You dedicate a lot of time and energy to designing and customizing and perfecting your wedding invitations and/or paper suite. So, you’re probably eager to get them sent out. One mailing mishap, though, and the process can get really tricky (read: frustrating). To avoid any mistakes, we’re laying out all you need to know about wedding postage. Read on to ensure your save the dates and invitations don’t end up back at your door.
Save the Dates
Before you even assemble your wedding invitations, you need to create and mail out your save the dates. Breath easy, because this is the simplest part of wedding postage. In most cases, your save the dates will only include one piece, meaning it’ll weigh at or under the standard amount (1 ounce) and only require one stamp. To avoid any being sent back, send them from your local post office, especially if they’re a custom shape.
Your invitation suite (or paper suite) is where things get more complicated. To start, the number of stamps you’ll need—and the cost of mailing each invitation—largely depends on the number of materials you include. As you add additional enclosure cards, the weight of each envelope will increase, therefore you’ll need more postage. A standard weight stamp, or “Forever Stamp,” costs 55 cents and each additional ounce costs 15 cents. With maps, directions cards, itinerary cards, and much more, this can add up. We advise including the essentials in your invitation suite and making all other information available on a wedding website.
Once you’ve assembled your paper suite, we recommend taking one to your local post office and weighing it. Then, you can figure out exactly how much postage each invitation will need.
Photo Credit // Zola
RSVP Response Cards
Technically, these are included in your invitation suite, but they bear specific mentioning. Having your response cards prepped and ready to use is vital, since giving your guests extra work might delay their replies. To avoid any mishaps, tuck the card under an envelope addressed to the host’s residence and include a stamp (or pre-stamp the envelope). Not only does this make the process easy on your guests, but it prevents anyone from dropping their RSVPs in the mail without postage. Not to mention, it’s not great etiquette to make someone pay postage to RSVP to your event. Make the mailing process on both ends painless by having your response cards ready to go.
Things to Consider
Aside from total weight, there are additional factors that might affect the process and cost of sending out your invitations. Some things to consider when creating your suites are:
- Card stock: In case you’re unfamiliar, card stock is a paper stock that’s thicker and more durable than typical printer or writing paper. This is likely what you’re using for all of your wedding send-outs. Card stocks come in different weights (or thickness); the higher the weight, the thicker the paper. While this makes your invites look and feel professional, it also adds weight to your suite, which means you’ll need to pay more in postage.
- Decorative pieces: Gold foil, ribbon, twine, flowers—each of these add a beautiful, unique touch to your envelopes. But considering how delicate these pieces are, you’ll want them to be hand-processed (more on that below). This costs an additional 21 cents per invitation.
- Calligraphy: Invitations that are addressed in calligraphy have a higher chance of being returned or undeliverable, compared to clearly printed addresses. In fact, many calligraphers state in their contracts that up to 20% may be sent back to you. It’s possible that the postal worker won’t consider it legible or that the ink will become smudged and unreadable. This doesn’t mean you should ditch calligraphy altogether, just be aware that you might have to re-send some invitations.
Photo Credit // Zola
Hand-Processing and Hand-Canceling
After all of the time (and money) you’ve spent creating your invitation suites, make sure they’re sent out in good hands. Literally. Hand-processing and hand-canceling are two ways in which you can prevent them from being bent or soiled via machine.
Simply put, hand-processing means that your postmaster sorts your invitations by hand, rather than by a machine. As we said, this costs an additional 21 cents but also reassures you that your envelopes won’t be damaged in delivery.
Likewise, you can have your invitations hand-canceled. Have you ever seen those squiggly lines that are stamped over a mail stamp when you receive a letter? That means the stamp has been “canceled” (or spent) and can’t be used anymore. This is typically done by machine, but you can request to have your wedding invitations canceled by hand. In this case, either the postmaster will cancel each individual stamp or will hand it to you to do yourself (usually for free!). You may have to spend a chunk of time in the post office, but it’s worth the knowledge that your invites were handled well.
There are some decorative envelope elements that are considered “non-machinable.” This means that they’re unable to be processed or canceled through a machine. You’ll need to pay the additional 21 cents to have them hand-processed and canceled no matter what. The following are popular customizations that are considered non-machinable:
- Envelopes with wax seals
- Envelopes that are more than ¾ of an inch thick
- Envelopes that are square or custom sizes
Now that you’ve prepared your invitations, stamps and all, learn the right time to send them out.