Sunday, January 30, 2011

DIY Photo-Booth Alternative

It seems like photo booths are showing up at more and more weddings lately. Ian even looked into renting one for the Winter Ball that he was planning at SAHS...but then he found out they could be a bit pricey. Jessie (my little sister) really wanted a photo booth for her wedding in April but it just wasn't working out. Then a light went on! I remembered an incredible wedding blog I had StumbledUpon a few months ago. The most beautiful barn wedding you've ever seen with a perfect photo booth alternative...a photo-wall! Yes, a photo-wall. It's beautiful, unique, memorable, and oober-fun for the guests. I only wish we had thought of it for our own wedding. We had until April to build one for Jessie, but then Ian realized that this would be perfect for his Winter Ball...and a perfect excuse to buy all kinds of power tools and man-toys. So a project that I thought would take a couple weeks, took us less than a week! Our workspace was makeshift (to say the least) and the weather was a hindrance, but we got it done.

Here's what we did...

First, we bought picture frames, toys (ahem, tools), and materials and
started a fire to keep us warm in the mudroom/man-cave/workspace.

Then we played with power tools...I mean, cut the pieces we needed to build our frame. I think we both have a secret crush on the new miter saw.

Then we assembled the frame.
Ian absolutely loves the new dog bone wrench my dad got for him.

We knew we would need some sort of base for this thing so we hinged 2 2x4's to the frame that we can collapse for easy this point we were very proud because we thought we had thought of everything!

Here's the frame, completed. We hinged the middle of the frame on the top and bottom so that we could fold it for easier carrying, as well. I don't like it, but those 2x4's have to get screwed in every time we put it together for support. This was a point of contention for Ian and me (yes, it's me not I) because I didn't want to keep screwing and unscrewing things, but he won in the end. I still don't like it, but it works!

Next step, get the frames together! I couldn't wait for this part! It was finally coming together. We really scored with our frames. We got a long, ornate gold frame from an antique shop for $12. Pricey, but it was too perfect to pass up. Then, we found a beauty at the Black Rose (one of our new favorite antique shops). This one was expensive, but we love it so much that when all of the weddings and balls are over, it is going to find a home at Quaint Oaks. We got one frame at the thrift shop for $2 that had a mirror in it. The frame is junk but someone did a bangin' job with the mirror. It was sealed in the with the sticky super glue...I didn't know if we'd get it out but a with my utility knife and strong fingers, I finally picked it all off.

We traced the holes of the frames onto our plywood. It took me forever to pick an arrangement. I'm still not sure if I like it, but I have grown to accept that I'm indecisive and never happy with my own work.

Here is where Ian's second toy tool makes an appearance. Drum roll please...the jigsaw!

Lucky for Ian, he got to really put his jigsawing skills to the test.

Ta-da! This was a very exciting moment.

Ok, so this was the point where we knew we were either going to do this or we would have to throw in the towel. We originally wanted to wallpaper the wall so it would have vintage look. Have you tried looking for wallpaper recently? Don't. It doesn't exist. We would have had to order it. My wheels started turning...fabric! We would put fabric on the wall. We were in JoAnn's (my new favorite store) and I started questioning the appearance of fabric on knotty the wheels started to turn again. Felt lining! We bought Loctite spray adhesive. The directions said to spray and let it sit for 10 minutes until it got tacky. This didn't seem to matter with our materials so we just sprayed and laid.
...the fumes are a killer so open a window

We used a wood block to smooth out all of our wrinkles and sags.

Once that was dry, it was time to put on the beautiful prints that we bought. The colors are awesome. I ironed out all of the folds...I hate to iron. Then we sprayed and laid it onto the felt liner.

You might have noticed that the plywood is not 6'x6' like the frame. It was actually 3'x6' so we had to figure out a way to do this in 2 pieces. Chair rail! One piece of plywood would be the bottom half with a solid color fabric (we went with blue) and baseboard, and then the top would be this beautiful semi-damask print with beautiful spring colors and a crisp white chair rail molding. Beautiful!

The next thing we had to do was cut holes in the fabric where the frames would be. Ian stapled the fabric back so it wouldn't get saggy in the back.

I just thought this looked cool.

Ah! Something that finally resembled a future photo-wall!

We decided to put hooks on the back of the two pieces of plywood which would then hang on the frame that we built. This worked perfectly!

The only problem was lining it up just right.

Still not quite there, yet...but getting closer.

We went through some trials with hanging the frames. First, we hung them just as you would any other frame, but when we realized that people would probably be reaching through some of the spaces, we would need to attach them better. We ended up just screwing them in from behind the plywood.

So, here it is...our almost-photo-wall. Still plenty to do.

My obsessiveness would not rest until the back got cleaned up so pulled out my handy dandy spray adhesive and added some black felt. Doesn't that just give it the polished look it needed. I'm sure that the people taking pictures will be very happy that I took the time and the care to do're all welcome.

Yep, gotta cut out the frame-holes. We just cut little slits to slip the hooks through so you wouldn't see any screws or anything. Thankfully, Ian is very patient with my undiagnosed OCD.

You might have noticed in the picture that started it all, that there was a beautiful silky semi-sheer fabric. I looked all over JoAnn and could not match a print to our "wallpaper" so I just bought a light fabric that matched the yellow and green that runs through our photo-wall. I'm still not sure if I'm thrilled with how this came out, but part of me thinks it looks better with it than without.

We used these great decorative tacks to hold it in place. It's all about appearances, after all.

Added some molding. Doesn't the fabric in the frames look nice?

Added the other frames...but still short some pictures.

Finally, some baseboard and crown molding and I think we're done! Doesn't it look great? Sorry we couldn't get a better shot. The mudroom/man-cave/workspace didn't allow enough room to get a straight shot, but you get the idea.

We love the way it came out! It will make it's big debut this weekend at Ian's Winter Ball. If all goes well, it will make a special appearance at Jessie's wedding. Can't you just see your face poking through those frames???

UPDATE: Last night Ian and I set up the photo wall at his high school's Winter Ball. I have to admit, not everyone used it...there were about 700 kids at the dance! But, the ones who did really got a kick out of it! They loved the props that we there. I think Jessie will love it for the wedding!


  1. This is cool! I think adults at a wedding would really get a kick out of working the poses!

  2. Thanks! We think people will love it. I wish we had thought of it for our DIY wedding!

  3. Love it! We are going to use your idea for my daughter's photography-themed Sweet 16. Thanks for posting it!

  4. This is such a fun idea! Great for weddings, so happy I came across it now while I'm planning mine :D

  5. This is the best blog/siy tutorial for a photo booth wall that I have seen (and I have looked at SOOOOO many).
    - thanks!

  6. That was a beautiful frame that really suitable for a photobooth especially on parties for sure your friends will also enjoy having pictures with this props.

  7. Hello! Any chance you still have this photobooth and would be willing to sell or rent it out? I"m getting married in October, and before I start making my own thought I would ask! Thanks!

  8. Oksana, I emailed a while back but I'm not sure you ever got it. Sorry! We are absolutely interested in selling! I guess your wedding has passed, but if anyone else is interested, we can definitely work something out.

  9. Hello... love the wall.... can you tell me where you got the frames??

  10. Hi am interested in buying before we start making ours. Is it still available?

    How much?

    And u said it's collapsible right?

    Thanks Melissa

    If so please email me

  11. I am very enjoyed because of this blog. Its an educational topic. It help me quite definitely to resolve some problems. Its opportunity are so fantastic and working style so photo booth Sunshine Coast