Light Columns à la Martha

My wedding planner found these fantastic light column instructions on Spoiler alert: this was an expensive project! But, I wasn’t allowed to hang anything in our reception venue, and for the price, I was happy with the unique visual element these added to our reception. I’ll probably reuse them for a homemade photo booth in the future, and the lanterns and lights can be used again and again for other purposes.


Challenge: Because our venue was inside, I couldn’t just shove some dowel rods into the ground. I needed a system that could adequately support the columns while keeping them upright, yet be easily disassembled for transportation in my car.

Here’s what I used: 

  • 3/4″ dowel rods instead of 1″ (I found dowels longer than 48″ at Menard’s),
  • Terracotta pots turned upside down for the base (the hole in the bottom is a nearly perfect fit for the 3/4″ dowel rod)
  • Pool noodles (another near perfect fit for the 3/4″ dowel rod!)
  • (32) 14″ lanterns sourced from Luna Bazaar for $60.60 including $11 shipping
  • (8) strands of white Bridal Lights

Before the wedding, I:

  • Unwrapped all of the lanterns
  • Painted the pots
  • Cut the noodles with an x acto knife and bundled them together with masking tape
  • Miter-sawed the dowel rods to size and masking-taped the stringed lights to the dowel rods

My planner assembled the pieces at the venue and voilà!

Total Cost for 8 Columns: $200 (or $25 per column)


Embroidery Hoop Decor Spheres

spheresMy wedding planner found DIY instructions for decor spheres and recommended that I make them for my guest tables. It turned out to be a brilliant way to add texture, variety and more of my color scheme to the tables.

Challenge: I had trouble sourcing the embroidery hoops in the right sizes. Perhaps my local craft store had a swarm of embroiderists hit before I visited for this project because now they seem to have plenty of hoops in all sorts of sizes.

Solution: I ended up buying additional hoops online from Hobby Lobby for $0.99 each. To make 6 larger and 6 smaller spheres, I bought 12 each of 4″ hoops and 6″ hoops.

I followed the DIY instructions for decor spheres, using thumb tacks to secure the hoops, and painted the hoops instead of staining them. In hindsight, I think it would be much easier to paint the hoops before assembling the spheres.

Total cost for 12 spheres: $35


Papier-Mâché Wall-Mount Zebra Head

It’s probably not the nicest thing to say, but when I saw this $69 papier-mâché zebra head on my best friend’s baby registry, my first thought was…

I could make that for way cheaper.

And I wanted to! A quick search on Pinterest led me to this tutorial gem, and I followed the DIY instructions almost to a T (in other words, I skipped the podging because I didn’t have any Modge Podge and applied two layers of white base paint instead).

I already had everything else for this project idling around the house, except for the $4 wood plaque and $1 hanging cleat I bought from Pat Catans:

  • Flour and water for the paste
  • Plastic bags I’d neglected to recycle and blue painter’s tape for creating the initial shapes
  • Strips of brown paper shipping fill for the papier-mâché layers
  • Cardboard from a used box for the backing
  • Leftover black chalkboard paint and white wall paint


The hardest part of this project was painting the chevron stripes. I free-handed them because it was too difficult to tape off on the curved surface of the zebra head. (If you are not good at painting, this project is probably not for you!)

Total Cost: $5!


Hand-Lettered Chalkboard Signage

Creating your own signage is a great way to spice up any party for minimal cost. Several years ago, I created a giant chalkboard by purchasing a whiteboard and painting it with chalkboard paint (I couldn’t find a nice large chalkboard at the time). I knew I could use all of that space to my advantage for signage at our wedding reception.

There are two tricks to a good hand-written chalkboard: (1) a chalk marker and (2) planning sketches. Regular chalk is messy and hard to control. A chalk marker is easy to use and will allow you to create precise clean lines. And, the marker erases almost as easily as as regular chalk.

My Plan of Attack:chalkboard-sketch-E

  • Searched “chalkboard lettering” on Pinterest and found several signs and lettering examples for inspiration.
  • Narrowed down inspiration to examples I felt I could somewhat replicate.
  • Sketched out my design in pencil on paper, adjusting until I was happy.
  • Sketched out my design and the letters VERY faintly with regular chalk onto the board.
  • Went over the sketch with the chalk marker, erasing the regular chalk marks along the way.

Final Results:

chalkboard-1-E chalkboard-2-E