Makin’ Loooooove… COMPLETE! {DIY Marquee Letters}

Avatar Katelyn | August 12, 2013 3616 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!]


We finally got to use these at our wedding!! We ADORE how they turned out! It was 100% worth the time and effort.

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If you need to get caught up on the DIY Marquee Letter saga, check out part 1 and part 2.  You can also see a budget breakdown and materials list at the end of this post.

Here’s how it started: before we even bought our house, we went to a wedding expo and spotted these marquee letters. We instantly fell in L.O.V.E. with them and had to figure out how to make our own!

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So we made a template (psst- download it here), cut it out of plywood and stained it, and then we derped around for a few months doing all sorts of house things instead of completing this project.

Finally, we decided it was time give the people what they wanted finish ‘er up. And that meant doing the hardest part: adding the metal flashing to the sides. We bought four rolls of 6-inch aluminum flashing because we wanted our letters to have metal siding (there are some tutorials online using poster board for the sides but we wanted something a little more sturdy). We couldn’t find any tutorials for making wood and metal letters so we decided to wing it.

(Before we get into all the pictures, a quick side note: we worked on this project on and off over several months so don’t be surprised if our outfits, location, time of day, and Evan’s haircut-necessity-level change from picture to picture.)

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We started with the L because it was the easiest and because we are just OCD enough that the thought of doing the letters out of order bothered us. The first step when adding the flashing is to unroll your metal and sit the letter on it.

Choose where you want the start and the end of your metal to meet (for the L, we chose the bottom of it), then make your first bend in the metal. We used the help of a putty knife and a hammer to make our bends.

Draw a line on the metal where you want your bend to be, place the sharp end of a putty knife (or similar object) on that line, and hammer the handle of the putty knife so that the sharp end is pounded into the metal. This works best if you’re working on carpet or a rug instead of a hard table top or hard flooring. You need some give underneath the metal to allow the putty knife to push into it.

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You’ll notice in the photo above we have a few bends in the metal already. Once you make your first bend, you’ll need to measure along your letter to find out where on the metal roll to make the next bend. So for the L, we did it like this:

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We started the edge of the metal where it says “Start” above and measured how far that point was to the lower right hand corner of the L (where “A” meets “B”). On the metal, we measured that same length from the edge and made a 90 degree bend using the putty knife and hammer technique. We did that all around the L. The angle marks above our rainbow-esque metal flashing in the guide above indicate what direction the angle is bent at.

It’s pretty easy to do this for each letter as you go, but if you chose a complex looking font it could get tricky. Therefore, we highly recommend a sans-serif font!

For some letters, like the L, it was pretty easy for just one person to do the measurements and bends.

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But other letters were two-person jobs, like the E. I never thought about how many angles a capital E has until we had to bend sharp metal around every one of them! For the E, I needed to hold the flashing up while Evan measured and bent so that it didn’t fall onto itself. And sorry about the PJ’s. Although it took us months to finish this project, extra time could not be spared to get properly dressed.

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Once you have all your angles made, you’ll see the shape of the letter start to form and you can wrap the metal around your letter! Ahhhh!! Exciting!! Just don’t forget to cut off the extra metal (see it to the left of the L in the image below) with some sturdy clippers. We liked to leave a couple inches of overlap when we cut it.

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We did not take a picture of the O at this stage of completion because it required a slightly different method. Since the metal did not have any bends or corners to hang onto, it wouldn’t stay put. So I had to pretty much wrap myself around the letter while Evan hammered nails in to anchor it. This is actually the only picture we have of this stage of the O because it was all hands on deck for this one.

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Which brings us to our next step: attaching the metal.

First we made guide lines on the metal so that we could center it against the edge of our plywood. Since our plywood was 1/2-inch thick and our metal flashing was 6-inches wide, we marked dots that were 2-3/4 inches from each side (so that there was a 1/2-inch space between them going down the center of the metal).

Then we connected our dots and used those as our guide. These marks were made on the side of the metal that would be attached to the wood.

In hindsight, it would have been easier to do this before bending the metal. Oh hindsight!

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On the other side of the metal (the side facing outside), we marked dots along the center of the metal (3 inches from the edge) so that we knew where to nail. We made a dot every inch or so, but you could do more or less if you wanted.

