Before I get into the nitty gritty of how to do this yourself, here is how the decorative panel turned out!
So how do you do this yourself? It was surprisingly easy and just took some time and patience!
First, figure out how big you want your sign(s). I landed on 16"x24" each. After perusing Home Depot's website to see what size boards they offered, I opted to get a single 1"x8"x12' piece of wood. This piece was about $15 and cut down into nine 16" sections--exactly what I needed to make 3 wall signs comprised of 3 sections each. You can ask them to cut it for you, which I did. The first 4 cuts are free and any cut after that is $0.25, although they didn't charge me for the extras. Be warned these cuts are imperfect and I ended up needing to trim 2 boards to match a 3rd random shorter board. In my case it worked out as the shorter sign was what I used for the decorative embellishments.
Once your wood is cut, sand down any rough edges. If you want to distress it you can hit it with a hammer, scrape it, etc. I didn't do any of this, but I did follow this tutorial. Essentially, you soak steel wool in apple cider vinegar for half an hour and rub it on the boards. I followed that up with balsamic vinegar and steel wool before the apple cider vinegar had dried. Then I left the boards out to dry completely for a few days. Here's the difference in purchased wood vs. vinegar distressed wood:
this one. This allows you to screw 4 screws--2 on each side--into the boards at an angle. Such a system allows you to hang the panels flush with the wall instead of joining the boards together with another piece of wood or some other mechanism. There are alternatives if you don't want to invest in a pocket hole jig, some simple Googling should help you out.
This project cost me about $35 total for 3 different signs. It certainly helps that I was able to use Cristina's pocket hole jig, but if this is something you plan on doing a lot of it might be worth investing in one for yourself!
You guys. I am not crafty by nature and I am easily frustrated by art. This was the easiest and most therapeutic craft I have ever encountered. It certainly helped that I had a pro to help me along the way, but the biggest challenge of this project is taking the time to do it. I have to finish the boards with our vows on them still, but I was way too excited about this project to wait on those to share this tutorial. When I finish the vow boards I will make another post with all 3 side by side, the way they will be on our wall!