I hope you enjoy these GORGEOUS photographs by Ginny Corbett Photography of some of my favorite chalkboards.
This beautiful summertime wedding and reception took place at the historic Merrimon-Wynne House in downtown Raleigh. Such a stunning venue!
My mix & match gold table number chalkboards have never looked better! Wow…these photographs make me so happy.
Here are the blank cards after I created the watercolor designs….each one is unique:
I wrote the names in my “block script” writing style in soft grey ink…..lovely, don’t you think? The table assignments were written inside the tented cards.
Here are some photos of the cards on display!
I also hand-painted the table number signs in blue watercolor….and wrote each guest’s name at the top of the gorgeous printed menus….
Best wishes, y’all!
Whether you’re having a swanky country club wedding reception or a barn-and-hay bale soiree, chalkboard signage is all the rage. So many shapes, sizes, lettering styles and flourishes! Chalkboard popularity has been growing over the past few years. (This trend is so popular that I’ve purchased about a dozen chalkboards in all shapes & sizes which I decorate & rent to local planners!)
One popular use for chalkboards is to let guests know that they may sit on either side during the ceremony….no “bride” side or “groom” side. Back in the day, the bride’s friends & family sat on the left [as one entered the sanctuary] and the groom’s friends & family sat on the right. That tradition is being followed less & less.
Chalkboards are also used quite often for bar menus and to announce the ever-popular “signature drink”…
Chalkboards are also used for other growing trends….the “sparkler send-off” (as bride & groom leave the reception and enter wedded bliss) and also the “lavender toss” (to follow the ceremony)…
Chalkboards can be used for table signs. These itty bitty boards in the photo below were placed in arrangements on the tabletops.
Some of the very first chalkboards that I did for a client were “Thank” and “You”….a super popular trend in wedding photography.
I use a combination of traditional chalk and chalk “markers.” I used to have to special order the markers, but now I can find them in most any craft store locally. I really enjoy learning new techniques and refining my chalkboard skills.
Photographs of colorful & vibrant carnival-themed weddings are popping up all over Pinterest. I’m in love with this idea and decided to create unique reception items for a North Carolina State Fair-themed wedding.
I’ve been attending our fair state’s fair (in my hometown of Raleigh) nearly every year since I was a toddler. The smells, tastes, sights and sounds are rich & abundant: Roasted corn-on-the-cob, cotton candy, boiled peanuts, barbecue with vinegar-based sauce (is there any other kind?), funnel cakes, and deep-fried ____ (just fill in the blank with anything from Oreos to bubblegum, from Reece’s cups to Coca-Cola). Wee baby ducks & chicks. Fat mama pigs resting in the hay, surrounded by a dozen squealing piglets. Miniature donkeys (a personal favorite). Humongous Angus cows and draft horses. Whirring rides that make me dizzy just looking up at them. A gazillion displays of ribbon-winning baked goods, canned goods and every type of homespun creation. Displays of artwork from hundreds of kids from dozens of schools across the state. The loud & raucous Midway with seasoned barkers (I think I’ve been finagled out of eleventy billion dollars over the years). Let’s not forget the historic Spanish Mission Revival style architecture of the 1928 exhibition halls (remarkably still in use today). And, of course, our iconic Dorton Arena.
I hope you enjoy looking at the invitation envelopes and wedding reception place cards, escort cards, favor tags, garlands & table signage that I created, all inspired by the one-of-a-kind North Carolina State Fair!
Once again, my daughter Hannah drew a picture for my blog post. The drawing above is her rendition of a NC State Fair bridal couple, with a nod to Grant Wood’s “American Gothic.” I shall call this “Rural Hipsters.” I adore these people. I totally want to hang out with them. Don’t you? (And that’s the Dorton Arena in the background.)