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Since we had our plywood and nail guides, we wrapped the metal around the letters, aligning the plywood with our 1/2 inch space on the inside of the metal. Evan hammered in a nail or two while I held it in place to keep it from shifting.

We used short 1/2-inch finishing nails to do the job. We started out originally using longer nails, but a few times we didn’t hammer them in straight enough and their ends poked through the wood (ooops!). When that happens it’s kind of a pain to carefully pull them out without causing more damage.

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But the 1/2-inch nails were harder to hammer because holding such a tiny nail was difficult. So we used our longer nails to hammer little pilot holes through the metal and just barely into the wood, and then hammered our shorter nails into the pilot holes. It was WAY easier. Also, we still (carefully) used the longer nails at the corners because we felt like that they might be a better anchor.

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So after Evan hammered in a couple nails to keep the metal from shifting, together we’d go down each side of the letter and create pilot holes, and then add our 1/2-inch nails. Lots and lots of nails.

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The V and the E needed a little extra help because there were areas in each that we couldn’t nail due to lack of space for the hammer. On the V, we couldn’t get the hammer passed a certain point in the “dip” of the V. So we decided to nail as far as we could and then use epoxy.

That didn’t work too well because it was hard to hold the metal against the wood long enough for it to set. We didn’t have a big clamp, so we tried to wedge enough random tools in there to hold the metal down in place. I’ll pause while you laugh.

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Yeah. That didn’t work. So we went to Home Depot, got some Gorilla Glue, and picked up a big clamp. And then taped the crap out of the whole thing because we really really didn’t want another glue fail.

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The Gorilla Glue worked! But it squished out the sides (womp womp) and we had to cut the excess off with a razor blade, which was annoying. When we did the other side of the V, we made sure to apply as little glue as possible so that we didn’t have the same problem again.

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Even though the Gorilla Glue worked, there were a lot of places on the E that we couldn’t use nails and we didn’t want to deal with all the gluing and clamping again.

So for the parts of the metal that went in between the “legs” of the E, we bent them so that the sides were curving toward the wood of the E (like the colored pieces in the image below) and then hammered a few nails in between each bent piece of metal to hold things in place (along with nails around the perimeter of the letter too of course). Since the curved metal naturally wanted to press against the wood, we didn’t need any glue there.

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After the metal was firmly attached to all our letters, it was time to screw in our lights! We used two packs of these outdoor lights. Depending on the size of your letters and the closeness of the holes you drilled, you may need more or less.

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We had to screw in the lights in a way that made sense with the flow of the letters. Meaning for the L, we started at the bottom (so that we didn’t have to have a cord running from the floor to the top of a letter) and we added lights going toward the top. But we skipped every other light so that when we reached the top of the L we could make our way back to the bottom, filling in the lights we had skipped on the way up.

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On the O, we went straight across from the L to the base of the O and looped around clockwise until we got to the part of the O that was closest to the top of the V, filling in every light up to that point. Then as we continued the O (past the point closest to the top of the V) we just filled in every other light again until we reached out O starting point, where we then backtracked and filled in the holes we missed. Similar to the method on the L.

Basically, any time you know you’re going to have to backtrack, start skipping every other hole so that when you make your way back you have holes to fill in.

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We wired the lights this way because we didn’t want to have long stretches (like from the outlet to the top of the L or the base of the O to the top of the V) where there were lights that weren’t being used. Because that meant wasted lights, and we really didn’t want to buy a third pack. Hope the graphic above helps make sense of it! If not, it will make more sense when you get to this point and start playing with it.

I am happy to say, after much measuring, hammering, cutting, hammering, gluing, and hammering… we are FINALLY done!

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So of course we had to take a million pictures…

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We love the look of the metal and wood. On this zoomed in picture of the O you can really see how snugly everything fits together.

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We L.O.V.E. them sooooooooo much! Can’t wait to have these at our wedding, and we are super excited that they’ll have a spot in our home for us to enjoy forever :)

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Finally, here’s the budget breakdown. This is all rounded, but it’s pretty accurate:

(2) 2ft x 4ft pieces of pre-sanded plywood – $30
(4) rolls of 6 inch metal (similar to this but longer and therefore pricier) – $24
(1) 8-oz can of Minwax stain in Dark Walnut – $5
(2) packs of clear globe lights – $38
Nails, hammers, clamps, saw, brushes, etc – already owned/needed to have anyway

TOTAL = $97

Not bad for four very sturdy 2-ft tall letters that we love!

