LEGACY GALLERY WALL FOR UNDER $350

I have an embarrassing admission: until recently we had never printed any of our wedding photos.  Not one.  And that’s not because we don’t like them — we LOVE the photos from that day!  The iconic photos of a bride and groom on the rooftop deck at sunset were actually one of the reasons we chose the Arizona Biltmore for our wedding venue, and Rachel & Janel of Melissa Jill Photography perfectly captured that moment and so many more!  

 
DIY Modern Legacy Gallery Wall
DIY Legacy Gallery Wall Under $350
 

So why didn’t I immediately print all of those amazing photos?!  We were renting a condo at the time, and I fell into the trap of thinking it just wasn’t worth the cost and effort.  What if the style and size of the frames didn’t fit our next place?  Nice frames are pricey, and quality prints aren’t exactly cheap.  Not to mention what a pain hanging frames can be!  

Fast forward 3 years, and it’s not just wedding photos I hadn’t printed, but beautiful maternity & newborn photos from Lauren J Photography too.  I was also out of excuses.  We had moved into our house, and I had plenty of blank walls to fill. 

I set out to create a gallery wall to display these legacy moments in our family’s story without spending a small fortune.

Here were my criteria:

  • large, quality, timeless frames that would compliment any photo (in case I decide to swap out as we take new family photos)
  • frames that included a white mat or could easily accommodate a stock mat
  • quality prints since these would be fairly large photos
  • $350 budget 
 

I searched for frames everywhere - Crate & Barrel, IKEA, West Elm, Aaron Brothers - and briefly considered an online print & frame service like Framebridge.  The options I found all fell short for one reason or another.  If I liked the style and quality, it would come with a hefty price tag and less expensive options appeared cheap or like they may not hold up.  On a whim I decided to browse Target’s frame section and was pleasantly surprised to find these frames from Project 62!  The frames’ thin silhouette gives them a modern feel, and the brushed brass is warm without being too shiny.  While they are lesser in quality than some of the other frames I shopped they feel solid in hand and are half the price!  Of the nine that I purchased I did have to exchange two after I unwrapped them and found one with a damaged corner and another with a slight discoloration.  All in all, they’re a win — attractive, good quality frames with a mat at a great price.  This float frame option in the same brass finish would also be a beautiful!  

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Next up was selecting and printing the photos.  Choosing photos was actually the most time consuming part of this process.  Since these photos would be grouped close together I wanted a mix of close ups and photos taken from a distance and an array of poses and angles.  After reading reviews of photo printing options I settled on Nations Photo Lab.  Wirecutter has an excellent comparison you can read here!  My order for nine 11x14 lustre finish photos came to just over $45, arrived quickly, and most importantly, the prints were beautiful!

DIY Modern Legacy Gallery Wall

Hanging the frames was a CHORE.  If there’s one thing that would deter me from tackling this project again, it’s the hanging.  Butttt that means I can save you from making my mistakes!  I started by measuring the distance between the hangers on the back of a frame and determine the amount of space I wanted between each frame.  From there I taped a piece of string to the wall and leveled it to create a level line.  Then I marked with a pencil where I would need nails for the top 3 frames.  I followed this same process for the lower two rows and then hammered in all of my nails.  I was ready to hang my frames!  Or so I thought…  I assumed all the hangers would be positioned in the same spots on all of the frames.  This held true for most but not all of them, and I ultimately had to measure the distance between hangers and adjust my nail spacing accordingly as I hung each frame.  This is the biggest flaw I noticed with the frames.  I also found that some of the photos slid inside the frame once hung, so I used a small piece of paint tape to secure each photo to the mat.

If I had this to do over again I would 1) use a laser level like this one (I blame baby brain for completely spacing on that one!) and 2) follow this handy method of using paint tape to more easily mark the space between nails.  In total my costs came to $341.51. 

 

FINAL COST BREAKDOWN:

Frames: $269.91

Prints: $46.60

Hanging Materials: $25.00

 

Our legacy wall has become one of the focal points in our home, and we receive compliments whenever we have visitors.  I'm so happy with how it turned out, and I hope it inspires you to get your photos off the computer and onto your walls!