DIY Wedding Calligraphy: How to Add a Personal Touch with Crafty Lettering

Last Updated on September 27, 2023

Calligraphy has been a cherished art form for centuries, and it continues to play a significant role in making wedding invitations and decorations truly special. Whether you’re planning your own wedding or looking to offer your calligraphy services to others, learning the art of wedding calligraphy can be a rewarding and creative endeavor. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll walk you through the basics of wedding calligraphy and provide tips to help you create elegant and personalized pieces.

Step 0: Decide the Scope of Wedding Calligraphy

Some examples of calligraphy being used at a wedding:

Wedding planning is critical for things going smoothly. Planning your how much custom calligraphy work you or your calligrapher want to do should be planned and discussed so both parties understand what is expected. There are many things at a wedding that can be blessed with the personal touch of calligraphy. Below is a non-exhaustive list of the common things that calligraphy is written on or used in at a wedding:

  • Wedding Invitations: Calligraphy can be used for addressing the envelopes, the names of the couple, wax seals and other decorative elements on the invitations.
  • Place Cards: Personalized calligraphy on place cards can help guide guests to their seats at the reception.
  • Table Numbers: Calligraphed table numbers can be an elegant addition to your reception tables.
  • Seating Charts: A large seating chart with calligraphed guest names and table assignments can be a focal point at the reception.
  • Menu Cards: Use calligraphy to create decorative menu cards that showcase the evening’s meal offerings.
  • Wedding Programs: Calligraphy can be used for the cover of the ceremony programs or for headings and titles inside.
  • Wedding Vows: If you have personalized vows, having them beautifully written in calligraphy can be a keepsake or even part of the ceremony.
  • Wedding Certificates: Some couples choose to have a decorative certificate with their names and the date of their wedding, often used for symbolic ceremonies like a unity candle or sand ceremony.
  • Thank You Cards: After the wedding, you can use calligraphy for thank you notes to express your gratitude to guests.
  • Wedding Signs: Decorative signs with calligraphed messages, such as “Welcome to Our Wedding” or “Mr. and Mrs.,” can be placed at various locations throughout the venue.
  • Guest Book: If you have a guest book, consider having calligraphy for the cover or introductory pages.
  • Personalized Wedding Favors: If you’re giving out personalized wedding favors, like custom candles or glassware, calligraphy can be used to add names or messages.
  • Ceremony Backdrop: Large decorative calligraphy can be used as a backdrop for the ceremony or reception stage.
  • Photo Booth Props: If you have a photo booth, calligraphed props like signs with fun phrases can add charm to the pictures.
  • Wedding Cake Topper: Personalize your wedding cake with a calligraphed cake topper featuring your names or a special message.
  • Wedding Website and Social Media: Use calligraphy fonts or elements in your wedding website design and social media posts to maintain a consistent theme.
  • Welcome Bags or Boxes: If you’re providing welcome bags or boxes for out-of-town guests, consider calligraphed tags or labels.
  • Bridal Party Gifts: Calligraphy can be used on gift tags or labels to personalize the presents you give to your bridal party.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

Before you embark on your wedding calligraphy journey, it’s time to gather all the necessary supplies. Here’s a list of items you’ll need:

  1. Calligraphy Pen & Nibs: Invest in quality calligraphy pens, either dip pens or cartridge-based pens. Popular choices include pointed pen nibs like the Nikko G, Leonardt EF, or the classic Hunt 56.
  2. Ink: Choose archival-quality, waterproof ink in your preferred color(s). Black and gold are classic choices for wedding calligraphy, but you should select colors that match the wedding theme.
  3. Paper: Select high-quality paper with a smooth texture. Wedding invitations often use heavy cardstock or watercolor paper. Low quality paper is thin and will not withstand calligraphy ink, so choose the proper paper for calligraphy.
  4. Ruler and Pencil: A ruler helps maintain even line spacing, and a pencil allows you to sketch your calligraphy before inking.
  5. Eraser: You’ll need an eraser to remove pencil guidelines and correct mistakes.
  6. Practice Paper: Use extra practice paper to to practice your designs before completing them on your envelops. You can also use practice sheets to hone your skills before working on the final wedding materials.
  7. Paper Towels or Blotting Paper: These are essential for blotting excess ink from your nib.
  8. Optional Extras: Wax seals, decorative elements, and embellishments can add a personal touch to your calligraphy. A Laser level can also help with alignment without drawing lines on your envelope.

