DIY Chalkboard Wedding Signs : A Simple Hack

Wedding decor – it’s sold everywhere. For the most part, if you’re not looking for something completely out of the box or super custom, you can find what you need at a store near you. However, wedding signs are a different story. Nobody is going to use a welcome sign without the couple’s names on it, or the date the event is being held. Bar signs need to be made specially for what types of alcohol you’re providing, and the list goes on. Wedding signs almost always have to be customized specifically for each event, and this could wind up being a HUGE expense.

When I got married in August, I wanted a rustic, vintage feel (as I’ve mentioned just a few times in my last few posts). I knew from the get-go that I wanted a bunch of matching signs throughout the venue, and I wanted them all to look like vintage chalkboards. Now, chalkboards might not be YOUR thing, but the same premise stands for all weddings. Whether you’re looking for vintage wood signs, glamorous gold calligraphy on crisp white backgrounds, tons of bright colors, WHATEVER your vision may be, you’ll want to keep it consistent throughout your event, and you’ll most likely pay up the nose for it if you don’t DIY.

Quotes for a 22×28” poster sign were running me between $100-140 and smaller 8.5×11” anywhere from $40-60…and that was just on Etsy! I can’t imagine what a designer or event planner would charge (but I am guessing it would be at least 50% higher). Figuring I wanted 2 large signs (one to welcome by guests and one to tell them where to sit) and 5 small ones (for the gift and place card tables, programs, photo booth, and bar), I was looking at spending over $500 on signage… NOT INCLUDING THE FRAMES!

I dug a little deeper and found a bunch of vendors that would make a PDF of a sign for $10-40 for print at home versions. But those all seemed very cookie cutter, and I was still going to have to pay for the card stock and printing. It seemed cheaper at first, but when I did the math, it was hardly a savings for something that didn’t quite live up to my vision. Again, just as I did with my paper flower place cards and my envelope calligraphy I decided I could DIY.

How to DIY Your Own Chalkboard Wedding Signs – The BIG Ones

In this section, I am going to give you the step-by-step of how I constructed my own DIY vintage chalkboard posters for my wedding. I’ll show you the materials needed, how to use each one to get your desired look, and even how to save a few bucks during the process.


Keep in mind that the chalkboard signs were MY vision, and they might not necessarily be yours. You can STILL use this tutorial, just tweak the colors you use to get the desired effect (ie: I used black posterboard – try using white if you’re going for a more modern, crisp look). The steps are the same for any sign, so feel free to be creative with the color pallet.

For this project you will need the following:

Step 1: Getting The Font Just Right

  • Decide what fonts you like for your poster. Just like I mentioned in my calligraphy tutorial, you can download fonts for free here. Find a few that work well for your desired theme, and download them.
  • Next, go into Word and set up a new document. Make sure the paper orientation is set up as “LANDSCAPE”. Type in the first few lines of your sign.
    • Example: My sign started with “Welcome to the wedding of”. I used  the font Chalk Hand Lettering Shaded in size 225pt for the “Welcome To” portion. Then, I switched to the font Baskerville Old Face (in all caps) size 145pt for “THE WEDDING OF” portion. Altogether, this fit on 3 separate sheets of paper.
  • Now, print the document.

Step 2: Tracing the Font onto Your Poster

  • Take the fonts you just printed and place them on top of your graphite transfer paper (with the graphite part facing down).

DIY Chalkboard Sign

  • Now, place the first couple words exactly where you’d like them to appear on your poster (with the graphite paper still face down behind them). Once you have them in place, take a pen or pencil (something sharp) and trace on top of them. You’ll only need to trace the outline of the fonts.

DIY Chalkboard Sign

  • Finally, take both the fonts and graphite paper off of your poster. Voila! You should see a pencil-like outline of the words that look exactly like printed fonts.

DIY Chalkboard Sign

  • Complete all the parts in Step 2 for the rest of your poster. Then, you should have a pencil-drawn outline of where all the text will be on your poster.
    • (For those of you that are wondering, for our names I used Nenuphar of Venus size 400pt font. And for our date, I used Baskerville Old Face (in caps) size 145pt font.)

Step 3: Making the Font Look Like Chalk

  • Use your white gel pen to trace over the penciled outline of each word on your poster. If there are little lines or shading with the font you used (if you used Chalk Hand Lettering Shaded font like I did, you will have these) make sure to fill these in, too. This is the finest pen you’ll use, so make sure all the delicate parts of the letters are done with this pen.

