Golden Hour Paper Calligraphy and Custom Wedding Invitation Design

fine art design for the modern sophisticated bride


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!

Wedding calligraphy
Fall wedding inspiration
Handmade paper wedding invitations
Burgundy wedding table design
Watercolor Calligraphy wedding place cards
Handmade paper calligraphy
Calligraphy signage
Wedding cake
Portland wedding calligraphy
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

Moving a small calligraphy business across the country

Running a small businessMadeline Kelly15 Comments

Moving a Business

I am no expert but am here to offer an honest testimony of what it's been like so far to drive 3,800 miles across the country (Philadelphia to Portland) to a new home.

As I am writing this, I am sitting in the cozy dining room of some dear friends after returning from a short sledding trip. It was dry and 60 degrees when we arrived on Sunday night but the sky decided to drop some flakes down through Monday night. My husband is out snowboarding with one of his closest friends and I am responding to emails between battleship games with their youngest son. No complaints here.

Also, my birthday was yesterday (which thankfully we were not driving during!) and my husband gave me a drone! What a hilarious gift...I've wanted one for so long but had never actually thought I would own one. We are working on sharing our roadtrip through various videos and photos, so that has made the trip more fun.

Goodbyes and looking ahead to Portland

Getting ready to leave Philadelphia was hard! Starting this business 6 months ago and making so many friends in the wedding business, along with some who are my biggest cheerleaders and advocates, was sad, to say the least. Going to my last Rising Tide meeting and saying goodbye to the women who encouraged me to get me work out there, be proud of the things I am making, and other practical things like when taxes are due, what it looks like to outsource jobs, and the dreaded topic of pricing...was also sad. I am so grateful for social media and that I will be able to keep up with so many wonderful ladies!

I also began to research what the calligraphy market looks like in Portland. At first, it seemed as though there weren't many calligraphers or wedding invitation designers but then, after a "#portlandcalligraphy" search I realized the market may be oversaturated. Despair is a little dramatic of an adjective to describe how I felt but I have thought from time to time, "How is this going to work when there are so many talented people that are going to be around me?".

Of course, remembering that Portland is a much more artistic city and that freelancing there is uber popular, I reminded myself that the fact that there are such talented calligraphers and artists really shouldn't surprise me. I took a deep breath, shared my worries with my husband and a few close friends, and reminded myself that my work and my creativity is worthy of being shared with the world, even if there are people out there more famous than I. 

Reminding myself of why I named this business Golden Hour Paper was something that also brought comfort as I wonder what it will look like to reestablish my business and make all new connections on the West Coast. The Golden Hour is the last hour of sunlight each day. You've seen those gorgeous pictures of this last hour - long cast shadows, glowing light, and surroundings framed with a gold that is indescribable, changing color by the moment. It's my favorite time of day. My desire is to create calligraphy and paper goods that elicit a similar feeling of warmth, wonder, and delight when received. 

The Golden Hour is always consistent - there is always a final hour of daylight each day - but it can come in many shapes and forms. Whether it be overcast, snowing, or that perfect day with the high-sitting clouds, waiting to dance in the last light of the day. What I hope to be in my business is also consistent, creating and expanding my abilities while knowing that some days are going to be different than others. Moving to Portland might be a short season of days similar to overcast days - when my work might not be as recognizable or there are other things that people are paying attention to. I hope to work hard, be as consistent as the sun, and that one day the work created shines through and that I can share some of this beauty with this fun, new city.

Legal aspects of moving a business across the country

There are also legal things to come...things like changing my business license over to the state of Oregon. Making sure to move all my accounts, like Yelp, Facebook, etc. over to the new address (once we find a place to live! That's a whole other story!).

And SEO...that is probably the biggest monster I have to battle in the coming weeks as I work to change over my website to be recognizable in my new area and to ensure popping up as people search for calligraphers and wedding invitation designers.

Taxes will also be interesting next year as some of my work was done in the state of Pennsylvania before making our trek out to Oregon. I am trying to keep my Quickbooks account as clear as possible as to avoid hitting any snags come next tax season.

Questions and Advice for moving a business

As I said above, I am not by any means an expert but I would love to try and answer any questions you may have (whether you are moving your small business across the country or just starting out!). 

I also welcome any advice you may have for moving a business across the country or any connections you may have in the greater Portland area.

Below is the photo my husband and I used to announce our move to our friends and family on social media - all outfitted with my Newberg Script lettering.




Photo by Char Beck Shoots

Photo by Char Beck Shoots





How to choose a calligrapher

CalligraphyMadeline KellyComment

Hi there, and thanks for visiting my blog! I have a bit of a sore throat I am fighting off and I am so excited to write this post while sipping tea and resting up! Anyone else out there fighting off a Fall bug? Anywho, let's skip the details of being sick & get on to the good, pretty, and practical stuff that you came here for.

When considering hiring a calligrapher you need to start by asking yourself a few things:

  • How personalized do you want your invitations/wedding to be?

