Premier Wedding Mississippi and Premier Wedding Mobile Bay writer, Jenny Cox Holman, interviewed Cristina Leis, professional calligrapher, for elegant and trend-setting ways to incorporate the art of calligraphy into personalized details of a bride’s wedding journey. Enjoy all the gorgeous photography by Krissie Francis Photo of Cristina’s amazing work!
Cristina, would you mind telling our readers about yourself and Cristina Leis Calligraphy – what brought you to your career as a calligrapher? How did you get started?
I began my calligraphy journey in the summer of 2015 after I graduated from Ole Miss, when I realized I wasn’t 100% sure on going to medical school. So, much to the horror of everyone I knew, I took a step back from all things science! I was so scared with this huge change, and I needed a creative outlet to rebalance myself.
I got my first pen that July, thinking “oh, this will just be a fun side hobby.” I practiced for hours everyday and eventually got the courage to post a piece on Instagram. I received so much support, as well as requests for pieces! I was shocked! Those requests became more and more frequent, and eventually I booked my first wedding in January of 2016. Within my first year of accepting clients, I played a part in over 25 weddings with requests ranging from full invitation suites to a groom’s custom cake topper. To this day, I am still so honored and amazed when brides want to work with me – I am so lucky!
What special services do you offer for a bride-to-be and her fiancé?
I tell my brides “if you can imagine it, I will do it!” and they certainly don’t disappoint! Their visions have allowed me to create custom crests, write on macarons, make cake toppers, and create geofilters (yes, geofilters!). For me, calligraphy is no longer exclusively for envelopes, and I’m so happy when my brides think outside the box. I even have a bride who wants a private calligraphy workshop for her bridal party. Needless to say, I’m beyond excited for that!
Tell us about your commission work such as wedding invitations/envelopes, save the dates and wedding maps and personalized wedding cake toppers.
Addressing wedding invitations is definitely my most requested service, and with good reason! When I say the word “calligraphy,” your first thought is probably of hand addressed invitation envelopes. The game is definitely changing though, as I have more and more brides requesting non-traditional services like mirrors and acrylic signage. One of my favorite alternatives I offer is ballpoint envelope addressing. The envelopes still showcase my calligraphy, but at a more affordable rate. This is perfect for save the dates in particular, because it allows the bride to focus the bulk of her budget on the invitation.
One of my more unique services are my custom cake toppers. They are cut from real birch wood, and are 100% my calligraphy and design. You can even see the wood grain in the topper! The topper can feature whatever name, monogram, or small phrase the couple wants. It definitely gives an extra bespoke touch to their cake!
My newest service is making custom Snapchat geofilters. I made one of the geofilters for my city, Jackson, and I am HOOKED. It is so fun, and who wouldn’t love a geofilter for their special day?!
Can you tell us about your style as a professional calligrapher?
Three words that best describe my style are organic, airy, and clean. My style is characterized by sweeping ascenders and descenders, paired with a thinner line. It gives a very natural and swept look that I absolutely love! Something else you’ll see frequently on my Instagram is calligraphy on marbled paper. Paper marbling is my crafting obsession! I’m also a huge fan on minimalism, so the way to my heart is with clean lines and neutral colors.
What types of work can you do for gifts for the bridal party and also for anniversary gifts for couples?
A new option for a bridal party gift is throwing a private calligraphy workshop! I’m so excited to do my first one this April; it’s going to be so fun with a room full of the bride’s best friends. I cannot wait!
I’ve recently had some fun making bridesmaid proposals, featuring my hand-marbling paired with my calligraphy. This is another case of my brides thinking outside the box! My bride totally had the idea, and I just said “let’s go for it!”
As for anniversary gifts, my favorite piece is by far my custom calligraphy overlay. I take a couple’s first dance lyrics or vows and overlay them on a photo from their wedding. The result is swoon-worthy! The brides love it as much as I do, because it is so personal and significant to their special day.
What do you like most about what you do?
Hands down, the look of happiness brides have when they finally see their paper goods or day-of materials. It puts me over the moon when I see that wide-eyed, jaw to the floor look of enthusiasm! I’ve had many people close to me get married, so I know how stressful wedding planning can be. The kindest words a bride has ever said to me were “you have made this whole experience so stress-free, I’ve loved every minute of it!” It really stuck with me and makes my day brighter when I remember it!
What are the current trends in calligraphy for weddings or commissioned art pieces?
A current trend that I’ve been so grateful for is the client preference for handmade paper. With their deckled edges and slightly textured appearance, the detail is unmistakable and very elegant. I’ve been extremely lucky to have had a bride who requested all of her elopement invitations be handwritten on handmade paper, as well as addressing her invitations on handmade envelopes. Working on that suite is one of my absolute favorite memories!
How would you describe yourself as an artist?
I’m more of the adventurous type, and am willing to push the boundaries creatively. Calligraphy isn’t just for the super traditional weddings anymore! It’s worked out great, because I prefer to work with brides with the same mentality. Their weddings are unique, different, and so beautifully “them”. Working alongside these brides always leads to the best brainstorms, and eventually the perfect products for their day!
How far in advance do you need for a bride to schedule your services? What is the best way to reach you?
Ideally, as soon as you set a date! If you think about it, calligraphers are really the first ones up to bat, so to speak. Our services are required months before you ever say “I do” with save the dates and wedding invitations. You should send out save the dates between 6-8 months before the wedding, and invitations 6-8 weeks.
Notice I said “send out” and not “book a calligrapher.” That’s because you need to look at your guest list. Is it 100? Is it 400? I require one week per 100 addresses, so it takes a little extra planning in addition to the send out dates.
What do you see on the horizon for up and coming trends in weddings for 2017?
A trend that’s gaining speed is unconventional place cards for rehearsal dinners or weddings. I’m talking marble tiles, agate slices, magnolia leaves, and even leather! I’ve worked many times with agate, so I’m a huge fan of it already. I have a bride right now who wants little gift tags around mini bottles of olive oil. So inventive! I definitely have the coolest brides!
Are your available to work with brides from across the country?
Absolutely! I’ve worked with brides in Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, Washington, and all the way to California (two, actually!). If far away brides are hesitant, I offer my digital services instead. I can design an invitation or save the date from anywhere, as well as make a calligraphy photo overlay! As long as they have an email address, I can work with anyone anywhere.
How can we reach your through social media?
My main social media is through my Instagram, cristina_leis. I use it constantly, and even get inquires through my DMs!
I also have my website, cristinaleis.com where you can read more about me, see my portfolio, and check out upcoming workshops! I don’t have a dedicated Facebook page though.
Would you like to add any additional tips or advice about wedding planning in regards to scheduling or deciding on a calligrapher?
Yes! Never be afraid to inquire. Some people are hesitant because they think that inquiring may be perceived as committing. So send that email, make that call, do whatever you gotta do to get information!
Would you like to reach Cristina Leis? Check out her website to see more of her beautiful work! For more creative ideas, check out our blog, www.idoyall.com.