Calligrapher Holly Hollon shares her tips for achieving a beautifully designed wedding paper suite

Calligrapher - Southern Lady Magazine
Calligrapher Holly Hollon at work.

Photography by Mandy Busby.

The twists and turns of the calligrapher’s pen communicate an artistic thoughtfulness. In our digital age, those hand-drawn letters have become increasingly popular. “It’s a lost art that’s coming back right now,” says Birmingham calligrapher Holly Hollon. As the creative talent behind Holly Hollon Design and Calligraphy and cofounder of wedding website The Birmingham Bride, Holly has cultivated a certain expertise in designing and executing a wedding imbued with meaningful details.

We featured Holly’s story in our May/June issue. Now, she shares inside information on the best ways for couples to communicate with their designers. Whether looking for everything from save the dates to menu cards or simply an elegant invitation, selecting a wedding paper suite can be intimidating. Holly’s advice on clear communication, giving the designer time to be creative, and the value of Pinterest is a helpful aid for any bride.

Calligrapher - Southern Lady Magazine
Samples of Holly’s work, featuring a letter press invitation and a digitally printed watercolor design.

Insider tips for working with a calligrapher or designer:

Think holistically. When you first talk with your calligrapher or designer—whether in person or over the phone—be sure to discuss up front all the pieces you want designed for your wedding. As a designer first, I love when a client wants all her pieces to coordinate. That does not mean matchy-matchy. Instead, each piece builds upon the other and tells a story, starting with the save the date all the way to your thank-you card. If I know everything they want to do from the beginning, it helps me see the full picture for their day. I also like to start the process by pricing out all the pieces a client wants—this gives them an idea of what everything will cost and makes it easier to cut out pieces or streamline the plan if the original idea runs over budget.

Calligrapher - Southern Lady Magazine
Holly’s used calligraphy for the couple’s name and elegantly paired it with a seriffed font.

Stay on budget. Think about digital printing. Hiring a calligrapher can be pricey, especially if you want lots of the fun hand-drawn details and embellishment. Of course, I always love specialty printing processes like letterpress and engraving, but flat printing on a nice paper stock can be lovely as well. This last year I have worked with a few brides that did all digital printing. This gave me the opportunity to add watercolor to the suite or use multiple colors. It is a great option if you want that custom feel but need to stick to your budget.

Worth the wait. Working with a designer/calligrapher on your wedding paper suite is going to take more time than just popping into a stationery store and ordering invites. I love it when my clients want to be involved and are excited about paper. I want each piece to conceptually work for them and their day. Achieving those results requires good research and quite a few e-mails and phone calls. The designer also needs time to create, so don’t expect drafts the day after your deposit.

Pin It. I really love when a client has a Pinterest board or an inspiration board. Most of my clients are in another city, and the online Pinboard helps me visually see the design direction of their wedding day, the colors they love, and also the style of stationery they like. This is one of the first things I ask to see when a potential client e-mails me.

Holly incorporated a hand-drawn into the many elements of this couple's paper suite, including special tags for visiting guests' welcome bags.
Holly incorporated a hand-drawn logo into the many elements of this couple’s paper suite, including special tags for visiting guests’ welcome bags.

Follow the rules. Format your guest list as the calligrapher requests. I ask all my clients for their guest lists in a particular format. This structure helps me center the address on the envelope and cuts down on the mistakes I make.

The cherry on top. Think about your postage stamps. When coordinated with your design, the stamp can be a thoughtful detail that complements your design or reflects something about you. There are so many options, too. You can find a vintage-stamp dealer on Etsy or design your own stamps using a company like Zazzle. And the United States Postal Service also has many options online. I like to visit their stamp website to view what new releases will be coming out. Ask your designer to weigh an invitation for you so you know how much the postage will be. While the envelopes are being addressed, you can work on your postage selection.

Calligrapher - Southern Lady Magazine
A wedding program designed by Holly, featuring the couple’s name in calligraphy on the cover and a hand-drawn logo on the opening page.

To learn more about Holly’s story, be sure to get your copy of our May/June issue. Find more of her creative work at and