It’s definitely wedding season, and brides everywhere are looking for easy and inexpensive ways to personalize their events with handmade touches (like the handmade wedding invitations I shared with you last week). To help with that effort, I’ve come up with a really neat luminaria idea that’s super easy to make, and they can cost less than $5 each. Sweet and elegant, these candle-lit centerpieces can be personalized with the bride and groom’s name and/or photo, and are sure to be the talk of the reception!
Start with three 5″ x 7″ frames in a color to match your wedding decor. The best source for these is your local dollar store, where you can often pick up simple frames for one dollar each. You can also look for bulk lots on eBay. Remove the backing from each frame and discard (or stash them away in case you want to disassemble the luminarias after the wedding and use them as frames again).
You will need a 5″ x 7″ piece of translucent vellum paper for each frame. You can use regular white vellum here, or a pretty printed vellum (check your local scrapbook stores for lots of options). For a really personal touch, though, print a design onto the vellum. Here are some ideas:
- a photo of the bride and groom
- the bride and groom’s name
- the date of the wedding
- a special message from the couple to the guests
- the table number
- a special poem or saying
- an image depicting the theme of the wedding
If you print on the vellum, I suggest printing on the BACK of the paper, in reverse, so that the black ink isn’t as stark on the paper. This will allow the design to glow softly from behind in the candlelight. Just remember when printing on the back of the paper that you’ll need to print your design in REVERSE, so that it doesn’t look backwards when you’re done!
Now take some 3/4″ wide ribbon and cut three pieces of it that are about 1 inch shorter than your frame is tall. The thinner the material that the ribbon is made of, the better it will work, because you want it to be able to fold easily. In other words, don’t use fancy, thick satin or grosgrain ribbon, because it won’t be easy to work with. I actually had really good results with acetate ribbon, which is really thin and almost like plastic (and very cheap!)
Line up two of the frames very close together, and use a hot glue gun to apply a bead of glue near the edge of each frame. (Hint: do not use a low-temp gun, or else the glue will probably set before you finish. A high-temp glue gun will work much better.)
Very quickly put a piece of ribbon down over the glue and press it into place. Once cool, lift the frame up and test to be sure that the ribbon hinge is working as you expect it to.
Repeat the process, joining the third frame to the other two. Then add one more piece of ribbon to the side of the third frame, but make sure that you leave half of it hanging over the edge. This will become your last hinge in a few minutes when we join the frames together in a triangle.
With your ribbons attached, go ahead and put the vellum sheets into the frames and secure with the frame clips or with small pieces of tape.
Now fold the last piece of ribbon up, making a crease. If the crease won’t hold, and it’s a fabric ribbon, you might want to press the crease with a warm iron. (Note – Do not use an iron on acetate ribbon, and do not touch the frame with the iron, or else you might damage the surface.)
Stand the frames up and bring the two ends together, making sure that your creased ribbon will meet the other end of the first frame.
Take your hot glue gun and run a bead of glue down the inside of the first frame, put the ends of the frames together, and use a metal ruler to press the ribbon down into the glue. And that’s it, you’re done!
To use the luminaria, just place it over a lit votive candle in a glass holder on the table. For safety reasons, make sure the candle is in the center, and not touching any one side of the luminaria. (Or to be extra safe, you can use battery operated tea lights)
The soft flickering light from the candle will light up your vellum and the table will look gorgeous!
P.S. Are you thinking of putting disposable cameras on your reception tables? Save money and just collect all those digital photos your guests took at your wedding instead! Sign up for an online photo sharing account, then create little info cards to remind your guests where to upload their pics. Then display those cards right on the tables in our camera-shaped PicShare Boxes! Learn more about them at PicShareBoxes.com.