Golden Hour Paper Calligraphy and Custom Wedding Invitation Design

fine art design for the modern sophisticated bride

Winter wedding invitation design and inspiration!

Madeline KellyComment

Winter weddings can be so classic and beautiful! If you have chosen a winter wedding date it is likely that you have special memories in the season and that you want to add to that by hosting your wedding during that time of year.

One thing that can be difficult when it comes to winter weddings is wedding stationery, as seasonal details can sometimes be a little too much and you most likely don’t want your guests thinking of Christmas when they think of your wedding date!

For winter weddings, custom stationery can make a nod to the season without overdoing it by using a creative color that speaks to the change in weather, silver foil to nod to the frozen snow and ice we tend to see more often during this season, or florals that are unique to the season. Palm trees would not make sense during winter (unless of course you are getting married somewhere tropical!) but pinecones or spruce branches would.

Below, please find some photos of a letterpress and gold foil invitation suite that I think would be absolutely beautiful for a winter wedding. This pulls in the wintry color of blue which I think would be stunning for custom wedding invitations for a winter wedding.

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Photos by

Styling by Peachy Keen Coordination

The Johnston's | Oregon City wedding

Madeline KellyComment

Leka and Mark were such a fun Portland couple to work with to create custom wedding invitations! While I love working with couples all over the United States, it is especially fun when you can meet with people in person, get to know them, go over wedding invitation samples face-to-face, and talk wedding details over coffee!

Leka had a beautiful vision for her wedding invitations which included a custom watercolor illustration of her and Mark’s wedding venue, Abernethy Center in Oregon city, a printed vellum jacket with vintage peony illustrations, wax seals, envelope addressing in gold calligraphy on plum envelopes, and vintage postage!

One of the reasons I love creating custom invitations is because invitations that are so personal and connected to your love story can truly set the tone for your big day. The thrill couples have when they see everything come together just perfectly is the best feeling as a designer. Leka said at one point after I sent over some preliminary photos as I was assembling the wedding invitations, “Omg they look amazing!!! Can’t wait to have them in my hands!”

Enjoy the photos of their Oregon City wedding from Sweetlife Photography

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Here are some photos from my desk in the process of creating and assembling these custom wedding invitations…

A gorgeous combination of gold ink on burgundy/wine colored envelopes

A gorgeous combination of gold ink on burgundy/wine colored envelopes

vintage peony illustrations printed on a vellum jacket

vintage peony illustrations printed on a vellum jacket

Cheers to you Leka and Mark and all the best to you as you head into this journey called marriage!

How to avoid common mistakes when addressing wedding invitations

Madeline KellyComment

Figuring out how to address wedding invitations might be one of the most tedious parts of planning your wedding. It may seem like a simple task but in our day and age, we most likely reach out to people via text, social media, or email…so what to do with all those people whose addresses your don’t have?!

I’d enlist your family as your allies for this task, especially since they are much more likely to keep an address book. Also, Excel or Google Sheets is your friend! Use them to record the addresses of all your wedding guests and have them for you future mailings (thank you cards, holiday cards, future announcements - like a new move or baby!)

A calligrapher can write the addresses out for you, which is super handy and saves you a lot of time but you still have to hunt down all of your guests’ names and mailing addresses, which can take quite a while, especially when people don’t get back to you right away.

Once you’ve tracked down your wedding invitation address list, there are some formalities and rules to follow when you finally go to sit down and either put together a list for your calligrapher or start addressing your envelopes.

Here are my tips on how to address your wedding invitations:

  1. Make sure to address your wedding invitations with proper titles

If someone has invested thousands of dollars and years of their lives into earning a degree that has a formal title it is proper to address them with that title! For people who have earned these sorts of titles, ranging from “Dr.,” “PhD”, “Rev.” etc., it can be hurtful to them and their families when others don’t recognize these titles on formal correspondence like the wedding invitations you are sending.

When you are addressing your wedding invitations, you want to address them so that your guests not only feel invited to the best day of your life but also in a way that shows them you know them well, and that includes knowing their titles.

What if I don’t know the title of someone I am inviting to my wedding?

Feel free to ask them! It is much more polite to ask than to not use their title at all. This rule not only goes for when you are figuring out the title of someone you are inviting to the wedding but also the plus-one of any of your guests!

