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Calligraphy and Invitation Design


Filtering by Tag: calligraphy

Flat-Lays: How to Style Wedding Invitation Suites

Kelsey Carpenter


You can't have a wedding without the guests receiving an invitation to the day, and unless that guest is being invited by email alone (relatively uncommon), the bride will likely have a paper copy of her invitation suite. A photographer should always make sure to photograph those details and the bride should always make sure to provide her paper goods to her photographer. The paper ephemera associated with a wedding can be as important as (and even as expensive as) a wedding dress or a wedding band. If you're shelling out for gorgeous scripting and pretty papers, it'd be a shame if a photographer missed this part of your big day. Invitations also set the tone for your event. To include the paper as book-ends to your wedding album and coverage is only natural.

But so often, an invitation suite is captured sloppily, or even worse, not captured at all. So here are a few tips on how to style invitation suites and how to make sure you get those pretty paper details captured!

Tools you'll need:

  • A camera (iPhone works fine for social media shares, but for any professional photographs you'll need a DSLR or film camera). I personally use a Canon T-series DSLR.
  • Styling board or neutral surface without a distracting background. My favorite styling board is the Heirloom Bindery 2-Color Styling board. I chose French Blue and Light Linen.
  • Vintage stamps or pretty Forever stamps. I love Verde Studio on Etsy.
  • Props! Silk ribbon, florals, greenery, or wax seals make lovely additions to an invitation suite. 
  • Natural lighting. Photograph in natural lighting, but not direct sunlight. Minimize shadows and deliver as much light as possible using reflectors or simply a white sheet of poster board/cardboard/or large white sheet of paper. No need to use flash!

Mistake #1: Crowding your image with too pieces

Don't fall prey to the idea that you need to capture every single piece in one photo. Simplicity helps draw the eye to individual pieces and can create an emotive image. A crowded image, like the one above, is so busy, that the eye doesn't know where to look. 

Mistake #2: Using too many props or props that don't make sense

This is similar to mistake number 1 (overcrowding), but applies specifically to prop usage. In the image above the following props were used: silk ribbon spool; vintage stamps; rings; petals, flowers, wax seal stick, wax sealer. Using each of these props doesn't make a lot of sense for the narrative of the image. A wax sealer is pretty, but the invite doesn't have any wax added to it so the wax seal feels out of place. The ribbon would be better used alone or tied around a piece. Vintage stamps make a lot of sense as the envelopes do feature vintage stamps. A flower always makes sense and is lovely but has more impact alone.

Mistake #3: Crooked paper goods

This is a big pet peeve of any OCD and Type A bride and calligrapher out there. Crooked pieces in the image makes everything look sloppy and unprofessional. use a ruler or a sheet of paper with a straight edge to make sure you're styling everything straight across the board. With your camera parallel to the styling board (held above it and held straight) you'll avoid a lot of angle issues that make paper appear crooked when it isn't.

Mistake #4: Covering up script or design with items like petals or rings

A bride's wedding dress is commonly hung and photographed on a beautiful hanger with gorgeous lighting for her wedding album. When a photographer photographs an invitation suite, often they lay rings over the invitation suite and petals and obscure the art. Calligraphy and invitation design are as much art as a wedding dress. Don't cover them up with other pieces! Let them shine.

how to style an invite suite flat lay

Tip #1: Keep it simple

Using less props and props that make sense makes everything stand out more! Make sure you're thinking about the flat lay as a story rather than just a last minute shot. Everything in the image should contribute to the story of the wedding and the invitation suite.

Tip #2: Evenly space out your styled goods

Evenly spaced goods makes each piece stand out (can you sense a theme). With the image above, my eye is drawn immediately to the invitation and pretty envelope addressing rather than scanning an overcrowded image, trying to find something to visually focus on.

Tip #3: Capture texture

Be sure to capture texture if the paper goods are textural. A lot of decision making, cost, and thought goes into the feel of a paper suite. Not capturing the texture is ignoring an entire piece of the invitation suite that was likely very important to the bride!

Tip #4: Capture all of the day-of goods in addition to the invitation suite

Don't forget to photograph: vow books, vows, place cards, programs and more! Each paper good contributes to the beautiful day and deserves to be photographed!

Want to practice? I sell practice suites in the shop!



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!

How Much Do Wedding Invitations Cost?

Kelsey Carpenter


When I got engaged, I was over the moon to start planning my wedding. I had a beautiful vision of organic flowers and greenery draping down long tables, candlelight, a romantic dress, and beautiful, calligraphed wedding invitations, perhaps in letterpress. Wedding blogs and Pinterest had given me a wonderful palette to work from and I had many images saved that captured that vision perfectly. But a pin and a post don't come with price tags. Strolling through the web of weddings was like buying a couch at a store without prices. Everything looks good without a $ sticker attached. 

The reality of wedding planning is that the budget and the vision often don't line up, whether you're the bride with $100,000 to spend to the bride with $5,000. Uncovering costs can be difficult without reaching out to many vendors and scouring their websites. My visions of a famous film photographer were quickly crushed when my inquiry turned up $15,000 for 8 hours of coverage. So were my dreams of wild greenery on every surface of my event. My florists starting costs for a small wedding were $3,000. Wedding invitations? I spotted some $1,000-2,000 price tags and balked. For someone trying to achieve a wedding under $20,000, those three items had already blown my entire spend.

Though I can't offer assistance in the film photographer department or help you uncover florist pricing, I can offer some insight into what you should expect to spend if you're interested in wedding invitations designer by or embellished by a calligrapher and give you a look at the different types of printing processes associated with them.

Pre-made Invitations

Think Minted, Wedding Paper Divas, Tiny Prints, and more. Pre-made invitations are the all-inclusive, budget-friendly option for wedding invitations. You can order from a range of styles - foil pressed, letterpress, flat printed, and customize much of the information on the invitation aside from design. You can expect to pay around $200 for 100 Save the Dates. For a three-piece wedding invitation suite, with flat, letterpress, or foil printing, you're looking at around $650+ (envelope font printing included) for your invitation suite.

Semi-custom Calligraphy Invitations

Semi-custom invitations are often available through designers or calligraphers. They tow the line between pre-made and custom as often the design is set but the actual calligraphy is customized to you! Semi-custom invitations have a range of pricing with design starting between $200-$500. Add in printing and envelope addressing and 100 invitations can range from $1,000-$2,000 (more if you're looking for handmade papers or foil printing). This usually includes calligraphed envelopes, printing, and paper, but doesn't include embellishments like wax seals, vellum, or silk ribbon.

Custom Calligraphy Invitations

Most calligraphers offer custom design. Graphic designers and wedding invitation makers (like print shops and artists) also offer custom design and often the group collaborates together to create a custom product for a bride. Custom design is widely priced and usually reflects the popularity of the designer or calligrapher, the print process used, and the demand for that individual's services. If you're looking at completely custom design, the design alone will range from $600+ with printing and envelope calligraphy pushing pricing into the $2,000-$6,000 range.


Much of the cost associated with custom invitations (and semi-custom invitations) is linked to your printing methods. Gold foil and letterpress are currently very popular print methods and also the most expensive. Pricing for 100 foil invitation suites (3 pieces) starts around $800, letterpress around $500, and flat printing around $250.

Hand-Calligraphed Envelopes

The current rate for hand-calligraphed envelopes is around $3-$5 an envelope. Expect to pay around $300-$500 for 100 envelopes.