Jill, mother of the bride, contacted me by email asking if I could do the wedding calligraphy for her daughter’s wedding. They needed place cards and a seating arrangement. Betts Printing — the local print shop that letterpress-printed my business cards — recommended me to Jill. We spoke over the phone about the project and I met with her later that week to pick up the materials she chose for the event and the list of names.
The Wedding Place Cards
- 87 place cards, one name each and a symbol to indicate meal choice
- 10 table numbers
- 10 cards to make up the seating arrangement
- 1 informational card about transportation from the venue back to accommodations
Custom Colored Ink
Kate, the bride, and I talked over email about what color ink she wanted the names to be written in. I lettered and sent a sample of each color possibility for the event: dark blue, gold, black, or dark brown. Kate chose dark brown, which in this case I used walnut ink for. I use Daniel Smith Walnut Ink that I buy from Arizona Art Supply. I like it because it’s ready to use and consistent.
Kate chose a symbol to indicate what each guest chose for their meal and to include on each card to be sure the plates were placed properly. Kate wanted the symbols small but legible. After consulting with her on the placement and shape of the meal symbols, I was ready to get started.
The place card Jill and Kate selected came from Kelly Paper, a paper and printing store. They were ecru and lightly embossed so that each card was framed. I always leave place cards unfolded as I work with them and transport them. That way they stay crisp and fresh and are easy to transport.
I love guidelines and I use them in all the work I do, even event calligraphy. For this project, since the cards are a light color, I used my light table and positioned each card over a set of guidelines I printed from my teacher, Paul Antonio. My light table is a small glass table with a lamp underneath it. Light shines upward through the pages so that I can see the guidelines without having to draw them onto each card. This keeps the spacing and angle of the script consistent. As for centering the names, well, sometimes I had better luck than others, and I got better at it with practice. Shorter names were more challenging and I am learning to take more time to consider what letters I am working with and how much space they require.
For each meal symbol, I also used my light table and traced a small symbol I drew up for the choice onto the bottom right hand corner of each place card. I did this so that each would still look hand drawn with the added bonus of regularity. I marked the edges of the place cards onto the original sheet so that the placement of each symbol would be consistent from place card to place card.
Wedding Seating Arrangement
Jill and Kate provided a lovely opal paper for the seating arrangement and table numbers. This paper took the ink wonderfully and was a pleasure to write on. Jill e-mailed the final seating arrangement to me and I set to work cutting the pages down and organizing the place cards by their table numbers. Post-It dividers are how I kept all the cards in order.
I tested the longest list of names for size on a scratch piece of paper before I started working. This was so that all the text would be the same size and I wouldn’t waste time and materials figuring out the size of the text or having to redo it. All cards would be displayed together and there’s no eyesore from far away like sloppy text that’s different sizes. Event calligraphy should always be pleasing.
For each arrangement card, I wrote the title slightly larger than I was going to pen the names in to create a hierarchy in the text. I drew the outline of the large cards onto my guideline sheet and used a ruler to mark a line down the center so that the names would be fairly centered on the cards. I used the already calligraphed place cards as a guide to center the names on each arrangement card.
Wedding Reception Table Numbers
These I saved for last because they were the least complex. These cards were already the correct size and I now had a midline drawn on my guidesheet. I wrote as large as I could, putting the calligraphy above the center of the card. This allowed space at the bottom of the card for the holder and ensured the table numbers were visible alongside the table décor.
This card was an afterthought. It was displayed alongside the seating arrangement to notify guests of transportation from the venue. This was another instance where I made a mock-up for placement of the text first before penning the final. I again used the guidelines and placed the lines of text around the midline I drew for myself.
I love to deliver work to my clients organized and ready to go. Planning an event like this requires so much attention to detail and I enjoy doing my part to minimize the energy my event calligraphy requires for display. I placed the table signs and place cards into a small bag since they were going to the same place, and I put the seating arrangement cards and the informational card together in another bag. I placed all items into a box to protect the corners of the paper. This also made transportation easy for the next person. I returned any papers provided to me that I didn’t use.
I happily met Jill at her home a few days before the wedding to return everything to her. She was thrilled with the cards. That’s always one of the best parts for me: when the client sees the final product for the first time.
Questions? Comments? Thoughts? Want to work with me? Please don’t hesitate to email me! Thanks for reading!