The Charlottesville Wedding Blog

Wedding Planning

Wise Bride Tips: Hand Canceling Wedding Invitations

Let me guess: since you've gotten engaged & started planning your wedding, you've heard about "hand canceling" but you have no idea what it is and/or whether or not you should do it. We've gotten this question many times lately so I figured it was high time we wrote a blog post about it!

"Canceling" in postal service jargon is the little marking that goes over the stamps on envelopes and is used to prevent people from re-using stamps. Nowadays, the canceling happens through a machine, and for your gorgeous wedding invitations, there's a chance that your envelopes can get bent or even ripped when it makes its way through the machine. Also, if you choose to seal your invitations with wax, most likely, they won't be able to go through the machine—and you probably don't want them to even if they could. Many stationers and wedding planners recommend that brides hand cancel wedding invitations, which means that a postal worker will stamp the envelopes by hand, in an effort to ensure your envelopes are not damaged.

So, how do you get your wedding invitations hand canceled?

Typically, if you visit your local post office during the non-busy hours - avoiding lunch times & when they're just about to open or close - and are friendly & polite, most post offices & their employees will happily stamp your invites at no charge. There's a chance that you may be charged, but from what I've heard, that only happens if you go when it's super busy or happen to get a grumpy employee (or both!). Most likely, though, it's a free service that just takes a little bit of extra time. I've also heard that they will let you stamp them yourself.

Another tip: call up or visit the post office before bringing in your invites, as not every location does hand canceling. Don't wait until the last minute!

So, should you get your wedding invitations hand canceled? I would recommend getting them hand canceled if:

  • you spent a lot on your invitations & want them to arrive in mint condition
  • you have ga-ga-gorgeous calligraphy on your envelopes
  • you have any sort of ribbon or twine around the invites
  • you are sealing the envelopes with wax
  • your envelopes are larger than the standard sizes (they may not fit in the machine)
  • you purchased or designed custom stamps to adorn your envelopes
  • you prefer the old-timey look of the hand stamp rather than the printer marks

This is what a hand-canceled wedding invitation typically looks like:

So cute & vintage looking, right?!

While it's common for many brides to overlook the invitations (and especially the envelopes), keep in mind that is the very first impression your guests will get about your big day. You want to make that impression a great one and set the tone for a thoughtful, sophisticated affair.

Do you plan to hand cancel your wedding invitations? Would any former brides like to weigh in on their own experiences with the process? We'd love to hear from you!

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