I Guess I Do

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How to Build a Wedding Photo Wall

Regardless of what Raquel says, I really did try to participate and pay attention to details throughout the wedding planning process. Sure, I may have “zoned out” during some moments (see: wedding invitations) but for the most part I was there. So near the end of the planning process we decided that we wanted to have a photo booth type experience for everyone to enjoy. But wouldn’t you know it, we ran out of money.

So I decided to take it upon myself to build a photo wall for us to use at the wedding. Mind you, at the time we were living in a 1 bedroom apartment, with no garage, a semi-covered outdoor patio space, and oh yeah, no power tools except for a drill! But thanks to the help of my dad and now father-in-law, the photo wall was finished the day of the wedding and turned out to be a huge hit! We added our own touch by making it an "Awkward Family Photo Wall" and displayed less than flattering pictures of us and our family over the years. We then bought a Polaroid Camera and let people take pictures themselves, rather than spend money on a photographer. We now have an album full of all the Polaroids and everyone's comments, which is priceless (for many reasons).

It was a great sense of accomplishment to see the finished product and I felt like I really contributed something meaningful to the wedding since so many people enjoyed it. I had “plans” and “ideas” of the materials I would need and the steps it would take to build the photo wall, but as they say, nothing goes as planned. This is designed to be a walkthrough of the process for you to create your own photo wall for your wedding. Your wall may require different materials or additional steps, but this is a great guide to help you through the process. And as with any project involving power tools, take all proper precautions and wear protective gear (glasses, gloves, etc.) when necessary.

1. Decide the size and layout of the photo wall you would like to have. It is very important to have a plan in place before beginning this project. Make sketches, draw pictures, and visualize what you want it to look like so you know what you are working toward.

2. Buy the materials for that size. We decided on 10 feet wide by 7 feet tall. I’ve seen other walls built 8 feet by 8 feet because it is easier to buy (2) 4’x8’ sheets of plywood and make the wall that way. But those of you who know my wife, know she is not that simple. So of course I had to make ours bigger.

Materials you will need: sheets of plywood, 1”x2” studs to frame the back of the wall for support, 4”x”4 beams for floor/leg support, 2”x4” studs for angled support between framing and floor beams, L brackets to join 4x4 to framing, screws, nails, fabric (or wall paper, depending on your preferred finish), wainscoting, chair rail, and picture frames (also sand bags or other weights to throw on the legs, just for extra precaution)

Tools needed: circular saw (jig saw or reciprocating saw also preferred to cut the windows), drill, hammer, screwdriver, sandpaper, glue, scissors, and staple gun

3. Now that you have the materials, you can begin the assembly. First, I framed the plywood with the 1”x2” studs, on all four sides, using screws every 8-10 inches. You will need to cut the studs to fit the size of your wall. This makes the wall stronger and will help maintain a true “wall” shape, otherwise the plywood is going to warp or bend and make it look crooked.

4. Decide how many and where you want the “windows” to be (When I refer to windows its actually going to be a picture frame, but its open, so you and your guests can stand behind the wall and make it look as if you are the ones in the picture). It helps to actually lay out the picture frames you have bought on the wall and tracing the inside of them to mark where cuts should be made. This should be done on the opposite side of where the framing is.

5. Cut the windows out along the lines you traced from the inside of the picture frames, using a jig saw or reciprocating saw. Use the sand paper to smooth the edges of the windows so there are no splinters or rough pieces of wood sticking out.

6. Next, attach 4”x4” beams to the bottom corner of the wall framing to become the floor support. To do this, use the L bracket and screws. For our wall, I used a 5” L bracket and 1” lag screws to join each 4x4 to the framing. Again, this is to be done on the back side of the wall.

7. Once the floor beams are attached, the ends of the 2”x4” beams need to be cut at an angle so one side will be flush with the floor beam and the other side will be flush with the framing of the wall. Screw the 2x4 in place using wood screws.

8. At this point, the wall should be free standing and ready to begin work on the front side. This is where your creativity and individualized look will come into play. We decided to buy a patterned fabric and use that as our “faux” wall paper. It took some time to match the pattern up on each of the three pieces (I told you she never makes things easy on me), but eventually it worked. We then attached the wainscoting to the bottom portion of the wall using wood glue and tack nails, added the chair rail using white screws so it could be removed easily, and finally added all of the picture frames to make the project complete. Whatever you decide to do, fabric or wall paper, the order should be: 1) wallpaper/fabric, 2)wainscoting and/or chair rail if desired, 3) picture frames.

This is a great way for the fellas to get involved in the wedding process. It ended up being more work than I expected, but as I said I felt a great sense of pride and accomplishment knowing I was able to contribute something fun to the wedding and the fact that the thing didn't fall apart. 


  1. Such great memories!! I cant believe how awesome your wall turned out! Where is this photo wall now?!

  2. Are you based in NZ and do you want to hire it to us!

  3. Hi, Just curious how you guys got it to the wedding venue. Was it completed there? Or was it made in pieces to put together easily? It looks huge and I want to do something similar. Thank you for the inspiration! You guys did a great job!

  4. My husband took the three separate pieces of wood to the venue in his Tahoe and then assembled them there that morning! Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  5. Mike his email is kyle@iguessido.com if you need specifics!