Calligraphy Week I: Beautiful Writing

Happy Monday everyone, and welcome to Calligraphy Week! This week, we will introduce you to four talented calligraphers who will share a few tips and give us some insight into the way they work and their overall style.

To start things off, I thought I would share a little information about this beautiful art form and what to look for when you decide to hire a calligrapher…

Calligraphy literally means ‘beautiful writing’. The word originated from the Greek ‘kalli’ (which means beautiful) and ‘graphia’ (which means writing). The fluid and expressive lines of calligraphy can really add a timeless, personal touch to your envelopes, place cards or whatever item it’s added to. There is an undeniable artistry and craftsmanship that goes into every letter form and in this digital age where so many things are mass-produced, it’s wonderful to know that this form of art still survives.

Everyone’s wedding budget and list of priorities will differ (and I know we at betsywhite are probably a little biased due to our love for all things paper) but if it is at all possible, try to include calligraphy in your list of ‘must-haves’. Your guests will love to see their names written in unique hand lettering and there’s nothing like a beautifully addressed envelope (along with a selection of well-chosen stamps) to really set the tone for your wedding or special event.

{above, calligraphy details add a timeless touch to these beautiful wedding cakes}

There are many different types of calligraphy, ranging from heavily flourished, almost abstract letter forms to simple, modern type styles.  Also, although the tools of the trade are essentially the same (pen, ink and paper), each calligrapher will add their own individual style to those different types of calligraphy. So the first thing to do is determine what type of calligraphy you like and what will work best with the style of invitations you plan to order.

Along with searching online, it’s also a good idea to ask for referrals from your stationer, wedding planner or friends and family who might have used a calligrapher for their own event. Of course, we will also be showcasing four amazing calligraphers on Flights of Fancy this week so you can also start your search right here!

Once you’ve narrowed your list down to two or three favorites, be sure to ask how their pricing is structured. Since calligraphy is truly an art form, each calligrapher will probably price their work differently – some will charge by the line, some will charge by the envelope or even by the writing style, with more elaborate styles being more expensive. A calligrapher might also charge by the project if you are requesting a special item like a Ketubah or custom map.

Finally, when doing your research, don’t be afraid to ask questions! Before you hire a calligrapher (or any wedding vendor, for that matter), you need to make sure you’re both on the same page. Ask to see samples, ask about their process – ask any question you feel will help you to make the best decision.

{in the images above, heavily flourished letter forms are used as art in the backdrops of these photos}

Hopefully these tidbits will be helpful along the way…

1. Research and book your calligrapher as early as possible to ensure you can both fit into each others schedule.

2. There’s no need to limit yourself to local calligraphers – most will ship nationally and internationally.

3. Always order extra envelopes so your calligrapher will have an overage in case of errors.

4. Schedule to have your envelopes completed a week or two before you need to mail your invitations. This will give you enough time to stuff and stamp the envelopes and have any errors corrected.

5. Ask you calligrapher exactly how you should format your mailing list – you will need to make it as clear as possible to avoid unnecessary errors. Also double (and triple) check the list before you send it.

6. Although most calligraphers will catch and correct mistakes before sending your envelopes, recheck your items as soon as you receive them to ensure there is enough time to have an error corrected if one happens to slip through the cracks.

Tomorrow we introduce our first calligraphy feature…stay tuned!

Photo Credits:
Calligraphy Week header: calligraphy by Moya Minns of MM Ink
Green & blue envelopes (row 3): calligraphy by Moya Minns, photo via Caribbean Bride
Calligrapher at work: Anne Elser, photographed by Claudia López Photography
All other photos: Martha Stewart Weddings

  • Lisa

    February 2, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Happy Monday! I’m so delighted you are doing a calligraphy feature, and I am very much looking forward to this week’s posts!

    – Lisa, Pen & Ink Calligraphy

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