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When planning for our wedding, we very quickly realized how RIDICULOUS the cost would be. It seemed that anything with the word “wedding” or “bridal” in front of it instantly tripled in price. Oh, you would like to purchase a pair of blue shoes? Maybe $80. Blue BRIDAL shoes? Make that $250.
We tried to cut costs where we could. We had close friends work on digital design and calligraphy, and we asked relatives to help out with sewing projects. We also turned to DIY for many of our reception decorations. One of my favorite DIY projects from our rustic/nautical-inspired wedding was the hand-painted table number project. We mixed and matched centerpieces (about half were floral and half were DIY painted bottles), but the table numbers tied it all together. Check out the plans below:
Tree Limbs – We aimed for approximately 6” in diameter and enough length for about 1.5” width for each slice needed.
Orbital Sander and Sandpaper
Number Stencils – We went with Craftsmart 2” Alphabet Paper Stencils from Michael’s.
Fine Detail Brush
2” Paint Brush
Paint for Numbers – We chose an off-white paint.
Polyurethane – We chose a satin finish.
Now let’s get to it!
We started out by stomping through the woods in a drizzling rain (I wouldn't recommend that part). I let Adam operate the chain saw, and we made sure to get long enough limbs to have a little extra, as you never know if a slice will crack or if you (Ahem…your future husband) will cut it crooked. We took the tree limbs back to the shop and cut about 25 - 1.5” slices. We used the chainsaw for this step, but a chop saw or miter saw would do the job, if your blade is big enough. If you have the time, let the slices dry out for a few days before painting. We chose to use fallen limbs vs. cutting live limbs off the tree, which gave our wood a chance to dry out before our project.
Using the orbital sander, sand both sides of each slice. If you’re crunched for time, just focus on the side you will be painting. We used 100 grit sandpaper to achieve a smooth finish.
Once your slices are smooth, begin the stenciling. I would recommend setting aside any wider slices for the double digit numbers. Start out by tracing the stencils with a pencil. Trust us – We attempted a couple by just painting over the stencil, and ended up with a very sloppy finish.
Using the fine detail brush, carefully paint within the pencil guidelines. I opted to paint directly over the pencil line, so I didn’t have to sand the pencil marks away afterwards. Repeat for however many table numbers you will need – We made 20!
Allow the paint to dry for a day or so, and move on to the polyurethane. Using the 2” paintbrush, apply a thin coat of polyurethane directly over the painted numbers, and over the entire surface of the slice, to create a clean satin finish. We didn’t experience any problems with the paint bleeding, but please let us know in the comment section if this happens to you! If you want both sides of the slices to have a finished look, apply polyurethane to the opposite side the following day. We opted to do just the front, as the back side would be hidden against the centerpieces.
Finally, we had some issues with bark chipping off, and I really wanted the raw look of bark around the edges of the wood slices. To fix this problem, Adam used a nail gun to reattach bark where we could, and we borrowed some donor bark (totally made up that phrase) from the extra slices we had cut. Voilà!