Step 2: Learn the Basics of Calligraphy Styles

4 Scripts of Pointed Pen Calligraphy
4 Pointed Pen scripts Often Used for Weddings

There are various calligraphy styles to choose from, each with its own unique charm. It is important to choose a style that suits the couple’s preferences and the overall wedding theme. It is also a good idea that if you are doing addresses on envelopes to have 2 scripts: one for the names (Primary script), and one for the addresses (Secondary script). Some popular wedding calligraphy styles include:

Primary Scripts – (For Names):

Copperplate Calligraphy

Copperplate Alphabet Calligrascape

Known for its elegant and flowing script, Copperplate calligraphy is often used for fancy and formal invitations.

Modern Calligraphy

2 Scripts of Master Modern Calligraphy Practice Sheets
Calligrascape’s 2 Modern Pointed Pen Scripts: Congrats & Salutations

This family of styles is more relaxed and free-flowing, making it perfect for a wedding full of playful whimsy.

Italic Calligraphy

Master Italics Practice Sheets Page 15: A,B,C,D
Italic Calligraphy Letters (A-D)

Italic calligraphy features slanted and crisp letterforms, offering a timeless look.

Gothic Calligraphy (Textura)

The classic textura script, with its bold, block-like letters, Gothic calligraphy can add a touch of medieval elegance to wedding invitations.

Secondary Scripts – (For Addresses):

Custom Scripts

A little teaser of scripts for my friend’s wedding

These scripts are used to add some contrast, so your invitations don’t look to “same-y.” The secondary scripts need to be clearer, as they are for the addresses and will need to be legible for any postal workers. The secondary scripts are usually a variant of the calligrapher’s handwriting or a custom script of their own. Some examples are in the above photo: Look at “Alternate Font” and “Tertiary Font.”

Step 3: Practice, Practice, Practice

Calligraphy is an art that requires practice to master. Start by practicing individual letters and then progress to words and phrases. Focus on consistency in letter height, spacing, and slant. If you are new to calligraphy, I offer a detailed sets of practice sheets that teach you everything you need to know about the script you want to learn.

Master Pointed Pen Bundle
Master Modern, Copperplate and Spencerian Practice Sheets

Step 4: Layout and Composition

Before you start writing on the actual wedding materials, plan the layout and composition. Determine where each element (names, date, venue, etc.) will go. Consider spacing, alignment, and any decorative elements you want to include.

Step 5: Begin Writing

photo of black pen on paper
Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels.com

With your layout in mind, carefully start writing the text on your wedding materials. Use a light pencil guideline to ensure proper spacing and alignment. Apply even pressure on the pen nib, and remember to take your time – patience is key in calligraphy. Rushing will only lead to smudging and blotting, which can be frustrating and stressful.

Step 6: Add Flourishes and Decorations

Invitations & Addresses with Flourishing

Enhance your wedding calligraphy with flourishes, swirls, and decorative elements. These can make your work feel more personalized and elegant. However, don’t overdo it; simplicity often has a timeless beauty. Follow the old adage: “Less is More.”

Step 7: Let It Dry

Allow your calligraphy to dry completely before handling it or adding any additional elements like wax seals or watercolor washes. This can take a few hours to overnight, depending on the ink and paper you’ve used. I would give way more time than you think it needs, just to be sure so there will be no smudging that hard work.

Step 8: Final Touches

two white envelopes and flowers laying on white surface
Wax Seal – Photo by Diana Light on Pexels.com

Once everything is dry, erase any visible pencil guidelines, and make any necessary touch-ups. If you’re including wax seals, add them now.

Mastering wedding calligraphy requires dedication and practice, but the end result – elegant and personalized wedding materials – is well worth the effort. Whether you’re creating your own wedding stationery or offering your calligraphy services to others, remember that calligraphy is an art form that thrives on individuality and creativity. Enjoy the process and let your artistic expression shine through in every stroke of the pen. Your wedding calligraphy will undoubtedly add a special touch to the celebration of love.

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