    Hi! Awesome job! It turned out ahhhhhmazing :)

    I’m wanting to also make something similar but I’m having a lot of trouble printing out the template so I’m going to have to free hand it. Would you be able to tell me what the width of the letters L V E are, the full diameter of the letter O, and the smaller circles for the bulbs? How far apart at the circles for the bulbs? And I’m assuming the height of them all is 2ft, yes? :)

    Sorry so many questions! But I just can’t seem find a way to print out the template properly with our laptop and printer and I’m determined to make this! Haha. Plus..I already bought all the supplies :)

    • Katelyn Shibley

      September 14, 2014 at 4:59 pm

      Hey! Sorry to hear about the technical difficulties. I’ll try my best to help!

      The L is 13-1/8″ wide
      The O diameter is 24-1/4″ (so just a tad wider than it is tall)
      The V is 21-7/8″ wide
      The E is 14-1/4″ wide

      The lights are spaced about 3-1/4″ apart and I can’t tell the exact size of the hole with our lights in it right now but you can eyeball it by holding up the light bulbs to the wood.

      And yes the height of all of them is 2 feet!

      I’m 100% positive that even if you’re measurements aren’t the exact same, it’s still gonna turn out awesome :) Good luck!!!!

  3. Kristina C

    February 17, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    Hi, love all your DIY projects!! Hoping to do these letters, but your template isnt working, is there anyway you could email it to me??

  4. Chloee

    March 26, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    Hello! i am wanting to print this template but im an idiot and dont know how to make it big like yours! any input? Ive read your comments above, but just trying to open it as a LARGE file instead of just all on one page!


    • Katelyn Sheline

      March 28, 2015 at 9:04 am

      Hey! So there are a couple ways to do it. When we did the project, we used a Windows computer which gives you the option to tile your print. You just mess with the settings in the “Page Setup.” Here are some more detailed instructions:

      The other way is to use, which is a site that will print large scale images as multiple dots. It asks you to upload an image, set how many sheets you want it to be, and adjust the frequency of the dot grid (how tight or far apart the dots are). When you print your image, you kind of have to connect the dots (literally) to get your solid outline, but it works in a pinch if you don’t have a Windows

      Hope this helps!

        • Katelyn Sheline

          June 24, 2015 at 5:11 pm

          you put in the measurements you want your total marquee sign to be. So for example, if it’s 2 feet high by 6 feet wide, you put 2ft x 6ft

  5. Liza Catalan

    May 21, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    Hi Katelyn,
    Thanks for the awesome tutorial! Apologies if someone else has already asked this, what tool in photoshop did you use to place the circles perfectly apart from eachother? It looks like you just used the letter o’s as the shape, but not sure not you spaced them out.


    • Katelyn Sheline

      May 21, 2015 at 7:34 pm

      No worries that actually hasn’t been asked before! The circles were actually part of the font I used so they were already spaced for me. The font is called Budmo, you can download it here:

      But you could create one circle with the shape tool, duplicate it, and move the new one by selecting it with “apple+t” (or “control+t” if you’re on a windows) and use the arrow keys while holding the shift bar to move it in increments. Count the same increments each time so that they are evenly spaced. You could also print the letters without the circles and measure out the circles by hand. Hope this helps!

  6. Amanda

    June 30, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    Hi Katelyn,
    Thank you so much for sharing this with us! We have bought all the stuff to make two letters to have behind our sweetheart table & are so excited to get started. We want to have 2 4ft letters (A & D) & i saw that we could use the Budmo font as a template and print it out to the size that we would like (WHICH IS AMAZING). We have both been struggling on downloading/saving the two letters on the computer to upload to Rasterbator . I don’t know why it wont let us do it or why we are having an issue. Is there something we are missing or could you suggest something to us?
    Thank you in advance!

    • Katelyn Sheline

      July 3, 2015 at 8:51 am

      So it’s the saving of the letters that’s giving you trouble? What program are you saving them in?

    • Katelyn Sheline

      July 26, 2015 at 9:29 am

      Sorry, not for sale! :P But you could always try doing just a 1-letter marquee sign and see how that goes if the 4-letter seems too intimidating! You can do it!

  7. Dorian

    May 2, 2016 at 12:03 am

    Hey I have a question. I downloaded the font but I noticed that the circles for the bulbs look different from the circles in the template you provided. I downloaded the font from the link you posted. Any way I could get a copy of the photoshop file you created?

  8. Christina

    May 28, 2016 at 6:47 am

    Im wanting to make these but unsure how much metal i would need to go around. At the end of the blig you have put 4 rolls but how long were the rolls ? X

    • Katelyn Sheline

      May 31, 2016 at 10:05 am

      Hi Christina! I believe they were 10-ft rolls. To figure out the exact amount of metal, just measure around the outside edge of each letter and add it all up. Hope this helps!

  9. Sergio

    April 25, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    Hello, im trying to figure out how to type the word “ONE” on photoshop and scale it to the same size as your word. Is it possible you give me those instructions? My daughter first birthday is coming and wish to make marquee lights like yours. I tried looking online at many forums but they all say it has to be a picture file.

  10. Katie

    June 17, 2017 at 9:03 am

    Hey Katelyn, I love this DIY project. I’m in Canada and have been looking for similar supplies but having trouble finding galvanized steel? Where did you get yours when you did it? Home Depot only seems to have painted now.

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