By Amanda BlackHere’s what you need to know to get your wedding invitations addressed, packaged and in the mail.We hate to break it to you, but picking out your invitation design and placing your order is just the first part of the invitation process. Next comes the nitty-gritty of putting each suite together in an envelope, addressing them (properly) and figuring out the right postage. We broke it down in six easy steps to walk you through it.
- Assemble Your Invitations
Leave yourself enough time to address and stuff all those envelopes. Your planner can handle this task for you, or your stationer may do it for an extra fee. But if you (and maybe your generous wedding party) are doing the job, here are a few guidelines:
- The invite goes on the bottom, then stack your enclosures on top in order of largest to smallest (the smallest goes on the very top of the pile).
- The RSVP card should be tucked into the flap of the reply envelope (so the flap covers part of the text).
- Place everything in the inner envelope so the text is facing outward—that way guests can read the invitation as they take it out.
- Put the unsealed inner envelope inside the outer envelope with the guests’ names facing outward.
Note: Inner envelopes aren’t required and are reserved for traditional invitations.
- Stamp the RSVP Envelopes
You don’t want your guests to drop their RSVP envelopes in the mail without a stamp or to make them pay for postage to RSVP to your event. Make it easy for them to reply by pre-stamping the RSVP envelope. You’ll ensure they get back to you (or whoever is in charge of the guest list) without a hitch.
- Weigh a Complete Invitation
Before you mail your wedding invitations, ask the post office to weigh a fully assembled envelope so you know exactly how many stamps you’ll need. This step may sound tedious, but the alternative could mean invites returned for insufficient postage, which will throw your entire wedding planning timeline for a loop. Enclosures typically increase postage, so keep that in mind when you’re deciding on including maps or reception cards and the type of paper they’re printed on.
- Have Your Invitations Hand-Processed or Hand-Canceled
Machines at mail centers can only process certain envelope shapes and sizes—generally rectangles that are a minimum of 3.5 by 5 inches to a maximum of 6.125 by 11.5 inches. If your envelope is an odd shape (say, square), even if it falls within those dimensions, you may end up paying a 20 cent non-machinable fee per envelope. With larger invites (more than 3.5 ounces or bigger than 6.125 by 11.5 inches), like a boxed invitation, you won’t have to pay the surcharge to hand-process them. Even if your invitation doesn’t meet the non-machinable criteria, consider paying the extra fee to have them hand-processed—it will guarantee that a person will sort your mail rather than a machine, which can bend or soil envelopes. Another option is hand-canceling (just a stamp that says your mail is processed). In most cases, this option is free, but check with your local post office first to make sure they have a hand stamp. The big caveat: Most post offices try to keep hand-canceled mail separate from regular mail, but there’s no guarantee your invitations won’t also go through the processing machines.
- Put a Stamp on It
After all the work, you’ve put into your envelopes and invitations, make them look special. Customizing a stamp for your wedding envelope is a great way to personalize it, and it’s the first opportunity you have to show off your wedding theme. A few custom stamp shops we love are Wedding Paper Divas, Etsy, Minted or, the classic choice, USPS. There’s also the option of working with a stationer to design custom postage that matches your invitation design or colors. And don’t forget to order enough for your RSVP envelopes too.
- Mail Them Out
You’re done! Send out your invitations six to eight weeks before the wedding—or 10 to 12 weeks in advance if you’re having a destination wedding.Learn how to address your envelopes here.Find a local stationery designer here.