Studio Tour and Wedding Stationery Tips with September Letters
Happy, happy Friday lovelies! We are unbelievably excited for today's discussion with one of our favorite wedding calligraphers, Tara Spencer of September Letters. Admittedly we are head over heels for wedding calligraphy and stationery and it comes from our deep rooted love for the tangible side of the wedding industry. We love the meaning, romance, and heirloom quality of love letters and wedding announcements.
Tara's minimalistic, clean and bright studio, photographed by talented film photographer Lauren Kurc is everything we dream of in a studio space! Beyond the gorgeous studio and remarkable shots of her workspace, we're also soaking in the valuable advice and tips Tara shared with us surrounding the wedding invitation process. If you we're wondering where do you even start, or where to look for inspiration... or even what goes into a typical stationery suite... then read on!
GET TO KNOW TARA
How did you get started with calligraphy? Why do you love what you do?
TS: I’ve always loved creating, ever since I was a small child - I would sneak into the kitchen in the middle of the night, and my mom would find me drawing away, surrounded in piles of discarded crayon drawings. I took studio art and philosophy in college, and my creative interests are pretty broad - painting, textiles, art history, among other things.
I first experimented with lettering for my own wedding; I’m very detail-oriented, so I think stationery resonated with that side of me. I fell in love with the process, and I find it incredibly exciting to combine such simple things as ink, color and paper into a tangible experience.
How does your space affect and inspire your work?
TS: My studio is really bright, minimally decorated, and filled with clippings that inspire me - I collect a lot of paper and textures - bits from old projects, favorite pieces, fabrics and colors that I like. It can get a bit out of control at times, but I find it so difficult to part with these things once I have them. I spread out a lot when I work, and usually end up working anywhere but my desk, so I like to have some extra space to move around.
I’ve realized that the colors and light in my space impact me a lot. Big windows were a must, and I find it so difficult to work at night when there’s no sun. My old space was more cramped and much darker, and strangely, I can see that reflected in the things I made there.
Nature is also incredibly important to me, and I feel so fortunate to live in beautiful Vancouver - my studio has old-growth forest on one side, the ocean on another, and mountains out the window, so I try to take daily walks by the water for inspiration.
WHERE TO START WITH YOUR INVITATIONS?
We constantly get questions from newly engaged brides about the wedding stationery process! Can you go over what elements should be included in a stationery suite?
TS: Stationery is a great opportunity to create something personal, so there are really no right answers here! Traditionally, a suite includes a primary invitation, asking your guests to attend the ceremony. If your reception is at a different venue, there should be a small card with those details, as well as a response card and return envelope. Other enclosures might provide details about accommodations, directions or a wedding website. It’s traditionally best to leave out registry details - let that travel word-of-mouth, or include it on your website.
Many brides choose to incorporate other elements to make their paper goods more personal, like custom artwork depicting some aspect of their homes or venue, or a custom crest they can continue to use as a married couple. I always like the idea of creating things that are reflective of a couple and can be reused in the future.
What embellishment options do brides have and do you have any favorite sources?
TS: There are so many wonderful resources out there. Stella Wolfe’s silk twine is a personal favorite, and I’m obsessed with Frou Frou Chic’s thoughtful color palettes. Silk and Willow makes an incredible assortment of marbled textiles, and Shoppe Signora has stunning papers and organic twines.
I also love to look in local antique and stamp shops for unique details - often, if there’s something you like, a shop owner can source more for you with enough time. For example, I fell in love with a stack of antique book covers in the basement of a local shop. I wanted them for custom wedding program covers, and they ended up having access to dozens more!
Where should brides look for inspiration?
TS: The most beautiful and timeless designs are authentic ones, so as with any aspect of your wedding, you should look at your relationship first. Think about what represents you as a couple; it may be a favorite place or treasured memory you share, or perhaps simply words that you would use to describe your relationship (ie. soft, strong, flowing/adapting, encompassing..). There are so many ways these things can be incorporated into your stationery and your day, from color palette, paper choices to custom artwork. The more you focus on these qualities, the more magical and meaningful your paper goods (and your wedding day) will feel.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE TANGIBLE
Why do you believe the wedding invitation means so much to brides?
TS: Wedding stationery is one of the first things your guests interact with. I really believe in the power of beauty and tangible things, and paper goods are a chance to communicate the immense significance of what you’re celebrating. It’s so much bigger than an invitation to a party - it’s a beautiful and profound moment in your lives, and the experience you offer your guests help them to feel that along with you.
The three things I’ve kept from my own wedding are my gown, our photos, and our invitation suite. While they all remind me of the actual day, there’s something magical about reading those words; they bring back an enormous flood of memories throughout our engagement, and the excitement and anticipation during that time. I think, in a unique way, an invitation is a keepsake that can capture the experience of looking toward the day.