My college roommate asked me to design the chalkboard for her wedding this weekend. These are pretty standard at outdoor weddings and they’re all over Pinterest, so it seemed pretty straightforward. If all those Pinterest people can do it, how hard can it be? I have neat handwriting and am creatively inclined, so we figured we’d be done in an hour or so.
Dead wrong. Thinking all you need is neat handwriting to design a chalkboard for one of your best friend’s weddings is the same as thinking all you need to perform a route canal is opposable thumbs. First comes dental school, novocaine and insurance.
The following are 6 nuggets of wisdom I gleaned from what was the most stressful 6+ hours in recent history. If this list gets discovered by just one bride-to-be and/or her creatively-inclined bridesmaids with neat handwriting, this post was worth writing.
1. Chalkboard paint sucks. Use a real chalkboard. At least, don’t use chalkboard paint on scratchy, rough plywood. It sticks to the chalk so if you make a mistake and want to erase, you’re left with a cloud. You’ll try to erase the cloud with some water on a paintbrush, and it will seem like it’s working…until the water dries and there’s that damn cloud. We actually started whispering in a creepy voice to whoever thought she had succeeded in erasing something, “Wait till it dries….” and resorted to covering up the clouds with more chalkboard paint, using tiny paintbrushes to outline the final layer of chalk, as a ridiculously painstaking hack. Repeat: chalkboard paint sucks.
2. Regular chalk works well. Chalk paint is also pretty cool. You can get markers which are basically white paint in the form of a marker, which creates a smoother look than regular chalk, and is easier to control. Personally I found good, old-fashioned chalk to be easier to erase, and I like the look but it’s really whichever you feel looks better. If you opt for the markers make sure to buy enough because they can run out and then everyone loses their shit.
3. Plan the text and layout ahead of time. Make the bride send you precisely what is to be written on the board. Check to make sure all the names are spelled correctly. Check to make sure all married women have the correct last names. Even if the bride prepared this document, have her parents or the groom’s parents approve it. Even if she’s a really great elementary school teacher who has her shit together. Sketch the entire thing on paper first so you can all agree on the layout.
4. Sketch a grid. Bring rulers and draw horizontal lines to guide your writing. For the gridlines you can either use pencil or a very light-handed chalk that you can later erase. Also bring paper towels and water bottles for erasing. Small paintbrushes can be good for erasing as well.
5. Have the same person write everything on the same board. At least, the same person should write all the headers/titles, and the same person should write all the information. Otherwise the handwriting changes and it looks like someone suffered from a stroke and transitioned from flowery script to cartoony-bubble letters.
6. Remember that this doesn’t really matter and no one’s going to actually read the board besides the people whose names are written on it, and they’re already supposedly such good friends of yours anyway so they really shouldn’t be spending too much time at your wedding critiquing this damn board.
In the end our board came out great and it was a fun bonding experience . . . but for a solid chunk of time it felt like we were ruining the wedding before it even started. Don’t let that feeling happen to you. USE A REAL CHALKBOARD!
Congratulations, Laura & Jon!