I have seen invitations that are each hand calligraphed ($$$!) - which is doable but very pricey. You can have similar results with a calligrapher that can write out you invitation once & with master computer skills turn it into a file that can easily be printed, or even letterpressed and have a very similar look.

Custom illustration can also be included in your wedding invitations. I have illustrated maps of the event area, buildings in which the wedding was taking place, and even branches of foliage to adorn the invitation. Below is an example of wedding stationery that included watercolor florals pulled from the location of the wedding as well as a watercolor illustration of the famously colored buildings of Positano! This couple had a destination wedding in the gorgeous Positano, Italy and we created customized invitations to get their guests excited for what to expect at the wedding.

There are also endless colors of inks that can be mixed to your invitation desires, vintage postage stamps to adorn the outside of your envelopes, wax seals, gold foil... I could go on and on! All these details can come together to give your invitations a sneak peak into what your big day will be like and your guests will be thrilled to receive such a beautiful letter in the mail (isn't it such a joy when you receive gorgeous mail?!).

On the other hand, some people are fine with going into sites such as or and plugging in their event details, choosing fonts, and clicking order! That is a great option for people who know what they want, like to control the look and details themselves, and like the simplicity of the online ordering these websites offer.

  • I really want custom invitations but my timeline is short…what do I do?

The calligraphers you follow on Instagram (and drool over each and every one of their photos) are likely booked for the next 6 months! 

If you are desiring a calligrapher to design custom save the dates, invitations, escort cards, signage and everything else you can dream of I recommend reaching out to them a couple weeks after you get engaged (enjoy it and don't get stressed at the beginning of your engagement!). They will be excited to walk alongside you during your preparations and work together with you and your vendors to come up with gorgeous paper goods to match your vision and give your guests the first look at what to expect when they receive a beautiful calligraphed save the date!

Calligraphed envelopes typically take 2 weeks for a calligrapher to finish (for 100 envelopes). This turnaround is only if they are available to start your job the day you put your order in so make sure and reach out to them in advance and secure a spot on their calendar.

  • How much do customized wedding invitations cost and what are you willing to splurge on?

Do you value saving on your invitations so that you can spend a little more on your honeymoon or save for your first home? Good for you! That is a great thing to value and if you can't find a calligrapher within your budget, trust me there are ways to work around it! I would encourage you to still reach out to the calligrapher you are interested in hiring and see if the can be flexible on pricing or see if there is a way for them to cut costs. Maybe they can send you a digital file that you can then print at home or they could design something more simple, yet elegant, for your event.

Do you value small business and want to see creatives thrive? So many of us follow people on Instagram or pin their photos to our overpacked Pinterest boards (guilty!) yet never spend a penny on their work. One thing I did growing up was every time I received cash in a card (my grandma never failed to put $20 in my Christmas card each year accompanied by a ceramic animal...) I would turn it around and buy myself a piece of art on Etsy. A great way to not have that Christmas money disappear into your bank account but rather be converted into something you can see and be inspired by every day. Also, a great way to make someone's dream a reality: the creative entrepreneur! 

When it comes to calligraphy and you are shopping at the big name brands - ask yourself, "Would I rather spend $_____ to these big names who I won't get to know personally or would I rather take a little more time and shop around for a small shop where I would spend the same amount? The convenience of a big name invitation company lacks a personal touch, interaction with a designer, and the feeling that you supported a new business!

  • How much do you want to spend on your wedding stationery?

This is a tough subject! For one, it is so hard to know what something will cost you because there are so many variables when it comes to stationery! Most of the time a calligrapher doing hand-made, custom work will be more expensive than simply having someone throw together fonts that look nice together. But this doesn't always have to be the case! 

At times I will cross an invitation design that I know was made purely with fonts and it saddens me that so many people fall into the trap of paying big money for this. There are so many great artists out there and if there is an invitation you love but want to support a small business, send a photo of the work to them and see if they can do anything similar. 

Also, while custom may be more costly remind yourself of the impact of thoughtfulness your event paper will make on your guests. There is no feeling like receiving a beautiful envelope in your mailbox, nothing like the feel of letterpressed, cotton paper, and something they will look at often as they look forward to your special day. 

  • Ask yourself if a semi-custom suite could fit your stationery needs!

Semi-custom wedding invitations can help you save some money but still be personalized in special ways! You can see my semi-custom line here. Since these are pre-designed, there isn’t the custom design fee added to the cost and you are still able to choose the color they are printed in and envelope color!

From there you can add personalized details like envelope addressing, vintage postage, ribbon, etc.

Our  Olive Suite  printed in a warm gray ink

Our Olive Suite printed in a warm gray ink

Here at Golden Hour Paper I desire to serve my clients in all of their wedding/event needs! With custom calligraphy and illustration to match the feel of an event while using the highest quality papers, inks, and tools we promise to make your dreams a reality and make you happy that you chose a calligrapher.

If you have any questions about hiring a calligrapher send me a comment below! I would love to hear from you.


What to do with rush calligrapher orders...

