Well Scripted: Incorporating the Art of Calligraphy into Your Wedding Day
Planning your wedding means putting together one of the most special days of your life. Those little touches that personalize the day create a deeper sense of meaning and connection for both you and your guests.
In our technology-driven world, a hand-lettered envelope with an invitation announcing your upcoming nuptials gives your guests a peek at the stylish event to come, with just a hint of nostalgia.
But if you’re picturing calligraphy as just black script on white paper, think again. Tradition meets modern head-on with a new set of rules—a kaleidoscope of color and texture has eased into the classic art form.
Angela Mondloch, designer and calligrapher at Saffron Avenue, describes how calligraphy has changed, as well as how it continues to evolve. “We’ve been seeing a lot of metallics and water-color calligraphy lately, and we are starting to also see calligraphy used on a lot more mediums, from acrylic to wood and ribbon,” she says, listing just a few of the new options.
Debi Zeinert is the calligrapher and engraver at the Blooming Quill; you can also find her teach-ing calligraphy workshops at Broadway Paper in Milwaukee’s Third Ward. “This has been the year of metallic ink,” she says. “With the rise of foil stamp printing, brides also want their addresses to be shiny. Gold is in.” Imperfect calligraphy styles are definitely a trend as well.
Modern calligraphy breaks all of the rules and standards that traditional calligraphy adheres to. Scripts may feel and look loose, the lines may run to the edge of the paper, the lettering may be connected or not—the calligrapher is the only one who makes the rules.
“Traditional calligraphy is the more refined of the two, following the rules of basic penmanship—slant, shape, size. It has the feel of being classy, elegant and timeless,” says Rebecca Sinnen of Hadassah Calligraphy in Milwaukee. “Modern calligraphy has a feel of fun and frivolity, and can feel very feminine.”
While calligrapher rates vary, in general you can expect to pay between $2 to $5 per envelope for your invites. Keep in mind that special requests such as colored inks, unusual envelopes or elaborate styles may increase the cost. Place cards for table settings usually range from $1 to $2 each
There are a variety of other ways to incorporate calligraphy into your day. Seating charts, table numbers, menus, programs, chalkboards, bridal party gifts, wedding favors, bar signage and more can all have that personalized touch—and your calligrapher is ready to work with you to create standout pieces.
Ren Davis of Studio 29 Photography + Design loves creating custom designs based on the bride’s vision. “Send me inspiration images to give an idea of what you like and dislike, and I can help customize the perfect look for you,” she says. “If there are specific fonts that you like, feel free to try pairing them with calligraphy,” she says.
Hire a Pro
While the thought of taking a calligraphy class, cultivating your hidden talent, then sharing it with your guests by hand-addressing envelopes may sound like a lovely idea, chances are you don’t have the time for it (you know, with all of the other wedding planning you’re doing).
Leave it to the pros, and reap the benefits and compliments as they roll in.
“Really think about it: You wouldn’t make your own wedding cake or ask your aunt to play the wedding march as you walk down the aisle (unless she is a professional!). So make sure that the first impression your guests have about your wedding is a beautiful one,” says Zeinert. “Your calligrapher is not just someone who can make your envelopes look amazing, but she is also, for the most part, your expert in addressing etiquette.”
Fusing modern means with traditional concepts is another way that calligraphy continues to evolve in the 21st century. Haley Mueller and Emilee Robenhorst of wedding design company Mint & Lovely Studios describe how the past meets the present.
“Technology is playing a part now, where calligraphers can use the iPad Pro to quickly create custom work and send off to clients or post to social media. What used to be a long process of writing, scanning and downloading now takes a fraction of the time,” they say.
Connecting to the Past
The value of calligraphy lies not just in showcasing pretty script on an envelope or welcome sign; it’s also a thread that connects you with times past, when the world was filled with fewer texts and emails, and perfect penmanship was valued.
“The pens I use today my grandmother used for her schoolwork,” says Sinnen. “Because our society uses technology to communicate, the idea of pulling out pen and paper is almost nostalgic.” And to a calligrapher, a single envelope is as much a blank canvas waiting for its own work of art. *
Connect to a Pro
Calligraphy for small businesses, creative weddings and everyday life, Saffron Avenue crafts custom calligraphy for brides. Sun Prairie, saffronavenue.com
Studio 29 Photography + Design
Modern, creative calligraphy services along with photography, provided by a husband-and-wife team. Milwaukee, foto-29.com
Mint & Lovely
A boutique design studio specializing in wedding invitations and stationery. Oak Creek, mintandlovely.com
The Blooming Quill
A wide array of calligraphy, letterpress and engraving services for classic and modern brides. Jackson, bloomingquill.com
Wedding calligraphy and personalized calligraphic art for weddings, anniversaries, bridal gifts and birthdays. Milwaukee, hadassahcalligraphy.com
Tips from the Pros
Some practical ideas and suggestions for doing it right, from those who know best:
“If you do not have a large calligraphy budget but want to use it somewhere within your wedding, use it on items you can keep or that last. This could include your names on a sign to hang in your home after the wedding, written vows to frame, custom gifts or favors.” —Angela Mondloch, Saffron Avenue
“When hiring a calligrapher, the first thing you should do is get a sample of their work, addressed to you by them. This way you are sure you are getting what they are advertising.” —Debi Zeinert, the Blooming Quill
“Contact and hire your calligrapher earlier rather than later. More time will mean better planning to achieve your pefect look for your wedding-day signage and paper goods.” —Ren Davis, Studio 29
“We love having calligraphers write out a few key phrases that we are able to then print out on custom pieces for our brides (think invitations, welcome cards, tote bags, thank-you cards, etc.). You still get the look you want, the custom personalization, but at a price that fits well within your budget.” —Haley Mueller and Emilee Robenhorst, Mint & Lovely Studios
“Don’t forget that the first-year anniversary gift is paper! I have written out vows or a poem, and sometimes family members will have me write their toasts as a keepsake.” —Rebecca Sinnen, Hadassah Calligraphy
Learning the Craft
Interested in doing it yourself?
Calligraphy workshops are a fun way to gather your gal pals for a daytime outing before your big day. Or perhaps you’re serious about learning and want to add some of your own embellishments to your wedding day. Either way, a workshop is a great place to start.
Mint & Lovely hosts calligraphy workshops (Angela Mondloch of Saffron Avenue is a facilitator) in the Milwaukee and Madison area. Whether or not you are planning on using your newly learned skills for your wedding, one thing is for sure—you will appreciate calligraphy even more after trying it yourself.
Ren Davis offers some bonus points to learning this art form. “Calligraphy is a lifelong skill you can use for years post-wedding—you will be sending out the prettiest thank-you cards and Christmas cards. Plus, a workshop makes a great activity for the bridal party. Calligraphy and cocktails is never a bad thing.”
To learn more about calligraphy workshops offered through Mint & Lovely, sign up for their newsletter on their website.