Our new wedding invitations for 2018 are here! UK shoppers can find the collection of beautiful, personalised wedding invites in my Not On The High Street shop, while international customers can buy on Etsy.com (click the link to be taken directly to my store front!)
Each design has been carefully crafted with illustrative elements and calligraphy fonts to give you the calligraphy ‘look’ without the price tag of bespoke or handwritten pieces.
While I’m still writing bespoke invitations for smaller weddings, these wedding invitations are perfect for larger celebrations and couples on a tighter budget for wedding stationery.
I don’t think I was ever meant to follow a straight or conventional path through life. I was raised on adventure stories and grew up in the countryside as a bit of a free spirit. At school I loved languages while my friends studied art. Words were my thing from day one…
My dad trained as a draftsman, creating precise technical drawings for a living. My mum is an artist with a love of abstract and a talent for watercolour painting. I see my calligraphy as a combination of my parents’ skills – a dash of precision from my dad and a little of my mum’s creative flair goes into every word I write.
Perhaps it was nature rather than nurture that brought me here then. It certainly wasn’t my degree in languages and marketing, although the latter does still help me to run my little business.
I graduated from Salford uni in the nineties and got my first job as a marketing assistant for a company making rubber stamps. It was sooooo dull! My next marketing job was no better, working for Kays catalogue taught me three things: I never wanted to be a manager; I couldn’t stand being part of a big corporation; and I had a bit of a rebellious streak. (That’s from mum too.)
When the company moved from Manchester to Liverpool I happily took voluntary redundancy. With £8k in the bank to start my business, I decided calligraphy was the career for me.
Now, I’ve no idea why I chose calligraphy. Looking back, it seems more than insane! I was struggling with depression at the time, but I don’t think I can blame that for my choices. What I do remember is skipping out of that corporate job on my very last day, and being genuinely excited to begin my new calligraphy journey.
People ask if I’d done calligraphy before. The answer is yes – but for a couple of weeks as a teenager – along with lacemaking and playing the flute. So why I chose to go back to lettering I’ve no idea!
I got lucky though. I was determined, and I had time to practice a lot. Writing was a full time job from the day I left Kays. I poured everything I had into learning calligraphy and at the same time taught myself to build websites and advertise my business.
Slowly I built my first brand, The Wedding Calligrapher. In 2005 I probably wrote for 30 brides and grooms, and this was before calligraphy was even on trend.
One thing I love about calligraphy and weddings is how quickly styles change. I started out making scroll invitations in a gothic, mediaeval style. I taught myself new styles, gilding, even dabbled in bookbinding and pyrography along the way. (I do want to go back to both of those and try my hand again one day!) From heavy mediaeval letters through to formal copperplate and spencerian I learned to transform my calligraphy style and business to keep up with trends. By 2015 I was writing modern calligraphy and developing my own organic lettering style.
By this time I’d worked on celebrity weddings, for Louis Vuitton, the BBC – and I was asked to write place names for Kirstie Allsopp’s Vintage Home book and TV series. From there I was asked to teach calligraphy workshops at Hampton Court – an expensive adventure which served as a huge confidence boost (teaching 100 people via a microphone and TV screen is so funny! I loved the buzz but felt as though I’d landed right back in the corporate arena so I decided twice was enough!)
As a practice run for my first Handmade Fair calligraphy classes I’d taught a modern calligraphy workshop in Manchester – a small class of just 14 – and I loved it. Meeting new people, watching them learn to use a calligraphy nib and being able to give everyone the attention and help they needed just feels right to me – and being able to pass on my love of letters and learning – on my own terms – is the best thing ever!
So that’s how I got here. A very random journey, a habit of saying yes and seeing where life takes me, and a dash of luck and opportunity!
Calligraphy is still changing fast. 2018 will bring a big shift in what sells and how to market lettering – so I have no more than an inkling of what’s to come.
But that’s me – that’s what I love about my job and I’m looking forward to the next adventure!
I created this calligraphy wedding invitation suite for an editorial shoot with the lovely Katie and Nancy at Lily & Sage in 2017. It’s 100% handwritten on watercolour paper with a torn edge: that very contemporary look which is perfect for intimate weddings. Today it featured on Wedding Sparrow, in one of the loveliest shoots I’ve seen.
Charlotte was such a lovely customer to work with! She asked me to write simple place names in modern calligraphy using gold ink on soft grey card. I think they’re the perfect complement to her gorgeous stationery suite!
Please check out the full feature and gallery over on Style Me Pretty. There’s a full supplier list below.
I’ve never been a fan of letter drills as a way to practice modern calligraphy. I find writing quotes so much more rewarding and fun!
There’s something compelling about a block of writing. A chunk of text becomes a pattern – writing quotes is a great challenge, a confidence builder an a wonderful way to mark your progress as you learn calligraphy, one month at a time.
1. Choose your quote!
A quote for calligraphy practice should be short and sweet – about 10 words or so. Choose a quote with letter ‘t’ – it’s a great space filler! Instagram is a great place to look for quotes.
2. Draft your quote in pencil
Write one or two words per line. Watch for ascenders and descenders – the letters which are high (l, d, b, h etc.) and those which hang below the line (f, g, j, p, q etc.) Don’t let them crash together!
