DIYdiy projects

diy wedding idea: faux-fancy handwriting

by Grace Bonney

after just finishing hand-addressing 75 wedding invitations i can tell you that sometimes it’s tough to keep a steady hand. unfortunately calligraphy wasn’t in our wedding budget so when it came time to send out invites i was left with two options: computer printing or hand writing. because i stupidly stuffed the envelopes and sealed them before addressing my only choice was to hand write each address (the contents weren’t flat enough to run through a printer).

after about 7 envelopes i was cursing myself for not having better writing and not being able to write in a straight line to save my life. so when i heard from jennifer about her great faux-fancy handwriting idea i was so excited. jennifer was writing out her own invites and wanted a calligraphy look without the high cost, so she came up with a really clever idea for a great diy alternative. basically, she chose her favorite fancy font on her computer (you can buy some great ones here) and printed each address on the envelope in a slightly darker ink color so it was faint enough to see after printing. then jennifer went back over the lettering with a white paint pen, covering up the printed portion and giving it a more hand-written look. the result is a combination of the neatness and elegance you’d expect with a printed address and the handmade qualities that come from putting actual pen to paper. jennifer’s full steps are spelled out right here and they’re a great idea for anyone planning a party, a wedding or any event where invitations are involved. thanks, jennifer!

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  • This looks great, but unfortunately, is not good for actually getting your invitations delivered to your intended recipients. It’s really not compatible with how the post office sorts mail.

  • I definitely believe that wedding invitations should be hand written. What a wonderful tool this is for other projects, too!

  • You can also buy some beautiful handwritten calligraphy fonts at http://www.calligraphyfonts.com. I used them for envelopes, place cards, programs, table numbers, etc. and they looked handwritten. They don’t have a huge variety, but what they do have is very pretty.

  • Love this idea, have to save this idea when I get my act together enough to have wedding invites. Hey Grace, would love to hear your ideas on how you even got started with the wedding stuff…to me it’s all really overwhelming…I think we have at least decided on a coast – but have yet to figure out where on the east coast! Any tips you have would be great.

  • melissa

    i’m going to out myself as a huge dork right now, but last week i watched a pbs special on how the usps sorts mail and things like this actually get read pretty easily. anything that can’t be read by the computer (you’d be amazed at what it CAN read) gets scanned and hand-entered by usps workers, so these are definitely safe to send.

    i always wonder how more decorative calligraphy gets figured out but apparently the usps has seen it all before and can handle it. they’re a pretty impressive group ;)


  • shashi

    if you go over to the martha stewart wedding blog i’ve actually been posting weekly there on my wedding planning :)


  • This is a freakin’ fantastic idea. I’m so stealing it. And I’ve been following you MS blog. Thanks for that!

  • Very cool. I wish I had known about it for my wedding! But I have to say it’s very heartening to know that I’m not alone in not being able to afford calligraphy. Thanks for the post!

  • This has me so excited right now. I am going to use this only on an invitation for where the names go! I am designing for a friend who is also on a budget. Thanks!!!

  • These are sooo beautiful. Even though I’m an artist, I would not have the patience to do the process outlined by Jennifer. She had to go over the lettering twice with her white opaque ink to get it to show up on the brown paper.

  • I prefer handwritten addresses to printed ones on invites. Whether a calligrapher does it or you use your best penmanship it feels so much more personal and special to me. Great idea!

  • Very ingenious solution. Although I’d probably cop out and get everything printed, because seriously? I’m lazy like that.

  • This is a great idea! I’m a designer and have ornamental handwriting, but not everyone does (including clients who are on a budget). An awesome DIY.

    On the issue of postage and practicality. . . well, I always joke that the post office hates me, because I love to send nonstandard and hand addressed mail. There is a surcharge for mail that is “nonstandard” or “nonmachinable” so it might be a good idea to take these down to your local post office and see if they require additional postage.

  • What an amazing idea! I can think of so many uses for this technique. I always love to do place cards at dinner parties and this would make them look so much nicer.

  • Another great idea is to print out the addresses in a fancy font, like Bickham Script. But print the addresses out backwards and on a Laser Printer. It must be on a laser printer for this to work. Place your print out face down on the envelope. Then using Acetone (which you can purchase at any hardware store) on a cotton swab on the back side and it will transfer onto your envelope.

    Plus, it gives a great grunge look. Just do a few practices, before you get started. Makes for a great faux printed look. Good luck!

  • Oh, this would have been a great way to handle our invites! My mom, my husband and I hand-addressed our envelopes, but my mom was the only one who had pretty, decorative cursive! Mine looked like a 4th grader, so after two attempts, I switched to my print handwriting (which I like, but it certainly didn’t look wedding formal!) And my husband’s? Well, let’s just say it was good he was able to write legibly enough for the Post Office to decipher. Should I ever have to help address wedding invites again, I am keeping this in mind! Thanks for the post.

