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Seattle, WA


Calligraphy and Invitation Design

How to Pick Your Calligrapher or Invitation Designer


How to Pick Your Calligrapher or Invitation Designer

Kelsey Carpenter

How to choose a calligrapher

Picking a stationer or calligraphy vendor can be just as nerve-wracking as picking your photographer, florist, and dinner menu for your wedding. New to the world of custom designed invitations, how can you tell what is good, what is not, and who is going to best serve you? Luckily I have a few tips that might make the process easier!

1. Review the artist's portfolio.

If you love everything in it, consider it a great fit. If you don't like anything in it, time to move on. If you like at least half of their portfolio, it's worth a reach out. Unlike reviewing a photographer's portfolio or a florists, be sure to pay attention to their script style on their envelopes and their invitation suites. A calligrapher's "hand" can't be modified, so if you're not feeling their style, it's not a very changeable element of their portfolio. 

2. Look at their examples of real weddings

The wedding industry is full of a fun thing called "styled shoots." These are chances for photographers to shoot faux-weddings to practice, for florists to create inspirational bouquets for their portfolio, for calligraphers to play with ideas that aren't always practical (like all handwritten invitations or deep watercolor washes). A styled shoot is a great way for someone to get practice, but you should be able to review a collection of that person's #realbride work. Seeing a real wedding executed will demonstrate that the calligrapher has experience, that they have met deadlines and satisfied client expectations.

Real wedding experience also will give you a clue as to the calligrapher's ability to handle problems or bumps in the road. An established calligrapher, though cost may be higher, will likely be able to achieve quicker turn arounds, have better vendor relationships and wholesale discounts, and be a problem solver for common wedding issues.

3. Reach out and assess their level of professionalism

If you reach out to a vendor and they take a couple hours to a day to respond, it's an indication that they are frequently communicating with their clients and will frequently communicate with you. If you reach out and two weeks later you get a response, that's probably a bad sign. Make sure that your calligrapher is presenting you with a quote on their services that is written down in an easy-to-read format. This will help you as you proceed with the process. Getting bits and pieces of costs or ballpark figures when you're ready to book means you might be in for a cost-surprise near the end of the process. Finally, be sure you and your calligrapher have a contract that assures delivery dates, refund eligibility, deposit information and more!

4. Determine personality fit

Just like with your other vendors, be sure that you connect with your calligrapher. If you reach out and they don't communicate in the style you like to be communicated with, perhaps find another person that meshes better. If you have any initial red flags, they'll likely become a bigger problem down the line. Why? You're spending sometimes a year or more working closely with this designer. If you don't like how they email, speak on the phone, communicate, or deliver materials, you're in for a long year!