Booking a fabulous calligrapher for your wedding stationery: a guide
Updated: May 6
So you've decided you want a calligrapher to adorn your pre- and on-the-day wedding stationery. You've taken an important step in ensuring everything is as beautiful as it is unique! And while booking a calligrapher for your wedding stationery is a big decision (as it generally comes with a hefty price tag), it doesn't have to be the most stressful one.
Here are the top things to consider when choosing a calligrapher:
Style of calligraphy
What style of calligraphy are you looking for? There are lots of calligraphy styles available, and the most usual are copperplate and modern. But these aren't the only options! Different calligraphers will have a variety of scripts to choose from. For example, as well as standard copperplate and modern calligraphy, I have an upright script on offer and a flourished version of my copperplate. Also, keep in mind one calligrapher's style may differ wildly from another, even though both are labelled the same. Make sure you check out a potential calligrapher's portfolio to make sure they do something you like the look of and will suit your theme!
Experience of the calligrapher
How much experience does the calligrapher have? Just because someone has used a dip pen for a couple of hours does not automatically make them a good fit to do your wedding stationery! Calligraphy for large-scale events also takes in project management, consistency and stamina (especially if there are hundreds of envelopes or place cards to write out!). Check out any testimonials to see if they have the skills and experience you're looking for to ensure they can deliver what they're promising.
Budgeting for a calligrapher
How much are you willing to spend on calligraphy? Calligraphy is an expensive service as it's a slow art, so it's important to factor that into your budget before you start shopping around. And I ask you not to choose a calligrapher just because they're cheap! The adage "buy cheap, buy twice" springs to mind here. While you might have signed a contract expecting a minimum service level, if you have an inexperienced calligrapher who isn't as familiar with their materials as they should be or who is unused to servicing high-end clients, things can fall apart quite quickly.
Location of the calligrapher
Where is the calligrapher located? I know what you're thinking; it's not as if you're going to invite your calligrapher to your wedding, so why on earth is this a factor? While it's true location isn't as big a problem as it might have been with email and platforms such as Zoom, you still need to consider location if you're looking to book a calligrapher in a different time-zone to you. It's possible that your project could take longer due to delays in fine-tuning information and layout. Etiquette may differ across various regions. Also, you will need to factor in the extra cost of receiving your stationery if your calligraphy is being shipped to you from abroad.
Availability of a calligrapher
When should you book your calligrapher? Book your calligrapher around the same time you book your stationer. As in, you should book your calligrapher well in advance to avoid the disappointment of not getting your first choice! As with all wedding vendors, the best ones get booked up first. And as calligraphy is a time-consuming art, a calligrapher has to abide by certain time frames to ensure they do a great job for you. Some calligraphers can accommodate last-minute jobs, but this will involve a rush fee. So make sure you get your name on your chosen calligraphers radar, even if it's just for an initial chat, and ask them if they take retainer fees so you can get pencilled into their diary.
Vibing with your calligrapher
After an initial chat with a potential calligrapher, do you feel they get you, your partner, and what you're trying to achieve? While there's a certain prestige in trying to secure the services of a particular calligrapher, if you don't feel as though you're on the same wavelength as them, if they're not getting your vision (or worse, trying to impose theirs on you), it's probably not meant to be. After all, you're trusting this person to deliver something truly distinct for you. If the relationship between you isn't great, will you be able to take as much joy from what they produce for you as you should?
Once you've considered these factors, you'll be well on your way to finding the perfect calligrapher for your wedding stationery. But because I like to make you as well informed as possible, here are a couple more things for you to keep in mind:
Start the search early
The sooner you book your calligrapher, the more likely you are to get the style you want, from the calligrapher you want. As I said before, good calligraphers get booked up early, and it's madness to live hoping that they'll get a cancellation!
Be prepared to pay a deposit
Most calligraphers will require a deposit from you to secure their services, and this is likely 50% of what they quoted you initially. If you change the requirements when the project is already underway, be prepared to make an interim payment to cover any further expenses the calligrapher might incur to meet your needs.
Be clear about your expectations
Communication with your calligrapher will make sure your stationery production proceeds smoothly! At the start of your project, agree with your calligrapher on the style, materials and quantities, as well as a date for you to take delivery of the finished pieces, and make sure these are stated clearly in your contract. If anything changes mid-project, let them know!
Help your calligrapher out
While each calligrapher has their own way of doing things, we all appreciate neatly formatted information for things like envelopes, place cards, table plans, etc. Ask your calligrapher how they want these lists from you. For example, would they prefer all the addresses for the envelopes in a spreadsheet? Or are they more of a Word document fan? Whichever their preferred method, ensure you follow their instructions to the letter, and sort out things like titles, spellings, and incomplete addresses before sending the list over to them.
And there you have it, a guide to booking yourself a fabulous calligrapher who can deliver the style you want - in the time frame you need - for your wedding stationery. In case you were wondering, I'm a fabulous calligrapher, and if you'd like me to work on your wedding stationery, drop me a line!