PS- Check out part 1: making the template and part 2: cutting out and staining the letters for the full tutorial of this project! :D

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This post currently has 160 responses.

  1. Bryan

    August 17, 2013 at 6:15 am

    That is one helluva write up! I’ve been looking for a decent how-to on this for ages – this is perfect! We are getting married next year and hoping to do something similar. Thank you so much for putting all the effort into not only making these letters but creating a fantastic guide! I’m so inspired!

  2. Katelyn Shibley

    August 17, 2013 at 8:51 am

    Aw thank you Bryan! We had the hardest time finding a good tutorial too which is why in the end we came up with all this. Congrats on your wedding next year and hope the letters turn out awesome! If you end up making them, come back and comment or send a link our way so we can check em out! :D

  3. Maria

    August 21, 2013 at 10:59 am

    I’m coming over from YHL (whenever I see a fellow Texan, I look ’em up!). I would love to buy letters like these, you guys should definitely start something like that! BTW, I’m in Houston too!

  4. Katelyn Shibley

    August 21, 2013 at 11:15 am

    Hello fellow Texan!! Maybe when we have some time after the wedding we could seriously start offering these!

  5. Our Wolf Den

    August 21, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Very nice. I don’t think I’d have the patience to do that project. Those make perfect engagement photo props in fact the one of you two kissing in front of it is perfect. Although my favorite is the one with you your bottoms halves and the kitty. Kitty just don’t understand what their people are doing sometimes… silly people *smiles*.

    I was getting ready to hit post when I had a great idea to recreate this with our last name. And then the thought went to creating this with my parent’s last initial with copper flashing. Although I think big WOLF letters would look awesome over the fireplace… gaaa so many ideas too little time.

  6. Katelyn Shibley

    August 21, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    Thanks! It did require a lot of patience haha. Took us quite a while to finally complete it, but it was worth it! Hehe and yes I think our kitty is often a little confused about why were are paying attention to some project when we *should* be paying attention to her :P

    I think you should totally go for it and make one for your last name! To make it less intimidating, you could always just do a big “W” for Wolf and hang that. And if down the line you have the time/patience to do 3 more letters, you can :)

  7. Katelyn Shibley

    October 29, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Thanks!! Ours are just sitting on a shelf ledge right now on our media center, but I think if you wanted to hang it on a wall you could attach it to a couple boards and then screw those into studs on the wall, or create a floating shelf that is screwed into the studs. The letters are relatively heavy so I wouldn’t trust anything screwed into drywall

  8. Alice

    January 21, 2014 at 9:38 am

    Hi, I love this tutorial! Thank you so much. I want to make one of these and just wondering how you fixed the metal to the inside circle of the letter o?! I can’t imagine the hammer fit in there!

    • Katelyn Shibley

      January 21, 2014 at 9:46 am

      Hi Alice! We actually did use a hammer to pound in some nails just like we did around the outside, but we used a mini hammer (aka cutest hammer ever!) like this:

      It was pretty tricky though because I had to hold the metal and letters in place and try to keep it centered while Evan hammered. It might help to do a few “anchor nails” at 4 or so points to help hold it in place, and then hammer in the rest of the nails.

      Hope this helps!

  9. Zady

    January 21, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    Hi! I love this idea for my wedding. Only I have confusion in wooden letters. As I can make the word LOVE or what are the steps to print on large format letters. thank you very much.

  10. Courtney

    February 4, 2014 at 10:25 am

    I am not sure how to make the letters as you did for the templete. Is there any way you could attach the templete you made for the letters for those of us that do not know how?

      • Diana

        May 20, 2016 at 2:49 pm

        Hi! I’m using Windows and want to know what margins did you use to print them big?

        Also I wanted to no know if I can use another font?

        Thanks in advanced.

        • Katelyn Sheline

          May 21, 2016 at 9:29 am

          Hi! We didn’t adjust the margins, just scaled the % up until it reached the size we wanted (you mess with it in page set up). Hope that helps!

          • Katelyn Sheline

            May 31, 2016 at 10:09 am

            I’m sorry, I don’t remember (it was a few years ago). We just eyeballed it. If you wanna get mathematical, you can look at how many inches tall they are in your digital file and calculate how much you need to increase the scale to reach the printed size you want. So (printed size)=x(digital size) and solve for x.

