Wedding Calligraphy – Bespoke Strokes Calligraphy

January 12, 2018

Calligraphy is such a beautiful art that I deeply appreciate (because I have ZERO skill in this arena!)  Amber chatted with the Seattle based owner of Bespoke Strokes, Chantelle to bring some helpful information to you about how to incorporate this beautiful art into your wedding day!  (**Calligraphy suite images taken by Amber**  Read more about Amber HERE)

Please introduce yourself and Bespoke Strokes Calligraphy:

Thank you for the opportunity to share a little about my business and love for calligraphy. My name is Chantelle Hoffmann and I am the owner and calligrapher of Bespoke Strokes Calligraphy. Calligraphy has been a life-time love for me and I attribute much of my inspiration to my mother who signed me up for my first calligraphy course when I was twelve. About three years ago while living in England I decided to promote my hobby into a business and have loved where this journey has taken me. The term “bespoke” is a term used frequently in England to denote an item that is tailor made for a specific customer. This is the heart of what I in my calligraphy work. I strive to create pieces that bring words and occasions to life through the art of calligraphy.

Wedding calligraphy

Headshot by Tonie Christine Photography

How would you define your style of calligraphy? My calligraphic style is heavily influenced by the Masters of American Penmanship of the late 1800’s. While I love the expressiveness of the boucy modern calligraphy style popular today, I can’t help but give my heart to the intricate and graceful forms of more traditional scripts. The styles that I offer most frequently are called Engrosser’s Script, Spencerian, and Modern Calligraphy. These are all accomplished with a pointed calligraphy nib that is dipped into the ink. It’s a truly vintage art form that has persevered into the modern age, and I love it!

How do people incorporate calligraphy into an invitation suite? This really depends on the couple and the overall look and feel they are going for. On the simplest level, many people just hire a calligrapher to address the envelopes for their invitations. While rooted in “proper etiquette” many choose this option less for etiquette’s sake and more for the special touch that this adds to setting the tone for their special occasion.  In today’s age of junk mail, it’s an extra special delight to receive an item in the mail that has been hand-addressed.

The next level of incorporating calligraphy into a suite is to use something called “spot calligraphy.”  This is when a calligrapher writes a few key terms such as the couple’s name, the wedding venue, and perhaps the date in calligraphy and digitizes it. The digital files are then used by the couple or their stationer to create their final invitation. This is a great option for those who want a “bespoke” item but may not have it in their budget for a fully custom suite.  Some calligraphers also offer customizable “ready made” suites that includes the cost of the spot calligraphy.

The final level of calligraphy in a suite is a fully customized design. In this scenario the calligrapher partners to create the full invitation design including any additional items such as response cards, save the dates, envelope liners, etc.

What is the turnaround time for envelope addressing & day of stationery? That’s a great question! The quick answer is that is takes me about a week to complete about 150 envelopes. The better answer is: book early!  Many calligraphers including myself book out several months in advance. While it may only take me a week or two to address a set of envelopes, I likely wouldn’t be able to accommodate a request made only a week or two before you need them. In some cases rush orders can be accommodated but rush fees usually apply….because it means we aren’t sleeping! ☺

For day-of stationery such as place cards, seating charts, and event signage, the turnaround time is a bit tighter since couples usually do not have their confirmed head-count until a couple weeks before the wedding.  But, it is still important to let the calligrapher know early what services you will need from them so they can block the appropriate amount of time on their calendar. For example, if you anticipate having a large mirror seating chart at your wedding, you could have it done the day-of at your venue, but your calligrapher will LOVE you if you give them several days to complete the project instead of the pressure of completing on-site.

What are some other ways calligraphy can be used on a wedding day?  There are SO many options to add an extra-special of calligraphy to showcase the attention to detail that was invested into a wedding. Calligraphy can be used just about anywhere! Here’s a list of items just to name a few: Ceremony backdrops with vows or special poem, personalized gifts for the bridal party (engraved flasks, names on hangers, etc.), keepsake vows, vow books, bouquet and boutonnière tags, lettering on silk ribbon in the bridal bouquet, menus, bar menus, directional signage, buffet item labels, escort card displays (on all sorts of items such as leaves, apples, driftwood, feathers, etc.), lettered table runners, photo booth backdrops, etc. etc. etc. Imagination is the limit!

What other non-wedding services do you offer: While I do a lot of wedding-related work, the majority of the projects I take on tend to be special heirloom pieces for people, specifically wedding vows or special commissions for personal poems or inspirational pieces.  I can’t say enough how much I adore creating wedding vow pieces! I consider it a huge honor to write out others’ words of love and devotion and find such delight in being able to give them a piece of art that stands as a daily reminder of the love that founded their marriage. Plus, it can become a special heirloom piece for future generations to cherish as well.

This past year I also added engraving to the calligraphy services that I offer.  This really expands the number of items I can add a personalize calligraphy touch to which has included: Wine & Whisky bottles, Lockets, Perfume bottles, Wine glasses, Stella Artois chalices, and a brass inlay for a custom made knife.

I also participate in a number of on-site calligraphy and engraving events for corporate clients, especially around the holidays.

What Typical questions do you get asked from couples? A fair amount of the questions I get asked revolve around my rates. I truly aim to be open and transparent regarding all costs so clients know before placing an order if it falls within their project budget. I list the baseline for all of my rates on my website and am always happy to provide quotes for special commissions. 

Etiquette is another common topic. While etiquette is often approached a bit more casually here in the Pacific Northwest, many couples I work with here and abroad are still concerned with the correct way to address their guests and how to format their invitations. I enjoy taking time to answer these questions and to provide helpful resources as requested.

Contact Chantelle directly with questions on her services, or for details on commissioning your own bespoke piece! or

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