DIY Chalkboard Sign

  • Next, fill in all the spaces (large/non delicate parts of the lettering) with your white paint pen. You could do it all with the gel pen, but it would take MUCH longer and wouldn’t give it the “chalky” look the thick paint pen seems to give.

DIY Wedding Sign

Step 4: Adding Embellishments to Your Chalkboard Sign

  • This step is optional, but tends to give signs that added touch that makes them pop. Here is where you can add olive branches, flowers, curly qs, whatever it is that goes with the theme of the wedding. For mine, I added roses and green branches, so I will teach you how to do these.
  • First, decide where you want to place the flowers (mine are at the top and bottom of the sign). Then, get out your acrylic paints, and a plate to mix them on.  DIY Chalkboard Sign
  • My wedding colors were purples and blues. So for my flowers, I used dark blue, purple, and white paints. Just with these 3 colors, I was able to make all the different hues I needed.
  • Next, to make roses like I did, start with a dot in the middle (usually your darkest color). Then, take another color and use your paintbrush to paint in a sweeping motion counter clockwise around the center dot – just one stroke.
    • Repeat this step next with another color, and with a clockwise stroke. sign7
  • Keep painting with different hues in alternating clockwise and counter clockwise strokes around the center dot until you have your desired size of rose. DIY Chalkboard Sign
  • Add branches and leaves as desired. Again, make sure you have 2 different color hues for your greenery, as well as white, to mix colors and give your embellishments that lifelike feel.
  • Lastly, take a piece of chalk and lightly rub the long end over the surface of the poster. Take a paper towel and wipe off any parts that have too much chalk on it to give it that “vintage/worn” vibe. Rustic Wedding Sign

And there you have it! All the tips and tricks on how to make large, vintage chalkboard signs. I used these steps not only for the “Welcome” sign at my wedding, but for our “Choose a Seat, not a side” poster. I have seen these also used at buffet tables, as well, instead of printing individualized menus when serving a buffet.

Next, I’ll show you how to hack the smaller, more intricate signs. The steps above can be replicated for the smaller signs, but I found it to be too tedious for anything smaller than 16×20”. Instead, try my tricks below.

How to DIY Your Own Chalkboard Wedding Signs – The SMALL Ones

Rustic Wedding Sign Rustic Wedding Sign For this project you will need the following:

There are 2 different ways you can go about making smaller chalkboard signs, with elaborate fonts and pictures. The first way only requires a home printer, and the second, even easier way, utilizes a Silhouette Cameo machine and sketch pen. If you’re an avid crafter, I HIGHLY recommend investing in one of these machines (I’ll explain my reasoning in a post soon). In any case, I’ll show you how to make them at home both ways.

Using a Printer to Help Create Small Chalkboard Signs

  • First, pick the fonts you like and arrange your sign in a Word document. Keep in mind the borders, if you’ll be using any frames. Make sure you’ll be able to see the entire text once you put the signs the frames.
  • Next, make sure your text is entirely in BLACK. Load your black cardstock into your printer and press print (Often, you have to give cardstock a little extra push into the printer when printing. It’s heavier than normal paper, and often hard for the printer to pick up through the machine without an extra push). chalkboard sign
  • Once printed, the text should show up on the black cardstock a bit darker than the background. Now, use your white gel pen to to trace and fill in the lettering and any pictures. chalkboard sign
    • Feel free to add embellishments as you wish, with the acrylic paints as explained in the poster tutorial above. I did not do any embellishments on the small signs for my wedding.
    • Again, as in the tutorial above, take a piece of chalk and lightly rub the long end over the surface of the cardstock. Take a paper towel and wipe off any parts that have too much chalk on it to give it that “vintage/worn” vibe. chalkboard sign
    • And that’s it! Easier than you thought, huh? Chalkboard sign

Silhouette Cameo – Using the White Drawing Pen to Create Small Chalkboard Signs

  • Go into your Silhouette Cameo program and make sure you create a document that has the same dimensions as your cardstock (8.5×11”).
  • Use the Text tool to create the wording you want, and the shapes tool to add any designs you want.
    • Again, pay attention to the margins of the design, and make sure you leave enough room for everything to show if you are planning to put this into a frame.
  • Once you have the sign exactly as you like it, go up to the top of the screen. In the menu bar where it says SILHOUETTE, click. Then in the drop down menu, click on CUT SETTINGS.
    • A new menu will show up on the right side of your screen. Scroll down to where it says MATERIAL TYPE. Scroll to the bottom and click on MATERIAL (this allows you to add the sketch pen as your printer choice). Click on CARDSTOCK, then SKETCH PEN under editing tools. Perfect! silhouette sketch pen
  • Once you have everything set to sketch pen in your system, head over to the Silhouette printer and make sure you replace the cutting tool with your white sketch pen (tip down, cap off).

