How to Hand-Cancel Wedding Invitations

Stationery, Wedding Invitations

I write (and talk) often about the process of designing wedding invitations because I love discovering the styles and details that will help my couples share their stories the best. And, we all eagerly await the moment when guests receive their wedding stationery! But, there’s also a step in between that can get overlooked: the process of mailing your wedding invitations.

The whole idea behind wedding invitations is to mail your guests art (essentially!) that will delight them. Together, we spend time carefully choosing designs, paper, inserts, and ways to organize it all — and when that’s complete, you can have a fairly bulky envelope to mail. Rather than suggesting you simply drop off your invitations at the post office, like a typical card or bill, I almost always recommend hand-canceling your wedding invitation postage. But, what is hand canceling and what does it entail? Today, I’ll take you through it all!

Why is hand-canceling wedding invitations important?

When you drop mail off at the post office or pop it into a mailbox, the postal service then runs all stamped mail through a machine that confirms the postage and sorts it. Because of the size and thickness of many wedding invitation suites, we want to avoid having your wedding mail pass through a machine. So, we hand cancel!

What is hand canceling?

As I mentioned above, hand canceling means the date the mail was accepted into the U.S. postal system and the confirmation that a stamp is adhered to the envelope is confirmed by a stamp. The key here is the confirmation stamp is inked by hand onto the envelope rather than by a machine. The process means your invitations will not be crushed, ripped, or damaged by a machine that is not used to the size and delicacy of wedding invitations.

I want to hand cancel my wedding invitations! What do I do first?

Once you have decided to hand cancel your wedding invitations, the very first thing to do is to take a completed wedding invitation to the post office. This piece should be packed with everything inside (invitation, inserts, etc.).

At the post office, you will want to speak with a post office employee (yes, you must do this in person rather than online!) and have your invitation weighed. Then you need to make the individual aware that you plan to hand cancel your invitations. It’s important to mention this fact at this point because there can be an extra charge to hand cancel ($0.21 as we press publish), and that charge must be included in the cost of the stamp you purchase. For example, a $0.55 stamp becomes $0.76.

Once you check off the boxes of invitation weight and hand canceling confirmation, purchase your stamps and adhere them to your invitations.

My stamps are on my invitations! What do I do now?

Once your stamps are on the envelopes of your wedding invitations, you’re ready to go to the post office to hand cancel! Here’s what to do and expect next:

  1. When do you typically visit the post office? If before work, lunchtime, or after work come to mind, you’re in the majority. Now you need to reframe your way of thinking. The key with hand canceling is to visit the post office at an off time (think: mid-morning or mid-late afternoon).
  2. Again, you will need to go inside the post office in order to hand cancel your wedding invitations. Once you speak with a postal service employee, one of two things will happen. Either you will be given a stamp to hand cancel your invitations (you can ask the employee to do one for you, so you have an example to follow!) or the post office will offer to hand cancel everything for you.
  3. Once your hand canceling is complete, hand everything over to the post office. Although your invitations will not be run through a machine at this point (or they shouldn’t), the delivery timeframe can lengthen by a week or so. So, just roll with it!

Is there anything else I should know?

Yes, one more thing! Sometimes the post office will say they no longer offer hand canceling or it’s not needed. They do offer it, and it is needed! If you encounter this, you have a few options. You can either speak with a manager, bring in small batches of mail at a time, or visit another post office in your area. I’m happy to offer suggestions about which post offices to visit too!

Now that you know more about hand-canceling wedding invitations, do you have any additional questions about it? I’m happy to help!

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