Ask the Expert

Joanna Krupnick of Order She Wrote illustrates why couples should hire a calligrapher for their wedding-day items.

Calligraphy isn’t just for invitation suites these days. For Joanna Krupnick of Order She Wrote, no item or medium is out of the question when it comes to adding custom lettering, monograms, or even a crest. Over the past several years, she has honed her skills to offer couples a range of lettering styles and options for their application – from invitation suites, seating charts, and place cards, to menus, RSVP cards, thank you notes, and signage. Here, she answers questions about how to hire and best use a calligrapher for your wedding, as well as pricing and lead times for custom creations.

How did you get started with calligraphy?

My mom actually gifted me a beginner’s set of a workbook and three nibs, saying she thought I’d be good at it! I had always tried to replicate various computer fonts and made faux calligraphy notes for everyone on their birthdays and special occasions. But I completely resisted the idea, so sure I wouldn’t be any good at it. But during a snowy Valentine’s Day weekend on Martha’s Vineyard several years ago, I was bored and stuck inside and decided to give it a go. I went to EduComp (miss you!) and got a set of plain old Crayola markers (excellent markers I recommend for beginners, by the way) and that was it! By the end of the weekend, practicing nonstop, I was proud enough to photograph a page of my doodling to post on Instagram.

What’s the most common type of work you produce for weddings: invitations, escort cards, signage?

Most commonly I am asked to address the invitation envelopes. That was what I started out doing when I first began, and it’s still a huge part of my business now, probably tied for first place with place cards and other day-of wedding items such as signage.

How has your business and the projects you’ve taken on changed over the years?

I’d say my business has certainly evolved from just weddings into a lot of fun in-person events. Events have me doing things like personalizing cards or monogramming gifts. These events are super fun since I get to be out in front of people, having conversations, and getting to work in some really fun places.

How long does it take to create a custom piece?

It depends on the piece. A custom invitation suite could take a few weeks to design before it goes to print. A custom sign can take a day or two, and handwritten vows or a poem take a few days to map out and then several hours for the actual writing. In general, my writing doesn’t take that long anymore (lots of practice!), but the planning and organizing to put it on the page seamlessly and spaced out is what can get very time-consuming.

We’ve seen escort cards made from leaves, rocks, beach glass, shells, even fruit, and hand-lettered signs, cups, alternative guest book items, even clothing. What’s the most unusual or interesting item you’ve hand lettered?

I love all of those mediums! One time I had to monogram a guitar for someone. That was really cool – also very nerve-racking! I also love hand-painting monograms and names on denim jackets. Those are really fun and I love seeing people wear them for years to come.

Micaela Grace

How do you base your pricing? Is it by item, style, or time spent on it?

My pricing is primarily based on the time it takes. Material costs are pretty straightforward using paints, brushes, nibs, and ink. Some mediums are obviously more expensive, but since that’s a choice the client gets to make, I focus on the difficulty and time involved. In terms of lettering styles, I have one or two styles that are considerably more difficult than my others, so they take more time and thus cost a little more.

What is included in a full invitation suite?

A full invitation suite usually consists of the outer envelope (often with a liner) the invitation card, the RSVP card with envelope, and a details card or itinerary card of some sort. Some people consider the save the dates as part of the invitation suite as well.

How many months in advance should a couple book a calligrapher?

It depends on what you would like to use them for. If you would like a calligrapher to design or address save the dates, you should book them out a year before the wedding. If you would like to start with the invitation design process, you should book them at least six months before your wedding. Three months at least to design, print, and send them out. If you need a calligrapher for the wedding-day items, three months before the wedding is recommended.

What other custom options can you offer couples? Crests? Maps? Illustrations?

Yes to all! For invitations I love to design wax seals, custom crests, and, of course, save the dates and thank you note stationery. I have a wonderful illustrator, Tiffany [Willey], who I commission for the really elaborate paintings, such as venues, maps, landscapes, etc. My painting style is much more homegrown and naïve, while Tiffany is the technically proficient one and just all around incredible. I love that we can offer both styles to choose from.

If you can only afford spot calligraphy, where do you suggest a couple uses it?

I say invest it in the couple’s names and the location on the invitation card. It’s the first thing their guests see, and the invitation card is the keepsake. (The RSVP card comes back to the couple!) Who doesn’t love seeing their name written in a unique and special way? Plus, you can reuse that calligraphy! Maybe use it on stationery, a custom address stamp, a guestbook cover, or even souvenir cups! Write out the bits you want your guests to remember in the calligraphy; whether it’s the location, the date, or even the dress code. 

For more information on services and pricing, go to