  11. Kali

    February 5, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Hi Katelyn! First, this is the best tutorial I have seen! Thanks so much for posting! I was wondering if you could tell me the name of the font you used. I plan to use your method but with different letters and I LOVE your font :) Please let me know. Thanks much!!

  12. sara

    April 28, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    I know that you are being asked this a few time, but I am still confused as to how you get the letters printed based on the link that you’ve provided, can you clarify, absolutely loving your DIY and playing on getting started on it this weekend as it a long weekend :-)

    • Katelyn Shibley

      April 29, 2014 at 7:09 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!

      • Deena Good

        July 10, 2016 at 1:29 pm

        Hi Katelyn!! Do you remember what you used as your scaling numbers in paint to get the 2 ft size? I’ve been messing with it on and off and can seem to get it right. Thanks so much!!

        • Katelyn Sheline

          July 14, 2016 at 6:07 pm

          Hey! I’m sorry, I wish I did! I used photoshop which might set it up a little differently, but you can see how big your document is in inches and scale up to 24 inches accordingly. So if your document was 12 inches high, you would multiply it by 200%. Hope this helps!

  13. Abigail Gehman

    June 4, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Thank you for the great tutorial! My fiance and are have just begun making these, and we are hoping they turn out as great as yours did! For the pictures from your wedding, did you re-stain them, or is it just the lighting that makes it look pink?

    • Katelyn Shibley

      June 4, 2014 at 4:06 pm

      Thank you! You’ll have to let us know how yours turn out! We did not re-stain them, it is just how the lighting in the photo makes them look :)

    • Katelyn Shibley

      June 4, 2014 at 8:27 pm

      It wasn’t too hard because we used 2 strings of lights, so we had to keep the L and the O together and we had to keep the V and the E together, but we didn’t have to transport all 4 connected together. We transported them all the way from Houston to Austin in the back of a U-Haul full of all the other wedding stuff, nestled on the flat top of the pile of boxes with some blankets under them for added cush

  14. LJ

    June 5, 2014 at 12:19 am

    Your wedding pics turned out beautifully!!

    We’re halfway through following the tutorial and I’m wondering if I missed this- did you use any type of sealant over the stain? We’re ready to add the metal and I don’t want to miss this step if it’s necessary!


    • Katelyn Shibley

      June 5, 2014 at 7:10 am

      Thank you! We didn’t use any type of sealant since we knew (aside from the wedding day) they’d be used indoors and didn’t need protection, and we wanted more of a matte finish. But if you want to use yours outside or you want a glossier finish (which could be super pretty and reflect the lights nicely) then I’d definitely do it before adding the metal!

  15. Emily Vanmaele

    July 30, 2014 at 1:53 am

    I had a question about the lights and how they are “sitting” into the holes. Are the glass bulbs touching the wood at all? I figured they would be for them to be able to stay in place, if so that is definitely a fire hazard and I don’t want the whole barn to burn down due to my “LOVE” sign. Did you place any metal backing material near the bulb area to combat this? My parents and I have been studying your tutorial as we started to construct ours and we came across those questions. We are just a bit concerned with how exactly we are going to attach the lights.

    • Katelyn Shibley

      July 30, 2014 at 6:31 am

      Hi Emily! Actually yes, the glass bulbs are just sitting snugly in the holes with no backing or anything, so the glass is touching the wood. The longest we have had the lights on was at the wedding at that was at least 10 hours, and nothing burned down. But we usually have them on at home for a couple hours at a time. Like I said, we haven’t had any problems, but if you want to play it safe you could always go for LED bulbs or try some sort of backing. Hope this helps!

  16. Mimi

    August 17, 2014 at 10:58 am

    Amazing work!! My fiance and I wanted to rent these and the rental price is hella ridiculous. We are about to make our own – thanks to you and your hubs!!!

    • Katelyn Shibley

      August 18, 2014 at 7:58 pm

      Rental companies charge an arm and a leg for everything! So glad we were able to help y’all out with our tutorial! ^_^

  17. Laurie

    September 4, 2014 at 9:16 am

    I just finished making these “LOVE” letters and they came out great! Thanks to you and your husband! Thankyou for taking the time to give such detailed instructions. You two are amazingly intuitive & creative…keep up the good work, I am always finding myself coming back here to check out your blog.
    Also, I saw your wedding on wedding chicks…I was excited to see that they chose to feature you guys as it was well deserved!