I love it when brides use table names instead of table numbers. I think NC State Fair landmarks would make great table names: Village of Yesteryear, The Grandstand, Dorton Arena, Kerr Scott Building, Jim Graham Building, Holshouser Building, The Midway – and many more. For the “Dorton Arena” sign shown above, I used 12×12 scrapbook paper printed with a hay design. I folded the paper in half to make a tented sign. I layered country (gingham-y) papers for the matting (affixed with double-sided tape). The table name was written in my “Curly Contempo” writing style in thick red ink on lovely linen paper (I tore the edges by hand – see detail photo). Just for fun, I added a cow to the lower right corner (a scrapbook sticker). Super easy. I can imagine a whimsical assortment of landmark table names, using a mix of different papers & ink colors. These signs are the perfect accompaniment to the escort card tags & gingham place cards below.
I found these large Kraft tags in the clearance bin at a fabric & craft store and thought they would make great escort cards. The completed cards could be pinned to a rustic display board (covered in burlap perhaps?) or even clipped to a clothesline or wooden fence. Perfect for an outdoor, fair-inspired reception. I also found the wonderful stamp depicting a glass bottle & single flower at the same craft & fabric store. I stamped the image on the front of the tags using black ink – and then colored just the blooms with watercolor markers. Using a green watercolor marker, I wrote a guest’s name on the front of each tag and his or her table assignment on the back. I looped green raffia through the hole in the tag and added a small twine bow to the front.
To make these adorable square tented place cards, I cut ivory linen paper 3” x 6” and folded in half. I layered gingham printed scrapbook papers, cut to size, and affixed them with double-sided tape. (Gingham always reminds me of the fair!) At first I laid out the papers so they fit exactly in the square, then I turned them diagonally, and I loved how they looked. I cut rectangles out of Kraft paper for the names (written in slick black gel ink in my “Petite Contempo” writing style) and affixed them in the center. Finally, I added the farm-themed scrapbook embellishments. You’ll see lots of pigs, chickens, tractors & wheat stalks at the fair!
To make this table number sign, I cut colorful striped scrapbook paper into a flag shape (essentially a triangle, when folded in half). I folded the flag over a bamboo skewer & affixed with double-sided tape (so there’s a front & a back). I hand-cut the number (in this example – “6”) out of linen paper and glued it to the front of the flag. The number was a little plain, so I added “stitching” with a thin orange marker. I added a green raffia bow to the top. I stuck the flag skewer into a decorative glass bottle that I bought at the local craft store for $1.49 – along with some colorful gerbera daisies and other non-highbrow blooms. I added a green raffia bow to the glass jar as well.
I totally didn’t know this, but raffia is da bomb! I’d never worked with raffia before. You can take a piece of raffia and pull it apart into smaller & smaller strips until you have little wispy raffia streamers. It’s addictive, I tell ya.
These adorable tiny white envelopes (shown above) hold 2¼” x 3¼” flat cards. I also found these in the clearance bin at the local fabric & craft store (a pack of 8 sets for $1.00—I kid you not). I thought they would make adorable escort cards. I lined the tiny envelopes in gingham and striped papers – cut to size, and affixed with just a dab of glue stick. I truly adore the look of a lined envelope. I hand-cut the table assignment numbers out of the same decorative papers (to match the envelope liners) and wrote “table” with a watercolor marker in a complementary color. Lastly, the guests’ names were written on the front of the wee envelopes. The beauty of this type of escort card (small envelopes with separate table assignment cards tucked inside) is the table assignment cards can be switched around as often as necessary before your event.
To make the “Mr. & Mrs.” chair garland above, I cut Kraft paper into triangular flags, and decorative papers into slightly smaller flags, which I affixed with double-sided tape. I punched super tiny holes (with a specialty hole puncher) in the upper corners and used colorful brads to connect the flags. I found die-cut circles & hearts at the craft store (super cheap). I wrote “Mr. & Mrs.” using a thick black sharpie. I punched more of the tiny holes in the top of the flags, to affix the circles & hearts. I looped twine in the holes on the ends. This garland looks like something I would definitely see at the state fair, but instead of “Mr. & Mrs.”, the flags might say “Corndogs & Candy Apples.”
