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Article: Calligrapher 'Addresses' Wedding Etiquette

as seen in the New Jersey Herald, January 2005

Kathy Milici, a calligrapher for more than 25 years, sits in her home studio hand lettering the hundreds of envelopes brought her by area brides. They trust her to handle their wedding envelopes with expert care, as she carefully copies the names and addresses from a master list to each envelope, one by one, in pen and ink.

But when a bride hires Milici to hand letter her wedding envelopes, she gets a lot more than a skilled individual with a talent for beautiful writing. She also gets an invitation etiquette expert.

Milici carefully checks the list of invitees when meeting with each bride-client, making sure that proper etiquette is met before hand addressing each envelope. "In these new times, there are so many different and unique living arrangements.

It is vitally important to respect people by addressing wedding envelopes using proper etiquette," she says.

For example, the words "and Guest" are never used on the outer envelope, nicknames and abbreviations are considered inappropriate; full names and addresses are spelled out completely. Religious, military, and occupational titles are always used, so Milici asks the bride lots of questions to avoid mistakes.

"Your envelope and invitation are very important. It’s the first piece of correspondence that is received by the invited guest, it sets the stage and flavor of the wedding to come," Milici says. "It’s a fabulous way to make a first impression!"

Milici recommends Emily Post’s "Wedding Etiquette," "Brides Book of Etiquette," and "Cranes Blue Book" as referral tools, although information is sometimes contradictory. Milici jokes, "I always encourage the bride to remember that there are no 'invitation police.' The most important thing is in the end, you are comfortable with your decision."

Her career dates back to 1974, when at the age of 17, she provided a holiday banner in calligraphy for the New Jersey Herald as part of an art project at Sussex Technical School. By the age of 19, Milici was a full-blown professional, hand rendering private commissions and teaching in area night school programs.

"Calligraphy is such an honest and pure form of expression," she said in an interview with the New Jersey Herald last February. " ancient form of communication still appropriate and beautiful in these modern times."

She also said that although there is a market for computerized calligraphy, many people go out of their way to find someone to do hand rendered calligraphy, especially for weddings.

"They want the style, warmth and personality of a real spirit behind the work," she said.

In addition to wedding envelopes, Milici letters place cards, menus, seating charts, award certificates, wedding vows, poetry for framing, custom pieces and commissioned work.

"Any idea that is thought, spoken, or written can be done in calligraphy. Words are a powerful and wonderful form of expression."

Milici is a member of the Society of Scribes in New York City, and has been trained by White House calligraphers.