In the early days of Quakerism, only marriage in the Church of England was legal, and cohabitating was not. Consequently, Quakers needed a way to prove they were not unlawfully cohabitating to avoid arrest, and so the tradition became that every person present at the wedding would sign as a witness to the union. Back then, marriage certificates were unadorned black text—a typical legal document.
Today, Quaker weddings are legally recognized, and we get state-issued marriage licenses like everyone else. The tradition remains. Quakers no longer have a prohibition on art (or music…or dancing…), and many Quakers choose to have ornate and artistic marriage certificates hanging in their homes.
Hi, I'm Mackenzie. I'm a "convinced Friend" (convert to Quakerism) in Baltimore Yearly Meeting. When one of my first Quaker friends mentioned she was looking for a calligrapher for her marriage certificate, I told her I had been doing calligraphy since elementary school. Making her certificate turned out to be a great idea—at her wedding, I met her brother, my husband! Since that wedding in 2010, I have offered my services online and to local f/Friends and family.
I started practicing calligraphy sometime in the late 90s.