This blog is to inform you of upcoming calligraphy workshops. I also will
be reviewing common calligraphy materials, and giving tutorials. Stay tuned
for hand lettering, and watercolor adventures, along with fine art
photography and editorials.
If you're reading this, chances are you’re engaged and looking for wedding stationery. Congratulations, we're so happy you're here! And if you're here as a fellow paper lover, welcome!
We know wedding stationery can be overwhelming. From proper wording to guest addressing, we're here to demystify the stationery process.
Below are some useful tips to help you plan ahead, make the most of your budget, and enjoy wedding planning.
Understand your timeline
The wedding stationery process begins with a wedding date and location. Once that is set, you can work backwards to determine your stationery timeline.
If you'd like to work with a custom or semi-custom stationery designer, you'll need to plan ahead. The design process for custom and semi-custom stationery can take six to eight weeks. For destination weddings, you may need to send your invitations up to three months in advance. That means the design process may need to begin five months before your wedding!
If you have your heart set on working with a specific stationery designer, reach out to them right away! It's common for their schedules to be full, so getting yourself on the books is a great way to plan ahead.
Here is a generic wedding stationery timeline to help you get started:
You’re Engaged! Start dreaming and planning for your big day.
1 Year: Book your stationery designer and begin designing Save the Dates. This is also a great time to begin your address list.
1 year to 6 months: Mail your Save the Dates.
4-5 Months: Begin designing your Wedding Invitations. Review your guest list and make any changes for your calligrapher.
2-3 Months: Mail your Wedding Invitations.
6 Weeks: Finalize and design your Day Of Stationery (Menus, Place Cards, etc.).
4 Weeks: Finalize the guest list seating assignments.
Wedding Day: Hooray!
1 Month After: Mail thank you cards to your guests.
A quick note: If you are getting married in six months or less, you'll need your Save the Dates as soon as possible. Sites like Minted can be a great option if you need a quick turnaround. If you have more time before the big day, hiring a designer is a great way to ensure your stationery is unique and cohesive from beginning to end.
Pro Tip: Create your dream team of wedding vendors early. This will set your mind at ease as you plan and ensure you have enough time to get exactly what you want without rush fees or compromises.
Know the basics
Before jumping into invitation design, you need to collect some important information. As mentioned above, you'll first need to solidify your wedding date and venue.
You'll then need to determine your estimated guest count. You won't need exact numbers to start the design process, but you will need an estimate to receive a quote. Keep in mind, the total number of invitations will be less than your guest count. A rule of thumb is to send one invitation per household
Some find it helpful to use this equation to determine the number of invitations they'll need to order: Guest Count/2 + 25%
Using the equation, if you had 200 guests, you would need to order about 125 invitations.
As the design process nears the printing stage, you'll need to provide a more exact number. But, this should help you get started!
Learn about your budget and costs
The budgeting examples below assume a total wedding budget of $75,000 to $250,000.
How do you know how much to spend on wedding stationery? Some wedding planning resources say to set aside 3% of your total budget. Others forget to include it altogether! We recommend allocating 3-5% of your total wedding budget to stationery. This includes everything from Save the Dates and Invitations to Menus and Place Cards. For reference, our clients spend between $4,000 to $10,000 on stationery.
A good rule of thumb for determining how to spend your stationery budget is to divide it in half. Use 50% for your Invitations and 50% for Save the Dates and Reception/Ceremony Stationery.
We'll let you in on a wedding planning secret. There's a cost no one talks about: invitation embellishments. This is where many brides get sticker shock. You may discover that 100 letterpress invitation suites will cost around $1,200 to $2,000. This number does not include wax seals, ribbon, vintage postage, and calligraphy addressing.
Oftentimes, the cost of these additions can double the price of the entire invitation order. If you have your heart set on calligraphy addressing and wax seals, you'll want to budget a little extra.
If your total wedding budget is lower than the above numbers, that's great! There are many wonderful options for beautiful wedding invitations. Sites like Minted or selecting a Semi-Custom Invitation Suite from a designer you love can be a great fit.
Curate Your Style
This is the fun part! As you start looking for inspiration, you'll find many things to love. Take time to dive into the design details. Create Pinterest Boards and start reading wedding blogs. Begin thinking about color palettes and themes. What do you want your wedding to feel like? How do you want your guests to feel? Take it all in and then distill it down. Curate your style. Delete pins that no longer fit your vision or create new boards for your must-haves.
