Addressed to Impress
A lettering sample by Natasha Lawrence of South Carolina Calligraphy. Photograph by Natasha Lawrence
January 10, 2013
Addressed to Impress
Send the right message with a perfectly penned envelope
Written By Molly Hutter
If you’re anything like me, chances are you tucked that pretty little invite to your best friend’s wedding in your keepsake drawer. So how does a bride-to-be send out envelopes worth holding on to? To answer this, we chatted with Moncks Corner’s Natasha Lawrence of South Carolina Calligraphy, who’s been in the line of inking good-looking letters for more than 15 years. Read on for tips for DIYing and hiring the best pro, as well as info on don’t-miss calligraphy workshops.
Charleston Weddings: Addressing hundreds of envelopes seems like a daunting task. How should a bride-to-be go about tackling this major to-do?
Natasha Lawrence: There are three options when it comes to addressing envelopes. One: Use a calligraphic pen and hope for the best. This may work, but you may not be satisfied with the results. Ask if your, your friend’s, or your mother’s handwriting is pretty and neat enough. And ask yourself, too, if you really want to do this yourself. Option two is to use a computer. For some, the type comes out too perfect, making it obvious that it was printed by a machine. Many brides want something more personal and special. Option three is to hire a calligrapher who addresses envelopes professionally.
CW: Let’s talk about the first scenario. What advice do you have for the bride, maid of honor, or mother of the bride who wants to take on the task herself?
NL: Addressing envelopes using a calligraphic pen is not the same as writing with a ballpoint pen, so I highly recommend taking a calligraphy class to learn the basic techniques, such as holding the pen at a proper angle and moving one’s entire hand when writing. In the end, the finished product needs to look pretty, consistent, and uniform in terms of writing style and lettering sizes, and all the words must be spelled correctly, especially the guests’ names. Practicing on copy paper helps—and, of course, the more practice, the better.
CW: How long does the process of addressing invites usually take?
NL: This project can be time consuming, but it’s well worth the effort for someone committed. One must concentrate on the work at hand and write slowly to avoid errors (though they will still happen). It really depends on the number of guests, but addressing 100 envelopes takes about a week or two.
CW: What are the benefits of hiring a professional calligrapher rather than DIYing?
NL: There are a number of benefits to using a calligrapher—including speed and peace of mind. It may take a while for a bride or a friend of the bride to get her skill up to speed enough to address envelopes in calligraphy with satisfaction and consistency. A bride has much on her mind, and worrying about getting the invitations addressed and in the mail on time is one headache she can do without. In addition, a professional calligrapher can help advise brides on wedding etiquette. For example, with few exceptions, such as Ms., Mr., Mrs., and Dr., everything should be spelled out, including Street, Boulevard, Avenue, etc. Numbers under 10 are also spelled out.
CW: Let’s say I’m a bride. What’s something I may not have thought of in terms of addressing my invitations?
NL: Additional envelopes—at least 10 percent extra—should be ordered to cover mistakes, accidental misspellings, and last-minute changes.
CW: Aside from the invites, where else can calligraphy be incorporated in wedding décor?
NL: I’ve had a number of interesting requests, including a “Just Married” sign on the back of a bicycle taxi, table signs, a bride’s planning book, directional signs, wedding vows, poems, and chair memorials. Calligraphy can also be used on place cards, labels, gift tags, journals, and thank-you notes. The possibilities are endless and the more creative, the better.
CW: What makes calligraphy well-suited for wedding stationery suites?
NL: Your wedding invitation envelopes should have that “wow” factor and should make an impression on the guest whose name is beautifully hand-written on the front. I believe that guests appreciate a formality that reflects the importance of the occasion. It’s a tradition that is romantic and ageless, and is an unspoken expression of friendship and affection—someone has slowed down in this fast-paced world to give a few minutes of his or her time. It’s a priceless gift.
Want to try your hand? Enroll in a calligraphy workshop led by Natasha. In addition to group and individual instruction, you’ll score your own calligraphy pen, guides, and practice paper.
Saturday, March 9, 2013
Introduction to Calligraphy: 9 a.m.-Noon
Wedding Calligraphy: 1-4 p.m.
$30 for museum members, $40 for non-members
The Charleston Museum, 360 Meeting Street, (843) 722-2996, www.charlestonmuseum.org