The moment you hand your wedding invitations over to the post office can be an exciting—and potentially nerve-wracking—experience. Your wedding is really, actually, almost here and soon those RSVP cards will start rolling on—things are getting real.
But before you send out your wedding invitations, take a few steps to ensure that your invites are beautiful, accurate, and will safely arrive in your guests’ mailboxes.
Proofread, proofread, proofread.
Your invitations are most certainly beautiful mini-works-of-art, but if the information listed is incorrect, that becomes a moot point. Ask to receive a proof of the invitation before it is printed and read through the proof carefully. Are all proper names spelled correctly? Are the dates listed correctly (double-check the year!)? What about the venue—are the name and location spelled correctly? Ask family members and friends to read over the proof, as well (especially if you know any teachers or copy editors!). They may catch errors you didn’t initially see.
Figure out and purchase the correct postage.
Most wedding invitations require additional postage, but every invite is different. In order to determine how many stamps to include on your wedding invite’s envelope, you’ll need to assemble one invitation, take it to your local post office, and weigh it. Remember, though, that the postage of your invitation will increase if it is square or doesn’t bend easily. Be sure to factor postage into your budget from the get-go, as you can end up paying a dollar or more per invitation if yours are particularly heavy or a non-rectangular shape.
Address the envelopes.
Before addressing your envelopes, you’ll want to ensure that all addresses and name spellings are correct. Feel free to share your guest list with family members who may be able to spot errors. If you sent out save-the-date, take note of any save-the-dates that were returned to you or featured outdated addresses so that you won’t make the same errors on your main invitations.
You’ll also want to determine who is addressing your envelopes. Wedding invitation envelopes should be hand-addressed (no labels!). Hiring a wedding calligrapher is the most traditional (and gorgeous!) route, but your wedding stationer may be able to assist with addressing as well.
Assemble your invitations.
Particularly if your invitations have several inserts and an outer envelope, you’ll have to come up with a game plan when it comes to assembly (your wedding stationer can likely help with this). Traditionally you should assemble your invitations in size order with the wording sides facing up. The main wedding invitation goes on the bottom, followed by the reception card (if you have one) and any other inserts, then the reply envelope face down with the reply card face up and tucked under the RSVP envelope flap. The whole shebang goes into an inner envelope (if you have one), and then the inner envelope into the outer envelope. If you don’t have an inner envelope, place the invitation and inserts face up inside the main envelope.
Double-check your RSVP cards.
There are a few little details to remember when it comes to your RSVP cards. First of all, make sure that the address on the envelope is correct (double check that ZIP code!) and that each envelope is stamped with proper postage—or else you’ll never receive them! Some couples choose to number their RSVP cards so that they’ll be able to keep track if a guest forgets to put his or her name on their card, but that’s your call. Another idea is to write the name of the invited guests directly on the RSVP card to avoid the addition of any uninvited plus-ones or kids. But again, that’s totally your call.
What is hand-canceling? Well, a “cancel” refers to the black circular mark that is stamped on the upper right corner of an envelope to ensure that the stamp won’t be used again. This process is usually done by machine that can, in some cases, damage a wedding invitation. Couples may prefer to get their invitations “hand canceled”—meaning the envelopes will be stamped by hand (usually by a postal worker). However, while some post offices will hand-cancel your invitations without a problem, others may charge you per envelope, and still others may refuse to do it at all—it varies from location to location. If you are interested in hand-canceling, you may want to visit your post office in advance to find out their policy.