Do-It-Yourself wedding invitation calligraphy

Yes, DIY calligraphy requires some effort but saving money is worth it

Though the wedding etiquette of yesteryear is changing, taking the time to hand-address envelopes helps show your guests that you truly care about their presence at your
wedding. Some couples choose to hire a calligrapher, but that can run anywhere from $1-$4 per envelope, which adds a significant cost many don’t (or can’t) budget for. And, as mentioned, it’s a nice personal touch.

Our associate editor and The Relaxed Bride, Erica Thoits, was in the middle of planning her own wedding as this issue went to press. This is how she addressed all 75 save-the-dates and invitations (that’s 150 total). It saved her money and, as she says, hid the fact that her handwriting is “practically illegible.”

Supplies You’ll Need

  • A light box. The one pictured here is the Artograph LightTracer Light Box, available for $40 on Amazon — a good middle-of-the-road option that’s reliable but not too fancy.
  • “Calligraphy pens.” These are not actual calligraphy pens with a metal nib and pot of ink. You can cheat with calligraphy markers, like the ones used here — Speedball Elegant Writer Extra Fine in black with a size 1.3 nib. These (and similar types) are readily available in craft stores or online.
  • Your envelopes. You need white, off-white or another very light color to use this trick.
  • Computer and printer. Pick a font that’s calligraphy-esque that you like and that looks close to actual handwriting. The font here is called Kuenstler Script, but there are many scripts to choose from. The fancier you get the harder it will be.


  • Type out all of your guests’ addresses in your chosen font. Size them so they’ll fit on your envelope.
  • Print them all out.
  • Cut them down so you can slip them inside the envelope.
  • Arrange the printed address so it’s centered on the envelope (turn the light box on to help you with this).
  • Put it on the light box and trace the addresses.


  • Practice! Tracing these addresses is trickier than it seems.
  • Purchase extra envelopes. You will mess up.
  • Depending on the size of your envelopes, you might want a calligraphy marker with a different nib size.  
  • Buy extra markers as the sharpness of the nib wears out after a while.
  • Space it out! Do five to 10 a night to avoid fatigue and/or excessive hand cramping.
  • Before you address them all, take one example to the post office. Some calligraphy/addressing styles can make your invitation “non-machineable,” meaning they must be read by an actual human being as opposed to the usual sorting machines. This means an extra cost and you must drop them at the post office, not in a mailbox. The new 2014 rate for non-machineable stamps is 70 cents (rates might differ due to weight and envelope size). The one pictured here is non-machineable.
Categories: DIY