Post # 1
I thought it would be fun to learn calligraphy to address our wedding invitations. I did it over last summer when school was out, practicing in front of the TV at night, and got pretty good at it (at least I like to imagine. Seriously, though, if you cocked your head a bit they were magnificent!). I then spent a great deal of time and effort hand-lettering our guests’ address with love and serenity. Thinking about how fun it would be to get such a pretty invite in the mail. Sweet, sweet, naive bluegreenjean!!
When we went to the post office to ask about rates, we were given the $1 non-machinable postage rate for out 7×7 invitations. Because we were given the non-machinable rate, when there was a huge line at the post office on Saturday, I didn’t hesitate to drop our invitations off at the box in the entryway of the postoffice. Non-machinable = no worries, right? I didn’t want to have to wait in a big line to have yet another disgruntled postal employee tell me I had nothing to worry about. I wasn’t too worried about them being hand-cancelled or not. I figured there was a good chance they would be, and even if they weren’t, a postmark wasn’t that big of a deal. I get those on letters all the time without looking twice at them. I didn’t want to be one of those brides….
Well, today we received our invite in the mail (I sent one to us, too because I’m a dork like that). There was a HUGE 2 x 4.5 inch postmark on the front!!! That’s about 20% of the front of the envelope!!! It was over part of the address!!! I spent hours hand-lettering those! It was as if someone went out of her way to make my wedding invitations as ugly as possible. I was in tears 🙁 Even the giant packages I’ve received in the mail have much smaller postmarks!!!
I just wanted to give everyone a heads up when it comes to their invitations. Hound the usps like a starving bitch in heat to make sure this will not happen to you!
Is there a good way to complain to the usps? Why should anyone have to pay such a high postal rate to have them to THIS to their invitations???
Post # 3
You know- that was a good idea you had- to send the invite to yourself so you could see what it would look like. I will have to remember to do that.
But on the other note. You have to laugh. Seriously. I am finding more murphy law type moments happening to me- that stories like yours- it hurts too much to cry you have to laugh. Like. OF COURSE the friggin USPS people would do that right? Whatever happened to common sense? If you see a bunch of pretty envelopes why don’t you just try to pick a smaller stamp?!
I went off on a tangent. sorry.
I guess it is just a reminder to wait in the incredibly long line… get to the counter… and kill the clerk with kindness. ;o) Then hope for the best!
Post # 4
It is a good idea to send the invitation to yourself BEFORE you mail the rest of them, just to see how it will mail (for instance if your fantastic buttons and bows and rhinestones and belly bands and pocketfolds will make it intact). And, in this case, to see what the postmark ends up looking like. And if you want your envelopes *neatly* hand cancelled, it’s a great idea to come at an off-peak time, and stick around to cancel them yourself. I would suggest that treating the USPS employees badly is probably not going to make them more inclined to handle your invitations with the utmost care after you’re out the door…
It is, of course, frustrating that your envelopes didn’t look the way you wanted when they arrived. I actually blame this on Martha (and numerous wedding blogs) that show only the envelope ready to mail – with the beautifully hand-written address taking up most of the envelope, and sometimes with an array of 6 or 8 vintage stamps across the top. (For everyone doing the multiple stamp thing – you do realize that EACH stamp has to have at least part of a cancellation mark, right? That is absolutely the best way to make sure your envelope has the maximum amount of USPS ink on it…)
Post # 5
Suzanno- I didn’t say (nor was I trying to imply) to treat the employee badly. I was saying take extra care to be incredibly kind to them. =o) (hence- kill the clerk with kindness…) unless I mis-spoke the phrase.
Post # 6
EEK! I sent out my save the dates today. I should have sent one to myself, shoot! I hope they don’t arrive all ratty tatty!
Post # 7
Before — Duh! That might have helped. Then again, it may have been handled by a different person and not have been representative. The postmark we got is the strangest one I’ve ever seen. I’ve never gotten one like it on any piece of mail, so I can’t imagine that it’s the one they usually use. We only had two small stamps on the envelope (like what would be on a letter when postage goes up), so the World’s Largest Postmark was unnecessary (and, ironically, doesn’t even cover one of the stamps).