    • Katelyn Shibley

      September 4, 2014 at 7:42 pm

      Yay that is so awesome to hear that your letters turned out well! You’re very welcome for the tutorial :) Wish we had more frequent posts for you when you come back to check on us but hopefully we can pick up the pace! Awww and thank you, we were super excited to be featured on Wedding Chicks! :)

    • Katelyn Sheline

      September 30, 2014 at 6:45 pm

      Hi Lisa! Our flashing was 6 inches wide, but I’m not sure about the thickness. Thin enough to bend by hand, thick enough to hold it’s shape

  18. Anne

    October 17, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    I have been looking for letters like this for several months now….. I just saw your pic with the gate and chandeliers hanging someone just posted it on Instagram…… Where is this pic taken? It looks fabulous….?
    Is it a venue?

    • Katelyn Sheline

      October 17, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      The pic was at our wedding venue in Austin, it’s called Hummingbird House (and it was gorgeous!) Just out of curiosity, who Instagram’d us?

  19. Susanna

    October 26, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    How did you get your LOVE sign to stand up? It looks like it’s propped up on a rock wall at your wedding? Any suggestions?

  20. Abigail

    November 21, 2014 at 4:25 am

    Just came upon this blog via Pinterest… You two are ridiculously adorable! This is the best tutorial for this project I’ve been able to hunt down. Thank you! I’m trying to entice my fiancé to help take this project on because like you, we fell in love with the marquee letters at a bridal show, but fell out of love with the rental price.

  21. wagedu

    November 25, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Best tutorial and best looking marquee letters. Thanks!
    Now I do have a question… how did you join/glue the start and end of the metal flashing? It’s invisible on the pictures o_O

    • Katelyn Sheline

      November 26, 2014 at 11:08 am

      Thank you!! We used nails to secure the metal flashing to the wood, so where one end of the flashing met up with the other we just overlapped them slightly and nailed through both pieces to the wood.

  22. Janet

    January 3, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    I Love this project, couple of questions… How did you finish off the back? Is the wood centered in the middle of the 6″flashing and if so did you hammer down the back or what? I’m so going to try to make this

    • Katelyn Sheline

      January 3, 2015 at 4:59 pm

      Thank you! The wood is centered in the 6-inch flashing and we didn’t do anything to the back- so there is about 3 inches of metal coming up from the front of letters and about 3 inches in the back of the letters. Theoretically, you could get flashing that is less wide (maybe 4 inch?) and place the wood along the back. But we wanted thick, chunky letters that could stand up on their own so we went with 6-inch. Hope this helps!

        • Katelyn Sheline

          January 21, 2015 at 8:16 pm

          I’m not sure exactly.. thin enough to bend, but thick enough to hold it’s shape. It was aluminum (not steel) if that helps, and we got it at Home Depot

  23. Dennis Santos

    January 27, 2015 at 4:10 am

    Hello Evan&Katelyn! Thank you so much for this tutorial! I have done this and it’s pretty amazing! :) Just wanna ask for permission if i can use the pictures you posted? Your picture together with the marquee :) wan to post it to some of the groups i belong :))) Thank you so much!!!

    • Katelyn Sheline

      January 27, 2015 at 9:43 pm

      Hi Dennis! Thank you, and you’re welcome! So glad that our tutorial helped you! You can definitely post the pictures, just make sure to link back to our blog post :) Thank you!

  24. Johanna zammit

    January 28, 2015 at 11:18 am

    Would you consider Selling it. I have a wedding company and cannot find anyone to buy one from, they are all for hire. Will be for all expenses plus what you want for the sign. Thanks

    • Katelyn Sheline

      January 28, 2015 at 7:53 pm

      Sorry, but we are very attached to it! Thanks for the offer though, and best of luck to you! Maybe you can try finding something on Etsy?

    • Pra Parede

      January 28, 2015 at 8:46 pm

      Katelyn, you could do a bussiness of it (not your originals, of course) We sell marquee letters and I can tell you, yours are extremely well crafted, better than some “pros” here in Brazil.
      Congratulations for the job, for the tutorial and, of course, for the happily married couple.
      If you want to have a look at ours (not trying to sell, we’re too far away :)

      • Katelyn Sheline

        February 1, 2015 at 7:52 pm

        Thank you, I really appreciate the compliment! We have considered making more to sell but right now we are both too busy with work and we don’t have the free time. Maybe in the future though!

