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Mailing Your Wedding Invitations: What You Can & Can't Control

Despite your best efforts, the journey from the post office to your guests' mailboxes can sometimes include a few unexpected twists and turns. While there's an undeniable charm in the old-world elegance of mailing invitations, the reality is that the path they take is not always smooth. But don't fret! Understanding what aspects of this process are within your control (and which are not) can help alleviate some of the stress and help ensure your beautiful invitations arrive as intended.

Things That You CAN Control:

1. The Amount of Postage Used

First and foremost, ensuring you have the correct amount of postage on your invitations is crucial. Postage rates are constantly changing, but a simple trip to the post office before sending them off will ensure each envelope has the proper amount and won't be returned for insufficient postage.

Things that effect the amount of postage needed include:

  • Weight – Wedding invitations often include multiple enclosures, which can increase the weight and potentially the cost of mailing. Each additional ounce will require additional postage.

  • Thickness – Envelopes must be able to pass through a 1/4" slot in order to be mailed with standard postage rates.

  • Shape – Square and oversized envelopes will require additional postage.

  • Mailing Method – Mailing an envelope with hand-cancelling (non-machinable) will require additional postage.

2. The Method of Mailing Requested (Standard vs. Hand-Cancelled)

When it comes to mailing, you have a couple of options: standard (sorted by the USPS processing machines) or hand-cancelled (non-machinable). Hand-cancelling is a process where the postage on each invitation is stamped (or cancelled) by hand, reducing the risk of damage from processing machines. It adds a personal touch and is particularly essential for delicate or bulky invitations that could easily snag, tear, or bend in the processing machines. For hand-cancelling, you must go into the post office and specifically request this service at the counter.

3. The Legibility of The Addresses

The legibility of the addresses on your wedding invitations cannot be overlooked, especially the zip code! Ensuring that each envelope is clearly and correctly addressed will help your invitations reach their destinations without delay. This is why we typically print the guests' address in a serif or sans-serif font that's easier to read than a script font.

4. When Your Invitations Are Mailed

Knowing that the USPS frequently experiences delays (especially around certain times of the year like holiday time, election time, etc.) we suggest mailing your invitations around two weeks before you would ideally want them arriving in your guests' hands.


Things That You Can NOT Control:

1. If They Are Processed Correctly

Once your beautifully prepared invitations are dropped off at the post office, they embark on a journey that relies solely on the USPS. Trust us, we would hand-deliver each precious invitation if we could!

Unfortunately, even when the mailing method is correctly requested, you cannot control how the USPS (or any mailing service for that matter) processes the invitations once they are in their possession. And while hand-cancelling can reduce the risk of machine-related damage, it's not a guarantee to overcome all potential processing issues.

2. When They Will Arrive To Guests

Similarly, the time it takes for your invitations to reach their respective destinations can vary and is subject to the efficiency of the postal service.

Things that could delay the arrival of your invitations include:

  • Peak Seasons – The busiest season for the USPS is usually November and December, but the USPS is closed for all major holidays, which can cause mail to become backed up around those times.

  • USPS Staffing Shortages – Individual USPS locations often experience staffing shortages, which can cause mail to take longer than usual to be processed and pass through that post office.

  • Equipment Breakdowns – It isn't unheard of for sorting machines to break down and require maintenance, which in return, causes the mail to become backed up at that specific USPS location until the machine is fixed or replaced.


"What Should I Do If My Invitations Aren't Arriving?"

First of all, try not to stress (easier said than done, right?). If you've done everything in your power to mail your invitations correctly but they still don't seem to be showing up to your guests as anticipated, here are some possible answers/solutions:

  • If most of your invitations have arrived, but a few guests seem to be missing theirs...

    • Unfortunately, this is to be expected; on average, ~5% of letters mailed through the USPS do not arrive at their destination (even if everything was mailed perfectly).

    • Double-check your mailing list to ensure that there weren't any typos in the guest addresses to begin with.

  • If some of your invitations have arrived, but a lot of them still have not...

    • There could be a delay somewhere in the processing line where many of your invites need to pass through that is holding them all up. You can call your local post office to see if they can provide a more detailed explanation, or you can visit the USPS website for a list of all current delays.

  • If none of your invitations have arrived...

    • While we can't say we've ever seen this happen, if it were to happen, it would likely be due to a serious legibility issue with the addresses, or a serious delay at the post office that the invitations were mailed from. In either instance, we would suggest going to your local post office where they were mailed in person for help.

Knowing that there will likely be at least one issue with your mailed invites, we always suggest having extra invites on-hand (in blank envelopes that you can hand-address as-needed) that are ready to mail out at a moments notice. That way, if someone's doesn't arrive or gets astonishingly damaged in the mailing process, you have a back-up solution that's ready to go!


While the aspects of mailing that you can't control might seem daunting, focusing on checking all the boxes off of what you can control helps to ensure your wedding invitations arrive as beautifully as they were sent. Remember, these key elements are: the postage amounts needed, the mailing method, and address legibility. Doing your due-diligence with planning ahead can go a long way in navigating the waters of a successful wedding invitation set mailing.

...and always keep in mind that when you book us for Custom Stationery, we will handle the mailing process for you completely!


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