Crafty Summer Part 2: DIY Marquee Letters

DIY Marquee Letters

I can’t even say a full sentence in this blog post before I give a shout out to the blog they look like the cutest couple, I absolutely love reading their blog and they were my inspiration and my direction for this project. I mean look at this picture!

DIY Marquee Letters -

So I saw this and I was so excited about how much I loved the marquee letters so I shared it immediately with my niece Molly who was getting married soon. I said, “OMG you must make these for your wedding!” She replied something along the lines of – that is so cute, I would do M & M though. To which I replied, “the directions are right there but it looks sort of hard.” To which she smartly replied something along the lines of – yeah that looks too difficult, cute idea though.

I say smartly because she assessed the situation perfectly, this was far too difficult let’s just do something else. Since “too difficult” isn’t in my vocabulary I thought, “well I’ll do it for her then.”

So the blog outlines every step of the process and it is in four parts starting here:

Now there are a few steps that I did differently for better or for worse and that is what I will outline here.

First of all, instead of saying LOVE I went with M & M, look at that ampersand! They cut their letters out themselves, we wouldn’t be able to do that with that “&” so I found someone who could cut them out for me. He printed the font I wanted which was “underground” on a vinyl sticker.

DIY Marquee Letters-WPWW

Then placed the vinyl sticker on the plywood and cut it out with a skill saw (I believe, I missed that part)

Then he primed them and they came to me.

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So the first thing I had to do was figure out where we wanted the holes and how many holes. The light strings we were using had 25 on each and we wanted more than 8 or so lights on each letter so we decided to use two light strands. Notice the subtle difference in tone? It is no longer I did this and that. Suddenly this has become a two person project. My husband had to help me. I realized I was way over my head the second the marquee letters arrived at our house. I mean how was I going to drill those holes?!

So first things first, find the middle of every point on the letter. I drew a line down the middle of every part of all the letters.

DIY Marquee Letters-WPWW2





You will notice me using sewing tools while doing any craft project. I used this to find the middle.

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Next I counted out 50 poker chips. They were about the right size and I knew they would help me estimate where each light bulb should go. Yes, I do think outside the box!

DIY Marquee Letters-WPWW4

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I measured each one so they were equally spaced and then I put marks under each one that would tell Jake where to center the drill bit. I put the poker chips down over and over on the ampersand. I don’t even know if this picture is the final choice.



The next task was finding the right drill bit. We did some test runs but for us the correct size was between two of the bits. So we went with the smaller one. Next time I would go with the large and just paint the inside of the holes. That would have made later steps a lot easier.

Jake drilled all the holes. Then I filled some of the grooves and rough spots that you can see on the previous pictures with wood putty. I wasn’t really going with too rustic of look and it smoothed it out just enough.  Then I painted the letters a buttery/lemony yellow so it would have a warm glow like this Pinterest find:

DIY Marquee Letters - WPWW 6


Then came the impossible… the metal around the edges. Evan and Katelyn (don’t forget I’m living on their every word) had used 6″ aluminum siding. Not so sure we shouldn’t have tried to use that too. We went with this:

DIY Marquee Letter -WPWW 73 inch zinc for roofing

It was more malleable than the aluminum so it wouldn’t be impossible on the ampersand.

There are no pictures of this next part because we were both intensely involved. Jake used an air compressor with staples and stapled the zinc all around the outside edge. We left about 3/4″ behind the letter to cover the wires when it hangs on a wall.

DIY Marquee Letters - WPWW 8

The metal is pretty soft, so from here on out we had to be super careful when working with the letters.

After all the metal was stapled on, we needed to put the lights through. Well, when I painted, the holes got far too small so I had to redrill the holes and yes, I did manage to redrill all of the holes all by myself!

Then I tried to put the lights through again and they were still just a tiny bit too big for the holes. So I used a razor blade/Exacto knife and I shaved down the light just a little bit. I also cut back that clip. I still left part of it because it needed to help clip all the excess wires down in back. Each light ended up fitting snuggly. It did take all day though. Remember there were 50 LIGHTS!!!!

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I placed each light base in it’s hole while I was shaving them.

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Luckily Wyatt took a nap on this day!

All the lights were connected, I clipped all the excess wires into the light base clips. I used some of Evan and Katelyn’s ideas of skipping holes and going back through. I did this so I wouldn’t end up with a bunch of excess loops of wires. The three letters are permanently connected to each other so it makes them a little hard to move but other than that I was really pleased with how they turned out.


Those foam toy blocks were nice to lay the letters on while I worked on putting the lights in, that way there wasn’t too much weight on the metal.


Finally the big reveal! They were so excited to get them and they surprised me by having them be a focal point of the wedding decor!


Andie Avery Photography was amazing!

You can even see it in the first seconds of the sneak peek of the wedding video! Jay McKenney is also amazing!

So there you have it my second project of the summer. DIY Marquee Letters!


2 thoughts on “Crafty Summer Part 2: DIY Marquee Letters”

  1. This is incredible! I have no need for marquee lights (that’s not true, everyone needs marquee lights in their life) but now I really want to make some! This is amazing!!! Nice work Kathleen!!

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