What is hand cancelling a wedding invitation

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is “when should I send my wedding invitations”. My answer is 8 weeks before the wedding (10-12 weeks for destination weddings, or those with a lot of out-of-town guests). The second most frequently asked question is “what is hand canceling?” Actually, it goes more like this:

LC: You’ll want to make sure to have the invitations hand canceled at the post office.
Client: Ok!…what?

Most Dear LC Wedding Invitations weigh about two ounces and a $0.65 stamp will be sufficient. But the weight of your invitations depends on how many inserts and accessories you choose. With that being said I NEVER recommend purchasing postage in advance.  Bring a completed invitation (envelope and all) to the post office to have it weighed for accuracy. While you’re there you may also want to bring a reply card in its envelope to be weighed, look at your different stamp options and inquire about hand-canceling.

So what exactly is hand-canceling? Hand-canceling basically means that your invitations will be processed by hand rather than being run through the Postal Service’s automated machines. Because wedding invitations are often thicker than most mail that the post office handles, hand-canceling helps to avoid damage to your invitations that can be caused by getting caught or jammed in the machines. However, each post office handles hand canceling differently which is why I recommend inquiring first.

So my invitations will be handled with the utmost care by human hands only? Not so fast! Unfortunately, since wedding invitations sometimes have a long distance to travel, requesting hand-canceling doesn’t necessarily mean that your invitation will never be run through a machine. But making the request does reduce the likelihood.

Some tips from a USPS frequent flyer

I’m at the Post Office almost every week – and during wedding season I’m there sometimes 3 or 4 times a week.  I may or may not be on a first name basis with the morning staff…but I digress.  Postal workers are people too and they like to be treated with respect, much like you expect people to respect you at your place of work.  Here are a few tips from my friends at the USPS to help your postal experience be as pleasant as possible:

  • Plan on making two trips.  One for general inquiries, weighing your invitations and purchasing postage.  Then go home, turn on The Bachelor, stamp away, and make a second trip to the post office when your wedding invitations are ready to mail.
  • Make your trip at an off-time.  The post office is packed first thing in the morning and during lunch times.  It may not be the most convenient time for you, but staff will have more time to devote to your inquiry if there isn’t a line of 20 people behind you.  You may also want to avoid big holiday weeks like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc.
  • Avoid the main branch – they’re processing all the mail for the entire city, so they’ve got a lot of their plates. Stop by a local or small branch where the staff is more likely to have the time to discuss your options.
  • Be respectful, kind and polite (you’ll catch more flies with honey).
  • Be patient. Huffing and puffing while you stand in line is not going to make it move any faster.