Calligraphy vs Engraving vs Hand-Addressed Invitations- Rude?

posted 3 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
10748 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: February 2014

I don’t think any method of mailing invitations is rude. As long as it’s legible! It’s just an envelope that’s gonna get thrown out immediately once it arrives to its destination anyway. 

Post # 4
592 posts
Busy bee

@Pinkmoon:  +1000

However since you said that your wedding is upscale, and I am assuming that budget is not an issue, then hire a calligrapher if you love the look of it.

Post # 5
1015 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

@Pinkmoon:  +1

I have a friend who hired a calligrapher.  They were stunning, but because of all the fancy frills, the post office scanners couldn’t read them and they were returned to the couple.  Lots of money wasted.  When I eventually got one, it looked great for a second, and then I promptly threw the envelope into the trash.  I used printed labels for save the dates, and put the invitation envelopes through our printer.

I think the notion that invitations should be addressed by hand is a bit antiquated, and no one will think less of you or your wedding if they were addressed by a printer.  There are some labels that are fancy and wrap around the envelope with give you some pomp and circumstance without requiring any hand addressing.

Post # 6
4163 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: July 2012 - Baltimore Museum of Industry

I did the lightly print/copy over for about 8 invites (older guests who might actually notice), and it was a pain in the butt. Everyone else had computer generated ones. (gasp!) I wasn’t going to pay the money for a calligrapher, and while I tried, it wasn’t very pretty.

I agree that LEGIBLE mailings are always preferred. 🙂

Save the dates can have standard labels or just your regular handwriting. Save writing the addresses by hand for your thanks yous- that’s much more personal and people will notice that.

Post # 7
3623 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

@MrsChristopher:  In general, I notice right away if they are electronically done.  am not sure where you work, but I have really long, borning conference calls. I practiced my cursive taking notes during meetings for 6 months. It got really good! You need it for thank you notes too. With a Sharpie caligraphy pen, it looked really nice.

If you don’t want to go that route, find a bridesmaid or a mom with decent cursive and beg her to do them. If that doesn’t work, hire someone. It doesn’t have to be a professional– several church ladies were willing to do my friend’s for a really nice dinner and company.

Post # 8
1644 posts
Bumble bee


Best choice: handwriting. A well-bred lady is supposed to be able to write a clear, elegant hand; and addressing them thus yourself shows your willingness to pay personal attention to your guests. Since there are some people who pay attention to your outer envelope, you will be showcasing for them your good breeding and your generosity.

Second best choice: calligraphy or direct printing onto the envelope from a flat-bed vector printer. This choice does not show off your well-bred hand, and uses commercial services to achieve an aesthetically pleasing result which alas lacks the individual personal attention of handwriting — although they may look much, much prettier. If you actually own a vector printer (or can produce your own commercial-quality calligraphy) then you in fact are spending your personal attention on your guests, but since it looks commercial they won’t know about so they won’t feel any more loved than if it were in fact commercially done.

Third best choice: Printing with a raster printer from a round platen directly onto the envelope or onto labels. Feeding envelopes into a roller scrunches the envelopes slightly and involves finicky alignments and lots of misfeeds. It requires a great deal of personal attention unless you luckily achieve alignment between the idiosyncracies of your stationery and the idiosyncracies of your hardware. You will certainly be spending plenty of personal attention on your guests if you go this route, but when/if you succeed the envelopes will be reasonably attractive and very legible. Labels are somewhat less attractive but much easier to make legible; and there are various choices you can make to render them less unattractive, such as clear or wrap-around labels. If you go this route, it is purely an aesthetic decision, not an etiquette decision, which of the available computer-printed options you choose.

Note that the outer envelope is not really part of your social correspondence anyway. It is a business document between you and the postal service, and must conform to the business needs of the service you are contracting. So follow the post office’s guidelines and ensure the envelopes are legible. If your guest’s household has staff (or an overworked housewife filling in for her lack of staff) the invitation will be removed from the outer envelope when it arrives and delivered to the addressees clad only in its elegant inner envelope (if any) or in its own hand-written personalized glory (if it has a write-in line and no inner envelope) and no-one but the staff (or overworked housewife) will ever see the inner envelope.

Post # 9
432 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: February 2014

@aspasia475:  “A well-bred lady…”

Really? From a woman with fairly decent handwriting: That intro line made me crinkle my forehead just a tad, as I do find it insulting of you to imply that those whom don’t aren’t “well-bred”. Not to mention that the entire statement is a little bit sexist. 

Post # 10
5935 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2013

I took my envelopes to a local print shop and had the names/addresses printed on them with a pretty script lettering. I’ve gotten nothing but compliments on my invitations. 


Post # 11
1644 posts
Bumble bee

@smv22114:  Actually, the entire field of etiquette is just a little bit sexist. That does not mean you have to be sexist yourself. When you have a nice solid basis in what the assumptions are that underpin all the little rules and details, you can start to figure out where to jiggle the system to achieve what you want to achieve without breaking parts you didn’t want to break, or incurring other undesired consequences.

Incidentally, a well-bred gentleman is also supposed to have an attractive and legible hand. And those hand-written invitations should be hand-written in black india ink, not with a BIC.

By etiquette maven standards, I am a rebellious free-for-all-er: I do not in the least object to innovations like ball-point pens and flat-bed printers. But I do think that those who wish to one-up everyone else by decrying labels and ink-jets, should be prepared to be held to equally inflexible standards for their own handwriting and choice of tools. And I do think that those who lack a clear elegant hand, will find that developing the skill will come in, er, “handy” in ways they cannot now expect.

Post # 12
1629 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2014 - Church

@MrsChristopher:  Not rude. At all. No one ultimately cares except those that are complete snobs. Oh, and no one really cares or will remember. Hand writing it is a really nice personal touch but not necessary.

Post # 13
1992 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: March 2014

I found a calligrapher on Etsy for $1/envelope who would do the style I wanted and had great reviews. 

It was worth $100 to have beautiful invitations to me.

Post # 13
3 posts

@Miss_Leopard : Would you mind sharing her name?  

Post # 14
1236 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2014 - San Francisco, CA

No one will care about the envelope – good, bad, ugly, whatever. As long as it has the correct information on it and is legible, you’re in the clear.

Post # 15
145 posts
Blushing bee

I have learned a little something interesting addressing things over the year. Regular handwriting looks kinda like calligraphy when you use a Calligraphy marker. Try it. Its amazing how neat it looks!

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