silhouette sketch pen

  • Now, place a piece of black cardstock on the cutting mat. Stick it to the surface in the upper left corner. Then place the mat in the mouth of the printer and press the LOAD button on the right side of the Silhouette. Your paper is now ready for printing. silhouette sketch pen
  • After the sketch pen and paper are loaded, finally, press on the bottom bottom of the CUT SETTINGS menu that says SEND TO SILHOUETTE.
    • Your paper will take about 5 minutes to print. Once done, you will have a perfect white outline of your text and pictures. Now all you need to do is fill it all in with your white gel pen.
    • Again, add embellishments with your acrylic paint as wanted/needed, and once dry, lightly rub the long end of a piece of chalk over the surface of the cardstock. Take a paper towel and wipe off any parts that have too much chalk on it to give it that “vintage/worn” vibe. And that, my friends, is all she wrote. chalkboard sign

At first, the Silhouette option seems cumbersome. I promise you,though, as you become more proficient with your machine and start playing with what it can do, it becomes a much quicker way to complete your small chalkboard signs.

Wrapping Up DIY Chalkboard Wedding Signs

At the end of the day, DIY signs are not just for weddings, but for any occasion. They not only customize your event, but they save you from paying someone else hundreds of dollars to customize it for you. Please take creative liberties with the tutorial above.

If you’re looking for Chalkboard signs, but with lots of color, use different color gel and paint pens instead of white. If chalkboards aren’t your thing, play with the color of the poster board and cardstock as well as the pen colors. Add embellishments that go with the theme of your event, and these DIY tutorials can help you add that special touch to any event you plan.

Again, all of the supplies you need for the DIY signs can easily be sourced through Amazon (my saving grace of a website!). Below is a quick supply list summary and some links to help you get started.

Comments

  1. julie h. says

    how did you get the font to be size 225 or 145 and still fit on a page? Even in landscape that isn’t working for me. Did you just line up the pieces as best you could? Also wondered what your thoughts were on using foam board as apposed to poster board. Thanks so much! Love your blog!!

    • says

      Hey Julie,

      Ah! Love the kind words. Thank you!! As for the font size, you’re absolutely right. I made the margins as small as possible (in a landscape setting) and put as many letters as would fit on a page. Then, once I printed everything out, I cut off the excess paper, lined up the letters, and taped the pieces together. This way, there’s no way they’ll move when you’re tracing them and you’ll be assured everything will line up on your poster! And with the foam board, you can’t go wrong. It’s just as great as poster board, except it’s too thick to frame. If you’re planning on framing the finished product (and taking out the glass to look like a chalkboard) go with poster board. If you want it to stand up on it’s own, without a frame, go for foam board. Hope this helps!!

  2. says

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  3. Kari says

    Great tutorial! I didn’t see the font name mentioned that you used for your names. Could you please share that info? Thanks!

  4. Sarah Turner says

    What were the Fonts you use to make your Bar Menu? If you could share that info? Thank you for the tutorial.

  5. Loretta says

    Simply Awesome tutorial! Just what I needed …amazing detail! Thanks so much for sharing… I will be back to your wonderful site very soon!

  6. Syrie Marcum says

    Another idea, I bought old cupboard doors at our local ReStore (Habitat for Humanity) for $0.50 each & did your idea for the center of them. They worked great (after cleaning literally years of kitchen grime off; YUCK!) & I saved MAJOR money! I’m doing these for my youngest daughter’s wedding next year. Thank you for all the GREAT ideas & sources!

  7. Linda says

    Loved the information and am almost finished with who signs! NOTE- that everyone else may have figured out before spending money on graphite paper you can’t use: when using chalkboard paint (wedding is outdoors in Georgia so couldn’t use poster board due to humidity). BLACK graphite paper does NOT SHOW UP ON THE BOARD. So- back to the store again & fingers crossed white paper works.

  8. Heather says

    This was the most helpful tutorial EVER! My fiance and I just made 5 different signs for our wedding. ALL of the materials (including the frames) was less than $125! You’re a life saver! 🙂

  9. Clare says

    LOVE this blog 🙂

    Would this all work on MDF spray painted with Blackboard Paint?
    I’m really hoping that you’ll say yes – I don’t see why it wouldn’t as the paint isn’t porous – but maybe you tried it and it didn’t work?

    Thanks in advance!
    x

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