  25. Stacey Kaniuk

    February 9, 2015 at 10:58 pm

    These look so great and this is the most detailed tutorial I’ve found! 2 questions – 1) is the galvanized metal flashing sharp on the edges and did it bend at all while in transit? 2) how do you keep the “O” from rolling around? I’m going to do a Y and I’m afraid of it falling over because it will be so top heavy… Any tips on balancing them?

    • Katelyn Sheline

      February 10, 2015 at 7:51 pm

      Thank you! The metal was sharp on the edges but did not bend in transit (it was relatively sturdy), but we also protected the letters with blankets in transit). The O didn’t roll around because the string of lights connects all the letters together so it is just kinda sandwiched between the L and the V. As long as it is secured to the letter next to it (either with lights or maybe even fishing line or hidden zip ties?) I think your Y will be ok!

  26. Mary

    February 14, 2015 at 12:37 am

    This is AMAZA-ZING!! I love it and KUDOS to your teamwork on getting it done!!! Totally worth the time it took I’m sure!!! I really want to try to do this for my wedding this year! I’m wondering….How long were your rolls of the flashing that you bought?? 10 feet?

    Thanks so much!

    • Katelyn Sheline

      February 16, 2015 at 10:34 am

      Thank you!! I don’t remember the exact length of the rolls (sorry!) but we had to buy 4 of them. When you get your letters cut out of the wood, you can use measuring tape to figure out the exact length you need before you buy. But make sure to get a little more than you need because the metal will overlap some on each letter. Hope this helps!

  27. Jen

    February 18, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    Hi Katelyn! Let me just start by saying that this is beautiful! I am getting ready to start my own, and had a quick question: Was the inside of the “O” able to be hammered in or did you have to glue that as well? Again, beautiful!

  28. tony

    February 23, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    Absolutely amazing… You guys are the reason other couples that have faith in the relationship and believing in marriage and commitment… Love you two…!!!

  29. Lindsey

    April 7, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    Awesome. Those target lights are great. I bought I think 8 packs total for my wedding. Looks like I’ll be buying more :) maybe I will even rent this out for other weddings after I’m through with it! This is probably the best tutorial I have ever seen. It’s hilarious as well. DIY is definitely the way to go with a wedding, every loving little OCD moment shows and is appreciated :)

    • Katelyn Sheline

      April 8, 2015 at 8:20 pm

      Thanks! OMG they are great. We want to get some for our patio too :) You could DEFINITELY rent these out after creating them, we have gotten several requests to do so. And thank you! We tried to make it super thorough! Glad there are others out there who appreciate the OCD details ^_^

  30. marshall can

    May 2, 2015 at 6:49 am

    Love this tutorial. Awesome job. Would you consider putting this on People there (like me) would love it!

    On a side note, I just wanted to mention that 99% of all print shops have black and white plotter/oversized printers. It’s usually just 50 cents a square foot. This would reduce the need to print 6 letter-size sheets and taping together. I used to work at a print shop. People would come in all the time to get letters printed large scale. Takes like 10 minutes (or less).

    • Katelyn Sheline

      May 3, 2015 at 8:14 am

      That is an AWESOME tip about printing the letters at a print shop- we get more questions about printing the letters than anything else so I will definitely let people know to consider that option- thank you! And you know what, we hadn’t considered putting it on Instructibles but that’s an awesome idea!

      • Cherry Rojo

        May 15, 2015 at 4:16 pm

        I got a couple of maquee signs that I bought on etsy that are made out of metal and wood. However, the metal edges are sharp. Did you get cuts from your signs too or can you suggest ways to make the metal less sharp?
        Also, I am putting my signs in storage until the wedding 6 months from now. What did you use to store and transport the signs to your wedding venue? I don’t want it to get ruin in transporting them.

        • Katelyn Sheline

          May 16, 2015 at 6:50 pm

          Our metal edges are slightly sharp, so when we were working with the metal we had to be careful, though transporting the letters wasn’t really an issue in terms of sharpness. To transport ours, we laid down several blankets to create a nice cushion and laid the letters flat on top, with the lightbulb side facing up. We packed plenty of other cushy things around their edges to keep them from shifting. They did just fine like that in a U-Haul from Houston to Austin and back- hope this helps!

