Working With A Calligrapher: Part II


Hello again and thanks for tuning into the second part of “Working With A Calligrapher”. Here are more tips and inside knowledge to know when working with a calligrapher, I hope it’s helpful for you!


It Is Ideal To Have Guest Lists 2-3 Weeks Before the Wedding

For those of us who have gone through the wedding planning process, we understand how hard it can be to get RSVPs on time. At my own wedding we had a very last minute guest addition which caused us to have to rearrange 4 different tables… so from personal experience, I understand the struggles of the GUEST LIST haha. And most of us calligraphers understand that you might have last minute changes, and that is fine. However, please try to get us your completed guest list no later than 2-3 weeks before the wedding. This is especially true for seating charts. Seating charts are pretty time consuming and we usually organize them in some type of program before we put them on to the large wood sign, acrylic sign or mirror you are wanting.

Here are a few things I ask of my Brides/Grooms when it comes to the guest list:

  • Provide the ENTIRE Guest list/Seating Chart at once

    1. I often have couples ask “I have about 50% of the guest list, do you want me to send it over?” I kindly reply “no thank you!”. I understand that they are just trying to be helpful and that they have no idea this is a recipe for disaster, as names can get lost this way. Plus it tacks on a lot more work for your calligrapher because of the back and forth you’ll inevitably be doing.

  • Provide the Guest list/Seating Chart in an editable format

    1. Like I said previously, many of us are importing your lists into a program and if they are editable it’s a lot less time consuming. Plus it reduces errors since your calligrapher will be copying and pasting instead of retyping everything.

    2. A stacked format is preferred for both seating charts and guest lists.

  • If you do have a last minute change, update the document and send over a brand new, renamed file

    • I’ve had seating chart guest lists that have been changed 7 times… that means I had 7 different files in my email from the client. Luckily this Bride was on top of it and put “Guest List_Updated 7.27.17” so I knew it was the latest update. Please update the file name so it’s easily understood that it is the newest version.

    • Understand that last minute changes may add extra cost to your order.

Lastly, just remember that not everything has to be perfect. If Marsha Smith cancels at the last minute and her name is still on the seating chart… most likely no one is going to notice. So leave it on there, and save the money.


Proof Reading Is KING

Imagine the horror… you arrive at your venue the day of your wedding to see that your calligrapher misspelled your soon to be Husband’s name … ouch. You know what’s even worse? It was your fault because you didn’t spell check before you sent your calligrapher the copy for your wedding signs :(.

I cannot emphasize this enough, please, please, please spell check everything before you send it to us. We have no idea how your friends and family spell their names, so we won’t be able to tell if something is spelled incorrectly.

And it’s not just guest lists to check…. bar signs, menu offerings, bible verses, addresses etc… everything needs to be checked with a fine tooth comb. I remember seeing a fellow calligrapher post a bar sign on Instagram and one of the signature drinks said “Makes and sprite”… I quickly messaged her and said that I think “Makes” is supposed to be “Maker’s (like Maker’s Mark Whiskey”)… sure enough I was right. This particular calligrapher didn’t have alcohol knowledge, so how would she know? Her client had sent her a menu with the misspelling. That little flub cost the couple a brand new sign.

I have countless stories about this, but I’ll spare you ;). Please just spell check and review everything you send us! It will make both of our lives easier.

Photo by Hey Beauti Magazine

Photo by Hey Beauti Magazine

Don’t Be Afraid To Book Us Early

With all the other vendors that you have to book so far in advance (Venue, Photographer, Caterer etc…) it’s easy to forget about your calligrapher. But don’t wait too long. Some of us book up early and if you are contacting us a month before your wedding it might be too late :( I will say that for me personally (living in San Diego) May and October are my busiest months. So if you are getting married in those months in San Diego… don’t wait to book with someone! There’s no harm in booking us early, but if you wait too long you could miss out on the specific calligrapher you want.

I have clients who have booked me 9 months in advance and I typically really like this because it allows me to schedule out well for the year.