I found this lidded jar (shown above) at the craft store and thought it would make a great wedding favor. I filled the jar with candy (in this case, Good & Plenty – the oldest branded candy in the United States, which you will find good and plenty of at the NC State Fair). I tied the green raffia (which I carefully pulled apart into thin strips – which is obviously my new favorite thing to do) around the jar. I affixed a white cardstock tag decorated with gingham paper & linen paper. I wrote the bridal couple’s initials, their wedding date, and “Thank You!” in slick black gel ink. I can imagine an old wooden picnic table with gingham cloth and a colorful assortment of jarred candy favors displayed on top.
I decided to try my hand at using a hand-dipped calligraphy pen. (Most of my writing styles are done with monoline pens & artist markers.) For the sample envelope below, I wrote the lines free-hand, without a guide – for a looser, less formal look. I found images of both vintage & modern stamps on the internet for this fair-themed postage stamp montage. I sized the stamps, printed & cut them out, and affixed with a glue stick.
The Dorton Arena was the inspiration for this envelope below. Super fun to do. I printed out a copy of a vintage NC stamp with our state bird, the cardinal.
As you can see, I love our state fair. October can’t get here soon enough.
Thanks as always to my daughter Hannah for taking the pictures. She is an illustrator, not a photographer – so I really appreciate her willingness to help out her mama! Hannah & I really wanted to shoot the photos at the fairgrounds, but it was 108 degrees outside. We opted for burlap taped to the living room wall and a bale of hay (hey, what can I say?). Hitch was also quite helpful, as evidenced in the photo below.
(Ex Libris means “from the books” in Latin. The phrase is also used to indicate ownership of a book, as in “from the library of…”)
Who doesn’t love a really good book? And who doesn’t love a really good wedding? I say merge the two for a fabulous & unforgettable union!
I asked my daughter Hannah to create an original drawing depicting a wedding couple in a library setting. She surprised me with this (wow!):
When I think of libraries, I think old-school. Vintage books and vast wooden tables. Tall wooden shelves and even taller windows. The soft light of a brass library lamp illuminating the pages of a classic novel. Can you smell the scent of old paper and furniture polish? Can you hear the “click click” of the librarian’s due-date stamp? I sure can. These are the very images that inspired me to create these “Ex Libris” wedding reception place cards, escort cards, favors, garlands, signage and envelopes.
I made the tented escort cards shown above using the pages of an old book I purchased for $1 at a used book store. I wanted to find a very small tome, and I did! These pages are only 3¾” x 5¾.” I removed the pages, leaving the paper edges rough. The gold-hued background paper is thick & textured (from the scrapbook store). The names and table numbers are written on lovely tan linen paper, each cut to size. I used a burnt umber watercolor marker to write the names in my “contempo” writing style. I affixed everything using a regular glue stick. I do believe Elizabeth & Mr. Darcy will enjoy locating their escort cards and sitting at Table 3 together. (If used for an actual wedding, the cards for each guest would be displayed alphabetically on a tabletop or pin board at the venue entrance.)
For the table number signs above, I cut out table numbers free-handed out of heavy textured scrapbook paper. I stacked up books, and then affixed the top of the numbers with double-sided tape, so that the numbers hang loosely down the stack of books, creating shadows. A simple, yet unique, way to display numbers on a reception table. I really like the way the numbers look hanging in front of the fore-edge of the book, but I also made a sign with the numbers hanging over the book spines.
I made the table name sign shown above (“Great Expectations”) using 12×12 scrapbook paper printed with a book motif. I folded the paper in half, to make a tented sign. I layered vintage-looking papers for the border. I wrote the name in burnt umber ink. Incredibly simple! I can imagine a beautiful assortment of book-title table names for a library-themed wedding, using a mix-match of different papers & ink colors. These signs are the perfect accompaniment to the library book pocket escort cards, presented below.
