Penmanship by Paula: Invitation Etiquette

Penmanship by Paula: Invitation Etiquette


{Paula on the right, with daughter Meredith}

Good morning, brides! We’re so excited we got the chance to sit down with calligraphy extraordinaire, Paula Davis—a.k.a. Penmanship by Paula this past week. We left with lots of tips on wedding invitation etiquette and all things calligraphy.

Paula does save-the-dates, bridal and wedding showers, rehearsal dinners–any special occasion. She does one style–traditional copper plate. She loves her “M”s because they’re always beautiful and perfectly curved. Lucky for you, most wedding invitation envelopes include multiple “M”s—for Mr. and Mrs.!


Price point? Starts at $0.75 per line–if you do gold ink it gets more expensive. I work with ink and real pens, no markers.

Why calligraphy over printed invitations? If you have a beautifully done invitation, particularly engraved, letterpressed or thermographed–there’s just something about the hand-doneness of the calligraphed envelope. Handwriting is nice too! It’s an expense, but you want it all to match. Not many of us get mail anymore, so when you get something beautifully done, you feel it’s going to be a special wedding. The calligraphy is the first thing you see–you think “this is going to be something!” Even people that throw away the envelope still appreciate the beauty of the calligraphy. (and oh! The horror—the thought of someone throwing away her hard work!)

Should invitations & save-the-dates match? No, not necessarily—save-the-dates are often more casual, but they certainly could match!


When should you send out your wedding invitations? Most brides send them no earlier than 8 weeks ahead of time and no less than 6 weeks.

Give us the scoop about inner and outer envelopes. What is necessary and what’s not? The ones with the inner envelopes are the most formal. ⅓ of my clients are doing outer only, while ⅔ of her clients are going with both outer and inner envelopes. With the inner envelope, you can include children’s names and guests. It’s perfect for a formal wedding. Anyone over 18 is supposed to get their own invitation. If you know the guest’s name, put their name on the envelope—especially if it’s a fiancé of a guest.

Are there any pieces of advice you might have for brides about envelope wording? Common misconceptions or mistakes? On an invitation, you don’t abbreviate. Have the complete address with avenue, boulevard, drive, street, etc. included. It looks kind of funny when the address is incomplete. I ask my brides to spell everything out when they send me their guest lists so I don’t have to stop and think “how do I spell it?” It just makes it easier.

Should brides include their wedding websites on their invitations? Don’t put your wedding website on the invitation–you could put it on a hotel reservations card or supplemental card.  Don’t put registry info on there at all. (but registry info should be on your wedding website)

How do you feel about weddings and social media? I think it’s really fun! We’ve been to a couple of weddings recently where they had a board to tell guests what hashtag to use so they could see photos. I wouldn’t recommend taking photos in the church though. The nice thing about the hashtag is you can go on Instagram and see all the photos that were taken!


Any last pieces of advice? It’s very important for any invitation, whether calligraphy or printed, that you use the wedding stamps or beautiful stamps. There should be a margin around the stamp, not dead in the corner.

I enjoy doing [the calligraphy business] because it’s for a happy occasion.  A beautiful invitation sets the tone for a wedding–guests will dress up!  Good handwriting or beautiful calligraphy is a thing of beauty and I enjoy sharing it with brides.

Thank you so much to Penmanship by Paula! If you’d like to contact her, please email her at or call her at 214-642-6283.


Patsy's Signature