How to Make Nostalgic Picture Lanterns

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In February, I had the honor of attending my brother’s wedding. When I asked my soon to be sister-in-law if she needed any help on last minute stuff for the wedding, she explained she was very distressed about not having time to make the centerpieces for the rehearsal dinner. So, I told her, “I got you!”

She showed me a couple examples of things she liked and we came up with these nostalgic picture lanterns. They look beautiful. They’re an inexpensive D.I.Y project to make and require very little skill to assemble. They were a huge hit at the dinner and very interactive as everyone was moving around to see them and engaging in conversation about them. I highly recommend them as an ice-breaker and conversation starter.


So, without further adieu, here is your supplies list:

Four 5 x 7 Frames per centerpiece

A Square Shaped Mirror 5-6″ long and wide per centerpiece

A Tealight Candleper centerpiece

Tracing Paper (you can use parchment or vellum as well)
Computer, Printer & Scissors



1. Pick your pictures (duh). You will need vertical photos, horizontal won’t work for this.

2. Print them out in 5 by 7 size on your translucent paper in grayscale as opposed to color. This will give them an old school look even if you use recent photos. You may need to adjust the settings in your printer application if some photos are too dark. I had to reprint a few because I didn’t know this ahead of time. 🙁

3. I let mine sit a moment to dry before cutting and handling them.

4. Next, dismantle your frame and re-assemble it in this order: frame, photo, glass, NO backing. Yes, you heard right, the picture will be exposed and the glass will go behind it. This will prevent a fire hazard if you decide to use real tealights as we did. You can save or throw away the backing to the frame that you would normally use to display or hang it.

5. After assembling, you will glue them together in a square by the sides. Its a good idea to use frames that have thick, flat sides for sturdier gluing.

6. After you let that dry a moment, put the box upside down and glue your mirror to the bottom to act as a base. This isn’t 100% necessary but it helps refract the light from the candle better to give it that extra something!

7. I strongly recommend letting the finished project sit for several hours before packaging to ensure that the glue sets.

8. To transport, I wrapped each in a left over grocery shopping bag and packed them in a box to transport to the dinner. Because the photo is on the outside, they are delicate and need to be wrapped so they don’t scratch one another or rip a photo.

***BONUS*** Below are the frame themes we used:

1. Parents Wedding Days
2. Bride as a baby/child
3. Groom as a baby/child
4. Brides Family
5. Grooms Family
6. Brides Friends
7. Grooms Friends
8. Bride & Groom
9. Their Children


If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. I hope you enjoy and that they are as big a hit at your home or special occasion as they were for mine!