Pro Tip: Hire a pro! Wedding planners are amazing and wonderful. We love them. There are many great wedding planners that also have a keen eye for design. A great planner can take your ideas and craft a perfect wedding aesthetic tailored to you! If you have the budget, I highly recommend this route.
Get to know your options
Wedding stationery comes in all shapes and sizes. Literally. Start doing some digging to discover what it is you love. Click through on Pinterest to see who created your favorite invitations. Find out who the vendor is in that article you saved from your favorite wedding magazine.
Take a look at the inspiration you saved and make some connections. What do they have in common. Are you drawn to deckled edges or straight? What types of print methods do you like?
Consider ordering sample packs from your favorite stationers. We offer free samples to potential clients after inquiring. Seeing your print options in real life is a great way to help you compare.
Last, consider the embellishments you'd like to add. Do you love the feeling of silk ribbon? Would you love custom wax seals adorning your envelopes or as a keepsake after the wedding? Sort through all the pretty details to determine your invitation must haves!
Find a good fit!
By now you have a good idea of your timeline, budget, style, and wish list. If you haven't reached out to your favorite designer, now is the time! If you're unsure if a designer can accommodate your budget, reach out! It never hurts to ask. Once you inquire, wait a business day or two. Most stationers will respond to new inquiries in one business day. If you don’t hear back, move on to your next choice.
Pro Tip: Before you book or make a big purchase, ask if you can talk to your stationery designer on the phone. You'll want to ensure you feel comfortable with who you're working with and that they answer any questions before handing over your hard-earned money.
An insiders look on new client inquiries:
We’ve heard a lot of talk in the wedding industry about “ghosting” and lord knows it happens to us too. This is when a couple inquires, and then disappears.
We are all busy. We totally get that! You are reaching out to a lot of vendors and you only have so much time to plan a wedding. Here are my recommendations to help you fight overwhelm and find the best vendors:
Start by reaching out to just a few vendors for each service. Reach out to your absolute favorites first. Most vendors will respond to new client inquiries in 1-2 business days. Once you decide to work with one, let the others vendors know that you no longer need their services. Vendors know they will not end up working with everyone who inquires, and that’s ok! Letting them know so they can clear their calendar goes a long way.
We'll break down all the details of an invitation suite, from print methods to paper options, so that you can book with confidence. Be sure to sign up for my monthly newsletter so you don’t miss that blog post.
Are you excited to get started on your own wedding invitations? We’d love to hear from you! Click the link below to schedule a free consultation.
As a self-taught artist, creative, or business owner, you are setting out on a difficult path. I remember when I first started learning calligraphy. I had never attended an in-person workshop and I never had any in-person instruction. What I did have was fear.
For one, teaching yourself any skill is plain hard. It is. It’s a lot of work. I quickly learned that it requires a great deal of effort to rise above mediocrity. I also feared that someone who knew what they were doing would call me out for an error I was completely unaware of. Imposter syndrome and fear of failure can be big obstacles on your journey. If you don’t see them coming, they can knock you off course. BUT, they don’t have to!
In fact, awareness of what you’re getting into can give you newfound strength. There’s a saying which goes, “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” You are better equipped to deal with a challenge you are familiar with. And the more prepared you are, the less fear there will be.
Here are three major challenges self-taught artists face. As well as some helpful tips for overcoming them: 1. Lack of Education
This is real guys and gals. When starting out, many self-taught artists and entrepreneurs have limited knowledge. This does not need to remain the case! I like to think of being self-taught as being self-educated. Your education is in your hands.
Regardless of what you’d like to learn, the internet offers endless resources. Though you can learn a lot by googling your heart out, the best sources of education may not be free. Consider investing in your education by joining a monthly subscription service like Skillshare. For a more one-on-one approach, you can also seek reputable workshops or mentorship. As a self-made creative, I cannot overstate the importance of investing in your education. There are some skills that you can’t learn through creative exploration. Quality education will help propel you into a more profitable and fulfilling career.
Side Note: Never underestimate the power of Google. You can find the answer to almost any question online. Do your research before seeking the opinions of others. You can do it! There’s endless knowledge available to you with a click of a mouse.
2. Lack of Confidence
It can often be difficult to believe in yourself when you don’t have a teacher to guide you. When you’re starting your creative journey, there is no test score that tells us we passed. There is no honor roll and there is no certificate. Instead, there is us and our own self doubt.
