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  • Lauren Makowski

How to DIY Your Wedding Signs

As a bride back in 2014, I can completely understand how expensive weddings can be. Since then, I think it’s become even more pricey, which leaves little money in the budget to personalize your wedding decor. From extravagant seating charts, to beautiful wood signs, you’ve probably seen it all. Since many brides spend a great deal of their budget on the venue, food, and their dress, there is not much, or anything left, for these types of items. Wood signs have become increasingly popular for weddings, but the custom/handmade nature of these types of signs can really put a dent in your bank account. In this post, I want to walk you through my process of creating wood signs to hopefully help you create your own for your big day!

Faux calligraphy is a great way to get started on your lettering journey, and it is also the technique many people use when painting wood signs. The best part about faux calligraphy is that you can use any pen to learn the techniques you need. You don’t need to buy anything special or fancy, you just need a marker or a pen and you can start creating calligraphy in a snap! To help you get started, I’ve put together a free guide that will walk you through the basic strokes and the lowercase alphabet. This guide will help you understand how to form letters, and you can use that knowledge to make your own signs!

Download the FREE Introduction to Faux Lettering guide here!

The tutorial below will walk you through the materials I use, as well as my process for creating wood signs. In this tutorial, we will be focusing on a “gifts and cards” sign!


  • Introduction to Faux Calligraphy guide!

  • Wood: I purchase my wood from The Home Depot, and I typically purchase the 24” X 24” plywood boards, but you can use any wood you'd like. Since I do not have a saw at home, I have Home Depot cut the plywood to the size I need. Simply find someone in the lumber section and tell them you need to have the plywood cut. The typical size I use for a small signs, such as the gifts and cards sign, is 6” x 12”. With the 24” x 24” plywood board, you’ll be able to create a few of these smaller signs for a very cost effective price! Michaels has also released a line of wood bases that you can utilize if you don’t want to go the home improvement store route. This would be a little more pricey, but also less work because they are already prepped and ready for writing!

  • Stain: If you’re buying your own wood, you’ll also need to find a stain that you like. I prefer the Minwax wood finish in espresso, which you can find at any home improvement store.

  • Paint Brush: Any paint brush will work!

  • Old wash cloth/rag

  • Paint Pen: There are quite a few paint pen options out there, so you can try a few different ones until you find one that you like! No matter which brand you choose, I suggest purchasing oil based paint pens with a fine point. I have found that they are much easier to work with and create a more elegant look because the upstrokes are nice and thin. Purchase at: Hobby Lobby, Michaels, JoAnns, Amazon: Sharpie Oil Paint Pen, Molotow Acrylic Paint Marker, Elmer’s Paint Pen

  • Painter’s tape or laser level: I prefer to use a laser level when I create signs because it keeps my lines straight and doesn't get in the way while I'm writing. If you don't want to purchase a laser level, no problem! Painter's tape works perfectly fine as well!

  • Chalk pencil: A chalk pencil was my saving grace on my first sign order. This will allow you to draw out your letters first and make sure everything looks correct before you start to paint. I found mine on Amazon, but you can find these at any craft store. (*Note: these are not necessary, if you are comfortable doing freehand, you can skip this purchase!)

Now that you have all of your materials, it’s time to put paint to wood!

Step 1: Sand and Stain (if you purchased ready to use wood from a craft store, skip this step)

Sand and stain your wood to your preference. If you purchased lumber at a home improvement store and had them cut it for you, the edges may be a but raw. Simply take sand paper over the edges to smooth it out.

When staining your wood, simply take a paint brush and brush the stain on. While it is still wet, take an old cloth and wipe it off. Continue this process for the entire piece of wood until it is the color you like. It is best to let the stain dry overnight before writing on it.

Step 2: Place painters tape on your baseline.

Using your painters tape, create a baseline for your words. I typically do this towards the middle-bottom of the wood to give myself enough space below and above the line.

Step 3: Sketch

Using the white chalk pencil, outline your sign letters and make sure it looks exactly as you’d like. If you make a mistake, you can remove the white chalk pencil by taking a damp cloth and wiping it down.

Step 4: Paint!

Using the faux calligraphy techniques you’ve learned, start tracing your guidelines! My suggestion is to draw your letter first, create the thick down strokes, and then fill it in before you draw the next letter. I have found this is the best way for me to write, but you may like a different way. Try it out and see what works best for your style!

Congratulations! You made your own sign! If you tried the tutorial, please let me know how it went in the comments below!

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