The ultimate DIY wedding photobooth tutorial

A few people have asked about our DIY photo booth so I thought I'd share. It went over really well with everyone at our turquoise & red wedding!

Photo by Jeremy Lawson Photography
Photo by Jeremy Lawson Photography
Stuff you need

  • Computer
  • Webcam or laptop with a built-in webcam
  • Spark Booth photo booth software
  • Printer that prints 4×6 photos
  • 4×6 photo paper
  • Table or something to put said computer, printer, and webcam on

Stuff you might want

  • Lamp
  • Fabric, room divider, or something as a back-drop
  • External monitor
  • External keyboard
  • Table cloth
  • Signage

The set-up

  • Computer: My HP Laptop with an external monitor and external keyboard
  • Webcam: Microsoft LifeCam VX-5000. My laptop had a built-in webcam but we found that the external one had better pictures. Fortunately, I had bought my parents a webcam for Christmas so we borrowed that!
  • Spark Booth, which costs $40 $59 (the price recently went up).
  • Printer: Canon Pixma MP560. I looked at photo printers but they were the same price as this All-In-One Printer and we needed a scanner. According to ConsumerReports.org, it printed 4×6 photos only a little slower than the photo printers and the print quality was better.
  • Photo paper: Canon Photo Paper Plus Glossy II 400 sheets
  • Card table
  • Tree lamp similar to this one from Target.
  • Back-drop: Van Gogh Room Divider. I charged my dad with figuring out a back drop and he came up with this Van Gogh room divider which he was going to get for my parent's house anyway. I also had about three yards of fabric which we used behind the sign. Also, because the room divider was double sided, the back-side made a great back drop for guestbook and other pictures!

How we did it:
The credit really goes to my amazing cousin! Basically she put the laptop on a box under the table and covered the table with an extra black table cloth.

She hooked up the printer, monitor and keyboard and put them on the table. (Duh, right?)

I choose to use an external monitor and keyboard (but no mouse!) for two reasons:

  1. I didn't want people actually touching my laptop
  2. I wanted to give them as little opportunity as possible to mess something up hence not having a mouse. (Although I think the latter concern was pretty unfounded).

My cousin pushed the table against the wall and stuck my signs onto the wall above it. The signs said:

1. Sit & Pose
2. Press the space bar
3. Smile 4. Smile 5. Smile
6. Preview & Print. Press return to print.
7. Pick up your photo!"

(I would have added that photos take a minute or so to print to the last sign.)


She put two chairs in front of the table and the room divider behind it. There was a door (to a closet) next to the photo booth where she hung red fabric and our photo booth sign. This way you could see the photo booth sign when looking at it but the people in the photo booth had a bit of privacy.

Make sure that you turn off your computer's power saving settings before using. I set it to never sleep. Then run the Spark Booth app and put it in Full Screen mode and everything should be set to go!

That's it!

  1. LOVE this…..much better than my impromptu "photobooth". If only this was posted a couple of weeks ago. I don't think I have enough time to set this up before the 13th. I'll definitely use this idea for future parties though.

    7 agree
  2. This is such a great idea & seems totally affordable!

    And, yea, like Ana said, this would be great for ANY kind of party!

    2 agree
  3. Very glad to see this as we are trying to figure out how not to spend the $1000+ for a photobooth and attendant. This will work great and I am even thinking of setting up 2 stations since I have 2 photo printers and 2 laptops with cameras built in!
    Thank you!!!

    5 agree
  4. Thanks for posting this! I LOVE it! One question: does the program save a copy of all the photos onto your computer so you can see them all after the wedding?

    4 agree
    • Kristi – yes it does. If you have access to internet it can also immediately upload to facebook & the like too!

      4 agree
  5. Brilliant! I was wondering how to pull this off – and I have all the equipment already!

    1 agrees
  6. This is seriously awesome. I've been looking up hire costs for actual old school photobooths but this way we get copies of everything as well right on our machines. AWESOME!

    *will have to check to see if its got a print x2 straight up option*

    1 agrees
    • There are a variety of options for printing the pics and one is to print two of the standard 4 pic strips and then you could have scissors and people can cut them in half.

      2 agree
  7. This is very awesome. I kept thinking "it can't be that hard" but then when it came down to actually thinking about the details of doing it, in the end all I could figure out was "maybe we'll just skip it". Now I feel like it's a lot more realistic! :-) Thank you so much!

