Because we get so many questions about mailing invitations, we decided to do a post to help answer a few of your postal questions.
Postage rates for your invitations are determined by weight, size, and “nonmachinable characteristics”so we’ll discuss each of these one at a time.
Weight – a regular first class letter rate 1 oz. stamp ($.44 at the time of this writing) will mail a letter under 1 oz. This size of stamp will usually mail your RSVP card in a reply envelope, and possibly your invitation if it doesn’t have a lot of inserts and is not in a pocketfold or other enclosure. Most invitations using a 5 x 7 size pocketfold with backings and 3 insert cards will weigh between 1 and 2 oz., and will require the 2 oz. stamp. Invitations in 7 x 7 or 6 x 9 Pocketfolds will often go over 2 oz., but are usually less than 3 oz.
Size – The smallest card you can mail is 3.5 x 5, so don’t plan to try mailing anything smaller than that in the mail. Oversize rates do not apply until your letter is larger than 6.5 x 11.5″, so most invitations will not fall into this category. NOTE however, that if you are designing an RSVP postcard, and you intend to use the postcard-rate stamp ($.28 at the time of this writing), you must fall within 3.5 to 4.25 high by 5 to 6 inches long. The smallest postcard would be 3.5 x 5, and the largest allowable postcard would be 4.25 x 6. Keep in mind that you can mail larger postcards for the first class stamps, but postcards mailed as first class letters are still subject to the size/ratio and non-machinable rules below for rates. Often, with pocketfold invitations, brides prefer to match the size of the pocket for reply postcards and use a first class stamp, rather than meeting the post office size regulations to use the post card rate stamp.
Non-Machinable – Sounds scary, I know. Non-machinable just means it can’t go through the cancellation machine. This happens when it’s square (or just not the correct rectangular ratio of length to width), if it’s rigid (doesn’t bend enough to feed through the rollers), or if there are other decorations (buckles, ribbons, etc.) that will keep it from running smoothly through the machine. You may need to use the non-machinable rate anyway, as many brides request hand-cancellation for their invitations.
Here’s the link to the USPS website calculator to help you determine current rates and regulations: http://postcalc.usps.gov/. You’ll also want to visit your post office with a completed invitation in hand to make sure your precious envelopes can be delivered to your guests, and you don’t end up with a pile of returned mail.
TIP: If the limited post office selection of stamps for your beautiful invitations leave you feeling blue, check out our post on All About Postage – Part II: Custom Stamps.