I love these adorable library book pocket escort cards! The guests’ names are written on the outside of the pocket. Their table assignment is written on the authentic library card tucked inside the pocket. In these examples, the tables aren’t issued numbers, but instead have names of famous books, modern & classic (the author’s name is written out as well!). I used a real date stamper from a local school supply store to stamp the wedding date on the card under “due date.” I wrote the guests’ names on the removable cards as well as on the outer pocket. The pockets looked a little plain after I’d written the names on them (in the burnt umber watercolor marker). So I stamped them with whimsical hearts (chocolate brown ink first, then copper ink on top of that, for a little depth).
For the place card favor above, I wrote the guest’s name on five (5) authentic “Ex Libris” bookplates, bundled them with twine, and attached a hand-written “thank you” tag, stamped with a heart. These bookplate bundles can be used as place cards (as shown in the above photo) or lined up alphabetically on a table top as a favor display. A lovely and useful favor for the wedding guests!
I made the bookmark place card favor (photo below) out of various vintage-looking scrapbook papers. I cut them 8”x2”, and rounded the edges (not perfectly, by design). I smudged some brown & copper inks on them to grunge them up & make them look old. I punched a hole at the top of each bookmark and looped gold-colored cloth ribbon through the holes. I found the ribbon at the local craft store (I love it!). I wrote the names in broad-nib calligraphy in traditional black ink. I *really* wanted to write the names directly on the bookmarks, but the writing did not show up very well, even on the paper with the most subtle designs. So I put the names on tan linen paper, cut to size, then rounded the edges & smudged them up. I mounted the names with double-sided tape. Pretty!
I love the aura of intimacy invoked by a table set with first-name-only place cards (as opposed to place cards which include titles & last names as well).
I addressed this envelope (photo below) to mimic a typical book typeface. Clean lines & no flourishes…but it has pizzazz! I created the postage “stamps” from Googled images, which I re-sized, cut out, and affixed with a glue-stick.
And look at that gorgeous envelope liner! I think the extra cost of envelope liners is definitely money well spent. Liners add such personality to an invitation. Bold stripes, trendy chevrons, shabby-chic floral prints…the sky’s the limit. One of the coolest invitations I’ve ever addressed had envelopes lined with actual newspaper ads from the 1960s (purchased on Etsy by the bride).
I’m sure someone is thinking, “Why didn’t you use ONLY love-story book titles for this blog post? You know, Pride & Prejudice….Wuthering Heights? This is for a wedding!” In addition to classic love-story literary works, some of the books I chose to use in this blog entry are about redemption (The Kite Runner, The Book Thief, Great Expectations, The Art of Racing in the Rain, Let the Great World Spin); they’re about someone changing, evolving, becoming a better person. I think true love is like that! When someone is with their true love, they want to be the best person they can be. When two people want to be the best for each other, their love can change the world. True story. That said – please be aware all you brides-to-be, you will wake up some mornings, glance over at your loving partner and think, “WHO THE HECK IS THIS PERSON?! WHAT HAVE I DONE?!” But those days will be few & far between, so don’t freak. (I got married 26 years ago, so I know what I’m talking about. Marriage is incredibly hard work, but I can think of nothing else in the world more worthy of the effort.)
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
This was such a fun blog post to create. I hope you enjoyed it! Whew, I’m gonna go read a book now.
( A shout-out to Hannah for the photos!)
According to Cherie Priest, award-winning author, steampunk can be described as “a retro-futuristic neo-Victorian sensibility that is being embraced by fiction, music, games, and fashion. It is ornate and vibrant, and intricate.”
And because I’m a wedding vendor, I really like: Steampunk is “essentially the intersection of technology and romance.” – Jake von Slatt (a steampunk affficionado).
For the purposes of this blog, I concentrated purely on some of the elements associated with steampunk art, design & fashion to make unique wedding reception escort cards, place cards, table number signs, etc. I did not delve into the philosophy behind the steampunk movement.
I do not profess, by any stretch of the imagination, to be an expert in steampunk. If you are of the steampunk ilk, do not be offended by my ignorance. I am not a steampunk devotee; I don’t wear aviator goggles, a velvet frock or corset (heavens no).
