Wise Tips: Hand-Canceling Wedding Invitations

Since you’ve gotten engaged and started planning your wedding, you might’ve heard about “hand-canceling,” but you probably have no idea what it is and/or whether you should do it. Here's how to set it up.

By Kate Lynn Nemett

Wedding invitations with pink and white flowers on table
Photo by Zola

Since you’ve gotten engaged and started planning your wedding, you may have heard about “hand-canceling,” but you probably have no idea what it is and/or whether you should do it. “Canceling” in postal service jargon is printing a mark on top of the stamp as it is processed through the mail, and is used to prevent people from re-using stamps.

Nowadays, canceling happens through a machine. But when it comes to your gorgeous wedding invitations, there’s a chance that your envelopes can bend or even rip when they make their way through that machine. Also, if you choose to seal your invitations with wax, they most likely won’t be able to go through the machine (and you don’t want them to, even if they could). Many stationers and wedding planners recommend that couples hand-cancel their wedding invitations, which means asking a postal worker to stamp the envelopes by hand in an effort to ensure the outer envelopes are not damaged.

How do I Set Up Hand-Canceling for My Wedding Invitations?


Typically, if you visit your local post office during non-busy hours (ie. lunch time and right before opening or closing) and are friendly and polite, most postal workers will happily stamp your invites at no charge. There’s a chance that you may be charged, if you make the request when it’s super busy. Most likely, though, it’s a free service that just takes a little bit of extra time. I’ve also heard that they will let you stamp them yourself.

Another tip: call up or visit your post office of choice before bringing in your invites, as not every location does hand-canceling. Don’t wait until the last minute! Also be sure to use our life-saving Guest List Tool to make your invitation-mailing process so much easier. It will help you collect guests’ addresses (even syncing with your phone’s contacts!), track RSVPs after you send out those hand-canceled beauties, and communicate directly with your guests if you’re still missing information from them.

Should I Have My Wedding Invitations Hand-Canceled?

We would recommend getting them hand-canceled if:

  • You spent a lot on your invitations and want them to arrive in mint condition.
  • You have ga-ga-gorgeous calligraphy on your outer envelopes.
  • You have any sort of ribbon or twine around the invites.
  • You are sealing the envelopes with wax.
  • Your envelopes are larger than the standard sizes (they may not fit in the machine).
  • You purchased or designed custom stamps to adorn your envelopes.
  • You prefer the look of the hand stamp rather than the printer marks.

While some couples may overlook the invitations (and especially the envelopes), keep in mind that this is the first impression your guests will have about your big day. Why not make that impression a great one and set the tone for a thoughtful, sophisticated affair?

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