I should have gone at an off-peak time, but I don’t have a car (and taking a couple of boxes of invites on the bus is a recipe for disaster), so I had to go at the whim of another, and then didn’t want to insist that we wait in line.
By hound, I mean be persistent. This is why I didn’t insist that we wait. I would have asked for hand cancelling with a smile and they would have looked at me like I was being unreasonable, and said it wasn’t necessary. And then, instead of saying that I would do it myself and that I didn’t mind — no really — just let me do it in the corner, I would have smiled and walked away. I must learn to be more insistent.
But, why do we have to pay extra postage for non-machinable sizes, when they all too obviously are sent through a machine? This, after all, was why I wasn’t too worried.
Post # 8
The post office can’t send large letters throught their autosorters, it’s done by hand. And calligraphy also makes it difficult for the autosorter to read, so quite often wedding invitations must be run by hand. You’re paying for an actual person to look at all your invites and send them to the right post offices.
Post # 9
Sorry.. It’s one of those things you plan and work hard for, but didn’t anticipate it to fall short for somehing like this. All in all you’ll look back and laugh, And hold on to that envelope it will be funny later on. Maybe it’s a passive aggressive way for the post office to get back at all those wedding invitations.
My husband and I actually got to cancel our own invitaitons. The post office was more than happy to let us do it. (It wasn’t our request. They bascially asked us to. I guess I should be thankful.) I guess in light of this, I would suggest all brides ask to cancel their own invitations.
Post # 10
I figured out what the problem was…
A square envelope is a non-machinable letter (and hand cancelled) if it is or is under 6 1/8 inches. Postage for 2 oz: $1.
A square envelope is a machinable large envelope if it is over 6 1/8 inches. Postage for 2 oz: $1.
I thought my 7 x 7 envelopes were in the first category, but they were in the second. If they were 7/8 inches smaller they WOULD have been automatically hand cancelled. At least that’s a mistake I can live with.
Again, I wouldn’t have cared had it been a normal-sized postmark — like you would ordinarily get on a piece of mail. The tracking number and all I would have been okay with. But nine square inches of wavy, black lines? I’ve never gotten anything through the mail with something like that. No wonder USPS is about to go under. They’re wasting all that ink!!
Post # 11
Makes you wonder where they come up with these rules, doesn’t it? Sorry about the postmark. What a bummer. Thanks for sharing though!
Post # 12
@Sparkles – No worries. I think that your recommedation to kill the clerk with kindness was reasonable. I was a little more concerned about the recommendation to "hound" the USPS employees…
Really, the absolute best way to ensure that your invitations are hand-cancelled is just to stick around to do that yourself. I know that doesn’t help much now, but I hope it helps everybody else with the same issues. The clerk who ends up processing your invitations has no particular idea why you put so much postage on them – and if in fact they do turn out to be machinable, they will get put through the machine unless you are there to explain that you want something different, and believe that you paid for it. And honestly, if your post office gets backed up, it’s likely that they’ll get machined anyway. Some larger post offices won’t even let you hand-cancel yourself and won’t do it for you, so it pays to ask in advance, and even perhaps shop around.
And for everybody wondering about the utility of the inner envelope, here you are. It’s really the same as it was 100 years ago, when the problem was the outer envelope getting muddy or fingerprinted (or splashed by something from the back end of the horses) as it was being hand-delivered. The inner envelope is the one that stays clean – with no horse manure or ink or bar coding – for your guests.
Post # 13
I’m so sorry bluegreen. I’m sure the invites are still gorgeous on the inside… plus who really saves the envelopes, anyway? I would be very upset as well.. you’ve worked really hard for those!
Post # 14
Um I usually barely look at the front of an invite before I rip the thing open. And out of all the weddings I have been to (and I am the last of my friends to get married so there have been MANY in the last few years) I honestly cannot remember who had calligraphy and who didn’t. I barely remember the invites and the only reason I do is because I knew that I was getting engaged soon and needed to start paying close attention to those things. I think you may be stressing yourself out worring about whether the USPS puts a big inky mark on the outside of your envelope. Step back and take a deep breath and remember that it is not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things.