Coffee with Caitlin: Evelyn, Letterlyn Studio

Choosing wedding vendors who fit the style and budget of your wedding day can be difficult, but getting to know the people behind the business often makes that decision much easier. In this series, Coffee with Caitlin, I want to introduce some of my favorite wedding vendor friends… or friendors as we call them.

Today’s interview is with Evelyn, calligrapher and owner of Letterlyn Studio. I love hearing Evelyn talk about invitations! She is so passionate about them! I never realized how much a couple’s paper goods add to the experience that their guests have both before the wedding and on the wedding day! Evelyn designed all the paper elements for our Heirloom Blush & Berry shoot (and she and her husband were also our models!), and I am excited to work with her on CGP weddings later this year!

Photo: Audrey Rose Photography

Photo: Audrey Rose Photography

What’s in your coffee cup/mug this morning?
-My second helping of coffee. The stronger the better. No cream, no sugar, just strong coffee.

How did you get started in the calligraphy industry? 
-I like to say that I came to calligraphy at a slant. I have always been interested in the written word and in art. I studied Poetry and Art in college and began to explore the intersection of the two. I took classes on book arts where I hand-made paper and hand-bound books. I created large-scale mixed-media drawings where I wrote poetry over the image. I came to calligraphy as a way to connect those passions on a smaller scale. I did not have the physical space in our one-bedroom apartment for creating 4ft by 5ft drawings or starting up a paper-making studio. It was the missing piece in my life. I fell in love with the forms, the traditions of the craft and the freedom of its modern form. Eventually, I couldn’t keep it to myself anymore. Helping my clients achieve their dreams for their wedding paper goods is a great source of joy in my life.

What does a normal day-in-the-life look like for you?
-My days vary so wide depending on what work I have to do. They usually start around 7:00. I make my coffee first and eat breakfast. I spend my first cup of coffee/half hour of my day catching up on social media, reading friends blogs etc. I get dressed for the day and spend time playing with the dogs (I have two rescue mutts) before I get to work. Then I check my to-do-list and prioritize. Any calligraphy gets done first. If I’m working a large order, I spend 45 minutes calligraphing and then 15 minutes doing something else. That way, I stay consistent and efficient. I work like that, typically while listening to Lynard Skynard, until noon. I always take a 45 minute break for lunch. Then I play or snuggle those dogs again. After lunch, I might do more calligraphy. But, I typically work on my computer after I eat. I answer emails, digitize/edit calligraphy, blog, and brainstorm ideas for future projects. Typically in that exact order. At the end of my day, I try to spend at least an hour practicing or experimenting with my calligraphy tools. I am always learning and advancing my skills. When my husband comes home from work, I try very hard to stop working and focus on us or on my other interests and hobbies. It’s hard, but its so important to maintain balance.

What business advice has been the most helpful for you?
-I’ve gotten so many useful tidbits from so many people. But, I think the biggest advice I’ve been given has been to embrace the spirit of community over that of competition. I get that through the Rising Tide Society and the wonderful creatives that I have met there, but I also get it in the calligraphy community. Erica McPhee of Paperwhite Studios, Kathy Millici of 24 Karat Designs Calligraphy Studio, and Dr. Joseph Vitolo (a master penman), embody that with their time and love for the preservation of the craft. Building good relationships with other businesses, even my competitors, has been the best thing for Letterlyn Studio.

What do you do to keep your life balanced?
-Sticking to my schedule is essential. And, weeks where I can’t do that (like this week!!!) are tough on me. I have to sleep well, eat well, and schedule “me time” or I simply won’t be as happy or productive. If I don’t take care of me, I can’t take care of anyone else. That goes for mental/emotional health as much, if not more than physical health. Knowing that, I can usually keep myself in check. And, if I falter, my husband always reminds me to take care of myself.