2. Don’t forget to include the whole family (that is if you are inviting children to be a part of the wedding day!)

If you are inviting an entire family to your wedding, include them on the envelope address by adding “and Family” after the parents’ names. Doing so will let the parents know they are welcome to bring their kids and it’s an easy way to address your wedding invitations to show that!

If you choose to not put “and family” as part of the address, the parents might be confused as to if their children are invited to the wedding or not!

3. If people have been dating for 2+ years, mention them on the wedding invitation envelope by name

With all of the ways we are connected in our technology-filled, social media guru world, it’s pretty easy to know which friends have been with their partners for a long time. When people have been together for a while it is a kind gesture to include them on the invitation address as they will most likely come as your friends plus-one.

This is a great way to show your guests that you really care about them and who they love and have been spending so much of their time with! Again, if you aren’t able to figure that out via social media (there are some mysterious people out there that don’t have accounts and your friend may have not disclosed their name on a recent post!) - you can feel free to reach out and ask their name to show that you care for your friend and their significant other.

4. Are you sure that couple is still dating?

This is a little addition to my previous point about addressing wedding invitations…You might think that your friend is still dating Joe from college but how embarrassing would it be to send an invitation to the 2 of them, only to find out that they broke up a few months earlier?

Make sure to do your research before addressing your wedding invitations to couples that you are unsure what their relationship status is.

Do you have any questions about how to address envelopes for your wedding invitations? Drop me a line or leave a comment below!

Maddy Kelly

how to address wedding invitations
how to address wedding invitations

How much do wedding invitations cost?

Madeline Kelly1 Comment

 When my husband and I started planning our wedding in 2016 I was surprised by some of the hidden (and not so hidden!) costs of planning a wedding. I thought it would be easy to plan a wedding for less than $20,000 but learned how quickly things add up!

Now that most of my clients are couples planning their weddings, I’ve learned that sometimes there can be a sticker shock that comes when I send a formal quote to them for custom wedding stationery. This blog post is to give a little insight into what the costs of wedding stationery can be and gives a few examples of what you could spend on it!

What percent of my wedding budget should be for wedding invitations?

As a base and according to couples should expect to spend 4-6% of their budget of their overall budget for wedding invitations. For a $25,000 wedding that would range from $1,000 to $1,500. I trust your math skills to calculate it for what your overall budget is!

For those of you planning less formal, intimate weddings, it makes sense that your invitations could be more informal and simple. If you are hosting a more formal event, which tends to be more expensive, you should be spending more on your wedding invitations so that the invitation gives a more formal, elegant impression.

What is one good way I can get an idea of how much my wedding invitations will cost?

The main thing I tell brides to look at first is their guest list. Are you having a more intimate wedding or throwing a large wedding? The more invitations you need, the more you need to budget.

What are the variables that make some wedding invitations extremely expensive?

Going into planning a budget for wedding invitations can be hard because there are so many details that go into stationery. The range in price for wedding stationery changes depending on the printing process you choose (read more on the differences of printing processes here), if you choose to have a thicker stock paper or handmade paper for your invitations, or what add-ons you choose to have for your invitations (all those pretty things like vintage postage, envelope addressing, belly bands, vellum wraps, etc!).

Take these variables into account and then when you have a larger number of households that you are mailing invitations to, your budget may balloon up to more than you thought possible! There is good news though. There are a lot of ways to save on wedding invitations and I will get into that next…


How to save on wedding invitations:

If you are really aiming to keep your budget low but also want to have beautiful wedding stationery, we completely understand! There are some great ways to combine elegant design with a couple extra details that won’t bust your wedding budget. Here are some tips on how to save money when deciding on wedding invitations:

  • Choose a semi-custom suite to save on the custom design cost but still have a design from someone whose work you love!

  • One of my favorite things that I always encourage brides to opt for in their wedding stationery is vintage postage. Why? Well, it seems like it would be very expensive (and it can be if you are dying for a specific, rare stamp but in all truth, you can find vintage postage for just about 20% more than you would spend at the post office for Forever Stamps). Read more about vintage postage here and my tips for finding it here.

    • If you calculate the cost difference between forever stamps (50 cents per piece v. a vintage postage set you curate, the cost could be only around 10 cents more for those really special stamps!).