After each line, stop and consider where the next one will fit. Try and fill any gaps above the words with ascenders – your best trick is a ‘t’ with a long, looping crossing stroke to fill any gaps or white space.
3. Review your draft
Look for big gaps between words or lines, and any letters which sit too close together. When you’re happy there are no blocks of white space in there, it’s time to copy it (on a new piece of paper) with your calligraphy pen
Try to keep your quote small and central on the page. You don’t need to fill a sheet of A4 paper with just 10 words, so don’t be tempted to write huge letters. Leave a wide margin all around the edge.
4. Frame it!
Be proud of your progress and inspired by your words!
Are you ready to take your calligraphy one step further and experiment with something really exciting? Gold leaf is a fabulous medium to explore and there are simple ways to learn about applying gold leaf to calligraphy which are affordable too!
It’s really important to have a smooth paper base if you want a smooth finish to your gilding projects. Choose a heavy cartridge paper for your first tries.
Size in this context means glue. You need something to adhere the gold to your paper – and all glues are NOT created equal!
For lettering with gold leaf, I love Kolner Miniatum. It’s fluid enough to run through a flexible calligraphy nib just like ink – but be warned it’s very sticky indeed and hard to get off your nib if you want to then write in ink!
For gold leaf edging, PVA glue is a basic and effective adhesive. Get a mid-range PVA, and a brush to apply it with.
Transfer or loose? For me, transfer is so much easier to handle than loose leaf gold. It makes sense to start with this – you lay the entire sheet complete with backing paper over your project, then press on with your fingertips. Simple!
Real or faux gold?
Real gold leaf is beautiful. I’d never use the faux stuff – it doesn’t stick as well (it feels kind of clumpy coming off the backing paper) and just doesn’t have as nice a shine.
How to apply gold leaf to calligraphy
First apply your adhesive to the paper wherever you want your gold to go. Do this with a metal nib or a paintbrush – and use plenty, don’t be stingy with it!
Wait 10 – 15 minutes for your glue to become tacky. If the glue is wet when you apply the gold leaf you’ll get a very lumpy finish. When it’s tacky, place your sheet of gold onto it and rub firmly through the transfer paper with your fingertip. Remove the backing paper then use a clean, dry paintbrush to brush away any excess around the edges of your letter.
Join me for a modern calligraphy workshop in Manchester!
Friday 6th October, 1pm – Manchester Craft & Design Centre – tickets £65
Friday 20th October, 10am – Anthony Burgess Foundation – tickets £30*
Saturday 21st October, 10am – Anthony Burgess Foundation – tickets £30*
Friday 24th November, 1pm – Manchester Craft & Design Centre – tickets £65
*Workshop only price – calligraphy kits will be available to purchase on the day.
Ordering handwritten wedding invitations from a calligrapher is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. If you’re wondering where to start, this little guide should help you navigate every step of the process from your initial enquiry through to receiving your final calligraphy order a couple of weeks before your big day!
Prices for handwritten calligraphy items depend on wordings and quantities. When you first make an enquiry, it really helps if we know roughly how many invitations you’ll be sending and how many guests will be there on the day.
Wedding invitations can either be fully handwritten onto luxury papers, or printed onto high quality card. Consider your budget: which will work best for you? Handwritten invitations cost from £7 for up to 30 words and shorter wordings are recommended. If you have a longer wording, then our printed invitations may suit you best. They have a design fee of £100 then a printing cost from £2 per invitation.
If you need guidance on wedding invitation wordings, please ask! The shorter your wording, the lower the price for any handwritten calligraphy will be. We recommend setting up a wedding website to provide information on travel, accommodation etc. so you won’t have to pay for extra information sheets in your invites.
Your initial enquiry
Let us know your colour palette and the overall style of your day: will the styling be elegant or rustic, vibrant or soft, pastel tones?
Tell us your wedding date and when you’d like to post your invitations, a
On receiving your initial email enquiry, we’ll reply with prices and options for your stationery.
We will also look at timings and explain our calendar system: for all but the most last-minute orders we take bookings in advance. On receipt of a 50% deposit we will block out days in our calendar to write your order. This means we can guarantee despatch on a certain date, and it also gives you an idea when to send your guest list and final wordings, and when the final balance of your order will be due.
Save the Dates (if applicable), invitations and on-the-day stationery are treated as distinct orders so we can keep the deposit system straightforward. We do keep everything on file so when you book us for your on-the-day stationery we can make sure it all matches your invitations.
In a nutshell – step by step to ordering your wedding calligraphy
Tell us your colour palette, approximate guest numbers and any specific requirements you have for your stationery
We’ll chat over email about designs, options for different budgets, and timings
When you’re happy with the initial concepts we’ll ask for a 50% deposit to secure slots in our calendar to write / print your stationery
On receipt of your deposit, we’ll create mockups and send any samples required. We’ll also confirm calendar dates for your final guest list and payment, and for despatch of your order
How to get in touch
The best way to contact us is by email – it’s really helpful to have all our ideas in writing to refer back to during the design process.