So, how do you develop a healthy dose of self esteem as a self-made creative? One way is through experience and creating a body of work. The more you do something, the more comfortable you will become. You may even become an expert in your industry after enough practice. The more you succeed, the more motivated you will become. Conversely, the more you fail, the more you will realize that failure isn’t so bad. You will get used to picking yourself back up and moving forward.
In my own business, I like to make a point of celebrating the small victories. Many of us get wrapped up in the negative parts of our story. The client we didn’t get to work with. The person on Instagram who didn’t follow us back. Do not dwell on the negative! Instead, work on recognizing and appreciating every single win. Even the little ones
3. Lack of Support
Lack of support is especially difficult for those who want to pursue a creative career. Many of us know what it’s like to have those we are closest with fail to support our creative pursuits. Well meaning friends and family may say things that imply that your passion is a cute hobby.
Perhaps you're self-taught out of necessity. Maybe you're told that pursuing a creative career is a waste of time. That it will never meet your financial needs. I personally do not know a single stationery designer who went to school for it. I only know a handful who have graphic or fine arts degrees. The truth is, many successful creatives are self-taught.
Not everyone is going to understand your goals and dreams. That's why it’s imperative that you find people who will support you! This is especially true if you are making the leap into the business world. Starting your own business is difficult. It makes all the difference when you have someone who wholeheartedly believes in you. Even better if that person reminds you to eat when you’ve been up working until 3 AM. Or to shower once you fall down the rabbit hole of entrepreneurship.
You may also find it helpful to connect with industry peers. Your new business does not come with classmates or comrades, so it’s beneficial to find your own tribe. Are there local entrepreneurs that are already doing the thing you want to do? Is there a Rising Tide Society chapter nearby? Can you connect with like-minded creatives on social media? It is invaluable to have a community of peers who have been where you are or are doing similar work. You can ask each other questions and celebrate one another’s victories.
You don’t need a a crowd of people cheering you on. But you do need support. A few good people make all the difference in the world. Find them, cherish them, and support them in return.
I hope you find these three tips helpful! If you feel overwhelmed, pick one and focus on that first. If you have a questions or feedback, leave me a comment! I’d love to hear from you. Most importantly, if you appreciated this article you will want to sign up for the newsletter. My hope is to publish one article per month especially for creatives! And I know you won’t want to miss it.
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If you article was right up your alley I know you will love my Skillshare Class! “Take the Creative Leap! Overcoming Fear of Failure” is a class designed with the self-made creative in mind. This class will help you overcome fear of failure with a quick 20-minute video lecture. You will also get a handy printable worksheet! You can use this link to try Skillshare for free! You won’t regret it.
Not every investment is created equal and many brides do not have an unlimited budget for wedding invitations and stationery. That’s why I am sharing the best splurges to keep in mind when investing in your wedding stationery. After years of working on weddings all over the world, I’ve found several details that consistently receive rave reviews from my clients’ guests. There are also a few details that may not have the same kind of shock and aw factor, but I believe are still worth every penny!
Here’s the deal. Working with a designer or calligrapher will cost more than purchasing invitations through a large online company such as Minted. As it should. Your local cheese monger cannot compete with Kraft on pricing. However, they can offer you free cheese samples and suggest something you will absolutely love. The price difference accounts for the notable difference in both the experience and the quality. The same is true with calligraphers and designers. Even if you are purchasing from a semi-custom collection, you will likely deal directly with an experienced designer. They are there to answer your questions and curate unique details for you. One-on-one access to a designer can save you headaches and loads of time. If your budget allows, and you have the option of working with a calligrapher or designer, you will not regret it.
If you follow me on Instagram or ever take a look at my website, you know how much I love wax seals. And guess what? So do your guests. Think about it … how often do you get special mail? Wax seals are a simple way to call attention to your big day and show your guests that it is truly special! If you choose to have a designer create a custom wax seal for your stationery, it can be an heirloom for you as well. You can reuse the unique design on your thank you notes and keep it forever as a token of your unique love story. Wax seals are one of the few wedding investments you will still be able to use after the wedding day is long gone.
Many calligraphers and designers will offer to stuff, seal, and stamp your invitations for you. Some will even take them to the post office. If this is a service that is available, by all means, do it. I have found that many brides or mothers of the bride think assembly will be fun. In reality, it can take several hours, even days depending on the complexity. If you have wax seals, ribbon, vintage stamps, and so forth, it may be worth having your designer or calligrapher take care of this for you. Preparation time is not the only concern. I would also be wary of unexpected prices. If your calligrapher or designer sends all of the printed pieces to assemble yourself, they will need to insure it for the full value and you will have to sign for it. This can create some pretty expensive shipping costs. Lastly, the thing no designer, bride, or planner wants to think about … the thing my nightmares are made of. What if, heaven forbid, anything should happen to that package of pretty paper? If it should be lost or damaged, you may need to reprint everything. There may or may not be time for this. However, if your stationer takes everything straight to the post office, you have zero risk of this happening. I don’t mean to scare you, but this is just something to consider.