  • Smart, creative people rock the world. This has so many applications…thanks for the post. And the light on brown looks magnificent.

  • (Hey everyone, this is the author of the original post) Since it’s come up a few times… I did take the first one I made to the post office down the street to make sure they were legible, and they said it shouldn’t be a problem :)

  • A great idea, but not really time-saving…

    After adressing 346 invitations by hand (yep, I’m a survivor), I’d really wish poeple would stop saying “it’s more personal when it’s written by hand”. Sure, it is, and it’s more elegant too, but it is so long and boring… Gosh, I wish I had had the guts to use that function on excel that prints adresses automatically…

    As a result, it took me almost six months to write our 250 thank-you cards (husband had a really good excuse for not helping). By my own, very tired hand.

  • I can’t wait to try this. This would be great for an extra special touch on Christmas cards. Now I just have to remember this when that time rolls around.

  • I have a crafting date tonight with a girlfriend to make her sister’s invitations– how timely! I’m so passing this on, the idea is cheap but looks expensively elegant. Thanks!

  • ok, so i JUST got back from mailing some additional wedding envelopes and they said that something like this is no problem.

    my envelopes are made from kraft paper and i used white ink as well and they’re sadly no where near as neat and legible as these- so if mine are ok, these are definitely ok. there’s no extra charge for using white ink or doing something decorative like this. the only extra charges are related to weight or envelope size/shape.


  • Wow, Grace you are totally an awesome and loveable dork for watching a PBS show about how mail is processed! But look how it comes in handy, haha! I am another bride who is also completely stealing this idea, props to jennifer for figuring this out!

  • and the coup de grâce? i spent 2 hours today working on a roundup for next week while watching on-demand episodes of “the dog whisperer” and “dog town”. i love a good national geographic show ;)


  • I get hung up on stupid stuff, but, Grace, how did you print the font on the envelopes if yours were already stuffed and too thick?

  • lauren

    i had to hand write mine- i just wanted to share this with people who hadn’t already stuffed theirs ;)


  • What brand and type of white paint pen was used? I’ve had nothing but problems with the white pens I’ve bought–the ink flow is awful. If I could find a good white pen I’d use it a lot more!

  • Brilliant. I will definitely pass this idea along to my DIY readers. Yes, time consuming…but could be a fun project with a lovely outcome.

  • When I see things like this, I think.. how did I not think of this before? I love it. I love hand addressing everything, but it would be nice to swap out my own handwriting for my favorite font once in a while.

  • I did this for my wedding a couple of years ago- all the invites went through the mail with no problems. Also several people inquired about which calligrapher I had used :-)

  • I did something similar to what Elizabeth did. Didn’t have a lightbox, though, so I used our glass table and stuck a lamp with the shade removed under it. I used a very bright bulb and it was quite easy to complete.

  • This is a brilliant idea! I *just* sent out my save the dates, addressed in my regular old handwriting, but I am definitely doing this for the invitations!! Thank you, Grace!!

  • i did a similar “cheat” on my wedding invitations. i printed the addresses in beautiful font. then i placed my ecru envelopes on a light tracer- or you can use an overhead projector, and traced the font with a calligraphy pen. it looked beautiful.

  • I saw this idea during my wedding planning and did it! I had no issues with my invites getting to my recipients. I got SO much great feedback and NO ONE knew that I had ‘cheated’. As much as you may be tracing a font, THIS IS STILL HANDWRITTEN. Why, because there are still ‘flaws’ and because it takes a LOOOONG time. In fact, if the point of handwriting invites is the personal touch and time it takes that makes it so special, then this method trumps handwriting! :)

  • I LOVE calligraphy!

    My fiance thought it was an “unnecessary expense” so we decided to compromise. Silly boys :)

    We had our place cards and invitations done by a calligrapher, but we were able to find a place online (Bachcroft) that printed all of our guests names onto clear address labels for about $40! Luckily they offered a typestyle that looks almost exactly like what is on our invitations.

    I highly recommend that every couple with a budget check them out.

  • I am really impressed with this idea! So simple, but I am SURE that I wouldn’t have thought about it. I have decided to copy and modify. I’m going to trace the letters with a glue pen, sprinkle on some embossing powder and hit it with an embossing gun. Viola! :o) Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Thank you for posting this great idea! I just finished addressing over 200 wedding invitations for my daughter’s wedding using this method. They turned out absolutely beautiful! Thanks again for sharing!

  • Oh no! I want to use this so badly, I am picking up my invites tonight! I just went to the link and it is not working. Anybody can give me the information? Thank you so much!

  • Sorry for the obvious Q, but can a regular printer be sized to print envelopes?? this is all new to me! Thanks

  • does anyone have a site that has different fonts for making wedding
    Bride & Groom chair signs?