Read Before You Mail! Guaranteed to Save Time, Money & Your Sanity
When it comes to wedding invitations, postage & mailing are important factors to consider first, last, and throughout the entire process. Before you run off to the post office, read these 10 tips on invitation mailing. They may just save you a little time, money, sanity, and above all else, get your invitations to your guests’ doorsteps in great shape and on time.
1. Postage Revolves Around Envelopes – Choose Envelopes First!
Before you design and assemble your invitations, be sure you have envelopes to mail them in. To some this may seem obvious, but all too often this crucial tip is overlooked, and when it is, it often leads to frustration.
Invitations can be made in any size, but envelopes are made only in standard sizes. Although an invitation can be altered to fit an envelope, and envelope can not be altered to fit an invitation. You do not want to finish designing your invitations only to find out there is no envelope available to mail them in – and it you’re thinking about getting custom envelopes made, think again. Unless you are requesting thousands of them, you would be hard pressed to find someone to make them for you. The moral of the story is, save yourself the hassle – choose your envelopes first!
2. Recognize Envelopes of “Odd Sizes” Require Additional Postage
Speaking of envelope selection, if you are concerned about postage, be weary of the shape of the envelopes you select. Recognize that envelopes of “odd” shapes and sizes require additional postage.
The United States Postal Service has specific shape and size parameters that envelopes must fall within to be considered “normal” or acceptable for standard postage. Any envelopes that fall outside of these parameters can not be run through automated sorting machinery, and are therefore charged a “non-machinable surcharge” – an extra 20 cents a piece.
The most common culprits – square envelopes and vertically addressed policy envelopes (with the address running parallel to the short side of the envelope).
3. Envelopes Weighing Over 1 Ounce Require Additional Postage
Any envelope weighing over 1 ounce will require additional postage regardless of size or shape. In all honesty, by the time you throw in a invitation, response items, and any additional info cards, most wedding invitations will weigh over 1 ounce.
If you are on a tight budget and concerned about the price of postage, there are some steps you can take to keep the price down. Learn about them in this video:
4. Take Advantage of Wedding Stamps – They’ll Save You Money & They’re Pretty
Wedding stamps are another great tool for keeping postage costs down. They were designed with bulkier wedding invitations in mind, and more importantly, they’re much prettier than the average stamp – cakes & flowers over flags & bells – so take advantage!
One 65 cent* wedding stamp is good for up to 2 ounces (instead of paying 90 cents* for 2 stamps). The USPS also offers a 1 ounce wedding theme stamp for 45 cents*, should your invitation not weigh over 1 ounce.
* Current USPS postage rates in May 2012
5. Pay Attention to Sealing – Make Sure Everything is Good & Stuck
Before sending your invitations on their merry way, be sure everything is properly sealed – and we’re not just talking stamps to envelopes (though do make sure they’re good and stuck), but the envelope itself too.
The more enclosures you have inside your envelope, the more it expands, the closer attention you have to pay to sealing. In essence, if your envelope is chock full of cards & embellishments, make sure the gum seal is secure all the way around, or your envelope may end up opening in route.
6. Have Invitations Ready to Mail 6-8 Weeks in Advance
Yes, this tip is probably one you’ve heard a hundred times, but a reminder never hurts. Have your invitations ready to mail at least 6-8 weeks before your wedding. This gives invitations adequate time to arrive, and your guests adequate time to respond. If you didn’t send save the dates, you may consider sending them out even further in advance.
7. Bring One Finished Ensemble to the Post Office Determine Necessary Postage
You know what just totally ruins the look of a wedding invitation? A big, red Return to Sender stamp, compliments of the post office as a thank you for not putting enough postage on your invitations. In the time crunch of wedding planning, this stamp is even more horrendous.
Don’t get stamped! Bring one complete invitation to the post office prior to mailing to make sure it will have adequate postage. Just walk up the counter, have it weighed, purchase some of those pretty wedding stamps, and be sure your invites will not be returned to you.
8. While You’re at the Post Office, Send Yourself a Test
While you’re at the post office, send yourself a test invite (ok, in this case you want your invitation to come back to you). This is just a way to double check that you’re invitations do truly have enough postage and will make it to your guests’ homes. It also gives you an idea of what they’ll look like upon arrival and an opportunity to make a few changes, if necessary. For example, perhaps that ribbon should be tied a little tighter, or maybe you should throw in a piece of wedding tissue to prevent smudging.
9. Double Check Addresses
Not to beat a dead horse, but here’s one final tip to make sure your invitations arrive at their destination. Be sure to use full, accurate addresses. It goes without saying that you will have an accurate guest list, but it never hurts to double check the little things:
- Correct spelling of street and city names
- Correct zip codes and state abbreviations (if you must abbreviate)
- Include directionals – for example West Main Street, South Cherryville
- Include any apartment/unit numbers
10. Request Hand Cancellation at the Post Office
You’ve reached the final tip and you’re almost ready to mail your invitations. After all this hard work, you want to make sure your invitations arrive in the best possible shape – not torn, bent, or marked up by high speed automated machinery.
So how do you protect your lovely invitations from this rough and tumble machinery? Request invitations be hand cancelled at the post office. This means that instead of being aggressively run through and stamped (cancelled) by a machine, they will be gingerly stamped by hand. This is one less stress on your invitations, and their best protection from the rigors of mailing.
Hand cancelling is pretty common practice for formal invitations. It is something your local post office branch will be familiar with and should have no trouble doing for you; but be prepared, in some cases, you may be asked to hand cancel your own invitations – well worth the extra 20-30 minutes this may take you.