Courtney has been in the wedding industry for several years as a wedding/event calligrapher. We have both participated in some styled shoots together so I wanted to get her feedback for brides.
SF: How did you get to where you are now in the wedding industry?
CB: I started by helping a few friends with events. A birthday party here, a wedding there. And I just fell in love with the process. I liked how signs could be functional and communicate to guests. As well as being decorative and contribute to the aesthetic. I knew I needed learn much more about the art form and what it would take to hand letter. So, I took classes, and followed other artists and practiced how to make the letter forms. I educated myself and slowly started to build up some interest in my work. I was also fortunate enough to start connecting with other vendors in the wedding industry. I met planners and photographers and had opportunities to collaborate on styled shoots. This allowed me to push myself to trying new things including invitation design and prop building. I was very lucky that the timing worked out as it did. I was able to focus on my skills and build an inventory for rentals while my kids were doing remote school and needing more of my time. I am looking forward to this wedding season now that I’m able to devote even more time to my clients. It’s been exciting to see so many couples who had to postpone or wait, finally get to celebrate. It’s an honor to be a part of their special day.
SF: What is the most interesting job/challenge you've had?
CB: I have a had a few very unusual jobs. My first job was actually making signs for a friend’s 40th birthday. The theme was “the death of his youth”. And it was a surprise party held in a funeral home. It was hysterical! Races using walkers, a eulogy to his boyhood given by his dad. It was so over the top. I made signs for the menu as well as some signs that included lyrics to a song we wrote. It was a great way to see the fun and personality signage can bring to an event.
My biggest challenge always involves building. Building signs, stands, easels, arches. I have to ask a lot of questions and get out of my comfort zone. As well as pull in some favors. But in the end, it has been empowering to learn new tools like a scroll saw and soldering.
SF: Are there any misconceptions you hear from other wedding pros about being a calligrapher?
CB: Not misconceptions necessarily. But I’ve had a few wedding pros ask a lot of questions about the rental side of signage. To me, that is part of the beauty. Using materials that can be repurposed to express a whole new idea or image. I like that chalkboard can look rustic or sleek. That mirrors can be ornate or simple. So many things are single use now a days and I’m proud when I am able to offer high quality signs and easels that aren’t going to end up in a landfill right away.
SF: Is there anything that would make life easier when working with photo or video?
CB: Knowledge 😂
I mean it though. Now that everyone has iPhones we all think that we can take amazing photos. But I am always struck by how hard it is. To not only get my subject set up, centered and balanced. But then you need to be in the right lighting and focused.
There truly is a huge difference when you’re working with professionals. They have the right equipment like lenses and stands and they have the knowledge of when those tools are needed. I wish I knew so much more. For now, I’m grateful I know some very smart people who are generous with their skill and talent.
SF: What are your top 2-3 tips for brides?
CB: 1. Breathe. It is fun and exciting to plan a wedding. There are so many decisions and it can start to feel overwhelming. If you can, take a breath and step back. Remember your love for one another and maybe revisit your priorities. In the end, a strong loving marriage is a win.
2. Ask for help. I am a natural DIYer and I think it’s hard for most of us to admit we can’t do it all. But your family and friends will likely love an opportunity to support you. And there are incredible vendors whose favorite thing to do is help couples enjoy their special day. As around and get recommendations of professionals who make your day easier.
3. The best advice I got was during my rehearsal. My mom and grandma and groomsman all had ideas about how things should go. I’m a people pleaser and was feeling stressed out. Quietly, my friend who was singing at our wedding, leaned over and said, “remember this is your wedding. It’s ok to ask for what you want.” I just needed permission to make the final decision. And I’m glad I did.
SF: Is there anything you need more of right now?
CB: Well I need to drink more water 🤣. Just kidding.
Like most entrepreneurs, I could always use more hours in the day. I’m always surprised by how quickly the time goes. I guess it flies when you’re having fun and I really love what I get to do. In an effort to be more productive and spend more time doing the fun part, I am excited to have some new tools at my disposal. This year I have a contract that protects me and my clients, as well as a CRM that allows each step of the process to be organized in one place.