What is lead time?

“Lead time” refers to the time between the initiation and completion of the production process. With regard to handwritten calligraphy, it’s the time between the booking and the delivery of finished work.

I always say that the most important part of planning a major event is getting organized (and a professional event planner can help you with that!)…but I find more and more that lead time is getting crunched, or becoming nonexistent.


Let me offer some helpful insights on why sufficient lead time is necessary from a calligrapher’s perspective. Doing handwritten calligraphy with nibs and bottled inks requires a bit of prep – sometimes with a blotter, cleaning the nibs from time to time, etc. When working with acrylics, the ink also requires drying time. Building this kind of time into a project is more involved than simply receiving the envelopes or escort cards when they are in your hands and expecting a turnaround of a day or two.

Freelance calligraphers book up fast, with multiple projects in their queue, especially during peak wedding seasons – Spring and Fall. Sometimes each project could include hundreds of invitations or place cards. You have a much better chance of finding a quality person available if you provide enough lead time.

So how much lead time is “enough”?

TIP: Let your calligrapher know when you have placed your stationery order, rather than calling them when you have it in your hands already. Giving them a heads-up that your order is on its way should give them roughly 2-3 weeks of lead time, so they know your project is coming and can plan for it. This is especially useful if you are working with someone long-distance.

This message was brought to you by your friendly calligrapher – I sincerely hope it helps! Let me know your feedback!