    2 agree
  8. Linux Has a free photo booth program called cheese. We opted not to print them…so I don't know if it can print with ease…But it can upload to flicker!

    1 agrees
    • Mac also has a free photo booth software. I tried a bunch of them and I thought PartyBooth was the best and at $40 totally worth it as everything is easy and automated.

      1 agrees
    • Yay! We'll be using Cheese for our photobooth :-)

      1 agrees
  9. Did PartyBooth have a recent price increase? I'm seeing it costs $59. $40 I thought was okay, but somehow $60 seems like a lot for an application with fairly limited functionality. Hmm – might just have to bite the bullet.

    0 agree
    • Hmmm …. I guess it did. The other software I looked at cost almost $200 so $60 is still a decent price.
      In terms of the functionality being limited, what more were you looking for something to do?

      0 agree
    • I just checked out the sparkbooth site… it looks like you can get a 10 day free trial, not sure if this would help but thought I'd point it out!

      1 agrees
  10. Wow, this is such a great idea! I tried something similar with me photographing the people but it was hard work standing there all night. The PhotoBooth and webcam is a superb idea. Thanks for sharing, hope you don't mind if I use the idea :-)

    0 agree
  11. Thank you for sharing all the details, ever since the update about your wedding I have been trying to figure out the setup!
    I have the same printer and was wondering how much ink you went through, did you have to change it through out the night?

    0 agree
    • We did not have to change the ink at all. I put in new cartridges before we started though.

      1 agrees
      • How many total number of prints were you able to get out of 1 set ink cartridge without replacing them?

        5 agree
  12. I love DIY! Thanks for sharing this different approach to photobooths. We actually had a DIY photobooth at our wedding with a regular camera and a remote control. But now I am spending hours cutting and sending the picture strips! I like this idea much better!

    0 agree
  13. Thanks for taking the time to write this. Your tutorial is really well written and really easy to follow!

    0 agree
  14. Does it save the photos that your guests take to the computer as well? I like this idea, but I would like to have copies of them too I think :p

    0 agree
    • Yep. You get a copy of all the photos saved to your computer.

      0 agree
  15. Can you explain how you were you able to put text on your picture? THanks!

    2 agree
    • Hi Rhonda,

      With the Spark Booth software, you can add an image to your photos. We created the image with the masking tape and "Becca and Adam Get Hitched." In the settings for PartyBooth, we set that to be the image on the pictures.

      I'd say get the software and play around with it until you get things to look how you want them to.

      Good luck!

      1 agrees
  16. Oh my gravy! This DIY photo booth is bananas-amazing!!! I am having a DIY wedding and cannot afford to hire a Photo Booth. So, last night the light bulb came on in my head and I was like, "Self, you need to Google "DIY photo booth"…and that I did! Thanks so much for sharing this, Becca and Offbeat Bride!

    2 agree
  17. I know I'm a little late to the party, but any suggestions on how to get Sparkbooth to print to the photo tray instead of the regular paper tray? I am trying to figure it out using the demo and can't manage to get past this step.

    0 agree
  18. THIS IS AMAZING!! Much easier and more customizable than paying the 1000.00 of renting a photo booth!

    0 agree
  19. So excited about this!!!! We are on a tight budget for our wedding and this idea was about to get cut for sure. Looking at the pricing of the booths some 1000.00 or more for the day. I have just about all of the things here at home only need the software and some fabric.

    0 agree
  20. We so wanted to have a photobooth but the cost of renting the actual booth is just outrageous. This is an awesome idea! We're both geeks, will use your idea, and will set this up at our wedding too. Thanks so much!

    1 agrees
  21. Great tutorial! Def plan on using it! You said that you didn't run out of ink and I had a couple of questions about that. How many 4×6 photos were printed on one ink cartridge? Or how many guests did you have? I have the same printer and I'm trying to figure out if I need to have back up ink with someone designated to change it.

    0 agree
    • Hi Maggie, I did this, and with the XL Canon ink it did about 130 or so 4X6 photos. I would suggest it's always a good idea to have backup ink and someone to change it just in case. We put a little sign up that said "if the ink runs out or if there are problems, please see so and so at table so and so". This photobooth was a HUGE hit at our wedding!

      3 agree
  22. Thanks for posting this! I'm so going to use this idea for my wedding.

    0 agree
  23. Thought I would post this link for a free photobooth program:

    http://www.openphotobooth.com/index.php

    I haven't tested it out so I can't confirm it's ease of use, but here it is for anyone else to try. Post back with your experiences, and good luck!

