DIY Carnival Marquee Letters

This project made by Karen, the bride from this gorgeous wedding, has to be one of my favorite DIY projects for any wedding. I had this tutorial bookmarked from Design Sponge, but I love how Karen put her twist on it inspired by these marquee letters sold at Urban. Love the vintage carnival feel to her final project! She used foam board (similarly to this DIY hand-lettered chalk sign), so it’s buttery to cut. The red background, large round bulbs and serif font choice really makes the carnival style come to life.

DIY vintage Carnival marquee letters wedding initials
What you’ll need:

– foam board and poster board, 2 sheets of each
– spray paint (metallic silver and red)
– G50 light bulbs (bought here, but also found in stores like here) *the bulbs pictured below were not the actual bulbs used in the final product – they are plastic ones found here
– hot glue
– C9 stringers (like these)
– printed letters (use serif font of your choice to achieve the same look) to desired size (just remember they need to fit your foam board!)
– cutting mat and x-acto knife

Karen first made a mockup with the wrappers and one with trial string lights:
DIY vintage Carnival marquee letters wedding initials
DIY vintage Carnival marquee letters wedding initials


Trace the printed letters onto the foam board to cut your letter shapes. With a pencil, mark the center of your letters for where the bulbs will go. The spacing of the bulbs will vary depending on how large your letters will be, so play around before cutting to determine what looks best. Make small holes on the center of each letter large enough to fit the outer rim of bulb sockets (to replicate these these vintage 20th century carnival signs) Here‘s a great tip on how to cut the circles on foam board. Spray paint your letters in rusty-red. Cut 4-5 inch wide strips of poster board and spray paint both sides in metallic silver. Glue the edges of you letters with your “metal” strips. Place the bulbs from the back and you’re done.

diy marquee vintage letter
For a more industrial look, you can patina the background of the letters with different layers and finishes of silver and white paint with a brush!