So, please indulge me as I step out of my Southern comfort zone to explore this fascinating genre…
* * * * * * * * * *
The first thing I did was Google “steampunk wedding portraits,” and I was amazed at the gorgeous images. I asked my daughter Hannah, an illustration major at ECU, to create an original drawing of a steampunk couple on their wedding day. Here it is!
The couple looks kind of edgy-Victorian, wouldn’t you say? According to Jess Nevins, author & pop culture scholar, “Steampunk is what happens when goths discover brown.”
* * * * * * * * * *
Clocks, gears, wings, bronze, keys and Victorian notions….these are all elements associated with the steampunk aesthetic. I incorporated them in creating these place cards:
I found tiny brass trinkets at various craft stores and hot-glued them in creative configurations onto sturdy (but elegant) linen paper stock, cut to size. I found the itty-bitty keys in the clearance bin ($1 for 10). I wrote the names in traditional black calligraphy on another linen paper stock, cut to size, and affixed them onto thick amber paper, which serves as a distinctive border.
Here are some whimsical steampunk escort card tags:
I found the “rusty” keys at a funky downtown craft store, where I also found the old-school paper tags and beautiful organza ribbon. In traditional black ink, I wrote the names (on the front of the tags) and the table assignments (on the back of the tags) using a Victorian-era writing style, which I modified to make my own, as they say. I affixed some gears & gadgets, and used the ribbon to attach the keys to the tags. I love how these escort card tags turned out.
I made the escort cards (photo below) using various decorative scrapbook papers, cut to size. I found the cool birdcage stamper at a craft store. I stamped the images onto linen paper using chocolate brown & bronze inks, and then I cut them out. I mounted the names, which were written in traditional calligraphy on creamy linen paper, onto super-heavy brown paper stock. I assembled the components with double-sided tape, which is so great to use when layering papers. These escort cards are more Victorian than steampunk, but I didn’t want to embellish them with gears or gadgets. I like them just the way they are.
I modified a traditional Victorian-era font called “Zinco” for the hand-addressed envelope shown below. I really love how it turned out! I created the postage stamp montage using Googled images of actual Victorian stamps, along with some modern graphics. I cut out & affixed each “stamp” with a regular ol’ glue stick.
Here’s a cool steampunk table number sign:
The time set on the clock indicates the table number! Very clever of me, don’t you think? My daughter Hannah created the steampunk clock face using magic (or what she likes to refer to as “Photoshop”). I printed out the clock face on cardstock and mounted it on glittery amber scrapbook paper. I used a brad to affix real clock hands, which I purchased for $1.99 at the local craft store. I cut the banner (freehand) out of linen paper and wrote “Table” in Victorian-style writing. I attached it to the top of the paper clock using double-sided tape.
Here’s another table number “tag” sign:
I created the large tag from decorative scrapbook paper. The table number was written & matted in the same manner as the escort cards & place cards (above). I affixed copper gears and other elements with a hot-glue gun. I purchased the over-sized keys & ring from an estate sale (I swear they must weigh 82 pounds) and attached them to the tag using organza ribbon.
I love the mirror Table Seating Chart shown above! (Seating charts may be used in lieu of escort cards.) The table number “3” fits perfectly in the smaller mirror. I wrote the names using a white paint pen; the writing can be removed with goo-gone. I can imagine a whole row of vintage mirrors hanging on a fence or propped on a tabletop –one for each reception table. Hannah and I didn’t realize how difficult it is to photograph a mirror (we were bumbling around like keystone cops, trying not to photograph our reflections). We are obviously not professionals…
* * * * * * * * *
I’m sure most brides-to-be aren’t asking their fiancés, “Honey, do you want a nautical, shabby-chic-vintage, or steampunk-themed wedding?” But I think expanding our perceptions of what is beautiful and interesting is always a good idea. I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog entry as much as I did creating it. And thanks again to Hannah for the photography! – Calligraphy by Carrie
Chalkboards: So popular for menu displays, table number & table name signs, reception signage (“Guestbook,” “Cards,” etc.). What’s the big appeal with chalkboards? I think chalkboards are appealing because they are so unassuming, relaxed and down-homey; the perfect fit for an outdoor, tented or barn reception. Yee haw!
