Golden Hour Paper Calligraphy and Custom Wedding Invitation Design

fine art design for the modern sophisticated bride

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





Ask the Designer: Understanding Invitation Printing Options

Madeline Kelly21 Comments

 Want to skip the bulk of this post and get right to our free download of a pros and cons list for printing techniques? Click here!

Alright, so you are at the point in your wedding planning where you are starting to think about the paper goods... the list can seem to go on and on:

  • Save the dates

  • Invitations

  • RSVP cards

  • Detail cards

  • Map cards

  • Rehearsal dinner invitations

  • Envelopes

  • Escort cards

  • Place cards

  • Menus

  • Programs....

Do you see what I am saying?! It can be a little exhausting! But that is why there are calligraphers like me who work with brides to help them catch a vision for their wedding day and make it a reality.

Now take in the thought of all these things that you could need for your wedding day and add in all of the different ways you can have them printed! In the following sections, I am going to break down what the different printing processes are, how they are done, and give examples of what that printing could look like for your wedding stationery!

The processes are listed from most expensive printing technique to least expensive printing technique.


  • What is foil-stamped printing?

This type of printing leads to a gorgeous, metallic shine on everything it touches! Your wedding invitation designer will take your invitation design and have it etched into a copper plate which is run over foil (which is typically gold, silver, copper, or rose gold but can really be any color you dream up!) and heated. Then the plate is pressed onto your invitation paper and viola! Shiny, gorgeous wedding invitations.  This is the most expensive way to have your invitations printed but one way to cut down on cost is to have a small portion of your invitation foil printed (such as just having your names printed in foil) rather than the entire suite.

gold foil wedding invitations
  • What is letterpress printing?

This printing technique was invented in the mid-15th century and naturally adds a classic, elegant feel to wedding invitations, especially when printing on thick, cotton paper. This is my personal favorite type of printing and I hope to own a letterpress machine someday (but that is out of the question now as they typically weigh over a ton))  Anyway, besides it being my favorite type of printing it is important to note that if you have your invitations letter-pressed you are limited in the area of color. You can add as many colors you want but as you add colors the price will go up because this require more plates to be added.

An example of letterpress printing on  Silk and Willow  handmade paper from a custom project -  inquire here for pricing on custom invitations.

An example of letterpress printing on Silk and Willow handmade paper from a custom project - inquire here for pricing on custom invitations.

  • What is screen-printing?

For this technique your wedding invitation design is burned into a screen that is then placed over paper and ink is squeezed through the burned openings in the screen (I often tell people to picture a screen that you have in your homes window and then picture the openings being smaller and only having openings where your invitation design can then only come through those openings to be printed!) I hope that makes sense... This technique is also limited by color and a new screen is required for each color. What I love about this printing technique is that the color is extremely rich and vibrant. The samples for my semi-custom suite, Olive, are screenprinted! Also, screen-printing can be a great way to have your stationery designer address your RSVP envelopes. It is also great if you are would like your invitations to be on a dark paper (such as navy or black) as printing in white is an option.

An example of screen-printed suite that was a custom design for a Virginia couple

An example of screen-printed suite that was a custom design for a Virginia couple

  • What is digital printing?

This technique is more common and familiar. Digital printing is similar to what you do at home or in the office when you send something to the printer. A mix of inks from your printer come together and are printed onto paper. At Golden Hour Paper we send you invitation design files to our trusted printers who use high capacity printers, thicker stock of paper, and produce the best in quality with color matching. This is the most budget-friendly form of printing and doesn't have any limitations color-wise (although digitally printing white ink can be spendy!). 

Vintage Floral Wedding invitation


  • How can I combine printing techniques for wedding invitations?

Using the techniques listed above together can really set your invitations apart in your guests mailbox. Foil-stamping your names in gold while digitally printing the remaining details and design can save you some $ and when you choose a color that complements the gold it can make your invitations even more gorgeous than just foil printing could! Really, anything is possible when it comes to combining printing techniques. if you have further questions please comment below or reach out for a custom quote here!


Ready for a free download of all this content in a Pros and Cons list?

Click here to receive the free download!


All the Best,

Maddy Kelly


February wallpaper giveaway!

Madeline KellyComment

Wow,  January flew by! Now we enter into the shortest month of the year and soon it will be spring *happy dance*. Have you ever seen the Parks and Rec episode where April makes all of Ron's appointments on March 31st because she is under the impression that March doesn't have 31 days? Sometimes I picture putting things off until February 29th and then having 4 years of work to do on that day once a leap year comes!

Anyway, in preparation for the month of February and the upcoming Valentine's day holiday, I've created some iPhone lock screen backgrounds that you can download for free below!

Click on the image of the background you would like to download below & that image will lead you to the download page!

There are a couple different options for the continuous "love" background - one with red tones and one with purple tones!

