Ballpark Estimate: $2 to $8 per invitation envelope set
You’ve spent much time and energy selecting the perfect wedding invitations and making sure they’re worded perfectly. Now how about getting them professionally addressed? A person skilled in calligraphy can put his or her talent to work to make them look their very best.
The Art of Calligraphy
Calligraphy is a form of very specialized handwriting that has graceful swirls and lines. It’s usually performed using a special type of pen and ink and the results are very elegant.
In addition to adding this special touch on your invitations, you may also want to use calligraphy on your save-the-date announcements, wedding programs, place cards, table numbers, thank you notes and any other printed wedding correspondence.
The word calligraphy stems from an ancient writing form called Kalligraphia, whose literal translation is “beautiful writing.” While many people dabble in this art form, when it comes to your wedding, you’ll probably want to steer clear of the amateurs and rely on someone who’s had professional calligraphy training and has been successfully practicing this skill for many years.
Keep in mind that the beautiful formation of the letters themselves will be lovely to look at, but this is only half of the equation. You’ll also want to make sure that any calligrapher you hire will pay close attention to detail, spelling every guest’s name and address correctly.
You may think that all calligraphy is the same but in fact, there a number of different calligraphy styles that exist and each one will convey a different tone and feeling.
Here are a few of the common choices and what you can expect from each one:
This is the simplest calligraphy style and the one that many calligraphers today practice. It’s usually drawn using a pen with a broad tip, which gives it a crisp, clean effect. It also has a balanced feel, with the letters nicely proportioned with the width equaling about half of the height. This calligraphy style can be easily customized with flourishes, scrolling lines or sharper edges to get the final results you desire.
This classic calligraphy style is also very common. It has a stately feel but with a more relaxed edge than some of the other options. This can make seem warmer and more welcoming. There are several variations on this calligraphy style, either using all uppercase letters, or using upper and lowercase with the uppercase being disproportionately tall. Both of these options offer a bit more formality.
This form of calligraphy is made to look very uniform, so it has the feel of a printed typeface but with a more sophisticated edge. This easy-on-the-eye style can be adapted to your preferences, with curly loops to add more flair.
This is a very bold and very formal writing style that is done using a pen with a broad tip. It’s got a very distinctive feel and will only appeal to certain tastes.
This is an ancient writing form that uses simple uppercase letters that are as tall as they are wide, which gives it a surprisingly modern feel.
This old world calligraphy style is done with a pointy-tipped pen dipped in ink to create graceful lines. It can be modified with more dramatic curves or flowing curls, depending on the calligrapher’s experience level and ability to control the pen.
This is the most ornate of the calligraphy styles and is also done with pen and ink. The style relies on the contrast of thin and thicker lines to create a generously flowing effect. This may appeal to wedding couples looking for a very grand style reminiscent of earlier, more formal times.
All in Good Time
Wedding planners suggest that you begin looking for someone to do your calligraphy as soon as you decide on your wedding date and details. This will give you time to shop around and find the right calligrapher for the job and ensure he’s available in your timeframe. The turnaround for the assignment can vary a great deal from calligrapher to calligrapher, but a general rule of thumb is that a professional will need at least two weeks to complete 100 invitations. More time will probably be needed if you have a large guest list, request custom flourishes in the writing or have extra material you want to have calligraphy done on.
How to Find
Many stationary stores and printers can give you a list of calligraphers in your area. You can also find them on some of the popular online wedding planning resources that offer vendor directories, such as The Knot, Brides, and Martha Stewart Weddings In addition, there are calligraphy guilds and organizations in many states and this can be a great place to find professionals available for your job. You can get a list of state guilds at Cynscribe. Or, use calligraphy websites such as Calligraphy On Demand to find a calligrapher in your area.
What to Look For
When you meet with a calligrapher, you’ll want to know if he uses a marker or the dipped in ink method. Or, if he uses a computer, which can be quicker but can also raise the risk of smudging or jamming in the printer.
Some of the other types of information you’ll want to consider include how much experience and training he brings to this task, what the turn-around time is for your job, whether he will be performing other jobs at the same time as yours, and whether they are affiliated with any professional calligraphy organizations. You might also bring a sample of your invitation and ask them to recommend the font style that would work best for your event.
Get It in Writing
Once you decide to hire the calligrapher, you’ll want them to provide the job details in writing so you’ll need exactly what you’re both agreeing to and what you’ll be paying for the job. Generally the envelopes to be addressed will be inner and outer envelopes and sometimes the response envelope. You may also want to have your other wedding material done, so you should specify all of the pieces up front, give quantities and agree on a time frame and price for the job. Many calligraphers have a per-piece price list for different items (such as place cards, invitations and wedding program). It’s a good idea to talk up front about how misspellings will be handled.
What It Costs
When it comes to what you’ll spend for calligraphy, a lot depends on whom you hire and what you expect to get. For instance, you can find someone who dabbles in calligraphy as a hobby or part-time job and as such, may be very affordable. Or, you can invest in a calligrapher who is highly trained in this art and is very much in demand and therefore commands a high price. Many people settle somewhere in between these two scenarios. The type of calligraphy you select and the how intricate it is can also affect the price, and the method used (such as with a calligraphy marker or a pen dipped in ink) can also impact the bottom line.
Although these types of variations can make the cost of the calligraphy higher or lower, there are some general averages that can at least give you an idea of about what you can expect to find:
- Invitation Envelopes: $2 to $5 each set (this includes both the inner and outer envelopes)
- Return Address: 50 cents to $1 each envelope
- Place Cards or Escort Cards: 50 cents to $2 per name for each
- Table Numbers: $1 to $2 each
- Vows: $40 to $100
- Wedding Program: $100 to $200
In addition to these calligraphy prices, you can expect there to some additional costs you might incur, depending on your logistics. For instance, a typical calligraphy envelope set includes three lines on the outer envelope (guest’s name, street address, city/state/zip), and one on the inner envelope (name only). If the wedding invitation is going to a husband and wife with the same last name, the number of lines won’t change. However, if the wedding guests have two different last names, etiquette indicates that the names should be on two different lines. This extra line can add an additional 50 cents to $1 in some cases. If you request colored or metallic inkfor the writing, you may have to pay extra for this as well. This can cost another 50 cents to $1. If you add other flourishes or special logos or anything extra to the writing, this custom touch can add another 50 cents to $1 per envelope. By the time you add up all of the extra costs into the bill, you might conceivably spend as much as $8 for the calligraphy on each envelope set.
So the price range to have your wedding envelope sets addressed by a calligrapher can cost between $2 and $8 each. This means you might spend between $200 and $800 on this expense for 100 invitations.
How to Prepare
You’ll need to give your calligrapher a list of everyone you would like to invite to your wedding. It’s always wise to provide the list to the calligrapher in typed form so there won’t be any questions on spelling.
You’ll also need to provide the envelopes to the calligrapher that are to be addressed. Plan to provide an extra 10 to 25 percent (so if you’re inviting 100 people, you should give to give an extra 10 to 25 envelopes). Also allow time to check all of the calligrapher’s work to be sure that everything is spelled correctly before you mail out the finished invitations.