Hey there, friends!
This past month, I booked my very first envelope calligraphy job! It was 406 envelopes strong, and I completed it in two weeks. (I cannot believe it’s over. I’m seriously so bummed.) I've decided to share with you guys my approach to this process, from email-communicating, to proofing at the end, to sharing my mistakes.
TYPE: What kind of envelope addressing do you need?
- Outer envelopes— include formal names and addresses of guests (depending on the mood of your event, this could be full names or just first names.)
- Inner envelopes— include first names of guests and specific household members who are invited to your event
- RSVP envelopes— include the name and address of the bride’s family (traditionally), but really you just need the response cards to get to whoever is in charge of the guest count.
QUANTITY: How many of each envelope do you need?
- This will help you figure out how much time you’ll need to complete the addressing project, how much to charge (usually a per envelope fee), how many extras you’ll need, etc.
DEADLINE: When is your event? When do you need the envelopes to be completed?
This will help you determine if you have time in your schedule to even take on this task in the first place. Most calligraphers need at least 2 weeks to complete an envelope calligraphy project, but everyone is different. Some styles may take longer per envelope; some paper is trickier to write on than others. I think it's important to honor your limits and say yes or no accordingly.
** Make sure to request extra envelopes for each size! Mistakes happen, addresses change, guests get added at the last minute. I liked having 15% extra. (So for a project my size, I requested 30 extra for outer and 30 extra for inner.)**
If the planner/bride already ordered envelopes, ask about the weight, texture, and color of the envelopes to inform your ink and nib choices. (If they didn’t order the envelopes yet, be sure to communicate about these details.)
Find out the mood/theme of the wedding or event to inform the style of calligraphy you choose. (A classic bride may not want bouncy, fauxligraphy on her envelopes, you know?)
Request to see the invitation suite in order to create a cohesive look.
** Don’t be afraid to clarify if you’re confused or unsure. My go-to phrases before any seemingly redundant questions are, “just to clarify, [insert expectation here]” or “I just have a few questions for you to make sure this process is streamlined and accurate: [insert list of questions]” This way you appear considerate instead of annoying or unexperienced.**
Here are some examples of what I mean:
“Just to clarify before I get an invoice together: This pricing is for basic calligraphy with black ink on the envelopes and guests' names and addresses. Custom/metallic ink entails additional cost. Return addressing entails additional cost."
"Lastly, can you send me the the name and address of the person receiving the bill and completed envelopes?"
"I just wanted to request the guest address list so we can make sure the calligraphy process is streamlined.”
Keep the tone polite and professional.
GUEST ADDRESS LIST FORMATTINg
I think this is where personal preference comes in. Some calligraphers like to see the address like this:
Mr. and Mrs. Kelly Matthews III
1234 Address Lane
Some calligrapher’s like for everything to be laid out in an Excel spreadsheet. (That’s what I ended up doing, btw.) Some print out their address list; I just left it on the computer. My only request was that each name and address was written EXACTLY how the bride wanted it to appear on the envelope. If they wrote state abbreviations, then they can’t expect to see the state name written out. If they wrote ‘Doctor’ on the guest list, then I won’t write ‘Dr.’ on the envelope. You picking up what I’m putting down?
MY SET UP
Since the envelopes were a light color, I used my lightpad on its brightest setting and created this guideline. I know, it's not as fancy as a Slider Writer, but it definitely did the trick. I used this guide to divide the envelope in quarters in order to keep things centered and even. Each line was 1/2" apart. The darkened lines are where I decided to place the calligraphy--- centered, and on the bottom half of the envelope. Lastly, I secured each envelope to my lightpad with washi-tape.
This video shows a really quick & easy version of an inner envelope using my set up!
WHAT I WISH I DID
BATCH-PROOFING: Proofing the envelopes took FOREVER, but I was glad I took the time to do it. (Especially since I totally skipped a name on one of the inner envelopes and forgot a zip code on one of the outer ones. *facepalm* ) In the future, I would definitely proof in smaller batches. I broke up this project into about 30-45 envelopes a day, so when I book my next project, I’ll proof each day rather than checking all 400 envelopes the night before delivery.
STOCK UP ON NIBS: I didn’t realize how quickly my precious little Nikko G would die during this project. (Thankfully, Paper and Ink Arts is based in Nashville, so I didn’t have to order new nibs.) Fresher nibs will create cleaner lines and prevent catches on the envelope, which means smooth sailing for you. So yeah, make sure you have at least 2-3 nibs on hand.
Wow, that was a TON of info. I hope it was helpful!
Let me know if you have any specific questions.
With Love, Frani