Madeline Kelly

When you are a brand new business. And it is your first order. Here are 5 things I learned when I received my first order for my business and it was due the next day:


1. First, take the call! Talk with the prospective client, ask them what they are looking for, take notes so that you don't forget anything (!)  and kindly tell them you will send a quote their way. Ask things like "What kind of paper were you envisioning?", "What color ink would you like?",  and "Would you like your guests first and last names or just first?"...these can differ enormously depending on the job you are taking on. You CAN do it!

2. Take a deep breath because there are so many details to figure out, especially when your website isn't fully functioning yet, like mine. Ayo. My site is built with Squarespace which uses Stripe for payments and I didn't have this set up yet and saw this as an opportunity to work out the kinks so that the process would be seamless for my client. This included me going on my site as if I were a customer and seeing what would happen when I went to pay. I realized the sizing of my photo was off, that the state tax wasn't included (fixed that!), and what exactly Squarespace would have my client do. All good things to know.

3. The difficulties of pricing...I am friends with my first client and that made pricing especially difficult. You can't cut yourself, the value of your time, and your skill set short. Calculate the cost of materials, look at the market average for the goods you are curating for them, and come up with a number for your baseline. I thought about adding a percentage because of the rush factor but decided not to as this was my first job and I'd love for them to order again. 

4. Think about ways that you can go above and beyond your client's expectations. Go through the place cards you create and see if any could be better centered, more cleanly calligraphed, or improved in any other way. Remember to package the goods so that they are delightful to receive and organized for ease of your client's use. I also threw in a 10% coupon for their next order!

5. Know where to source materials. With this being a rush job I did what was easiest, quickest, and cheapest: I went to Staples. The paper ended up being moderately difficult to write on and I had to tear (they were perforated) and fold each card. Oh, and my nibs were all used and not in very good shape. Hey, I still finished the job! Now I am on the lookout for place cards I can easily order and trust the quality, am ordering lots of nibs so that I never run out, and hope to be better prepared for my next rush order.


Lastly, take good photos of your work! I so often forget this and then my work is long gone and I don't have anything to show for it!

Have you had a client yet? Who were they and do you have a story to share? How do you prepare for the inevitable rush jobs that come in?


Warmly, Maddy


Starting a Business

Madeline KellyComment

The first thing I have to say is "Whew!". Oh and thank goodness for the internet, so many people that have gone before me, and the ability to take risks. For as long as I can remember I have been enamored by beautiful letters and creating and what a dream it is to try and make that dream into a business. 

Starting a business comes at an interesting part of life. I am almost 2 months married (yay! marriage is awesome!) and my husband is in the midst of applying for graduate programs. I had done what many like to call a "hobby business" over the last year by doing calligraphy and design jobs for friends at cost. It was a joy to do so and I learned a lot about lettering, digitizing, and editing on a computer to make my hand drawn things into something that could be easily printed. 

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago and I found myself at a fork in the road and the dream of starting this business had a moment to take hold. The perfect harmony of free time, skill, desire, and encouragement from so many around me pushed me to start working for myself. 40 hours a week. Asking questions. Pushing my limits. And ultimately seeing how much work this was going to be and how much joy it would bring.

I had daydreamed before about starting a company. I knew that what Wedding Paper Divas was charging people was ridiculous (paper like theirs is inexpensive!). I knew I could practice calligraphy and grow in that skill. But that wasn't enough. What about taxes? Registering a business name? Contracts? Website design? Building relationships with printers? Start-up costs? 

That is why I say "Whew!". It's my thank goodness I have had the time to read through and try to the best of my abilities to understand tax information for a small business. My "Whew!" of surprise that I made it through this research phase (which I am certain will continue) and actually enjoyed it. And my final "Whew!" of relief that maybe this is something I can do after all.

What's your dream? Have you ever wanted to start your own company? What is stopping you? Here are some resources I found extremely helpful and want to encourage you to push forward, research, and maybe soon enough you will be saying "Whew!" too.

Barnes & Noble: go there. read these books. 

  • Start Your Own Business, Sixth Edition: The Only Startup Book You'll Ever Need (written by the staff of Entrepreneur Magazine)

  • The Girl's Guide to Starting Your Own Business (even for you guys out there!)

  • Entrepreneur Magazine


  • Free business advice, programs, and resources
  • Free mentorship! Yes, free. I was paired with a retired Certified Public Accountant who was able to help me understand taxes, the difference between sole proprietorship v. LLC, and ask me the hard questions.
  • Find out more at

Other business owners

  • They don't have to be related to your idea! I've talked with a landscaping company owner, a land developer, and my mentor from SCORE that I mentioned above. Brainstorm who you know who started their own business and reach out. Ask them how they started, what was hardest, or that random question you have!
  • Reach out to others in your field. I did this with one calligrapher who's work I adored and seemed similar to what I wanted to pursue. Send the message - even if they don't have time to help you our they will feel honored that you would even ask. Heck, you are here, send me a message. I'd love to hear about your dreams and help you reach them!


I am so grateful for this opportunity and look forward to sharing some of my story with you.