    1 agrees
  24. This is such a great idea!! I like only spending $60 for software, as opposed to $600, and being limited to time, and having no control over backdrops and having to pay extra for props and everything….this way is SO MUCH BETTER. And we already have pretty much everything but the software! A Million Thanks!

    1 agrees
  25. Is there a way that Spark Booth could be purchased by one person and used at two weddings? I would love to be able to split the cost with someone because I think this is the only time we would use it…

    1 agrees
  26. Hi! GREAT ARTICLE! Where did you get your beige and red sign?

    0 agree
  27. OMFG I have been DYING to have a photobooth, but the $1200 price tag is about the budget for the entire wedding! This is such an amazing DIY!!! It's the perfect favor. Who doesn't love taking home pics when you're all dressed up and it saves the whole set so I can make my own scrapbook after. Thank you thank you thank you!!!!

    I know this is an old post but I don't even care! This is just awesome. It should get bumped back to the OBB front page so other bride's can share my joy! I didn't even think a DIY photo booth was possible!

    4 agree
  28. This tutorial is excellent! I used it to create a photo booth setup at my step-daughter's grad party and holy lord was it fun… There wasn't room in the house, but a 10×10 pop up event tent with open sides worked great. Everyone had a blast with it and it helped keep the teens mixing with the adults.

    Do this for a kids party… you will be their personal hero. :) Thanks yet again to OBB for fantastic party ideas!

    0 agree
  29. I can't believe I just stumbled across this before committing to the $1400 photobooth company. I have all the equipment already!! This is AWESOME. Thanks for sharing

    0 agree
  30. Hey gals,
    Has anyone who has done this awesome DIY photobooth gotten a photo scrapbook with black pages and no page protectors? I cannot find these anywhere.

    0 agree
  31. This is amazing and perfect and so simple! I was debating going fora $600-$1000 photobooth for our wedding, but this is so much better!

    0 agree
  32. This is a FANTASTIC tutorial! I've had the idea to do a DIY photobooth since I first found out the high pricetag of renting one. We're having a masquerade reception, and I just raided the after-Halloween sales, so we've got more than enough fun props! (Plastic viking helmet! Woot!) Question, though: Anyone have any ideas on how to set up the booth to take photos of guests standing? I'm worried the monitor might get knocked over if I raise it from table-height.

    0 agree
    • Vicky did you use this setup eventually for your wedding? I'm wondering if guests can take pics (comfortably) standing up with a laptop/webcam? All the photos shown in this post show the guests sitting down which I find really awkward, especially at a wedding. I guess we have to find a table that is of decent height to place the laptop?

      0 agree
      • We didn't have any issues with guests standing. We got an external webcam, placed it on top of a standard monitor on a regular-height table, & hooked everything up to a laptop under the table. I wasn't there for the set-up, but I'm pretty sure the web cam was adjustable so it could be angled high enough. Worked great! (Pics/wedding porn to come soon! ^_^)

        Tip we learned from our DIY photobooth: really consider the lighting where you're setting up. We put ours on a porch, facing a house. The pictures in the daylight looked great. But as the sun set & the porch lights came on, it ended up that the lights were behind the people, making them shadowed. Could've been fixed by pulling the table more to the middle of the porch instead of at the porch-rail. Still worked out all right, though. :)

        0 agree
  33. This is awesome! I am directing my readers to this blog for your tips on the DIY Photobooth!

    Awesome Awesome Awesome! I love budget friendly ways to get all the "IN" things

    0 agree
  34. I am in the process of creating my own photobooth and the sparkbooth, looks perfect, but my concern is using my personal laptop, is there a way to lock it so guests can't use anything besides the sparkbooth program?

    0 agree
    • I don't know what laptop you have, but mine allows you to create multiple 'users'. So, create a new user, password protect your regular account, and only have the software set up under the new user. Seeing as you'll only ever trot this out at parties, if ever again, I don't think it would be a problem.

      Alternatively, you can transfer all your files to one mega folder and password protect it, OR, if it's just a matter of preference and nothing urgent, you can have a sign that says "please don't close this program or we won't be able to reopen it", should anyone decide to mess around.

      2 agree
  35. Wow, this was such a detailed set of DIY instructions. Thank you for taking the time to do this — I would love to see how your pictures came out!

