Wedding Day Calligraphy: My Design Process

A few weeks ago, we started talk about the stationery and which items you really need for your invitations and your day-of goods, and today we’re continuing with my design process for day of goods!

If you’ve missed the other parts of the series, check them out here:

This process is extremely similar to my stationery design process, with a few details that look a little different! 

Wedding day of design process.

1. Client inquiry

I have a pretty short inquiry form through my website (find it here) where I take in my client's initial inquiry and a few minor details like wedding date and budget. After you fill that out, you are automatically sent a long questionnaire where you can fill out all the details for every item you are interested in having included in the proposal. Here, I gather as much info as I can to avoid needing to ask more questions before I put together the proposal, from materials to quantity to wording to sizes so that I can create the most accurate quote possible. 

2. Proposal

After I receive your inquiry, I'll let you know that I got your inquiry and that I'll get back to you with a proposal or clarifying questions within 5 business days. My response time is often slower with proposals because they take some time to put together, so once a week I block out time to put together all the needed proposals. Once your my client and we're discussing the specifics of your needs, you should typically here from me within a few hours or the next day.

Something I love about the program I use for proposals is that I can attach an invoice and contract to it, so that if you want to accept the proposal you'll be directed straight to signing the contract and paying the first 50% of the invoice. This means you don't have to say “okay yep let’s book” and then hate to wait for me to send the contract and invoice and I don’t have to wait for them to be signed and paid. It all happens instantly because it’s right there, eliminating steps and wait time for both parties! 

3. Project Set-up 

Once you are booked in (as soon as you've signed the contract and paid the first 50%), I create a timeline of our process together and add it to my calendar and to your Client Portal, which is basically the “website” of our project where you can find your contract, invoice, proofs, spreadsheet links, emails, and the timeline. This way be both know what needs to happen between now and the completion of the goods. I also add a link to a spreadsheet for you to input guest lists if I’ll be taking care of any seating charts, escort cards, or place cards.

Unlike my stationery design process, I have no need to gather the wording details here, because those details should have already been included in my initial form!

4. Proofing

Once it’s time to start working on the final day-of stationery, usually 1-2 months before the wedding depending on the scope of the project, I put together the first proofs! Often it doesn’t help to do this much earlier, because final guest lists and wording are often not finalized before then. 

Using my iPad, I sketch all the designs using the details captured in the wording + details form they filled out before I sent the proposal. Once I’m happy with what I’ve come up with, I add them to a proof form and include a few clarifying questions for each piece: like “Does wording need to change?” or “Would you prefer this in a script for font?” or “How do colours need to change?”. 

We go back and forth on the proofs until all the final items are finalized - I’m happy to report that this usually doesn’t take more than 2 proofs! My favourite days are the days I send out a first proof and my client approves of each piece as is. That always feels good. 

Items that will be printed rather than handwritten usually take a little more proofing to make sure they’ll be perfect, but handwritten items are never perfect and won’t 100% match the proof (part of the beauty of them) and don’t need as much proofing.

5. Print Approval Sub-Contract

I like to make sure all is well before sending anything off to print, so if any items will need physical printing I put together a sub-contract for you to approve of the items for print. There, I emphasize double and triple checking wording and spelling, and have you acknowledge that the printed version will look different than the digital version you see, and stuff like that. I also clarify that once you sign off that this is good to go, if any re-printing is needed, you'll be charged the full re-printed fee. 

This is a piece of protection for both you and me. Neither of us want re-printing to be necessary and to be our fault, so this eliminates any errors! Happy to say that I’ve never needed to do any re-printing due to errors and I plan to keep that streak going.

6. Final work and pickup!

Depending on the project, this might mean preparing all the files for print and sending them off, or doing the final calligraphy on the seating chart, place cards, or signage. In general, I do this the week before the wedding and have everything ready for pickup a day or 2 before the wedding, depending on your needs. If clients need the goods earlier I’m happy to make that happen, however I’ve found that in general all the details and guest lists are finalized a week or two before the wedding, so the final goods can’t be completed before that regardless.