DIY Marquee Letters and The Wedding Proposal
March 9, 2017
My oldest son, Jon-Michael had a beautiful ring designed and made by a local jeweler. He planned to ask Emily, the love of his life, to marry him and was trying to figure out the best way. He asked for ideas.
Well, you know I love weddings and started searching Pinterest and sharing ideas from there and even thought up some of my own. He considered the proposal in a crowd of co-workers and different scenarios played out in his head.
He considered a favorite restaurant down in Newport on the Levee.
Ultimately, he decided to do this in private at their apartment they share with two cats.
He devised a plan to make her favorite dinner, which included the recipe for Beef Steamed Dumplings.
He saw that someone had made marquee letters from paper mache letters from the craft store and used the globe shimmer lights. He really liked that idea. He went shopping.
So, Jon-Michael found 16″ paper mache letters at Hobby Lobby. Fortunately, they were $9.99 each on sale for $5.00. He decided on ‘Marry Me’ for the letters.
Light sets, like the one above, were 30 bucks at Lowe’s but he found them for $19.99 at Michael’s and they were on sale for 40% off that price. He bought two sets. Okay, this shopping trip was right after he had been weight-lifting. He puts a lot of effort in that, and immediately afterward, the brain is not functioning at full capacity. Normally, he is a pretty sharp individual but after a workout, he needs calories from food and lots of it!
Anyway, it was 8:00 pm and as we were sitting at the kitchen table looking at his purchases, he explained that he really liked the globe lights and how much he paid for them. I began to do the math. Seven letters and 32 globes, basically 4 per letter – hmmm. Nope, that was not going to get it. He would have to go back and buy a few more to make it work.
His plan was to be implemented the next evening! No time for that!
I suggested a string of 100 white Christmas lights, which were used on the mantel last Christmas. He ended up agreeing and so we set about making the marquee letters with that in mind.
With a mat knife, he cut and removed the face of each of the letters. Have you ever wondered what was inside of the letters?
Well, here it is! Lots of cardboard strips bent back and forth fill the inside of each letter. Notice the ‘X’ on the ‘R’? When you are cutting these after rigorous exercise and late at night, it would be advisable to mark which side of the letter you are cutting, not that anyone cut out the wrong side or anything. Most of the letters don’t matter, but this was one that did! (It was pretty easily glued back together, and afterward, he seriously could not tell which had the boo boo.)
After the first letter was cut out completely, I started painting. He had first planned to use spray paint, which might have gone faster but it had started raining the day before and had not stopped. There was no way we could safely paint these in time for tomorrow night.
He bought acrylic craft paint and foam brushes. It took most of this 8-oz. bottle of paint for the seven letters.
So that Emily didn’t get suspicious, he, reluctantly, had to return home and leave the painting to me.
By midnight, all of the letters except for the ‘R’ had one coat of white paint. The ‘R’ had been glued with Tacky glue. (That stuff is great!)
Wednesday morning, the last ‘R’ got a fresh coat of paint and painting the other letters with a second coat began.
Jon-Michael returned and started plotting out the crosscuts for the lights to be pushed through the cardboard backs. The ‘M’ was the first to be cut and the lights inserted. We plugged in the lights.
He inserted an X-acto knife through the dots marking positions of the lights, pulled it out and then inserted it back into the cardboard across the first line. We didn’t realize it at the time, but aside from holding the lights in firmly, when the lights were turned on, it created this cross shadow behind the bulbs! It reminded me of tufting!
Didn’t this turn out beautiful? We were pleasantly surprised. It took a little bit of calculating to figure out the spacing of the lights and how to get the cords to reach on some of the letters. You can see that we opted to change the spacing on some of the letters in order to make the cord reach or work better.
We also ended up putting a burnt-out bulb between the second R and the Y. We needed more of the cord to reach. That worked perfectly. We used that technique between the two words, also. (Remember to calculate that when allotting the number of lights per letter! We didn’t initially!)
At first, my plan was to put the letters in a Rubbermaid bin to transport them to the apartment. Yeah, that was not going to work. Ultimately, we laid letters back to back and angled others over top of those in order to transport them on top of a piece of foam board. It actually worked pretty well.
Jon-Michael had planned to put the letters on the wall. We came up with a variety of ideas, which were quickly nixed for one reason or another. The cords hanging out of the back created a problem with most of those ideas. We decided to use a couple of stools and a board to sit atop those. A white table cloth on top of that would mask the board and stools.
As we were cutting, painting, and finally assembling, we were brainstorming how and where to put the marquee letters. Dinner would be served in their dining area and the letters and ring would be in the room with her antique sofa and chair, off limits to the cats.
However, once we were in the room, we decided the board could just be laid across the sofa arms and covered with the tablecloth. Two cloths were brought to cover the board and the coffee table. We thought the letters resting on the board and laying back against the sofa actually looked pretty good and decided not to attach the letters to the board.
The coffee table covered, the ring, in its box, was placed in the center of clear glass candle holders with battery powered votive candles. He decided against the unattended open flame. (Jon-Michael has completed his Firefighter Training Course and is currently enrolled in an EMT training course, aspiring to be a firefighter for one of the local fire stations.)
Yes, I would have loved to stay and take pictures but left and headed home to wait for their announcement later!
Do you realize that this marquee sign had been put together in less than 20 hours? There’s nothing like waiting until the last moment! Overall, it looked pretty impressive. Emily asked where he had purchased the letters!
Oh! And she said “Yes!”
Has this “DIY Marquee Letters and The Wedding Proposal” post inspired you to make some of your own for your special event?