Updated: Aug 10, 2019
Postage is a very important part of your wedding stationery and there are so many questions about the subject so here are a few tips and tricks about postage. What kind? how much and a few other other good to know things.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is based solely on my experience and research to help you decide the best way to mail your beautiful invitations. I have never worked for the postal office and might not have all the answers but I am happy to help you any way I can.
What kind should you use?
The first thing that comes to mind when talking about potage is what kind of postage should you use, so wait a second there is more than one type?
Believe it or not there are a few. The main 3 options that are the most common are: standard postage, vintage postage and custom stamps.
I am sure you have seen the flag stamps or the wedding boutonnières stamps.
Standard stamps are sold at your local Postal Office or at usps.com
This is the most simplest and economical way to mail your invitations. You are subject to what it's currently available. Forever stamps are also my go to for save the dates, rsvp and announcements.
Postage in general a big expense but vintage stamp is one of the biggest sticker shocks I see while presenting proposals to brides, but vintage stamps are a the best way to add uniqueness and show showcase your personal style.
Personally I have always been fascinated with the vast diversity of stamps, the cultural aspect the display and of course they are each a little piece of work on their own. In my opinion, vintage stamps for wedding invitation is always a good idea, however you will soon see that they are sold at a higher cost than their face value.
The main reason is simple - their availability! Depending on what you are looking for, you will see that rarer they are the more expensive they get.
So, now that you decided on vintage stamps, how do you get them? In short you can get them anywhere (ebay, etsy, local stamp collectors, etc) But the easiest way is to ask your stationery person to source them for you because like myself they will have the experience and the know how. You should also be aware of scams and fake stamps, yet another reason to trust your stationer with this important task.
I personally will research and purchase a curate a set just for you. My price includes sourcing, curating and affixing the stamps. If you are on a strict budget and it's willing to DYI affixing stamps, I offer a small discount.
Just a warning: affixing stamps is a super time consuming task because vintage stamps have to be individually moisten and usually you are dealing with 5 or more stamps. Just a little side note: I hardly make any profit on vintage stamps, the only reason offer and encourage clients to purchase them is because I really believe they add so much to your invitation suite.
Lastly, there are custom stamps. The USPS has licensed a few companies to print postage. They use a technology called PC Postage, which is what creates the bar code you see to the right of the image area. Only vendors that are licensed and approved to produce PC Postage. Because they print the stamps using your images, you can use almost any picture, such as an actual picture or wedding logo. There are so many possibilities. The cons for custom stamps are they are large and almost as pricey are beautiful vintage stamps, but of course they have their place.
All right, so let's talk price postage in general:
"Here is a quick guide for face value stamps:
• A7, 1oz envelope: 50 cents
• A7, 1oz envelope w/ a wax seal: 71 cents
• 5x5 (or square) 1oz envelope: 71 cents
• 1oz non-machinable envelope: 71 cents
-For more details on non-machinable mail, visit USPS.com
• A7, 2oz envelope: 71 cents
• A7, 2oz envelope w/ a wax seal: 92 cents
If your envelope is 1oz and MORE than ¼ of an inch thick you will also be required to add an additional 21 cents in that instance"
- From Elisa Ann blog post
Besides picking the right postage style here are some considerations about mailing your invites:
1. It is very important to have the right weight to match the stamp value, but it is also very important to understand a few facts about the post office:
The US Postal Service is very random. I have personally seen this so many times. You can walk in into 5 different offices and get 5 different answers, so don't be surprised if you plan for something and then when you actually go mail it, the next clerk helping you tells you something different.
2. Not all of your invitations will arrive to its destination. Regardless of the use of vintage stamps or not, one thing is true. Not all of your invites will make through the postal service. The reasons are many including, the way the machines read the addresses, if the ink smudges a little, if the calligraphy is not legible and sometimes they have a problem with the ink color. To be honest, anything can be a problem, so please have this clear expectation that you will might need to order extra ones just in case.
3. Hand canceling is recommended when using a wax seal or your envelope it's thicker than 1/4 inch.
Some Postal Offices will tell you that hand canceling is no longer an option, however because the Postal Service is so peculiar this is just an opinion. If the first place you go, tells you they can't, find one that can.
So what is hand canceling anyway? Each mail piece goes through a machine to read the address and verify postage. When picking hand canceling your invitations will not go into the machine supposedly but will instead be verified by a person. For this reason, when you request hand canceling they will ask for extra postage. There are many instances that the Postal Office will tell you they are hand canceling and but they then they won't really do it.
Unfortunately, there is not really a way to make sure unless you watch them do it or do it yourself. I personally always ask if I can do it for them (sometimes that will cut cost too, and sometimes it won't). So here is what it would look like if they allow you to "help": your Postal service clerk will glance over at the invitations to make sure postage and size is correct then you will stamp each invite yourself after you are done you will handle over the stamp and the stamped envelopes... then voila they are hand canceled and ready to be delivered.
4. Lastly how about the Response cards? First you must decide if you are providing the return stamp for your guest or not. Honestly, this is a personal preference and I see if done both ways often. My personal opinion is that if you do provide the stamp on the response envelope they chances of you getting a response will significantly improve.
If you are providing stamps for your guest the next thing to consider is if you want to invest on vintage stamps or not. Again, my personal opinion is to use a forever stamp that goes with your vintage stamp set. On my pricing this is what I offer, vintage curated set plus a matching forever stamp for the rsvp. The first reason it's obvious, cost but the other reason it's because you will need a few stamps and the RSVP Envelope its small. I think one forever stamp looks better than a bunch of stamps on one small envelope.
Can you use vintage stamps for your response card? Absolutely, just remember that your cost will basically double.
Forever stamps are also a great option for save the dates and announcements.
If you would like additional help curating a collection, designing an invitation suite, or calligraphy addressing envelopes - send me a message! I will be so happy to hear from you.