For Barb Courtney, calligraphy has been a lifelong love that began in an art class in high school, and has been practiced and used whenever opportunity presented itself. It was a friend’s suggestion, after Barb had written out the addresses on her daughter’s wedding invitation envelopes, that she strongly consider doing calligraphy as a post-retirement activity. And so Courtney Calligraphy was born as a professional, home-based enterprise 3 years ago. Barb loves lettering, and strives for perfection on every piece of handwritten material that leaves her table. The main focus has been on weddings – writing out addresses on envelopes and/or guest names on seating cards, although any project request for something that needs “neat writing” is always considered. Hundreds and hundreds of envelopes and seating cards have been written out in the past 3 years, and Barb hopes to do hundreds and hundreds more!
“A wedding may be a ceremony but it doesn’t mean that you can’t get creative and put a personal spin on it.” (MetaSpoon)
Question: what do these 3 things have in common?
- Guest names and table numbers printed on photos of the wedding couple from their various travel adventures as a couple, and used as seating cards.
- A weathered window hung on the wall, with seating charts posted in each of the window panes
- Seating card discs slipped onto the rim of the toasting glasses, at the entryway to the reception site
Answer: These items were at weddings I attended, and all were simple “DIY” touches that real-life wedding couples added to their seating card tables (or walls) – little details that added some uniqueness to the occasion. These tiny creative touches added a personal element to the wedding, and made it memorable not only for the wedding couple, but for the wedding guests as well.
This article will focus on two different possibilities for DIY – one is the seating cards table, and the other is the seating cards themselves, both with lots of potential for DIY creativity.
The seating cards table is usually at the entryway to the reception, and as such, is the first impression that your guests will have of your wedding. You can make the seating cards table a focal point and introduction to your reception, and it can be anywhere from simple to elaborate on the DIY spectrum. Time is precious for all couples planning a wedding, so tailor the DIY to what you can manage – remember that all it really takes is one element to make it special.
Flower arrangements and candles are an elegant and beautiful way to decorate the seating cards table to add interest, but a little DIY can make it even more interesting. For instance, do you like the beach? Make the seating cards table look like a shoreline – add sand, pebbles, seashells…Do you have a favorite shared hobby? Make the table look like a garden, or a sports field, or a game board. Love wine? Attach seating cards to a corkboard or insert each card into a cork holder.
You can write your guests’ names and table numbers on a chalkboard or mirror. Or attach leaf-shaped seating cards to a tree branch. Create a snowscape with cards inserted into snowball holders. Inspiration can come from anywhere, whether it’s a couple’s shared interests, hobbies, sports, music, favorite season or holiday, or even something as simple as a color. Anything that adds whimsy, charm, or romance; or simply lets your guests know something about you as a couple, will add that wonderful DIY touch to your reception.
If space is at a premium, a seating diagram or chart of your design can be attached to a wall. Seating cards can be attached to a wreath, a ribbon tapestry, or strung on strings or ribbons and attached with clothes pins, decorative pins or velcro.
Seating cards themselves can be something unique that you yourself have designed. Some couples have taken plain tent cards and decorated them with glitter tape; rhinestones, miniature pearls or other decorative elements – stampings, cut-outs, stencils, lace – can be added. Watercolors or colored pencil shadings can add vibrancy to the background of a card. Tent cards don’t have to be the norm, either. Anything that can be written on, or have a card or tag attached to it, is game – stick candy, oversized puzzle pieces or game board pieces, pencils, lollipops, pinwheels, miniature flags, miniature animals, seashells, stones, pieces of wood, feathers, playing cards, cardstock cut into butterflies, birds, hearts, snowflakes, leaves, etc. etc. Seating cards can be attached to sprigs of flowers or herbs, or to single roses. The idea is to take something that is unique to you as a couple and add it as a keynote to the celebration. If you have the time and creative vision (and maybe even some help from family or friends) for designing specialized seating cards, go for it!
If you are having a smaller, more intimate wedding, and are able to put place cards at each guest’s dinner setting, consider this – cardstock can be cut and shaped to the edge of the charger plate, with the guest’s name prominently displayed for easy reading. Guest names can be written on doilies or place mats. Place cards can be attached to ornaments, mini wine bottles, favors, tiny flower arrangements or plants. If you are having a menu card at each place setting, it can also double as a place card by adding each guest’s name to it.
One final note: if you are going to write out the cards by hand, and don’t trust your handwriting, enlist the help of a friend or family member whose writing skills you admire.
In the end, every couple getting married would like to have a ceremony and reception that is uniquely their own; a wedding that all of their guests will remember for years to come. One way to do this is to put that “DIY” stamp on it. Best wishes, and happy creativity!
Submitted by Barb Courtney,