  31. Winz

    May 24, 2015 at 5:15 am

    Hi, I just cut the wood from 1/2 inch thick plywood. The hole was drilled using a 13/16 drill bit (same as yours). But I can’t seem to slot the lightbulb holder into the drilled hole due to the small clip to the side of the lightbulb holder. If the light bulb holder remains outside (flushed to the surface of the wood), I can’t screw the light bulb in due to the 1/2″ thickness of the wood.

    Could I check how u manage to screw your bulbs in?

    • Katelyn Sheline

      May 26, 2015 at 7:51 pm

      Hmmmm. We have the light bulb holder coming through the back of the wood and we screw the lightbulb through the front of the wood. I see the clip, and for us it’s too large to fit through the hole too, which is why we have it behind the wood. But the thickness is not an issue when it comes to screwing in the bulb. I wonder if the Target changed the lights at all? It was a couple years ago that we bought them…

  32. Ruth

    June 3, 2015 at 8:28 am

    Hi Katelyn! I am totally set on making our own letters for our wedding in October, but Target doesn’t deliver to Germany from what I can see, and I can’t find another supplier that does!! I don’t suppose anyone else has tried to find the lights here in Europe and succeeded that you know of??
    Thank you so much, and thank you also for the fantastically detailed instructions! I can’t wait to start making ours :D

    • Matt

      July 4, 2015 at 1:49 pm

      I can’t imagine that they can’t be sourced in Germany, but if it makes things easy I’m more than happy to ship them to you at cost. I just drilled a bunch of holes with a 13/16″ bit and these lights really do fit perfectly. If you’re interested my email is khbaur3301622 (at) gmail (dot) com. I can make an eBay listing with a “Buy It Now” option if you feel safer doing it this way.

      Best of luck with your project! Mine is turning out to be more work than I anticipated, but manageable and rewarding.

      • Ruth

        July 5, 2015 at 4:13 am

        Hi Matt! Thanks for your offer, and the encouragement! I did as best I could searching in Germany, but in the end I bought them off e-bay from a place in Texas I think.. the Target ebay store. They cost loads to ship here, but at least I know they are the right bulbs! I’m looking forward to getting started now!
        Thanks again

        • Katelyn Sheline

          July 9, 2015 at 5:52 pm

          If shipping is too expensive, you could try searching for “cafe lights” on Amazon LOTS of options pop up. Just make sure you measure what size the holes need to be for whatever lights you end up with. Good luck! :)

  33. Katelyn Sheline

    June 3, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    I don’t know of anyone trying to find lights in Europe, but I do know that if you just search for “cafe lights” on Amazon LOTS of options pop up. Just make sure you measure what size the holes need to be for whatever lights you end up with. Good luck! :)

    • Katelyn Sheline

      June 9, 2015 at 6:29 pm

      Thank you! The metal, because it was easily bendable, wasn’t too hard to work with! Best of luck :)

  34. Kayla

    June 9, 2015 at 2:46 am

    Hey Katelyn! I currently live in South Korea with my fiance and we are getting married in September (woo!!) :D
    I came across your blog through a picture of your fan programs on pinterest. We are coming up with a template to make our own as well, I was wondering how you made the silhouettes of your bridal party. Was it through a program?
    Anyways, I love your blog and am excited to keep up with it :)
    Thanks! Kayla

    • Katelyn Sheline

      June 9, 2015 at 6:30 pm

      Congrats on your upcoming marriage! I hand drew the illustrations in our programs using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Hope this helps!

  35. mezzalenko

    June 27, 2015 at 12:42 am

    Hi Katelyn, I have a question – and this is my OCD coming out – you had 49 holes for the lights in the letters in total. What did you do with the extra light bulb (assuming you bought a pack of 50)? I’m not making fun at all – I’m looking to make some for my own wedding, but the spare light bulb would drive me bonkers!

