How to get DIY deckle edges on your wedding invitations

deckle edge paper

With it's naturally uneven edges, handmade paper adds a romantic texture to your wedding invitations. The "deckle edge" is a natural by-product of hand making paper on a screen. If you'd like to re-create this look for your DIY printed invitations, one way is to buy actual handmade paper. You can try to find handmade paper via local artisans or craft fairs, or you can buy handmade paper from these online suppliers:

Humble and Stone

White Dragon Paper

Idyll Paper

Saint Signora

Share Studios

In addition to being somewhat hard to source (it has to be made piece by piece, and sometimes ordered well in advance), handmade paper can be pricey. If what you really love about handmade paper is just the deckle edge, you can get the same effect yourself by hand-tearing sheets of paper. 

There are two keys to getting a perfect hand torn deckle edge: 100% cotton paper and water. 

water and brush

100% cotton paper has the right texture and fiber content to create the perfect ragged edge. For this tutorial, I used cotton paper from Paper Source (ask a sales associate to show you which one it is!) You can also buy large sheets of cotton paper from well-stocked art supply stores. You can choose either text weight (lighter) or cover weight (heavier) cotton paper, depending on what look and feel you're going for. 

The second key is to use water and a brush to wet the paper where you'd like to tear it. Here's a comparison of how text weight cotton paper looks when it is folded and torn versus wetted with a brush and torn. You can see that the deckle edge on the folded side is barely visible.  

folded vs wet paper

I've found that when using text weight paper, as I did in this tutorial, the best effect comes from only wetting and tearing the paper - not folding it at all before tearing. If you're using cover weight or any type of thicker paper, the best edge comes from both wetting and folding before tearing. For thicker paper, I actually wet, fold, wet again, start tearing, wet again half way through, and finish tearing for each side of the paper. But, for the rest of this tutorial, I'll continue with instructions for thinner, text weight paper. 

You'll want to make sure that the files for your invitation have a box around them showing where the paper should be torn (just ask when ordering from us!). Then, go ahead and print the invitations on your cotton paper. It's easier to tear if you leave a lot of extra space around the pieces, but if you're trying to conserve paper it's ok to do as many as possible per page, it will just be a little more tedious to tear those tiny pieces off the edges. 

printed invitation with boxes

Then, just wet along the tear lines with a brush. Make sure the paper is thoroughly soaked, and try to place the water line a little on the inside of the black line. 

wetting the paper for deckle edge

While the tear line is still wet, tear off the edge of the paper. I find it works best when you can curl back the margin part of the paper, not the actual invitations themselves, or else they'll get misshapen. You'll probably only be able to tear one or two sides at a time before you have to re-wet the paper. The tear line follow the water line really well.

tearing paper

Depending on how precise you were able to be, you might still see some of the black guideline after tearing. You can just take your brush, re-wet the edge, and pull off little chunks of paper until you get rid of all the black bits. Remember, it shouldn't be perfect! It should be natural and organic, and you can get away with pretty rough edges still looking nice. 

re-wetting edge
tearing off small pieces

Continue tearing out all the pieces. It can be a slow process, but it will be worth it!

complete deckle edge invitation set
deckle edge wedding invitation suite

I also tried this with Paper Source's plantable seed paper, which was much more fibrous and tan-colored than the cotton paper, but it gave an interesting effect. 

plantable seed paper deckle edge

Good luck with your deckle edge invitations!

finished deckle edge invitation suite