How to Hand Address Invitations

Lettering samples & photos by Natasha Lawrence

Things You'll Need

  • Calligraphy pens
  • Practice paper or wide-ruled paper
  • Envelope templates
  • Lettering style books

Brides spend a considerable amount of time and expense shopping for wedding invitations. When it's time to address them, calligraphy ("beautiful writing") is the preferred way to complement the beautiful invitations and make a great impression on guests who will receive them. Whether you address the invitations yourself or rely on a friend with good handwriting, the proper writing tools and basic techniques will help you to create elegant hand-written envelopes. It also shows how much you care about this special event.

Atoya & Zig calligraphy pens

Get the right equipment. Office-supply stores and craft shops carry a variety of calligraphy (hand-lettering) tools. These are pens that have different nib widths. An example is the Shaeffer pen that uses ink cartridges in blue, black and blue-black ink. Experiment with the interchangeable nibs to determine which you prefer. There are also calligraphy pens with double nibs that come in different color inks, ready to use.

Move the pen at the same angle.

Check your local library for books on the art of calligraphy and hand lettering. Bookstores also offer a good variety of guides. Although some may appear a little intimidating, all have basic principles and lots of examples that will be very helpful in this project. The most important thing to learn is how to hold a calligraphy pen: at about a 45-degree angle, facilitating lettering with wide and narrow features--the essence of beautiful writing. It's different than writing with a ballpoint pen.

Keep the pen rigid in your fingers. Move your entire hand as you write, to keep the pen at the proper angle. You can rest your palm on the table for support and place your envelope away from your body. Practice on wide-ruled paper. Left-handed writers can learn beautiful writing just as right-handed people can.

Write the letters in the same direction, equidistant from each other, and with the same size for lower-case letters. Study guide books and try different styles. Italic script is the easiest form to pick up. Learn the basics before moving on to fancier letters with flourishes.

Envelope templates

When you're ready to address envelopes, create simple templates with a vertical center line (by hand using a ruler or computer) to fit inside your envelope. These will include four lines for the name, street address, city, state and zip code. Envelopes being sent out of the country require a different format, which necessitates a fourth line. The template lines can be seen from the outside of the envelope, helping you to write straight.


  • It may be worth investing in a "light box" (available at craft shops) that helps you see the template lines and keeps your writing even. Before addressing an envelope, practice on lined paper to see how the lettering would fit on the envelope for proper balance and appearance. Learning the basics of beautiful writing will help you address other kinds of envelopes for different occasions.