Nerissa B. Israel is the calligrapher behind Nerissa B. Modern Calligraphy, a calligraphy and hand lettering studio in downtown Chicago. Serving clients in the Chicagoland area and beyond, Nerissa is passionate about helping brides and grooms convey their unique style wherever calligraphy can make an impression.
Tell us about you and your story.What is your background and how did you find your way to the wedding industry?
It was my own wedding several years ago that brought me here. I wasn’t very much a DIY bride, but I did want to incorporate a very personal touch into something specific. For me, it made sense to hand address our invitations since handwriting notes is something I love (and I’m a sucker/stickler for pretty penmanship!). I started with an online tutorial on pointed pen calligraphy, quickly fell in love with it, and then sought more formal training through workshops whenever I could.
After my wedding, I still practiced calligraphy as a hobby, and I was soon hired by friends and acquaintances to do lettering for their own events. That spurred me to explore calligraphy as a professional pursuit.
Share a little bit about Nerissa B. Modern Calligraphy's history.When did Nerissa B. Modern Calligraphy launch? What are you known for?
I launched Nerissa B. Modern Calligraphy in 2017, a couple years after I first took up calligraphy. My main service is envelope addressing and day-of pieces (escort/place cards, signage, seating charts). With respect to calligraphy, I value the beauty, personalization, and warmth that comes from it. In all work, personal and professional, I value doing things the right way—honestly, respectfully, thoughtfully, with care, and with pride. And whenever possible, with lots of joy!
What sets you and Nerissa B. Modern Calligraphy apart?What's your secret sauce? What makes you different from everyone else?
My lettering style is modern, but with a good deal of classical touch and influence. So there’s versatility in my hand, as well as in the mediums and surfaces I work with. It’s not just paper and ink love for me; give me mirrors, chalkboards, wood, tile…I love it all! I do my work with a lot of joy and care, as much as if I were doing it for my own wedding (but now with more experience and skill!). When I’m writing, I envision what the handwritten pieces mean to couples and their guests. I picture them receiving their invites in the mail, and not only being excited to receive that invite, but to see their names written in a way that says, “This is special, and we want you to be a part of it.”
Tell us about your ideal couple.Tell us about the type of couple that really clicks with you and your company.
A couple that has an appreciation for the details that will make up their big day—not just for aesthetic, but also for making things personal and meaningful. They’re thoughtful about the people they include to be a part of their wedding day, and they find joy in the process.
What is the best advice you have for couples currently planning their weddings?You've seen so many couples go through the planning process. Share your best pearl of wisdom for those just starting out with their planning.
I’d say it’s a pearl of wisdom that was shared with me after I got engaged: Wedding planning doesn’t have to be stressful. It’s work, but not necessarily stressful. That reframed the whole experience for my husband and me. We knew we had work to do, but it was a labor of love, for a celebration of love—and we had a lot of fun as a result! When it was all done, I believe that perspective was the difference between, “Wow, that was fun, wasn’t it?” and, “Well, I’m just glad that it’s over with.”
What's the ONE thing that couples shouldn't forget to ask potential wedding vendors?Spill! What's the single most important question that couples should ask before booking a vendor for their wedding?
It’s hard to pick one single thing, and I think it varies by couple and what they find most important. But if you’re ready to book a vendor and you’re still looking to secure vendors in other areas, ask if they have anyone they recommend or like working with. Your vendors are working with/for you, but many will have to collaborate or share space with each other as well; how they mesh adds to the collective vibe on your wedding day.
Thanks for stopping by Lakeshore in Love, Nerissa!