Although guests notice these beautiful details, this printing option is a personal preference. Luxe cotton paper with a pillowy letterpress impression or shiny foil truly make a difference. It provides a tactile experience that makes guests stop to really take it in and appreciate the details. If you have a limited budget, you don’t need to go all out. Perhaps you can splurge on the invitation card, or another detail, and choose digital printing for the rest. Get creative. There’s no need to feel locked in to an all-or-nothing approach.
In all honesty, calligraphy is a luxury in the wedding industry. Not everyone can afford to hire a calligrapher. I know that, and it’s totally ok! We offer printed place cards and escort cards with our Semi-Custom Collection Invitations for this very reason. However, if you’d like to splurge on calligraphy place cards or escort cards for your guests, I’ve found that guests love seeing their own names written out. It makes them feel special and well cared for, and they will often keep these details from your wedding. To me, that is a worthwhile investment.
Interested in learning more about working with me on semi-custom invitations? Click the button below to learn more about my prices and process.
A quintessential location for an Up North wedding, Ashley and Matt wed in the beautiful town of Harbor Springs, Michigan on a Saturday in June. From the intimate candlelit rehearsal dinner to the festive welcome party, guests were welcomed with open arms.
The color palette for their wedding day was inspired by the beautiful surroundings of Lake Michigan and the custom Save the Dates were a taste of the wedding weekend to come. Guests’ appetite were whet with a custom watercolor map of the Little Traverse Bay and surrounding landmarks.
Combining a mix of modern and traditional design elements, the invitation suite set the tone for a day to be remembered. The custom invitations were letterpress on double-thick cotton paper with matching edge painting. Wrapped in vellum and secured with a wax seal, I personally took them to the small post office in Harbor Springs to be hand canceled.
Ashley and Matt’s ceremony was held in the quaint town of Harbor Springs, Michigan at the beautiful Holy Childhood of Jesus Catholic Church—a meaningful location for both the couple and their families. After the ceremony, the couple made their way by boat for a stunning entrance to their reception at the Bay Harbor Yacht Club.
The ambiance of the evening was unparalleled. The tablescapes, excellently designed by Rachel Moger of Sincerely Ginger Weddings, featured calligraphy menus and beach glass place cards. Bloom Floral Design took the very best care of the floral installations. My personal favorite was the gorgeous floral arrangement at the entrance of the Rehearsal Dinner at Chandler's Restaurant.
All of the images of this very special weekend were taken by K.R. Moreno.
Interested in working with Ciarra Claire on your own custom wedding invitations? We’d love to speak with you.
Firstly, I would like to say that my calligraphy and stationery studio is located in gorgeous Petoskey, Michigan. I have the pleasure of working with couples and planners on weddings all over the globe, but about half of the weddings I design for are located in Northern Michigan. Of all of the weddings I work on, I would say that 99% of them are considered destination weddings. Often times, the parents of the bride, groom, or both own homes in the area and it has been a very special place for them over the years. That’s why they are SO excited to share it with their family and friends who have never visited the area.
Unlike destination weddings abroad, weddings in Northern Michigan, or stateside, are a bit easier for guests to travel to. Guests are also likely to take extra time off to enjoy their travel, so you want them to make the most of it, and of course, have an amazing time at your wedding!
So, how can you get your guests excited for all you have in store for them? Here are four tips!
01. Allow your guests enough time to plan
I recommend sending invitations in the mail about three (3) months before a destination wedding. This allows guests plenty of time to make travel arrangements. Also, be sure to send Save the Dates much earlier … think anywhere from 12 to 6 months before the big day. It can be helpful to have your wedding website up and ready to go when you send out Save the Dates. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but if you can have information about accommodations, or places to see while they visit, it can go a long way!
A note on the gallery above: If you have a flexible budget, it is fun to include something unique, like this die cut Michigan RSVP card or this custom watercolor map! This is something we can design for our custom stationery clients. To learn more about that process you can click here. The above images are from a wedding with Sincerely Ginger Weddings. Photography is by K.R. Moreno Photography and the florals are by Bloom Floral Design.
