Planning for a wedding is not an easy task. With heaps of decisions to make, from booking venues to hiring professional photographers, caterers, and DJs, it can easily get overwhelming, not to mention financially demanding. Luckily, you can save a lot of money (and have some fun!) by making your own DIY wedding invitations with calligraphy. Here’s an easy tutorial on how to use calligraphy script to address envelopes and wedding invitations. For a complete guide, check out Bryn Chernoff’s class, Pen and Ink Calligraphy: The Art of the Envelope.
1. Buy Tools and Supplies
Getting the right materials is the first step to your DIY calligraphy project, but you might not be sure where to start. Here’s a list of materials you’ll need as a beginner calligrapher:
There are largely two types of nibs: pointed and chiseled. While you can try out different varieties, Nikko G’s Pointed Nib is one of the most widely used nibs among both professional and beginner calligraphers. A nib with medium flex, Nikko G will help you get the hang of applying just the right amount of pressure as you write. To find out more about different types of nibs and calligraphy tools, check out this guide to nibs and penholders and browse JetPens’ catalog.
Depending on the colors you’re looking for, here are some options you can choose from:
- Black Sumi Ink
- Dr. Ph Martin’s Bleedproof White Ink
- Daler-Rowney Acrylic line for colored ink
- Acrylic Paint mixed with water
There is a wide range of ways that an ink can behave on paper, so testing is extremely important before you go ahead and buy an entire batch of envelopes. Ask for samples of the papers and test them out with your choice of ink. Here’s a guideline to keep in mind as you decide:
- Test your paper for bleeding to make sure it’s leak-free
- Choose a smooth-surfaced paper
- Make sure your ink doesn’t smudge after drying it overnight
Pro-tip: If your paper does bleed, try out a different ink or consider applying a gum arabic to thicken ink consistency. In her class, Bryn recommends a few places to buy these supplies at: Papersource, Paper Presentation, Arturo, and Crane & Co.
2. Print Out Your Guest List
Organize your guest list in an Excel spreadsheet. Use Word’s Mail Merge feature that will automatically put together all the information so you don’t have to manually format your list. For a handy Excel template and a detailed tutorial on how to use Mail Merge, check out Bryn’s class. Even if you weren't planning on exactly tracing a font, having your letters in printed form will help you pay attention to spacing and alignment.
You can try different alignments to see what looks best. If a centered alignment is too difficult to maintain, try a left alignment, staggered alignment, or no alignment (whimsical) at all!
3. Look for Inspiration
If you’re not sure what kind of look you want for your wedding invitations, start with these places for inspiration and design tips:
5. Draw Guidelines
Use a ruler to draw straight lines so that you keep your spacing and alignment consistent. It will take you a while to get a hold of the size and style of the script you’re working on, so don’t worry if it takes you a couple trial runs before you nail it perfectly. After all, calligraphy is all about trial and error.
Make sure you choose a variety of samples from your guest list so you don’t build your style off of a specific set of words. You want to stay as flexible as possible so you can use the same style for different lengths and combinations of words.
6. Last Touches
After letting your work dry overnight, double check to see if the ink doesn’t smudge. Erase your pencil traces after you make sure that the ink is completely dry.
Now that you’re done, you can finally send your invitations out to your guests! Proud of your work and want to share it with other calligraphers? Join our community and post your project in one of our calligraphy classes.