All About Mailing!
What would we do without the post office?! It helps us communicate and announce our special celebrations to friends and family members! And usually its delivery times are fairly quick.
At the same time, I have heard horror stories of couples’ wedding invitation envelopes ripping open in the mail, beautifully designed envelopes getting all scratched up, and invites getting returned because of inadequate postage. At That Joy, I always take measures to ensure that either the invitation suite is suited for mailing, or the couple understands how to prepare their envelopes to be sent out. Here, I thought I’d share a few tips that can help you make sure your envelopes are delivered to your guests smoothly and in one piece!
1 • The face of your envelope
I love to bring elements of the invitation design onto the envelope to tie the suite together! Adding flourishes or icons is always a fun way to excite your guests when they pull your envelope out of the mailbox. When adding elements like these, it is important to be aware of POST OFFICE CLEAR SPACE REQUIREMENTS.
Calligraphy and decoration is fun, but on all elements there must be no design a half inch from either side, or ⅝ inch from the bottom of the envelope. Unfortunately, some brides that work with artists for calligraphed addresses find their invites getting returned or not delivered at all because this clear space has been ignored. I always make sure to leave this space open for the post office.
Another factor to be aware of is design elements around the addresses. Usually post office scanners can discern text from design flourishes, but to avoid any confusion, I recommend placing any decoration far enough away from the addresses.
2 • Stamps
We’re so used to placing a forever stamp on our mail and sending it on its way! Since wedding invitation suites often contain inserts and heavier paper stocks, it is important to make sure you are using the correct stamp for the weight of your envelope.
Whenever possible, I weigh a blank copy of your invitation suite with its envelopes and let you know the ounce weight—and I always do this before ordering custom stamps! ANYTHING OVER 1 OZ WILL REQUIRE A $0.71 STAMP OR ADDITIONAL POSTAGE.
An interesting fact to keep in mind is that SQUARE ENVELOPES are considered odd sizes, and require $0.71 stamps or higher regardless of their weight.
If you’re unsure of the weight of your envelope, or just want to be on the safe side, it’s never a bad idea to take your invites to the post office and ask a postal worker to tell you the appropriate postage requirements. Furthermore, I highly recommend HAND CANCELLING your invites, especially anything with a wax seal, bulky ribbon or belly band, thick pocket folder, or thick inserts. Hand cancelling is described in more detail in point 4 below!
3 • Clear bags
A great way to ensure your envelopes stay sealed and don’t get dinged up is to mail them in USPS-approved clear bags.
These are simply clear envelopes with adhesive flaps that protect the envelopes, while still allowing the post office to read the addresses. The addresses are read through the clear bags, and the stamps are placed on the outside of the clear bags. You can order USPS approved clear bags in various sizes on ClearBags.com, or I am happy to order them for you when I produce your suite! When using clear bags, you will likely require the $0.71 stamp or higher, so it’s always best to check with the post office.
I highly recommend mailing your invites in clear bags if they include elements like wax seals, thick belly bands, or thick pockets or inserts. This ensures that the envelopes don’t tear in places where bulky pieces are pressing on them. It’s also recommended to mail calligraphed envelopes in clear bags to preserve the design.
When using clear bags, YOU SHOULD ALSO HAND CANCEL YOUR INVITES, which I detail more in point 4 below!
4 • Hand cancelling
What is hand cancelling? Hand cancelling or hand stamping means taking your sealed invitations into the post office and REQUESTING THAT A POSTAL WORKER HAND STAMP EACH ENVELOPE, as opposed to feeding them through the stamping machine. The USPS stamping machines have a tendency to crush, tear, or smudge beautiful invitations, so to avoid this they can be hand marked by a postal worker.
I recommend this for all custom invitations to ensure the quality paper stock and custom printed design stay in tact, but especially for higher weight envelopes, bulky envelopes, and invites mailed in clear bags.
If you do not already have stamps for your envelopes, asking the post office to hand cancel them should cost around an additional $0.21 per envelope. If you are pre-stamping your envelopes or using custom stamps, make sure you have $0.71 stamps (unless your envelopes require larger ounce stamps), and then request that the post office hand sort them.
I hope these points help guide you in the right direction to guarantee your guests receive their invites in top-notch condition! I’m always happy to guide you towards the best solution for your mailing or answer any questions you may have!