What is something non-wedding related you’ve been loving lately?
-I’m one of those full of love kinds of people, so a lot. Recently, going off-roading and overloading with Dakota has been really fun. We love the outdoors. But, I also have been re-reading some poetry books by Anne Carson lately, and that has been wonderful. She is so smart and I feel every word that she writes. They’re amazing. Also, my dogs. Always my rescue mutts. I am obsessed with them.

If you could give brides one piece of advice about calligraphy, what would it be?
-There are a lot of great options out there that fit your price range. Don’t be afraid to reach out because you think custom automatically mean this huge price increase from national chains and retailers. We want to help, even if it’s one calligraphy element that makes a big impact!
I second this! I always assumed that 'calligraphy' meant gigantic price tag, but it's actually right on par with other kinds of invitations!

If you could give brides one piece of advice about another wedding vendor, what would it be?
-Oh, so many things… But here is a simple one: hire a wedding planner/coordinator. Just do it. At least inquire with one.

If you could give brides one piece of advice about their first year of marriage, what would it be?
-September 28 was my one year anniversary, so I feel like I can answer this pretty well. Honest to goodness: you are going argue about really stupid and weird stuff, you are going to argue about serious stuff. Just communicate with one another to find solutions that work for you, even if they seem silly. For example: we would have all these silly fights over our responsibilities. So, we ended up with a legitimate chore-chart at some point. Best thing ever for our marriage. Even if it reminds me of my mom making a chore chart for my siblings and me.

What was a favorite detail you saw at a wedding this year?
-When my best friend got married, the bridal party carried classic books with beautifully designed, cloth covers instead of flowers. We each got to pick our book and keep it. I picked Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein because I am a huge romanticism nerd.

What is your favorite part of the wedding day?
-The first look is the sweetest, most amazing moment for a couple. I hardly get to witness it, because I’m usually not present on the wedding day. But, when I have seen them, I cannot control the ugly crying. Caitlin, I don’t know how you photograph this moment without sobbing happy tears?
Sometimes it's hard! But we have to do a lot of shifting around to get the best angles while the first look unfolds and the couple spends a few moments together, so I'm pretty focused!

Describe your ideal wedding:
-An outdoor wedding, where the couple infuses a little of their quirkiness and uniqueness into the traditional elements of the wedding day. String lights and loose floral arrangements, lots of beautiful paper elements. It’s ethereal and romantic but also fun and modern. The couple takes special care of their guests, and their guests have a great time.

What’s your current favorite color palette?
-Anything rich and deep with an accent of pastel or metallic. Like emerald green, merlot and a little pop of pale yellow, Or a deep fig, aubergine and a little bit of lavender.

What are three words that describe your ideal couple?
-Romantic, thoughtful, and stylish.

Do you ever dream about weddings?
-Not too often. I do have dreams about calligraphy though. It’s like my brain practices the letterforms while I am sleeping. I go whole nights dreaming in flourishes and letter variations.

What is something you’d love to see become a wedding trend?
-I don’t do a lot of escort cards/place cards. Everything is seating charts for me right now. I wish we took a turn back to the placard as an element of a beautiful tablescape. It is popular in some circles, but I wish I could do more of it.

What is something your company is known for that sets you apart from others?
-I feel like you could answer that question better than me! I think my art background sets me apart. I know quite a lot about paper, inks, printing processes. I can draw and reference design theory. It’s a great asset to my business and my clients. It allows me to go above and beyond, happily.
It's true! I've never met anyone who knows paper and ink like Evelyn. And even better, she understands what each choice subtly says to the person holding it. For example, she knows what lettering style, envelope color, and ink type to recommend to a bride having a romantic boho wedding and how different that would be from a bride having a romantic but more formal affair!


Find Evelyn on social media:
Facebook and Instagram: @letterlyn

Meet more of my favorite vendors:
Chelsea, Tidewater and Tulle
Missy, Antonia Christianson Events
Evelyn, Letterlyn Studio
Caitlyn, Blue Steel Lighting Design
Kristina, Norfolk Botanical Gardens
Dhalia Edwards, Makeup Artist
Adrienne, Heart's Content Events and Design
Becky, Roost Flowers