And what that actually means.
Credit: Alexandra Creswell

In an ideal world, you'd be able to take your wedding invitations straight from your calligrapher's office to the post office for mailing. In real life, however, the process requires a few extra steps. Of course, you'll need to add stamps for postage, and then you have to decide how those stamps will be canceled (USPS speak for marking postage so that it cannot be reused). While most mail is sorted through a machine that cancels each stamp, hand-canceling, or having a postal official mark each stamp, is the only way you can ensure your wedding envelopes are handled delicately. Here's everything you need to know about the process, and when it's absolutely worth the extra effort.

Why should you hand-cancel wedding invitations?

Mail machines typically do the job of marking stamps as used, but they can rip, tear, or smudge an oddly-sized or oddly-shaped envelope in the process (this is especially problematic for envelopes with a wax seal). By using a hand stamp instead, you lower the risk of your beautiful wedding invitations being blemished.

What do you do to prepare to hand-cancel wedding invitations?

Hand-canceling wedding invitations can only be done after the invitations have been weighed, appropriately stamped, and addressed. As soon as your designer completes your invitations, you should take a sample to your local post office and discuss the options for postage and hand-canceling there. Some post offices charge extra for handling oddly shaped envelopes, and, in turn, for hand-canceling services, so you should go ahead and find out their policy while you're waiting on the calligraphy to be completed.

Who hand-cancels wedding invitations?

The post office should be able to hand-cancel for you, but they're often understaffed and prefer to the responsibility over to the sender. In this case, you'll do the stamping yourself and the postal worker will do a visual check before popping them in the outgoing mail.

When do I need to go to the post office to hand-cancel my wedding invitations?

It's best to visit the post office when the crowd is small, as hand-canceling takes up quite a lot of time, whether you're doing the stamping yourself or a postal worker is doing it for you. Mid-morning is usually a quieter time of day at the post office, but it may be worth asking your postal worker what time of day is calmest at their particular branch.


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