It’s been said so often, but it’s still such an unexpected feeling on your wedding day when the day just zips by and before you know it, it’s over, and you hope everyone had an enjoyable time and left feeling like an important and valuable part of your life. I’ve seen couples try to make sure and personally welcome their guests in a variety of ways—sometimes, they will address the guests as a whole after the toasts, sometimes they will make the rounds and visit each table one by one during dinner and take photos. These have always felt like a nice gesture, but seldom have reached the level of personalization as one of my recent couples achieved through of all things, their wedding place cards.
Brooke and Lee approached me with a beautiful idea that I don’t see done often—they wanted to include a personalized, hand crafted note at each guest’s place setting. This idea is such a sweet and personal way to make each and every guest feel so welcomed and appreciated, and I was so excited to make this happen for them! We quickly realized it was totally out of budget (and not entirely practical) for their original request to have each note completely calligraphed by hand in its entirety.
One of the things I pride myself on is finding solutions when possible within a client’s budget to help bring their vision to life. I understood the importance they extended to having some portion of it in calligraphy, some of it hand-calligraphed, and I also knew they weren’t the kind that wanted to tackle printing and cutting these on their own, in preparation to hand off to me as a way to reduce labor costs on my end. I offered them a unique solution—they digitally prepared the notes, then I formatted each and every one of them into a template I designed, which included guidelines outside of the cut area so I could line it up evenly when using pointed dip pen to calligraph names. I also printed each guest’s name outside the cut area so I could easily distinguish what to calligraph. I sent these off to a printer (they gave me looks like I was crazy when I sent them 100+ files), then calligraphed each guest name onto the notes.
The trickiest part was next—my printing sources within budget didn’t have circle die so they wouldn’t cut them into the circles for me. It was important to Brooke and Lee to have these in a circle shape so they would fit onto each guest’s charger at their place setting, so I built into the cost my labor to essentially cut these all by hand. I calculated how long it would take for me to run each of these through my Silhouette cutting machine, and determined it would be faster and more efficient to cut these by hand using a Fiskars circle cutter.
The final product was just as beautiful as I could’ve hoped for, despite the very manual process, and while I read through the notes during formatting, I couldn’t help but feel the honest emotion and love through the words. I felt so honored that Brooke and Lee trusted me with these notes, and I was so touched when I saw the professional photos—I could just see the pure surprise, delight, and raw emotion on guests’ faces as they discovered they each received a personalized note. Every single guest received a note, event the children and the plus ones they didn’t know particularly well! They were so kind and generous in their words, and it really added to the overall feeling of the special day.
This is by far one of the most special ways to personalize a wedding, and because of the work involved, it’s not an inexpensive option. BUT—there are many ways I can make this work within many budgets and styles, so please send me a message if this is something you’d like to do for your wedding or special event, I’d love to help create this special moment for you!
(Professional on-site photos by Mandi Lynn Photography)
Today marks my 1 year (full time) anniversary with The Lettered J! I’ve been flooded with so many emotions and thoughts as this anniversary has approached, and I thought it fitting to make this reflection my very first blog post. I challenged myself to be completely honest and vulnerable in this reflection, and if you make it to the end—kudos, it’s a long one.
Let’s take it back to 2017, shall we, as I woke up on January 1st and found myself in tears. I felt stuck. I had a good job. A great “job.” A job where I was in charge of a department, where I made important decisions, created processes, directed a small team, was respected, made my own schedule, and was part of a great group of like-minded achievers. I worked long hours, I solved problems, I saw the results of my labor, and I was paid well enough. But, at the end of long days, I felt drained, completely spent, often underappreciated, and ultimately like what I did for the entire day didn’t bring me an ounce of fulfillment, and that I missed having a creative outlet. I made a decision that morning that I would begin learning and practicing calligraphy, just as a way to infuse more positive energy into my life, and as a way to decompress after a long work day. I researched, I practiced, I researched more, and I practiced more. And, I slowly began to get calligraphy jobs. They weren’t the prettiest, and I did a lot of work for “exposure” (read: free), or for realll cheap, but people loved it, and it fueled me to keep going.
Then, in 2018, I began to take risks. I began to take on projects that I thought might be too “big” for me, but I tried them anyway, and they expanded my skillset and confidence and most importantly, they sparked a tiny flicker of hope in my heart. A tiny hope of a dream that seemed too big, seemed too impossible, seemed too unattainable, started burning in my subconscious. This little hope lived with me through the difficult and long work days, it breathed in me as I took on more jobs, and it settled in and expanded with my lungs when I took a long, overdue vacation with my husband.
This vacation was to my soul what a drink of iced water is on a hot summer day. We did a lot of walking and gazing, and breathing fresh air on this trip. We walked the long boardwalk to Mont Saint Michele, and wandered its cobblestone streets up to the chapel where we listened to monks and nuns recite and sing during their daily rituals. We gulped up the fresh Alpine air while hiking in view of the Matterhorn, and enjoyed cool nights in the quiet car-less towns in Switzerland. We gasped in awe of the Bavarian castles and at the views afforded from within their walls. These breaths expanded my lungs and quietly expanded my thirst for that sense of peace and contentment in my life back home.
Two days after I returned home, with this fresh breath in my lungs and thirst in my soul, I was part of an all-hands meeting that turned very toxic and ugly. Though I wasn’t directly part of that toxicity, it hit me hard, and I found myself in tears on the drive home. A commercial began on the radio that announced the McRib would be back at McDonald's in 1 month, and I found myself fantasizing about how I would be so much happier and more content in life if I worked at McDonald's part time in conjunction with calligraphy. I fantasized that I would start as the fry cook, and make perfectly hot and crispy and salted fries. Then I would eventually get to be the drive-thru person, and I would get to know the people driving through and remind them that did they know the McRib was coming back, or tell them that I just finished making a hot batch of fries so they should eat some in the car, and would they want a dipping sauce to go with the fries? Then I would come home and work on calligraphy orders and try to expand the business. McDonald's + Calligraphy—that was my ultimate fantasy developed on that drive home.
Shortly after this fantasy, I put in my 4 weeks notice with not much of a plan except that I could use the time to pursue calligraphy full time, and if it didn’t go so well, there was a sign at my local McDonald's that the McRib was back and that they were hiring.