I love the look of calligraphy on a wedding envelope. In my opinion, it elevates the formality and specialness of what’s inside. It’s no ordinary piece of mail, after all. But as I mentioned in my post about save-the-dates, my budget didn’t allow for a professional to address my invites, so I decided to teach myself the craft. After becoming fairly comfortable with The Lettered Bride, a kit I received from my soon-to-be mother-in-law for Christmas, I was ready to take my lessons to the next level. I was ecstatic when my co-worker and editor of Mpls.St.Paul Weddings, Emily Howald Sefton, set me up with a private calligraphy lesson from local hand-lettering extraordinaire Shasta Bell Calligraphy.
When I arrived at Shasta’s Northeast Minneapolis home on a Saturday in late March, she had all the essentials waiting for me: nibs, ink, practice scraps, and a nib holder. We spent the first half of the “class” practicing the basics, mastering letters and strokes before moving on to the more challenging aspects of calligraphy, like connecting letters to form words and being consistent with spacing. She patiently watched as I struggled through some exercises, while offering words of encouragement and tips for improvement. Since I was particularly interested in wedding calligraphy, we also spent some time talking about envelopes, menus, programs, and invites, such as the best colors to use and the types of material that work best with calligraphy ink.
For any other brides who may be interested in doing their own calligraphy for wedding-day stationery, here are three tips I picked up from Shasta:
1. Invest in good nibs. Nibs (the part of the calligraphy pen you dip into ink and write with) can completely alter the final look of your calligraphy. Some create thick strokes, while others create thin lines. And cheap nibs can cause unevenness and splattering. Two that I’ve come to love are Nikko and Tachikawa.
2. If you buy one book about calligraphy, get Modern Calligraphy by Molly Suber Thorpe. She has great tips and fun wedding projects, plus dozens of different styles of calligraphy to practice.
3. Which brings me to . . . practice, practice, practice! Don’t make your envelopes your first-ever calligraphy project. A few months before invites are scheduled to go out, start training your hand to write with a calligraphy pen. I try to do this a few nights a week (while watching Say Yes to the Dress, of course).
Even if you aren’t sure the DIY route is for you when it comes to addressing your envelopes, at least give it a try. Learning calligraphy has seriously been one of the most rewarding parts of wedding planning! Plus, it’s so relaxing and takes away from some of the planning-related stress.