Working with a calligrapher for your wedding or special commission, you could be asked to provide some things to implement your vision. Hiring a calligrapher is a rare event for many people. I thought I’d share my client request list here:

Sample Paper

One of the first tasks a calligrapher takes on is testing paper to a variety of inks. We look for things like feathering – where the ink bleeds irregularly into the paper, color longevity, and which nibs (pen type) to use that will produce the best results. Testing on a piece of paper that is the same as the final product will allow us to check our tools beforehand, and not while working on the finished piece.

Calligraphy testing on strips of envelope paper with different coatings and inks for a wedding commission
Calligraphy testing on strips of envelope paper with different coatings and inks for a wedding commission

Extras!

If you are commissioning wedding envelope addressing or stationery work, most calligraphers will ask for 20-30% more envelopes/stationery. Keep in mind that handwritten things will produce slight variations in letters or spacing. There could also be typos (write-os?); one page could have uneven finishing and absorbs ink differently than the rest of the batch; or even -heaven forbid – ink spills. Really, the extras are pretty handy after you’ve submitted your guest list, and suddenly remember that estranged family your mother-in-law demands you invite. Ordering all the paper goods (and extras) ahead of time saves you money on the price per item and shipping. Super helpful!

Color swatch

You’ve dreamt up all the details for your big event. Why not carry that vision over to your paper goods?

If you want your color palette to show up in your invitations, envelopes, or final piece, your calligrapher may ask for a color swatch. We can take that swatch to create ink that matches any color with lasting effects. Calligraphers can formulate a binder and gouache to color match your palette.

FYI, Gouache dries into a different color than when it is written. Cue that sample paper! We can use our testing on the sample paper against your swatch to make sure they are as close as possible.

Calligrapher Mood board

Your vision is crucial to our job. If we could crawl in your head and check out what you are wanting, we would – trust me! Opting for mood boards are a great way to communicate with your calligrapher. We are visual professionals. Showing your aesthetic, colors, and small details you enjoy, we can work together to create just the script style or deliverables you’ve dreamt about. If you have a specific lettering style in mind or want to dump all of your pinterest ideas on someone, a mood board is a great place to start.

You can check out some of my favorite event details on my Pinterest.

Most calligraphers will post their script styles they work in regularly. If you’re not seeing what you want, feel free to ask and many can adapt to meet your needs. You can find my current offerings of scripts here.

Wedding Guest List

This is probably a no-brainer, but if you’re having envelope addressing or invitations done, your calligrapher will need your guest list. Many calligraphers require that the list is digitized in a spreadsheet so that we can manipulate it for our needs while writing. A good idea is to include the preferred gender and approximate age of your invitees. This way we can respectfully add the correct title to the addressees.

Double, triple, and quadruple check your spellings before handing it over. We will write your list exactly as given.


No matter what your calligrapher requests, providing them with the right tools will allow them to exceed your expectations while bringing your wedding, event, or commission calligraphy to life.

Chelsea is a Seattle calligrapher specializing in custom calligraphy services, custom paper goods, and greeting cards. If you have something handwritten in mind, let’s chat!

5 Things Your Calligrapher Might Need

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