I love marquee lights and wanted to use them in my wedding decor but don’t like the price tag attached to them. Thanks to 1,000+ Pins on Pinterest, I found inspiration to make my own Marquee lights. These bad boys are 23.5″ tall, took about three hours total to make, and cost $40 for the set. I’ve seen Marquee lights on Etsy for $65/letter and definitely didn’t want to pay $260 for these.
What you’ll need
Toolkit staples I had:
- Box cutter
- Paintbrush. I used a 2″ wide brush similar to this one but a foam one would work too.
- Electric drill and large drill-bit. You could get by without using these but they made things much easier.
- Drop cloth
Things I bought:
- Paint. I chose this gold metallic paint by Martha Stewart. Each letter used one 2oz. bottle of paint. Joann Fabrics sells it for $3/bottle.
- I always use a coupon at Joann Fabrics and never pay full price for anything there. I think for the paints I had a 30% off your entire purchase coupon. Sign up for their emails – they send tons but have great deals. Also, their app usually has a coup for 50% off one item.
- Letters. I bought these 23.5″ tall paper-mache letters at Joann Fabric. They’re $10 each but I of course used coups and got all four for $20.
- Globe string lights. These lights were on sale after Christmas for $7.50 each plus I had coupons/ used my RedCard so they came in at $13 for two boxes.
How to make them
- Lay the first letter you’re working with flat on top of your drop cloth. Using the box cutter, slice through the top edge of the letter and cut along the entire edge of the letter. I learned that using a long slicing motion rather than sawing made for much cleaner edges.
- Once you cut along all edges, pull the outline off the rest of the letter. Remove the pieces that were inside the letter.
I saved the top part of the letter that I cut out. I’m not sure what I’ll do with it but will figure something out.
- Clean the edges. Use the box cutter to slice along the jagged edges to clean them up.
- Repeat steps 1-3 with the rest of the letters until they’re all cut out.
- Paint! Glob it on so you only have to use one coat. Make sure to get in all the corners.
- Once the paint dries, measure where you want the holes to go. I found it was easiest to lay the letters flat so the cute side was face down. You could eyeball this and easily make the marks of where to make your holes. My helpful fiancé measured the exact distance, made a prototype, and planned everything out. He’s an engineer. For the rest of us, impatient, non-math-minded folks, just glance at where you want the holes to go and draw a mark.
- Attach the drill-bit to your drill and make the hole. You want the hole to be a little bit bigger than the circumference of the neck of the lightbulb. I did’t have a drill-bit that was big enough to I drilled the holes, the used the box cutter to make them bigger. Repeat this step for all the holes you plan to make.
- Lay out the string of lights and unscrew all the bulbs. Next, plan out how the letters will be connected. This was the most complicated part and another part my fiancé handled. We decided to start in the top hole of the “L” with the female socket of the string of lights. We placed one bulb in each hole, and used one free bulb between each letter so that the letters had some space between them. We continued until all holes had bulbs in them. Place the lightbulb socket at the back of the letter and gently screw the bulb into the socket in the front.
Be gentle with the bulbs! We broke a few but luckily had a few bulbs left over at the end of the string of lights. When we were done, the back of the letters looked like this:
Eventually, we’ll tape the cords down to clean things up so they don’t show from he front. We’re using these in our wedding and need to transport them across the country so we’ll tape them up later.
- Lay them out, plug them in and enjoy!
Here I am sitting next to them so you can see how big they are!