We are frequently asked: How much does an invite cost to mail? It is definitely good to have postage costs and expectations, so that you won’t overpay and so that you can plan for this cost in your budget. Most of our wedding invitations are between 1 and 3 ounces, which means that they cost 66 or 86 cents to mail. We cannot guarantee your postage costs until AFTER we have a final copy of your invitation on the scale. But we can give you some idea what to expect.
One day at our studio started out with a worried client who had been told at her local post office that it was going to cost more than $2 to mail her invitations as an overstuffed envelope. So they were going to charge her as if each invite was a package… which was absolutely NOT correct! This is an unfortunate trend we have seen over the past five years–rather inconsistent and sometimes inaccurate pricing being requested when folks go to the post office to send their invites out into the world.
We told the client not to pay the overcharge and try a different post office station. They were not overcharged when they took their invites to a different office.
A really slim invitation costs 46 cents, but the vast majority are 66 cents for 1 to 2 ounce invites; and a smaller group, maybe about a fourth to a third of our projects, hit 86 cents.
This is on top of a 33-cent postcard stamp (now available in an apple design) or the regular 46-cent postage stamp that you will need for your RSVP envelope or postcard. (Most folks are using the double-rose forever stamps for RSVP postage these days.
To make sure that you get the right postage, we will weigh your invitation and give you a note explaining what we think it will cost to mail–although the final decision is up to the U.S.P.S. employee who helps you out and/or your own judgement. (We always do recommend erring on the side of caution if you are mailing your invites yourself.)
On top of the routine 66-cent or 86-cent charges, there could be an extra charge of 20 cents if an invitation is for some reason deemed to be “non-machinable,” which means it is square, too thick, or the hardest to determine, too rigid. But all of our invites are designed to be within postal guidelines so they would never count as an package. Do you love square invitations? Don’t forget that they do cost extra to mail if the envelope is larger than 6 x 6 inches, and they will be sent back to you if you do not include the extra postage. There is an additional 20 cent charge for invitations that are square or that have clasps, ties, or other qualities, such as bulk or extra thickness, which prohibits them from going through a sorting machine. If you want to add a ribbon or other embellishment that is thick to your invitation, you can usually count on being charged extra postage.
We test our invites to see if they will slide through an approximately 1/4″ slot, to avoid getting a surcharge of 20 cents for being “non-machinable.”
This is one reason why we rarely do invitations with ribbons, wax seals, etc., because it creates a big lump that makes it difficult for the postal service and results in an extra charge. Occasionally, we will use an embroidery thread or a thin piece of raffia to create a tie, but we try to make sure that the end result should still be pretty thin, and not lumpy. We even have some tricks to use ribbons, too. Last year, I think we saved a client about $80 in extra postage costs by splitting pieces of raffia to put together her ribbon band wraps — and keep them very flat.
Most of our clients also do rectangular invites, to avoid the extra 20 cents being added for square invitations. But if you want to be more unique, be prepared for extra postage if you think it’s hip to be square. We love square invites; but because they are square, it’s not clear to the U.S.P.S. machines which way to read the address, so they require additional labor to reach their destinations.
Long, skinny rectangular invitations (such as 4 by 9 inch invitations) also could trigger an extra 20 cent charge if you get creative with your addressing. On a rectangular piece of mail, you will be charged 20 cents extra if you address your envelopes so that the address is not parallel to the longer side of the envelope.
Some postal stations will allow hand-canceling of the stamps–most notably the U.S.P.S. office in Valentines, Virginia, which will even mark your invites with a special heart-shaped cancelation stamp over your postage. It is very cool! There are quite a few romantic towns in the U.S. that offer this service, such as Loveland, Colorado.
But many offices will not allow you to hand cancel at all, so despite the vast amount of un-updated internet blogs out there insisting that hand cancelation is a required part of wedding etiquette, we recommend that you do not worry about this. Or you might want to call ahead if this is important to you, so that you can drive to a post office that offers this option.
A final option to consider is if you would like to order a customized stamp, through a service such as Stamps.com. We do this all the time! It does, however, add to your postage cost for the custom printing, although the result can be really fun and unique. Prices vary by website, but we are happy to explore this for you.
Custom-printed stamps generally are quite a bit larger than normal postage stamps. We will design to accommodate the larger stamps, so it helps to have the stamps in hand, or at least the measurements of the service that will be used to create the custom postage, fairly early in the design process.