02. Give your guests a taste
You often hear that your stationery sets the tone for your wedding. I think this is especially true for destination weddings! There are so many fun things you can do to get your guests excited. Do you have an epic venue? Custom venue illustrations or maps can be a really fun touch to your stationery. Just be mindful that extra details can also add up in the overall costs!
We offer semi-custom wedding invitations (see the pretty pictures below!) which share a glimpse of the natural beauty of the destination through watercolor details. This is a great way to wet your guests’ appetite without breaking the bank!
03. Share your faves with your faves!
That’s right, give your guests a list of things to do. You can include this in the Invitation Suite or Save the Date. To save a little money, you can skip that detail and add it to your wedding website. Wedding websites are super important now that people do everything online and sharing a list of your favorite restaurants and special spots will help get your guests excited. They can start making plans right away instead of wasting time searching Yelp reviews.
04. Have fun with the details!
The Wedding Invitations and Save the Dates are a great place to infuse a little extra personality, while keeping a very classy and elegant look. Postage stamps are a great example of this!
Don’t splurge on all vintage postage! Vintage postage is beautiful, but it can cost 3-4 times the face value of the stamps, depending on how rare they are. If your invitations cost $1.20 to mail, they may cost $4-$5 each for all vintage postage (and that does not account for the RSVP Envelopes). There are some great options through the USPS website that look vintage (pst…these are my favorite!). You can mix a couple of forever stamps with just one or two lower face value vintage stamps to get the look you want for less!
For personal accents, look for vintage stamps from the state your wedding will be in, the states you are from, or flowers that match your wedding colors!
Now for some pretty inspiration!
Below are some of my favorite images from one of my Semi-Custom Invitations Suites! Design 06. Terrain features delicate watercolor illustrations which build anticipation for the natural beauty of your wedding destination! We currently have three options: the lake, the woods, and Red Rocks. If you love this design but don’t see your terrain, just ask us! We may be able to add it to our collection!
The images below are styled and shot Stephanie Parshall. She did an amazing job at capturing details and I highly recommend checking out her work! The suite is digitally printed on our signature Rossi paper, which has gorgeous, subtle deckled edge!
Need more than wedding invitations? We also offer corresponding Save the Dates, Menus, Place Cards and more for all of our collection designs. Just ask us!
Interested in working with me?
Click the link below to get started! I would love to see if we can work together!
When Christina came to me with her concept for this photoshoot, I answered with an immediate yes! I worked with Christina on her branding and was so excited to work with her on a collaborative project like this. I am so thrilled for this entire team to be featured on Magnolia Rouge’s blog. Here are a few of my favorite images. For the full feature head on over to Magnolia Rouge.
Racheal and Steven were married in the heart of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was a destination wedding for many of their friends and they found the perfect hideaway at Bissel Tree House for their reception. Their wedding was inspired by the concept of an elegant garden party, with all of the lush florals and pale colors that go along with it.
This bride had a fabulous idea for her custom sate the dates. Rather than a typical photo save the date, they commissions a watercolor timeline. We illustrated the place they met, the place they had gotten engaged and finally the place they we to be wed. This helped their friends and family to be more familiar with their love story as well as get excited for this Michigan wedding.
When it came to their stationery Rachel wanted something on the simple side with a focus on the textures of thick cotton paper and letterpress. So we created a suited that features a blunt presses monogram, both on the invitation and on other details throughout. We also added a custom watercolor floral envelope liner so bring a touch of romance to the suite.
For the wedding and reception we created several pieces from wedding ceremony programs to menus and signage. But my favorite details was her escort card display. Designer Shelby, of A Day’s Design, had a really creative idea for a a seating chart display that incorporated wild greenery and florals and hand calligraphed acrylic for a perfect mix of modern and romantic for this focus point.
Marissa and Mack we married in Sedona, Arizona in March of 2017. Marissa had such a fun and modern sense of style but still wanted her stationery to be romantic. With this in mind we used translucent vellum paper and a watercolor marble texture along with fine gold thread to bring out a more order design esthetic. But to soften things a bit we also used deckled edge paper, and silver calligraphy hand addressing. All the guests loved the vintage stamp collage we applied to both the outer end rsvp envelop!
For her wedding reception the bride wanted to do something a little different than the traditional menu for a place setting. So we created two art prints as keepsakes for the guests with deckled edges and modern calligraphy. We replaces traditional place cards with calligraphed silk ribbons with each guest’s name. This created a truly personal place for each guest and completed a beautiful wedding design.