    If I had come across this sooner, I wouldn't have had to spend so many nights worrying about how we could afford a photo booth. Luckily enough though, I came across this app for the iPad (totally obsessed with my iPad) called "Wedding Booth." It allowed my guests to take pictures and then write personal notes to my husband and I on the iPad. Haha some of the notes were pretty inappropriate it, but everyone had so much fun. If you email the people who made Wedding Booth, they also will send their own DIY instructions to build a photo booth out of PVC piping for like $33.

    3 agree
  36. Oh my god ive been wanting a photobooth for our wedding so badly but its not in the budget this is the perfect solution!!! I am so excited!! Thank you so much.

    0 agree
  37. I am setting up a photo booth for my wedding using
    SparkBooth, was wonder… how much ink should I have on hand? Will one cartridge take and print pictures all night?
    Thanks,
    Liz

    0 agree
  38. This is FABULOUS. We are DOING THIS.

    I took this to my Linux guru man for an alternative to a Windows photobooth program. There is a program called Cheese, that will do in a pinch if you use Linux. :-)

    1 agrees
  39. Wow! I had thought about doing a DIY photobooth for our wedding after going to a friend's wedding a year ago and they had one (am sure it was expensive tho, rental company with two employees). Figured it would be a fun idea but too expensive, we're in NZ now and everything here is even more $$$ than in the states. Now I can actually toy with the idea because it's a small wedding and the DIY would be perfect for it! Thanks so much for posting =)

    0 agree
  40. Hello!

    I know I'm way late to the game – but, does anyone know if when using the free trial, does it put a watermark on your pictures when you print? Do you get full features of the site?

    I am looking to use this for my sisters DIY wedding, and was wondering if we could use the free trial or need to purchase the full program!

    Thanks:)

    2 agree
    • I just checked the FAQs on Sparkbooth. There will indeed be a watermark on photos taken with the trial version.

      0 agree
  41. PLEASE HELP! I'm trying to download the Sparkbooth program for my wedding next Saturday, but the download isn't working. The site keeps trying to download Adobe AIR along with Sparkbooth, but something keeps going wrong with the Adobe download & won't progress past that point. Has anyone else run into this problem? More importantly, how do I fix it?

    1 agrees
  42. This is a great tutorial! Thanks so much for all of the help. One question about the printing – about how much time did it take for each photo to print?

    0 agree
  43. Love this idea! I was wondering how to put a booth together for my mother's wedding in August. While I like the "instant gratification" of printing the photos there, I think we'll just have them email the photos to themselves (we'll have internet access) to save on printing costs on our end. For anyone who doesn't have email – *ahem* grandma – we'll create a wedding photobooth email address. They can send the pics there, and we'll send them a hard copy. Yay!

    0 agree
    • i was wondering if that worked for you and what softwere you used, i love the idea of a photo booth, but thought it would be easier if we had them just emailed to them selfs, or facebook it, and of course for the people who didnt have either i could print out and mail it to them in the thank you card,

      0 agree
    • I am soo glad you mentioned this as i am dont want to purchase anything with my wedding so close.

      Great IDEA!!

      0 agree
  44. I love this! We are going to do something similar but with a poloroid camera. We're gonna set it up so it doesn't need to be manned. Just find some friends and some one to take the picture!!! I found an old poloroid camera at a friends garage sale and film is apparently really cheap.
    The venue we are using has a really awful backdrop they asked if we want to use so instead we will have that be used for the photobooth! We are going to be making capes and masks and have all sorts of super hero props for people to ooze their creativity into! I'm thinking rules will be this.
    1. Did you ask your mom? (because of all the youngins at my wedding)
    2. Create your own super hero
    3. Strike a Pose
    4. Point and Shoot!
    5. Shake it out and Take it home!

    No printing required ;)

    0 agree
  45. Is there a way to connect an iPad or camera to Sparkbooth so that the pictures can be better quality?

    0 agree
  46. I bought spark booth after seeing this post. Super easy to use. Not only are we setting up the photo booth for the wedding we are also going to set it up at the bridal shower for just the girls!

    0 agree
  47. Used this setup at my sister's wedding but without the printer. Used my laptop webcam. Photos weren't great, but it was still super fun and we got the pics printed later and included them with the thank you cards ! Everyone had a blast !

    2 agree
  48. I actually tested this for my 21st in April this year… It went AMAZINGLY everyone had a great time, and the app is so good! I'll be doing it for my engagement party and wedding now too, so excited :D

    0 agree

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