Instead of traditional chalk, you can also use chalk paint pens in all sorts of awesome colors. NeoChalk works well. I’m still partial to good ol’ white (regular chalk or chalk pen) – makes for an old-school look. Traditional chalk will smear with the slightest touch, so I recommend using chalk pens if your chalkboards will be transported, handled a lot or moved around.
I made the table number sign above using a $1.99 chalkboard. I painted the wood border in tangerine (color of the year!) and added rick-rack trimming. I used a white paint pen to make the number “3” and some flourishes.
Burlap: Table runners, table signs, aisle runners, table coverings, boutonniere embellishments, burlap flowers on escort cards & place cards, burlap display boards for escort cards. If it’s made out of burlap, then many brides want it! What could possibly be so appealing about this brown, itchy fabric? I think brides are attracted to this woven material because it is completely different from typical wedding fabrics (smooth pastel silks, fancy tulles, gorgeous bright organzas). To turn something scratchy & dirt-colored into something beautiful and eye-catching….well, that’s really special.
I made the table number sign above using scrapbook paper printed with a burlap pattern (who knew?). I cut the number “2” out of beautiful linen paper and affixed it to the “burlap” using double-sided tape – and framed it in a $4 wooden frame from the local craft store. SO EASY!
Kraft Paper: Envelopes, invitations, escort cards, place cards, favor tags, table signs. If it’s made out of paper, then lots of brides will want it made out of Kraft paper. Brown ink has been very popular for many years now, so why not brown paper? Kraft paper is very utilitarian & unglamorous –so to use it for wedding invitation envelopes is to turn it on its head. I think it’s brilliant. Trendy brides love turning ordinary items into something unique & beautiful.
I made the place cards above using layers of different papers (including the “burlap” paper!). Double-sided tape works great to hold the layers together smoothly. Buttons, paper flowers, metal flowers…all make great embellishments. I drew the stem on the paper flower using a white gel pen – and wrote the name in “Contempo.”
More photos of the Kraft paper place cards:
I collect boxes—and I thought it would be fun to incorporate some in these photos (I have no idea why).
Succulents: Bouquets, boutonnieres, favors & table arrangements. Succulents are native to the desert and are hot, hot, hot right now. “LOVE THEM!” (in my best Anthony Marentino voice). Wedding bouquets and floral arrangements are traditionally full of vibrant colors, a veritable riot of gorgeous hues. So what’s the appeal with these fleshy plants, whose colors run the near-monochromatic spectrum of green to grey-green? I think succulents draw the eye because of the distinct designs & patterns of their unique leaves – they’re plump, often geometric & always beautiful. The eye is drawn to the shape & form of the plant – not the color. They’re earthy. They’re lovely.
OK, how cute are these succulent escort favors? They were so easy to make. I purchased tiny succulents from Lowe’s Home Improvement (!) and repotted them in teeny-tiny terra cotta pots (from the local craft store). I added some tangerine rick-rack. I cut the “tweet bubble” tags out of Kraft paper (what else, right?). The precious painted wooden birds came from a local import store. They were affixed to clothespins, but at a very odd angle, so I removed the clothespins and hot-glued the birds to bamboo skewers. Voilà!
The succulent table number centerpiece below was super easy to make. I cut burlap into thin strips for the bow. I cut the table number out of linen paper and affixed it to a Kraft paper “flag” (hot-glued to a bamboo skewer).
I hope you have enjoyed this post! Be on the look-out for my next blog about steampunk wedding trends. Ooooh…..and a big shout-out to my daughter Hannah for the photography! (Hannah is a senior Illustration major at ECU.) – Calligraphy by Carrie