I really love hearing from my visitors and those of you who use the wallpapers so please leave a comment! If you have suggestions for future wallpapers, please share! Sometimes coming up with an idea is the hardest part ;) 

Also, if you are recently engaged and would like to read my tips on wedding planning visit this past blog post or if you'd like to hear how Golden Hour Paper can help make your wedding invitation and design a dream click here to inquire!




4 vital questions to ask yourself when planning a wedding

Wedding PlanningMadeline KellyComment

So, hopefully, by now you have made the big announcement of your engagement, have started to dream up the details of your day, and are more in love with your fiance than ever before! If you are newly engaged you can visit my previous post on what to do RIGHT after you get engaged here! 

In this post, I am going to ask some practical questions that will help you focus in on what your wedding day will look like and how you can make that dream a reality! I recommend you take out a piece of paper and write down your answers to these specific questions. Share them with your fiance! They might not even be aware of all the things buzzing around in your mind and writing them down makes them more concrete. Let's get started!

  1. What is your budget?

To start with the beloved topic of budget...Be honest here. This will have one of the biggest effects on your day because weddings can be expensive. If you're in a place where you are investing in your future, paying off student loans, or you are hoping to save up for a home then you might not want to spend as much on your wedding day. In that case, you need to be asking for help from your friends and family early on and often! If you have a bigger budget you still have to decide how you want to use that money! For all brides, it is good to write down a number to divvy it up into all your estimated expenses.

  • One tool I used when planning my wedding was WeddingWire's Budget Tool which you can visit here (you have to have a Wedding Wire account to view this page, they are free and this tool alone is worth the time to sign up!). They take your estimated budget and divide it into categories based on the average percentage of budget that goes to certain aspects of a wedding! As an added bonus, as you move things around, it will ask and update your budget to go to another area.

After you've come up with this number you can think more clearly about the latter 3 questions I've asked. The question of how you want to bless your friends and family...since you are planning one of the biggest parties of your life and all your closest friends and family are going to be there! It is SUPER SPECIAL. And they are there to celebrate you and your fiance! From the simple things of making sure they are comfortable during the ceremony (is it going to be above 75 degrees? Set out bottled water! is their heavy rain in the forecast? find umbrellas or ponchos to make your outdoor ceremony a little more bearable!) to going all out having welcome baskets for guests that have travelled from afar at their hotel room. 

  • How do you want to bless your friends and family on your big day?

    Knowing your budget will allow you to set realistic and creative ways to get your guests excited for your day and feel cared for with the thoughtful aspects of your wedding. Having a bottle of wine with local chocolates, coffee gift card, and letterpressed greeting card may not be in the budget! But if it is this could be a wonderful way to thank your guests for traveling to be a part of your wedding day. One business I just love is The Cotton Candy Confectionery. They offer homemade gourmet cotton candy that will blow your guests away (they carry classic flavors & 32 fun ones like coffee, buttered rum, mango...) You could include some of their cotton candy in your welcome bag (it's super affordable and fun!) or have it as your party favor at the wedding. The options are endless and you can be creative with how to make your wedding special for your closest friends and family!

  • What do you want your wedding theme to be?

Now, to my third question... do you picture your wedding theme being classic, rustic, or chic? Are there any color schemes that you love? I am going to write a whole post just on coming up with a theme/color scheme for your wedding. Pinterest can be overloaded and after all, you don't want to copy another bride but want your day to be unique and represent you and your fiance! To sign up and keep in the loop with future posts go here. 

Thinking about your overall scheme will help you as you make all those tiny decisions you never thought would cross your mind! "What shade of grey do I want my tablecloths to be?! And why are there 18 different shades of grey!" was one of my ridiculous questions. From tablecloths to your bridesmaids nail polish to your wedding programs... it will be really helpful to come up with a vision and base idea for your wedding day.

  • Can you think of anything you must have/do at your wedding?!

Lastly, the MUST HAVES! Is there anything you've dreamt of since you were a little girl? Or an inspiring photo you've seen that you want to make sure is incorporated into your day? These are super important & good to let your fiance know early in your planning process. I didn't share with my husband how important it was for me to have a videographer & that led to me getting really upset one night (2 weeks before the wedding!!!) and explaining how sad I was to not have one. We ended up scrambling and got an amazing videographer but it was stressful. Share early and often about these things!

Golden Hour Paper would love to be a part of your special day. Our wedding invitations and design can be custom-made to represent your day beautifully! From Save the Date design to Thank You cards, favor tags, escort cards - we do it all and can mix custom inks to match your day-of decor. Feel free to fill out our inquiry form here or to shoot me a message at:

Overall, just remember that you are going to be married at the end of all this planning. Some days are going to be stressful. Some days there will be way too many questions coming at you. But every day there is an opportunity to be reminded of your love for your fiance and the fact that you get to make vows before your closest friends and family on your wedding day! If you have any questions or would like to hear about other hilarious things that happened to me while I was planning my wedding please comment below!