Photo by Andrej Lišakov @lishakov

Photo by Andrej Lišakov @lishakov

Not all materials are created equally

One of my first calligraphy projects was wood signage for a friend. I had no idea that wood type mattered when I started the project (I was such a newbie)…. The Bride’s father was in construction and had tons of old scrap wood to use. I loved the idea of using the wood but in reality it was very difficult to work with. The wood had deep wood grains, that when written on made my calligraphy bumpy and uneven. I couldn’t produce the quality of work I wanted to because of the materials I was given. It was a good lesson to learn. 

If you are going to provide items for your calligrapher to write on, it’s a good idea to let them see the materials first. Not everything may get approved. We want to make you beautiful signs and paper goods, but we can’t do that if the material to write on isn’t the quality we need. 

Photo By Kayla Denae

Photo By Kayla Denae

Why Some Things Are More Expensive Than Others

One of the questions I have been asked is “Why are marble tiles so expensive?” Alone, marble tiles aren’t that expensive, it’s the time it takes to prepare them to be written on. When the marble tiles arrive, they are on a mesh sheet, and the mesh must be removed. Removing them from the mesh sheet is no easy task, as they must be soaked and then scrapped. This process can take anywhere from 2-5 hours (depending on the quantity) and hence why the price for marble tiles may be higher than you expected. 

Another item that is time consuming are wooden signs. A lot of prep goes into these babies! Sadly, when you go to a Michaels or Hobby lobby you’ll see wood signage for a very low price, that is because it was made in a factory (probably in a third world country where conditions for the workers are not the best) with poor quality wood. Wood takes time to work with, you must go to the store to buy it, then cut it, sand it, stain it and seal it… a process that can usually take an entire day. Then after all that the artist does artwork (personalized artwork) on the wood sign.

Ok, one last example… Custom wedding invitations. When I found out how much my fellow calligraphers were charging for wedding invitation design I was shocked. Granted at that time I had never produced a custom invitation suite. Now that I have produced a custom invitation suite… I can tell you without a doubt that charging $1,000-$4,000 for design (that doesn’t always include printing) is 100% within reason. You are talking up to 100 hours (sometimes more) of work. Time spent meeting with the couple, time producing mood boards, time for creating the artwork, time digitizing the artwork, time spent doing revisions, coordinating with the printing vendor…. it all adds up! Having a custom invitation suite created for you and your boo, that is 100% unique, that no one else has, is a wonderful investment! It is a really special item for your wedding guests to get in the mail. But just like my last post said, it may be a luxury and not a necessity for you.

More likely than not, there is a reason why your calligrapher charges what they do. Personally, I don’t mind if people question my pricing (however they rarely do). I am always happy to educate them as to why things cost what they do. I don’t take it personally!

A Few More Short Notes

Calligraphy Is Not A Font

This goes for items that are printed. There are “script” fonts that look like calligraphy but they are not calligraphy. These script fonts are super easy to work with as the graphic designer just downloads the font and types it in. On the other hand, Calligraphy is done by hand by someone, then digitized…a time consuming (but totally worth it!) process. I do know a calligrapher that had her calligraphy made into a font but it’s rather expensive (and rightly so!) but most of us do not turn our calligraphy into a font.

We LOVE When You Trust Us

When I get a Client who tells me “I trust your creativity” it’s like champagne just fell from the sky. There is nothing better than a client who loves my work and trusts me to create beautiful things for them.

Little Details of Joy

I don’t know what it is but people just love to see their names written all fancy. When I do live calligraphy events and write people’s names on agate, marble etc… their faces light up… they just love it! It’s a special touch to bring joy to your guests. Also, calligraphed envelopes are a fantastic way to make your wedding invitations that much more special… when a guest gets an envelope with calligraphy, it seems so much more personalized than a printed envelope. It goes without saying but “It’s all about the details” when it comes to producing a beautiful event!

Thank you for reading my blog, I hope you enjoyed it and it brings a little more transparency to the calligraphy world. At the end of the day I want to make my clients happy and I feel that the more we know about the other’s struggles and needs, the better we can serve each other!

Cheers! And happy planning :)