      • If you are mailing to 100 households, that cost difference is $10!! Searching for vintage postage can take some time and is a labor of love.

  • Make a wedding website that can host all the additional details that you might have rather put in extra insert cards in your wedding invitations. From a list of accommodations , map, or extra details card – it is super easy to just include these on a website and guests LOVE spending time on your website, getting to know you more as a couple and looking forward to your big day.

If you have any more questions about wedding invitations and costs, please feel free to reach out! There are so many ways to make budgets work but still have a stunning invitation suite to send to your family and friends.

All my best,
Maddy Kelly

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Jewel-toned wedding inspiration

Stationery inspirationMadeline KellyComment

Okay, confession, I am growing more and more in love with jewel-colored tones being used in weddings. Some people also call these berry tones. Those deep colors, ranging from reds to purples just pop so well against a wedding dress and I feel like it is an elegant but still unique color scheme for a wedding.

When recently designing custom wedding invitations for an Oregon bride, she opened up my world to these colors and I love where her suite ended up. We combined a custom illustration of her venue with a vellum wrap that featured vintage peony illustrations. The wedding invitation design also included a beautiful wax seal, deep mauve envelopes, gold calligraphy addressing, and vintage postage. **insert heart eyes here**

Okay, I won't keep you imagining them, here are some photos of that suite:

Such an elegant combination of colors and postage, don't you agree?!

Such an elegant combination of colors and postage, don't you agree?!

vellum wraps with printed vintage peonies

vellum wraps with printed vintage peonies


I am especially in love with deep mauve colors, especially when combined with tones of cream and gold in the wedding design.

Like this shoot from Magnolia Rouge:

jewel-toned wedding inspiration.jpg

Jewel-tones can be used in so many different ways in wedding design and aesthetic and I would love to hear how you've seen them most cleverly used in wedding design!


Send me a message if you are interested in having wedding invitations designed to set the tone for your wedding!

Vintage Postage: How to source, use and mail your wedding invitations using vintage postage!

Madeline KellyComment

Hi everyone and welcome back to the blog! It's a busy season over here getting custom wedding invitations designed, envelopes addressed with calligraphy, and adorned with vintage postage - which is our topic today.

Vintage postage seems to be a growing trend in the wedding industry, as well as for all mailings - I've seen vintage stamps adorning baby shower invitations, Christmas cards, and even simple letters. They really make the envelope stand out and with so many options to choose from, it can be a fun way to pull the theme of your wedding invitations to the outside of the envelope.

I receive a lot of questions about vintage postage & today I wanted to answer a few! If I miss any please feel free to ask in the comments below or to shoot a message to me at - I would love to hear from you!


Can vintage postage be used to send wedding invitations?

Absolutely! But that postage has to be unhinged - which means it has never been canceled by the post office before. When postage is canceled it has either been run through a machine or hand-canceled. There will be a marking/stamp/date on the front of the stamp. That tells the post office that it's been used before and therefore no longer has value for sending letters.

When you are looking for vintage postage to use to adorn your wedding invitations, search unhinged vintage postage or MNH vintage postage (mnh means "Mint - Never Hinged" which is a term for stamp collectors). 


How many vintage stamps do I need to be able to send my wedding invitations?

You need as much postage as you would of regular postage! USPS changes rates every so often but the cost of sending mail is currently .50c for letters under 1 ounce, .71c for letters between 1-2 ounces, and .21c for each additional ounce. Larger sizes or special shaped envelopes are also subject to an additional charge.

You need to come up with a collection of vintage stamps that adds up to the current postage rate for the weight your letter is. I tend to look for a higher value vintage postage stamp (between .20-.35c) and then add from there.

Some of the vintage postage sets I've put together for my couple's have had 3 stamps and some have had 6! It's possible to have even more but you do want to make sure to have space on your envelope once they're all adhered ;) 

Vintage postage for wedding invitations


How do I adhere vintage postage to my envelopes?

First, I highly recommend playing around with your stamps to see different layouts until you come to a final decision. Then, address your envelopes (before adhering the stamps!), remembering where the stamps will be placed according to the layout you decide on. 

