Working with a Calligrapher | The Guest List


Professional calligraphy can elevate your event stationery in a way few things can. It is bespoke. 100% by hand. Each piece becomes its own work of art.

As the practice has experienced a growing resurgence in recent years (gracias, social media), contemporary calligraphers have become an increasingly common presence on wedding vendor collaboration lists. But calligraphers can be a fickle breed. We each have our own creative processes + preferences, each valid + personal to the artist. So, what should you keep in mind when you include a calligrapher on your event planning team? Well, each vendor runs their business differently, so having a general awareness + appreciation of the calligraphy process can be so very helpful for everyone involved. Watch a few videos online, reach out to an actual calligrapher, or better yet, take a class! The more we understand each other, the fewer the headaches!

That said, for this post, we're going to focus on a calligraphy biggie...

the Guest List.

In general, there will be one of two ways your calligrapher is going to want your guest list for envelope calligraphy. You may be asked to send your list in traditional address format using Microsoft Word or Pages. You may also work with a calligrapher who prefers an Excel spreadsheet. I go back + forth depending on the scope + style of the project itself + will communicate my preference (if any) to clients once details have been finalized. My point here, I suppose, is please don't assume. If you haven't been clearly instructed, then ask before you spend time working on a list format incorrectly. We know your time is valuable + we truly don't enjoy sending lists back because we need them done differently.

Now, my apologies up front, because I'm about to get real with you. Basically, I feel it necessary to explain why we're such a picky lot. Often enough, calligraphers end up on the receiving end of comments along the lines of

"ugh, does this reeeeeeally matter?"

Even with event planners + other industry insiders who work with stationers + printers often enough, it can seem like guest lists are thrown together + too often thrown at calligraphers without much (or any) regard to how they want them formatted - and we're the ones left in the position of coming off pushy + high maintenance. Now we're the annoying vendor asking that you add yet another item to your ever expanding to-do list because the simple courtesy of a question wasn't asked. Or we have to do it ourselves, which no calligrapher wants to do. And for good reason. Consider this: we have to-do lists, too. We are incredibly aware that reformatting a guest list takes time. So before you start complaining that we're being so demanding, perhaps ask yourself why you don't want to do it + then ask yourself why your calligrapher's time is less valuable. Truly, I say this with love, but if you want me to spend an extra hour or 2 reformatting your guest list for you, just please don't expect me to do it for free. You are investing in someone who will be spending dedicated time on each individual piece. By hand. Taking the time to ensure your list conforms to their personal process is imperative to making sure your calligraphy comes back to you in a timely manner + with minimal errors. We would much rather not have to edit your list at all + some calligraphers (myself included) actually stipulate this - your list will be calligraphed exactly as it is sent to me. No exceptions. What if I accidentally delete an entry because I had to shift or delete unnecessary cells on the spreadsheet? How would I know? What if something copy + pastes incorrectly? Then it would fall on me. Calligraphers require certain formats because we know what works for us. We require this because we are trying to make the process more streamlined + as error free as possible! We require this because we want to do our best work - for you!

You are investing in someone who will be spending dedicated time on each individual piece. By hand.

Taking the time to ensure your list conforms to their personal process is imperative to making sure your calligraphy comes back to you in a timely manner + with minimal errors.

Oftentimes, your calligrapher may even have a specific template they prefer you use, like one of mine listed below. See? Already trying to make it easier for you! I have templates for both types of lists + will direct clients toward one or the other, again, depending on the project.

WORD Guest Address List Template

I know Excel is easy + all, but it can be hard for us calligraphers to work with in some cases (ie. small font, compact lists). But no worries! If you already have your addresses laid out in Excel, it is very simple to do a mail merge, in which case you wouldn't even need to use the template supplied above. Simply go to the Tools drop down menu in the toolbar in Word + there is a function listed under Letters and Mailings called "Mail Merge Wizard" that will walk you through an easy mail merge into a Word Doc (please don't just copy + paste from Excel! Not the same thing, luv). The template I supply wouldn't support the import function, but it's a good template if you haven't started a guest list at all. Personally, I ask that all Word lists also be numbered for easy reference - which is why our template is already formatted that way! If for some reason we need to update Aunt Myrtle's address, it is far easier to send me an update to #73 than it is for me to scan through pages of strangers' names.

EXCEL Guest Address List Template

Numbered by default + ready to go, this tends to be a favorite template for many clients to work with. As I said, in some circumstances an Excel sheet could just as easily work from the get-go. But unless you have been expressly told by your calligrapher that this is the preferred submission method, then a Word document it likely should be. Just check out the photo above. If it were you, would you rather be squinting to read a cramped Excel spreadsheet or the nicely spaced, appropriated sized Word Doc?

Exactly.

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