Friday, October 16, 2015

Our DIY Wedding Bars

Many of you may remember the beautiful pallet-inspired bars that Josh built for our wedding, and today I'm finally getting around to posting the DIY tutorial!

Given our passion for creating, you may have thought that josh and I were going to go DIY crazy on our big day, but from early on in the planning process, we actually felt quite the opposite. With all the work and time that goes into planning a wedding, we really just wanted to sit back, relax, and leave all the crafting and decorating up to the pros. However, after spotting bars we loved on Pinterest (see here) and then striking out when trying to find anything even remotely similar at local rental companies, we did decide to take matters into our own hands and build the bars for the tent ourselves in order to get the look we wanted. We knew we would be spending lots of time down in Westport leading up to the wedding, so it was the perfect project to keep us busy while not totally stressing us out, and also allowed us to put a small handmade touch on our wedding day. I have to give josh most of the credit for this one - he really killed it when pulling those two massive bars together (8 ft each!) in just a couple short weekends while Mac and I mostly worked on our wedding tans. And knowing that so much of his sweat and tears went into them while seeing our guests laughing, toasting, and smiling around them on the night of our wedding was the best. Here's how to build them!

What you need:
*Makes two bars that each measure about 8 ft long, 4 ft high, and 3 ft deep. If you only need one bar, cut the below lumber needs in half. 
- box of 1 & 5/8 inch screws
- box of 2.5 inch screws
- 10 ft x 12 inch pine planks (6)
- 8 ft x 8 inch rough cut planks (12)
- 8 ft ceiling strapping boards (12 boards or 2 bundles)
- 8 foot 2x4s (8)
- 2 shelving brackets
- Polyurethane (satin) and staining brush

Building Steps: 
Step 1: Cut your 2x4s into pieces for the bar frames. For each bar, you will need 4 short pieces (26.5 inches), 9 medium pieces (41.5 inches), and 2 long pieces (8 feet). Once you count all these pieces out and put them together, you can see how the frame starts to take shape (photo below).
Step 2: Assemble the bar frame. Using an electric screwdriver, screw together the front and sides of your bar separately.
Step 3: Fill in the front of the bar with the wood planks. Since your front frame is already 8 feet long and your boards are the same length, no cutting is needed for this part! Just lie the boards down in the pattern/order that you want and then screw them into the frame. To get a similar look to our inspiration photo, we alternated the darker and thinner ceiling strapping boards with the wider rough cut boards to get a striped look. Don't worry if some boards don't quite line up with others, that's what will give the bars a unique, pallet-esque look!
Step 4: Lift the front of your bar upright and attach your two side frames. You may need two people for this to hold everything sturdy.
Step 5: Measure the exact depth of your bar with the side frames attached and then cut your remaining boards to that length (for us this was 30 inches long). We used the same alternating plank method that we used for the front.
Step 6: Add the bar top! For this step, we couldn't find boards big enough to cover the entire surface of the bar, so used three 10 foot x 12 inch boards lined up to create each bar top. To attach the boards, center all three of them on the bar and then drill them into the frame. Since the boards are 10 feet and the bar is only 8 feet, the boards will hang quite a far ways off each side of the bar and look a little silly at first. Just cut them to your desired length! We cut about 4 inches off each side, and in hindsight probably should have done this before nailing them down. As a final step, josh also added a shelving bracket underneath to make the bar surface more level and stabilize it in case someone leaned on the middle to have a drink.
Step 7: Sand & polyurethane. Unless your bars are going to be left outside, you only really need to do this to the tops of the bar. This will keep guests from getting any unwanted splinters and also will protect the bar from any spills or water marks. Since it's such a larger surface, an electric sander definitely comes in handy here! We loved the natural look of the raw wood, but you could also paint or stain the entire bar in a color that matches your style.
Step 8: Enjoy! On the day of our wedding, the bars looked beautiful. I loved their weathered look, all their imperfections, and how they made such a statement in our tent while also tying in with everything else perfectly.
^ last 4 photos via Brumley & Wells

So although we stayed fairly hands-off when it came to executing the decor for our big day, I'm glad that we were able to create at least one major element ourselves. And ask for all those other pretty DIY details you may have seen, there's more to come on those!

P.S. if you are planning a wedding or event and are in need of bars, certainly let us know! They are safely stored away in our barn in Westport and ready for much more use. :)