    • Katelyn Sheline

      June 27, 2015 at 10:08 am

      Haha I totally understand the OCD. We just popped out the light from the plastic “casing” (not sure what to call it) on the last remaining bulb so that there wasn’t a light shining behind the letters

      • John

        July 9, 2015 at 4:50 pm

        HELP We are almost complete with this project but can’t figure out the wiring for the letter E
        Using the 1st set of lights We sequentially wired the letters L top to bottom. Then followed your diagram for the O.
        Then using 2nd light set sequentially wired the letter V top to bottom then back to the top of the V but can’t figure out the letter E We have 12 bulbs left over
        Thanks for any help that you can offer.

    • Katelyn Sheline

      July 21, 2015 at 9:49 pm

      You just made my day! Thank you for your kind comment! Your letters turned out AWESOME (that “S” had to be hard!). And you and your wife look like awesome people! Thank you for sending the pic, love seeing how everything turned out! :)

    • Winz

      August 25, 2015 at 7:44 am

      Hey Dave, could i check how did you manage to hide the cabling between the letters? (i notice a white string going across the back of all the letters?) Also, how many sets of 25 did you string together?

      Doing this for my wedding too!

      thank you!!

  36. Jenny

    August 24, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    Hi Katelyn
    I love your sign and I am going to give it a go soon for our wedding :-) I am also going to attempt a “M & J”!! I was about to print off the LOVE pattern but it is only printing off on one page… how did you get it to print off on enough pages to make the 2 foot size?

    • Katelyn Sheline

      August 26, 2015 at 9:07 pm

      Hi Jenny! 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!

    • Matt

      August 27, 2015 at 6:11 am

      Just an fyi for you or anyone else who may read this and benefit, but if you have, or know some one who has, a projector you can try a different route. I clamped my plywood to some upright pieces of PVC (you could also just prop them up against something), connected a pico projector to my PC via HDMI as a second monitor (in mirror mode), projected my computer screen (Microsoft Word with the letter I wanted to trace in a huge font) onto my board, and traced it either freehand (for the curved portions) or with a yardstick. This method could also be used to make letters much larger than 2′ without being any more difficult.

    • Katelyn Sheline

      December 28, 2015 at 3:34 pm

      Hi! We kept it round but since it is sandwiched between the L and the V (and held onto them with the string lights) it doesn’t move around at all. Hope that helps!

  37. Ashley

    January 14, 2016 at 9:42 am

    Are the lights battery operated? I’m wondering how we could use them outside, whether an extension cord would be necessary.

    • Matt

      January 14, 2016 at 10:58 am

      We used an extension cord. I purchased the same string lights from Target as outlined in this tutorial, three boxes of them actually. I believe after everything was said and done the letters were probably sipping on ~75 Watts (the attached dimmer probably reduced efficiency as well, but came in handy and was a cinch to install). 75W for any reasonable amount of time will require quite a large battery reserve (think a couple car batteries plus an expensive, high efficiency inverter to get up to voltage). The batteries would be just as hard if not harder to hide compared to an extension cord and a lot less portable. They make Christmas lights that run on battery power, though. If you’re okay with changing the look of your letters (my sister liked the “vintage” aesthetic these globe lights provided which is what drew her to this tutorial) I’d say run a Google search on some White, battery operated Christmas lights. Even then you might need to DIY yourself a battery pack. If they ran off six AA’s in series you could find some AA battery harnesses on eBay, populate them with AA’s and then wire a few of them in parallel to give you the Watt hours that you needed.

    • Katelyn Sheline

      January 14, 2016 at 8:38 pm

      Hi Ashley! Matt’s reply was very thorough but I thought I’d go ahead and answer too! We used an outdoor extension cord which was quite easy to hide and did fine outside (granted, it was nice weather, no rain or anything).

  38. George

    September 22, 2016 at 11:30 am

    Hellooooooooooo! Amazing project, I want to make these as a goft for friends of ours that are getting married next month, could you email me the PDF template for the letters as well? :-D thank you!!

  39. Sonia

    December 15, 2017 at 10:33 am

    I never realized that I forgot to comment here! We used your plans for a massive LOVE sign for our wedding, and it was a HUGE hit! All of our guests were getting selfies with it, and it is still one of my fav pics of the hubs and I <3 Thanks for posting such thorough plans! It was hard work but turned out AMAZING!

  40. Katelyn

    December 16, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    Aww yay! That makes us SO happy to hear!!! Glad it was a hit! After our wedding, we put ours in our living room and we have them lit up pretty much all the time, so hoping you continue to get many more years of enjoyment out of them :)

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