I always tell people to save adhering the vintage postage to envelopes until the envelopes have been addressed so that if there are any mistakes in the address, the envelope can be thrown out but you won't lose any stamps along with it!

A couple tools I recommend for adhering vintage postage are either an envelope moistener, like this one, or a glue stick. Vintage stamps were not all self-adhesive and were licked to get them ready for adhering - but we must remember that this glue is just as old as the stamps! And who knows where they've been!! 

One last tip is to be dedicated to where you place the stamp. I've tried to shift vintage postage before after placing a corner/edge down on an envelope addressed in calligraphy, and the glue can leave a sort of stain/mark on the envelope. 

Vintage stamps for wedding invitations

How can I ensure my envelopes are treated with care at the post office?

First, make sure you have the correct amount of postage for your wedding invitations - if they end up weighing more than you have postage for, you may have to return home and find a solution. I highly recommend you take a fully assembled wedding invitation suite into your local post office to have weighed (all invitation pieces, envelopes, ribbon, wax seals - whatever you are going to be mailing!). This will help you know how much postage to have.

Second, when you are all ready to ship them out, I recommend calling your local post office and asking if they will hand-cancel envelopes. Some will not because they are very busy, but others will or will hand their canceling stamp over to you to cancel the postage.

This means they/you take a stamp with the date and make sure each stamp has a marking on it (even if it's just a corner!). This cancels the vintage postage and gives your envelope more of a chance to not be run through the machines at the post office that tend to mark up envelopes more than simple hand-canceling. 


Whew! I feel like that was a lot! If you have any other questions, please drop them in the comments section below. If you are curious or want to find out more about my design and calligraphy services, please send me a message on my contact page, I would LOVE to hear from you! 

Curious about the other stamp options? Check out my blog post about the 3 different kinds of postage to decide what's best for you.


Want to inquire about my services? Click below and maybe one day we will work together to find the perfect vintage postage pairing for your wedding invitations!


All my best,

Maddy Kelly

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Wedding invitation inspiration for a summer wedding

Madeline KellyComment

Summer wedding invitations

Engagement season is upon us and I have seen so many people getting engaged on Facebook! It's been so fun to see so many love stories blossom and it's making me so excited for the summer (AKA wedding season).

Wedding invitations I have custom-designed in the past for summer weddings have featured lovely watercolor illustrations, florals, and more color than most other seasons! People tend to get married outdoors more during the summer and featuring that in custom wedding invitations can tend to include the setting in which they are getting married, such as the beach, gardens, or courtyards.

Custom wedding invitations Portland


Custom illustration for summer wedding invitations

A great way to make your wedding invitations for your summer wedding pop is to include a custom illustration! I've illustrated venue architecture, maps of the surrounding area, florals that will be a part of the wedding day, and crests to be featured throughout your wedding paper.


floral wedding invitation


One unique custom invitation suite I designed for a summer wedding chose to have me curate vintage postage for them. Our final design included vintage florals, trees, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Why those stamps? Well, the couple was wed in the California hills, their colors were blues and greens, and they wanted to get their family and friends ready for a fun, colorful, outdoor party! If you are curious about vintage postage and if it would be a good option for you, I recommend heading here to read about the differences between all the kinds of postage available!

vintage postage for wedding invitations

Having a wedding in the fall? Here's a blog post on fall wedding inspiration and color scheme ideas. Or check out this page to view a shoot that took place in late October I designed invitations and day-of paper for! 


I would love to hear from you if you are getting married this summer! You can inquire about my services here! I would love to hear from you and see how we can make your dream custom wedding invitations a reality!


All my best,
Maddy Kelly

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Fall color wedding shoot at Perkasie Covered Bridge

CalligraphyMadeline KellyComment

Calligraphy and design for a fall wedding shoot in Bucks County, Pennsylvania

This was my first styled shoot! It is so fun to look back and see how encouraged I was by this group of vendors & also to see how much my style has changed and grown over the past year!

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Portland Fall wedding

Event design and coordination: Hannah Bee Events

Calligraphy and design: Golden Hour Paper

Wedding beauty services: ReelStyle Bridal

Photography: Mily Photography

Floral and event design: Bloom flower co.

Sweets: Papa's Cupcakes

Stylist: Elizabeth Jones Personal Styling

Decor and Furniture: Heartwood Works