Oddly enough, I am going to start this blog post talking about an American Folk hero named John Henry. When I was a kid, my parents read to us about Paul Bunyan and his Blue Ox named Babe, Johnny Appleseed and John Henry. John Henry “was a steel drivin’ man” who used a hammer to lay railroad tracks. One day he was pitted against a steam powered hammer that could do the job better than a man. John Henry took up the challenge to compete with the machine and in the end, John Henry won, but it didn’t end well. He died with his hammer in his hand.
I mention all this because around the time my first Macintosh SE computer came into my life, the world changed for hand calligraphers. That was the year the Inscribe machine came into the world. From that day forward, the world of wedding envelopes was a race between the machine and the hand. As a “quill drivin’ ” women, I have heard so many times, “What’s the point of using a calligrapher when a machine can do it just as well?” I am always a little taken aback. At that moment I am filled with gratitude for all my clients that understand the difference and who choose me over the machine.
I see calligraphy as a living art. There is life in the letters drawn by a hand calligrapher. My style changes slightly from day to day too, depending on many factors. I believe the letters reflect the joy I am feeling that particular day. Some days they dance, some days they don’t. Some days it’s best just to walk away. I love the days when…well, if you go to my website, you will see on my homepage how I feel about those magic days.
There are so many ways to engage a professional calligrapher and I say professional for several reasons. There are many hobbyist calligraphers out there. Aunt Mabel has a set of pens, your Mother’s friend down the street addressed her daughter’s envelopes, but a person who has chosen to make a career as a Calligrapher is a different thing. It falls into the “you get what you pay for” category. So what can a professional calligrapher do for you? Want a love poem written for your sweetheart or a monogram for your baby niece? (More about monograms in my post next Wednesday) How about some coupons for kisses or a change of address card? Some personal thank you notes? A logo? It’s a long list…but today I am going to talk weddings and all that a professional calligrapher can do for you. It’s a lot more than just addressing envelopes!
Most professional calligraphers can work with you to design all the printed material for your wedding. I call the complete spectrum a “stationery trousseau”. Here’s a list of ideas that may inspire you to use a calligrapher for your wedding; Save the Date cards with custom calligraphic postage stamps through Zazzle, the invitation (or maybe you want your monogram printed on the tissue paper that sits on top), your ceremony program, seating chart or escort cards, place cards (remember, escort cards tell your guests what table to sit at and place cards tell them what chair to sit in once they arrive at the table), and menu cards or menu cards that have a blank space at the top where your calligrapher can write the guests name, that way they double as a place card.
I admit that working with a hand calligrapher can be costly, but there are ways to have that hand calligraphed element in you stationery trousseau without breaking the bank!
Many professional calligraphers have amazing handwriting and they often charge considerably less for that style then the more formal styles. If your wedding is more casual and untraditional, you may want to employ a calligrapher with great handwriting to design your wedding stationery trousseau. Even having just your names in calligraphy on the invitation can be beautiful and inexpensive!
Many calligraphers are also mapmakers. I love making maps! I want a bird’s eye view of the world wherever I go! I think the addition of a hand drawn map with the invitation really sets a welcoming and unique touch to the wedding. It builds anticipation!
Perhaps your calligrapher can do illustrations. I had a bride that wanted two peaches as the theme of her wedding. Creating a small watercolor of two peaches became the thread that tied it all together. Or the wedding in Puerto Rico that used my orchid illustration throughout.
You might not realize this, but bookbinders, bookmakers and calligraphers are linked often through friendship, but also through their crafts. One often depends on the other.
One of my favorite wedding projects is to work with a bride to design a keepsake box of the wedding day. It can be small enough to simply hold notes from the guests, in place of a guest book, or big enough to hold the veil, all the pieces from the stationery trousseau, random photos, travel keepsakes from the honeymoon. It’s a wonderful way to relive your wedding on your anniversary every year.
So there you have it. What a quill-driving scribe can do for your wedding day and more that no machine can do! Thank you for supporting your professional calligrapher. I would be happy to speak with you at anytime to discuss what I can do to make your wedding trousseau or everyday stationery trousseau a unique reflection of you. Call me at 518-586-1063 or visit me at www.gailbrilldesign.com– Gail Brill
Gail Brill is our February weddings contributor for litte blue dish blog.