All the best,


wedding calligraphy portland oregon

7 things to do after you get engaged!

Wedding PlanningMadeline KellyComment

Engagement season is upon us! Did you know that 40% of engagements happen between November and February each year? With Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Eve topping the lists of most popular day to get engaged? So, what are my tips for people who are newly engaged.

  1. The first, go with your gut and maybe don't even listen to a list like this. There is a plethora of advice, opinions, and sometimes ridiculous ideas of what you should do after getting engaged. Last February I got engaged and read an article that said I should make sure to have a manicure so that no one judges my hands...Sorry but that's not the first thing that came to mind for me. I hope this post can be practical and helpful to you as you enter into this exciting (and sometimes stressful) season!

Now with the first tip (if you still choose to hear out my humble list!)

What to do right after you get engaged!

  1. Enjoy the moment with your hubby-to-be. You are going to start your life together and this is a very special moment. Take a deep breath, take it all in, and revel in the beauty of your love story and how you have arrived to this wonderful place.

  2. Call the people who are most important to you. Your best friend or family members hearing the big news through social media might hurt their feelings, especially for those in older generations. Since they didn't grow up with social media (or cell phones for that matter!) a phone call would mean so much to them rather than scrolling through Facebook (with all the viral videos, trending topics, and often overwhelming amount of "reposts") to see a picture of you and your fiances smiling faces bearing the joy of your new engagement. Tip for this tip: if you have a family member who has a bigger mouth than others, maybe call her later on or politely remind her to keep this to him/herself as you want to be the one to share the news!

  3. Post on social media! An epic ring shot, the story of how he asked, or photo of the two of you is the perfect way to share your joy!

  4. Especially take in the first day and weeks to follow getting engaged. You will feel the love and support of people around you and begin to think about the wedding, where your closest friends and family will come together for an EPIC party.

What to do the first couple months after getting engaged:

  1. Make sure to but insurance for that new bling! Within a week of getting engaged I was pulling a glass out of my kitchen cabinet and *pop* there goes my center stone. No, I don't have a dramatic story to tell, yes we found the stone, and no it wasn't insured. Luckily, we had purchased the ring at a mom-and-pop shop here in Philadelphia and they were gracious to fix the ring for us free of charge. This did mean that I didn't get to wear it for 6 days and that we were reminded of the necessity of insurance. What if the diamond had disappeared? Ring insurance is totally affordable and 100% worth it! Sometimes you can add ring insurance to other insurance plans (State Farm, Geico, USAA all offer it!) or you can purchase it through a smaller provider.

  2. Think through any "must-have" vendors. Is there a photographer you just love and couldn't imagine your day without? A venue you have visited in the past that you think would create the perfect backdrop for your date? If you are thinking these things, it is likely that others are as well! Reach out to them and share how much you love their work! Ask them for their availability for the season you are hoping to get married. If there is a deal-breaker for you, in terms of vendors you'd like to hire, check their availability before setting a wedding date.

  3. Propose to your bridal party! Oftentimes, your fiance will not want to hear the details of color schemes (pink, blush, or rose?!) but your girls will. Think about those that you can't imagine your day without and who will be a support to you and your spouse for the rest of your lives. Whether you go big or small, your girls will be so excited to hear about your thoughts, dreams, and even your venting, as you plan for your big day.

There are SO many things out there telling you what to do & when. Timelines GALORE. Opinions that go on and on. An important thing to remember is that you are starting your life together and beginning to build your marriage even now in this season. Your wedding day will be special most of all because you are marrying your best friend and life partner. Take each day at a time & enjoy the small victories, moments with your closest friends and family, and look forward to one of the best days of your life!

There will be a follow-up blog post in the coming weeks on things to do later on in your engagement! If this article was helpful to you please feel free to Pin the image below to share with your friends!




customized wedding stationery

Thanksgiving is almost here!

Madeline KellyComment

I can't believe it... Is it seriously mid-November already?!

Next week my husband and I will take a 13 1/2 hour road trip to Georgia to be with his side of the family. We are really looking forward to it and can't wait to be together with them. 

In preparation for the holidays and as a giveaway to you, I have created some iPhone lock screen backgrounds.

Click on the image of the background you would like to download below & that image will lead you to the download page!

At first, I was going to stick with an orange/mustard yellow palette but decided to add in some pink shades for those of you who don't enjoy orange!

Also, confession... when I was first writing out the letters for these I wrote "grateful" instead of thankful. I had started the process of scanning and working with them on my computer before I even realized that I had done it! It would be funny if the holiday were called "Gratesgiving" instead of "Thanksgiving"... Good job to whoever named the holiday.

Anywho, I hope you enjoy. Please feel free to share with your friends and I would love to hear feedback or requests for future projects like this. Also, if you have an Android, you can message me and I will make a wallpaper just for your screen dimensions :)




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.