Photo by Margaret Corley Nelson

From hand to heart: Calligraphy for couples

In the age of the digital and the mass-produced, some of the less efficient novelties of custom creation have been stripped from the process of wedding planning. Amidst the hurry and flurry of finding a dress, booking a caterer and planning the perfect color scheme, Margaret Corley Nelson of Proper Prints encourages couples to take time to indulge in sharing their individuality from the very first announcement of their engagement.

“When you get a hand-addressed envelope, even if it is chicken scratch, it makes an impact,” she says. “It’s the first notion that people have of ‘what is this wedding going to be?’”

Nelson has spent five years studying and practicing the ancient art of calligraphy. After struggling to teach herself the pen-and-ink skills despite a lack of local resources, she decided to fill the gap and began teaching local calligraphy classes.

“It is so fun to share,” she says. “The classes are something that I didn’t have, and I want people to be able to have access to it. And people love it! Every class I do fills up in a couple of days.”

Keeping her classes small, Nelson is able to be present for every single letter her students create. “I always say, make the words dance on the page,” she says. “The letters—they’re moving and flowing.”

Nelson also specializes in custom projects like invitations, addressing and more. She says she loves how calligraphy has brought her into her clients’ most special moments. “I love being able to represent the person in the creation,” she says. “You get to kind of experience life with people.”

By teaching the art of calligraphy, Nelson hopes to give people the power to create something illustrative of themselves. “When I got married last November, it was the first time I had complete control over the vision,” she says. “I was able to take everything I had learned and create something totally representative of me and my husband. It was so special!”

In both her work for clients and in her teaching, Nelson’s priority is that the creation belong to the individual. “I want every single wedding invitation to be created with those two people in mind,” she says. “I want it to be special to them, to totally set them apart.”

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