Artisans of the Pen


By Maraya Bien

You have your heart set on having the most elegant wedding this side of the continent. You’ve spent a great deal of time, effort and money in acquiring the most stylish and graceful wedding elements. You spent hours going over color swatches to make sure you pick the most elegant and sophisticated color there is for your wedding’s motif. You had your initials embossed on the table napkins. You made sure that your gown, from the smallest stitch to intricate beadwork, was entirely by capable hands.

So how would you feel if we tell you that something as seemingly mundane as the envelope you put your invitation into can ruin all the preparations you made to ensure that your wedding is as opulent as it can be?

You might not believe it, but there are great issues involved in addressing the envelopes that will hold your wedding invitation.

According to etiquette experts Nancy Tuckerman and Nancy Dunnan, there are two things marrying couples must never do when addressing envelopes. First is addressing it using “sloppy handwriting.” Sloppy, or even mediocre, handwriting shows that you don’t care enough about your wedding to ensure an acceptable over-all appearance for your invitation. The second is addressing them using a computer or typewriter. This, according to the two, is “just not done.”

Fortunately, your, um, less-than-acceptable penmanship, does not spell the end for the special and elegant wedding of your dreams. When all your attempts at handwriting the addresses on the envelopes yourself fail, you can always call on professional calligraphers to give you a hand (no pun intended.)

Professional hand calligraphers are artists that use the painstakingly delicate and time consuming techniques of writing beautifully and artistically to label your envelopes. They use their masterful eye and skillful hand to address your envelope and turn ordinary paper into exquisite works of art. Every detail, curve and emphasis they put on the letters serves to add distinction and old-world elegance to your wedding invitations, a feat impossible to achieve with computers and printers.

Tips from the Expert If you want that artistically-penned look for your invitations but is trying to keep wedding expenses at a minimum (and not following proper wedding etiquette is the least of your concerns) then you might want to try downloading fonts from the Internet. Websites like 1001 Fonts and Font Paradise offer free downloadable fonts you can have your printers use for your envelopes.

Hand calligraphers offer you the chance to personalize your invitations. Unlike in using computers where your only option is to work with what fonts are installed in your hard disk, hand calligraphers, as professional calligrapher Janine Cuenca-Dario points out, can add “embellishments” or simplify the font’s style, depending on what you want. She further states that in contrast to printers, hand calligraphy gives you the absolute freedom to choose what kind of paper you want to use, thus, ensuring that the over-all look of your invitation truly reflects your taste.

Why the big fuss?

You have to realize that your wedding invitation is not simply a piece of paper you use to announce your impending marriage– it is the very first glimpse to your wedding that your guests get. It gives them an idea of what to expect and, as calligrapher Apple de Guzman said in an interview, it “sets the tone” for your wedding.

Just like other things handmade, having your envelopes addressed by a professional hand calligrapher costs more than having them printed by computer.

But Ms. De Guzman gives the best reason why shelling out a few hundred pesos more for a hand calligrapher’s work is worth it: it “sends the message that this wedding is a bit more special.”

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Bonifacio, Tina, “Lovingly by Hand.” Metro Weddings, Vol. 6 No.2

Tuckermann, Nancy, Dunnan, Nancy. The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette. New York, USA: Doubleday, 1995.