So you're planning your wedding, yay! You have probably seen beautiful calligraphy used in weddings on Pinterest, wedding blogs or Instagram. Do you know that you want to include calligraphy at your wedding, but you don't know where to start? I'm here to help! I have been doing wedding calligraphy for over 3 years now, and have worked on over 450 weddings, all over the world! So, I know the dos and don'ts of hiring a wedding calligrapher and how to find the right one.
Figure Out What You're Looking For
There are many different things you could want to feature calligraphy at your wedding. Seating Chart, Place Cards, Table Numbers, Signage, Invites, Envelopes, what are you looking for? If you want multiple things, find a calligrapher that offers all of them. You want to keep your décor consistent, and hiring multiple calligraphers with multiple styles could throw that off. Also, figure out what style you like. Every calligrapher has their own personal style and the right one will speak to you. Please, do not email a calligrapher a random photo and ask them to recreate that persons style. If you want that style, hire that calligrapher or one with a similar style. Calligraphers spend YEARS working on their style to perfect it and make it unique to them. Asking them to copy someone else's work is not just unethical, it's rude. Figure out if you want a little more than calligraphy. Do you want some floral illustrations? Watercolor painting? Printed invites? Find someone that has the ability to do all of those things. If you want more than basic calligraphy I would recommend searching for a calligrapher AND illustrator! A lot of artists, like myself, also do illustration or painting! If you don't know what someone offers, you can just ask! Be prepared with a color palette you're interested in, any inspiration photos, or photos of other elements from your wedding. The more you bring to the artist, the better they will be able to understand what you're looking for and be able to give you the most accurate quote.
Where to find a Calligrapher?
Now that you know what you're looking for, where can you find a calligrapher? If you want large signs or day of items, I suggest going with someone local. That way, you do not have to pay for shipping, and you can have someone come to the venue and letter on that amazing mirror you have been saving! To find local calligraphers you can do a google search (type in Maryland Calligrapher, Baltimore Calligrapher, Calligraphy Service Maryland), or search on Instagram! Instagram is my personal favorite way to promote my business to new clients because it's easy to update with photos every day! That way, clients can see my most recent work as of one hour ago! haha. I can also post a variety of work! If you go to search for someone on Instagram and type "Maryland Calligrapher" some should pop up! You can also check under hashtags like #MarylandCalligrapher or search under local wedding hashtags in general. Another amazing way to connect with a calligrapher is through your planner! There are a few planners that have me on speed dial and as soon as a bride mentions calligraphy they give me a call. Finding a calligrapher that your planner knows, can cut you out of the process and your planner can convey your vision, taking stress off of you!
On Harper's Bazaar's 10 trends to avoid for a wedding in 2019, faux calligraphy was high on the list. In their words "Nothing says we didn't want to pay for calligraphy like faux calligraphy", but I don't think that's always the case. There are so many "Calligraphers" out there charging for a product that have never even picked up a pointed pen. Most people may not even think about this, they see a script and think it's calligraphy.. but really it was done with a sharpie. You're hiring a calligrapher because you want your wedding to be luxe and classy, and sharpie is not that. If you do your research you will be able to tell whether it's real calligraphy or not. Google "pointed pen modern calligraphy" or "brush calligraphy" and look at the photos, then google faux calligraphy. You will be able to see a difference. Faux calligraphy is when someone writes something in basic cursive, and goes over the downstrokes another time to make them thicker. A lot of people selling faux calligraphy just market it as calligraphy, and they are charging close to the same prices. So, you might as well hire someone that has spent years studying and honing their craft instead of someone that just watched a YouTube tutorial. You can also tell if someone is the real deal by looking at their photos on social media. Do they have paint pens in their photo? Faux. Is there a pointed pen or brush and ink in any of the photos? Real. Also, take a look at their press page on their website. If they have been featured on high end wedding publications, they're most likely the real deal. These blogs and mags are very selective and know what they're looking for! If you're still not sure, just ask! Ask "what tools do you use?" or "how are you going to letter this on this?", if they're using pointed pen, most calligraphers will tell you! It takes years to learn pointed pen and when we get good at it, were really freakin proud.
Get to work
Now that you have a calligrapher all picked out, it's time to get to work! Some calligraphers have a pricing list on their websites (you can find mine HERE). These are usually a starting point, because each project really is so different, but this will give you an idea of the average pricing for certain things. You can use the list to see what is in your budget and what you would like to move forward with. Then, contact your calligrapher (Contact form or email is best) and let them know what you're looking for in as much detail as you can. This will help them provide a quote for you. If you're not sure the exact designs you're looking for but have colors and a concept in mind, that should be good enough for some calligraphers! I am a bespoke calligrapher, so I love taking a bride's vision and making it a reality for her. As long as I know WHAT she wants (place cards, seating chart, table numbers) and some colors or design elements (pink, yellow and blue with florals) I can come up with something! I usually take these ingredients and draft up a few samples, then I let my client pick the one she likes best!
So, when should you hire a calligrapher? It depends on each shop's personal standards but I personally like to be booked early. Some months of the year, I'm booked up 5 months in advance. Even if you don't have the guest's names etc yet, you can still book your calligrapher. Most will take a deposit to hold a spot for you on a specific date or month. If you're getting place cards, envelopes, etc (things that your calligrapher can do at the studio and give you later) hire them at LEAST 3 weeks before you need them. Lettering on over 100 envelopes takes a lot of time. For items like that, if someone wants to book me with less than 3 weeks out, I charge a rush order fee. The fee is anywhere from 25-50% of the order total depending on the complexity of the project and how rushed it is. If you want large signage or things that your calligrapher will be doing at your venue, book them at least 4 weeks in advance. This gives them time to design and plan ( measuring out seating charts to fit all the names evenly etc can take up to 8 hours ) and makes sure they're available on your wedding week! After your calligrapher finishes your designs and you give the go ahead, they will then get stared on your order! They should definitely keep you updated on the progress and send photos! I always make sure to send a final photo before I pack my order just to triple check that the client is happy!
After your wedding, you can help your calligrapher out in a few ways. The first is to leave them a review. Reviews are SO important in this industry. Without them, no brides would hire us. They want to make sure that we're good at what we do! Depending on the calligrapher, they will tell you where they prefer to collect reviews. A lot of my work is sold online so I get a lot of my reviews on Etsy, but if a client goes the extra mile to review me on the knot, or google, it means the world. Secondly, SEND PICS! We love seeing photos of our hard work at your wedding! We spend hours making those pieces and want to see how it all tied together and how you displayed them! Having photos from real weddings also help us build our portfolio and show new clients that this isn't our first rodeo! Thirdly, Keep them up to date. If you submit your wedding to a blog or magazine, please tell your calligrapher and make sure they are credited. Blogs love galleries with calligraphy, but if the bride or planner doesn't credit the calligrapher, they miss out on that opportunity. Features are a big deal in the wedding industry, and if you're including someone work to get one, you should credit them and send them the link if it gets published! They can then include that link on their press page! Of course, all of the things in this paragraph aren't mandatory, but they are the nice thing to do!
Well, I hope that made the process of hiring a calligrapher a little easier for you! If you have any questions feel free to send me an email, and if you want to book me for your wedding, fill out the contact form! I would love to work with you!