How to Make A Memories Map for a Wedding Display
Beyond the practical wedding items, such as welcome signs, cake stands or your order of service, a large part of wedding planning is trying to find beautiful displays and ideas which represent you as a couple.
I made this Memories Map to display at our wedding. It highlights specific locations which have been key in our relationship. Where we met, where we first lived when we moved in together, where we first went on holiday, where we got engaged etc. It can be as many or as few different places as you like. Perhaps you just want the first date, the yes date and the wedding date. Or perhaps you want more key events such as buying your first home, getting your first pet, or welcoming your children into the world and becoming a family. It’s a lovely way to give your guests a bit more of an insight into your relationship and it can be a lovely keepsake to display at home after the wedding too.
My design is huge, A0, but smaller options with fewer dates would work just as well. It could be a simple as the place you met or the place you are getting married, or it could be a whole range of events and moments you've shared in between. Your frame could be a range of different shapes too. Maybe long and thin or a square with 4 places of note. Maybe you'd prefer it to be round or even a miss matched collection of different frames. Anything is possible with this DIY, let your creativity run wild!
What you will need
Map squares from your memorable places. I used photo squares which were print screens from openstreetmap.org. You can easily zoom into the area you want and then take a print screen and cropped the image. Once you’re happy simply upload it to your photo printing site, I used Vistaprint 5 x 5 inch squares but there are obviously other options out there which you might prefer. Look for discount codes too, photo sites often have offers around big events so it might be worth waiting a couple of weeks in case an offer pops up. Alternatively if you have a good home printer and suitable paper you can do this yourself at home.
Text/lettering. I used a removable adhesive vinyl and my Cricut digital cutting machine to design and cut the lettering on my piece. If you are considering investing in a Cricut or similar machine I've previously written a post about the different options which might be useful. You can read it here. However if you don’t have a Cricut and aren't aren't keen to splash out, there are other options so don’t think this DIY isn’t for you! One is to buy your vinyl lettering from a third party seller on Facebook, Etsy, Ebay etc. You can generally get them reasonably cheaply, but shop around because as with any purchase online there are good and bad sellers and sellers with a range of price points. The other would be to use a stencil, stamp or try freehand painting your letters. You could make a stencil yourself by printing your text, tracing the letters on the reverse of the paper with chalk (coloured if your background is white) and then flipping the paper back over and rubbing across the front to transfer the chalk text outline on to the background. When you have painted all the text, you can easily just rub the chalk outline away using a slightly damp piece of cloth. I have previously used this method to create our wedding welcome sign and you can read about it further here.
A Frame. My frame is huge but I picked it up so cheaply from a seller on Facebook Marketplace. It wasn’t in the best condition, the back had been cut off to remove what was originally in the frame and there were grease marks on the card etc. For what I was planning none of these really mattered though and it meant I spent £3 rather than the £20-30 I would have spent if I’d bought something this size brand new.
Glue Stick. When it comes to glue sticks I believe that you get what you pay for. A lot of the cheaper ones are water based and will see your paper curl upwards rather than stick to the surface you intend.
A Background. If your frame comes with a plain white card insert (or you can get card to fit) then you can use this. Alternatively, as mine was a bit grubby and I didn't want to spend more money to replace it, you can paint the backing board of the frame instead. I used white emulsion paint I had left over from some house jobs and a sponge. You could use a paintbrush but I found that a sponge gave a nicer finished effect.
Template to shape your maps. I used a heart but you could opt for a circle, a star or perhaps the outline of your favourite dog breed! Of course, you could leave your maps square too if you'd prefer.
Step One - Order your maps and cut or purchase the vinyl lettering
For my map squares I used the website openstreetmap.com and searched for the areas I wanted. There is a menu on the right hand side with a ‘layers’ tab which allows you to toggle between different base maps. I used the ‘cycle’ map for mine as I liked the colours and style best. There were a couple of maps where we switch to the standard layer instead though as in touristy areas the cycle map, as you may expect, had little bicycles dotted over it when you zoomed in to a certain scale.
Once you are happy with the map and location you can use the print screen key to take a screenshot. I pasted this into Paint and was then easily able to crop out any excess. Obviously other image software packages would work as well, if not much better, if you don't have access to Paint. When I was finished, I saved the file as a png and repeated these steps as necessary for my other maps and locations.
You can then either print your finished maps or upload them to a printing website. I used Vistaprint and opted for the 5 x 5 inch squares. Depending on your frame and design though you might opt for longer, thinner images or 6x4 photos to allow your chosen shape to be cut out. If you’re a Cricut owner you could upload your saved png files to the design space and use the 'print then cut' feature.
Step Two - Paint your backing wood and frame
My next step was to paint the background for the frame. If you’ve bought a new frame (or a frame in much better nick than mine) then this step isn’t necessary so feel free to skip ahead to step three.
As I explained above, I got my frame super cheaply from Facebook Marketplace and, with it being second hand, it wasn’t in the best of conditions. The inner cardboard had grease marks on it which wouldn’t easily have been fixed or covered up. It had previous held a signed football shirt so there were also tiny holes around the cardboard where the shirt had been sewn on to the backing card. Instead of trying to find another backing card which was the same size or cutting a larger piece to fit I decided to work with what I had and paint the wood back board of the frame instead.
I used white emulsion paint which we already had left over from our house renovations and a sponge, instead of a paintbrush, to avoid brush strokes and the need for perfectly straight lines. I worked in circles with the sponge to give a textured background. It took about 3 coats to get a solid white colour which didn’t show any marks or streaks but with the paint being emulsion it dried reasonably quickly and didn’t have a horrendous odour like some alternative options out there.
