Monday, October 1, 2012

Paper Primer ~ Hand Cancelling Your Wedding Invitations

photo via Pinterest

What in the world is hand cancelling?? If you are anything like me when I was planning my wedding you are probably asking yourself this question. Well, grab one of the zillion pieces of junk mail that you get and take a look at the envelope. You will notice a stamp at the top with several squiggly lines that run through the postage as well as a couple lines of text telling your where the mail originated. Then at the bottom of the envelope there is a barcode and sometimes a series of numbers. The primary purpose of these markings is to prevent the postage..aka the stamp..from being used again. These traditional cancelling marks are put on the envelope when they are sent through a sorting machine at the post office. Hand cancelling accomplishes the same thing but it is done by hand which means no extra barcodes and no scary sorting machine.

So....why should you hand cancel your wedding invitations? Well, for one..having one cute little round stamp over your postage looks ALOT nicer than having your envelope marked up all over the place. Especially if you've gone through the extra effort of finding pretty vintage postage stamps (here's how to do that..) and having a calligrapher address the envelopes. The second reason to be pro-hand cancel is to protect your beautiful invitations from the sorting machine. These machines have a little bit of an appetite for paper and you would hate for them to snack on your invitations!

Here are a few tips on having your invitations hand cancelled....
  • To have your invites stamped by hand, simply request that they be hand cancelled when you mail them at the post office.
  • Call ahead to the post office and find out when their "slow times" are. Hand cancelling takes a little longer and they might be more willing to accommodate your request if they aren't busy.
  •  Be nice to the attendant! I've heard that some post offices will still tell you that the USPS does not hand cancel but that's not true! Sweet talking the attendant goes a long way in ensuring your invitations are handled with care.
  • Think about sending a test invitation to yourself to see if the invitation is correctly hand cancelled.
  • Consider sending your invitations to a city with a lovey dovey name to have them hand cancelled. It's a small detail but imagine having your invitations arrive from a place like Romance, Arkansas. To do this, simply place your stamped, addressed envelopes in a large package with a note requesting that they be hand cancelled. Send them addressed to "Postmaster" in the city and state where you would like them stamped. Tracking your package as well as calling ahead to the post office are both excellent insurance policies if you choose to do this. Check out Martha Stewart Weddings for a list of cities with pretty names.

A tiny word of warning......
No matter how sweet you are toward your local post office attendant, your invitations will eventually leave that location and could still find their way into the sorting machine. Hand cancelling does not guarantee a safe arrival for your invitations but I still think it's worth the tiny extra effort. Hey, it's one thing that won't add a cent to your wedding budget!


  1. Such a cute idea!! I've heard of hand canceling, but never really understood what it was. Love the idea...even for other invites or special occasions too!

  2. I didn't know about it when I got married either! I wish that I had though!! It's especially useful when you have invites with alot of enclosures or embellishments:)

  3. I read this right before I sent my invitations, and my guests are now receiving the invitations with SHARPIE scribble over the lovely vintage stamps and hand calligraphy. A word of warning to other brides - make sure you ask the post master not to do that. :(


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...