When I started thinking about the invitations, I had just thought some simple pieces of paper in an envelope with information on it will suffice…boy was I about to be hit in the head by a proverbial 2×4.  There can be simple invites, but there are also what is now known to me as invitation suites; a whole booklet of invitation information.

Image via Weddingbee
Anyway, our whole invitation process will have to wait until after our guests have received their own invitations. (I’d say at least another 4 months.)
This post relates to the fancy writing on those pretty papers.  Now, I know most people these days have fallen in love with embossing and letterpress, but those were not in our budget at all.  As I soon found out, neither is custom calligraphy.  So, as with so many out-of-budget projects before, I thought I could learn calligraphy.  A money-saving project and a new skill, all in one swing!
I bought a well-rated calligraphy set online and was pretty excited when it arrived.  Sadly, I didn’t touch that thing for 3 months.  After that, it was another 4 months before I really broke it out and started playing with it.  During that time, our guest list began to grow, so I knew there was no way I was going to make the whole invitation, but I thought I could at least address all the envelopes, plus the inner names.  From reading others’ experiences, I knew I was going to need some practice time.  I didn’t want to waste ink on just practicing, so I waited until I had a project that I needed to write, but wasn’t so important if I messed up.  Then I remembered I had to write on the back of all my tags on the jelly I made for our favors. If I messed up, no epic fail on this one.  I had about 300 tags to write, so I figured by the end of that, I should have things under control.
A little side note…I have terrible handwriting.  If I take my time and think about what I am writing, it’s legible, but usually not.  I remember frequently in high school, my papers were mistaken for a boy’s because of my awful penmanship.  I don’t even want to explain my signature.
So I broke out my little kit and went to town.  For anybody wanting to try their own calligraphy, here are my lessons learned:
1) Buy a good calligraphy set (if you know you will really use it).  The kit I bought was highly recommended, but it was a cheaper set.  I think it was just meant for someone who wanted to try it out, which was exactly what I was looking for, at first.  Afer a few hundred tags, by finger was getting rubbed raw from the plastic grip.  It did come with a very nice instruction book and 3 different tips.
2) Take your time…really!  If you think you can write as fast as you want or as fast as you usually write, you are in for really sloppy calligraphy.
one of my first attempts
3) It is really hard to write in a straight line.  I started laying a piece of paper with a dark line underneath the tag, so I would have something to follow.  This is what happened whan I didn’t follow a line.  This might be simple for people who can write legibly to start with.  (You have to remember my bad regular handwriting)
not in a straight line
Not in a straight line
4) Try out different styles, but then try to remember which ones they were, and stick to making each letter look the same.  I tried making something fancy, and I tried simple.
a bit fancier (still not straight)getting a little better
5)  Remember to lift and set (again, taking your time).  Calligraphy letter are all about different pieces, not one fluid motion.  I had to remember this is not a ball point pen that rolls.  This is a piece of straight metal…it doesn’t like to roll.
Once I remembered to take my time and have fun with it, I came out with some pretty cool looking writing.

 Alas, my last lesson:

6) Don’t bite off more than you chew.  I wanted to do a lot of writing.  After just 300 words, I wanted to quit!  I now realize why calligraphy is so expensive!  There was no way I was going to have the patience to address over 250 invitation!  My new goal is to at least have some fun and use calligraphy to write the names on the inner envelope. 
Anyone else start a project, then figure out sometimes things were better left to the professionals?