Note: When the white paint was wet, every layer looked streaky. This faded once dried though and by coat three it was a solid colour.
Step Three - Designing and cutting your vinyl letters.
This step assumes that you are following the same process as me and using a digital cutting machine to design and cut your own vinyl letters. If you are following one of the other options mentioned above then it is not directly relevant, although it does cover a lot of the considerations you might need to make when you are designing, stenciling or speaking to third party vinyl sellers.
The first thing you'll need to decide is what you want your lettering to say. Will your Memories Map just have the detail of the event below or above the map image? Do you want to include the date of each event and if so in what format? Fully written out, just numbers or even just the year? Do you plan to include a title to your board? Ours said 'Our story so far...'. Will you include you and your partners names and wedding date or, if you're looking at displaying at home afterwards would you prefer to just keep it more simple with the maps and text?
You'll also want to consider:
Font. Perhaps you've used one you particularly liked on your invitations or wedding signs and would like this display to tie in? Perhaps you want something different but have an idea of the style? If you are unsure it's worth having a look online for inspiration. Sites like dafont.com and fontbundles.net have a catalogue of different font options and most can be downloaded for free, with a free license for personal use.
Font size. The size of your font will be, to some extent, controlled by the size of your board and what you want each caption to say. But you might want to consider whether all the text will be the same size or whether you'd rather have a range of text sizes depending on how big the event was? You might also want to increase the font size for any titles or extra details, such as dates or names.
Colour(s). Will all your text be the same colour or would you rather have a few different colours to match you wedding theme? Do you want the titles, names and dates to be in a different colour to the main captions?
If you don't have a cutting machine and are planning to buy your vinyl from an online seller it's worth thinking about these things and asking them what they can offer. A good seller will work with you to come up with designs, easily be able to give you an idea of prices, lead times on your order and have a range of colours and fonts available for you to choose. If you aren’t sure what font size you need you can tell them the text and the dimensions it needs to fit into and they should be able to advise. If they aren’t overly helpful with this stuff do you really want to commit to buying from them? Look around, there are lots of vinyl sellers that will be able to help you.
For my map, I used the font 'Segoe Script' which is available through both Microsoft and Google Fonts. For our names I used a slightly more formal font to match our wedding welcome sign. I varied the font sizes for the titles and the captions and cut them in either a light pink or light grey removable adhesive vinyl. The captions all have a subtle Friends nod and start with ‘The one where’.
Once you're happy with your font design then follow the instructions for your machine and instruct it to cut out the text.
Step Four - Weeding your vinyl
Your cut vinyl will then need to be weeded. This is simply a fancy term for removing excess vinyl and leaving only the text which you want on your final piece behind. If you’ve bought you vinyl from a seller it should come weeded.
Remove the vinyl surrounding your text by placing the vinyl sheet on a flat surface (or leave it on your cutting mat if you’ve made your own) and very slowly peel away the background starting from a corner. Be careful not to catch any of the letters with the vinyl you are peeling away. You’ll also want to be particularly careful when peeling the background away from letters with dots such as ‘i’ as these tend to peel away with the vinyl and can be a nightmare to find once they’re in your discard pile! Use a weeder tool or a needle to help hold these small pieces in place as you peel the excess away. When you’ve done the background use the same process to peel away any remaining vinyl filling the letters, such as the centre of an ‘o’.
Step Five - Applying the transfer tape to your vinyl lettering
The final step for your lettering is to apply the transfer tape. This is like a sticky backed plastic which goes over your vinyl text and allows you to peel off the backing paper and stick the letters down without touching the vinyl. Once applied the transfer tape peels away leaving the vinyl in place.
If you’ve bought your vinyl, the seller should have provided you with transfer tape. They may have already applied it over your letters, or you may need to do this yourself. If they haven't provided you any then you could use masking tape as an alternative. Just make sure it isn't too stick else you may tear your vinyl when you try to remove it.
Applying the transfer tape is really simple. It usually comes on a big roll and you can just cut a piece the size you need each time. Peel the back away and stick the tape over the letters, making sure you cover all the vinyl. Rub the tape once applied firmly. If you don't have a tool you can use a bank card to help with this step.
Step Six - Shaping your maps
When your receive your printed maps they will be either square or rectangular, depending on what you ordered. You can leave them this way if you would prefer, or you can cut them into a shape. I went for simple heart shape. I cut a template out on a piece of paper, but you can print a template off the internet if it’s easier or if you want a specific shape. Perhaps you both love German Shepherds and want each of your maps to be in a doggie outline! Once you've got your template, simply trace around it on the back of each of your maps and cut them out.
Step Seven - Dry run
With any big project it’s always worth doing a dry run before you stick everything in place. It will give you a chance to visualise the final piece and to move things around until you find a position that you're happy with. Maybe try them all lined up and then offset to see which you prefer.
Step Eight - Stick everything down!
Once you are happy with the positioning, all that’s left is to fix everything in place. I started with the maps and flipped each one over in turn, applied a good amount of glue to the back and pressed them in place.
Next I did the text under each image. Peel the vinyl backing paper away from the transfer tape and then carefully position your text as required. Use a bank card to help press the vinyl down onto the background and then carefully peel away the transfer tape. If the vinyl starts to come away with the tape simply replace it and rub some more until it is securely fastened in place. Repeat this step for any extra text such as the title, or your names and wedding date.
And there you have it, your finished board. All you need to do now is give the glass a good clean and re-assemble your frame! (and find somewhere to store it until the wedding if it's as big as mine!)
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