What do your invitations look like? Are they crazy-beautiful letterpress? Are they uber-cool designs from an Etsy shop, printed with soy ink on recycled paper? Are they like mine, a DIY kit from Michael's? Whatever your poison, passion or budget allows you to invest in, invitations are just that: an investment. They can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Mine was definitely in the low hundreds and you can see that break down here if you're interested.
I spent a hellalotta time figuring out what wording we wanted. I spent HOURS formatting, reformatting, downloading free fonts, testing fonts and rejecting fonts. I spent more hours printing the actual invites, the RSVP cards, address labels, return address labels and envelopes (additionally, menu cards, programs, wine lists, cake signs, etc). I became one with the varieties of glue dots, spray adhesives and corner punches. The printing and assembly of my invites and other paper goods was probably the most difficult task I undertook in the DIY portion of my wedding so when I hear about invites getting mangled by the US Postal System, I get a little pissed.
My girl Marie is getting married soon, the end of April to be exact. I've loved helping her out where I could (I did her Holiday Save the Dates and her OOT bag design) and I'm just sitting on pins and needles, waiting for her wedding. It's at a gorgeous location, she's got a stunning dress and I just can't wait to see her and her beau get hitched. I got their invitation last week and while it arrived slightly rounded and a little bent, it was gorgeous. However, I got a surprisingly calm call from the bride the day before I got my invite. Marie opened the call with, "I've had my first wedding crisis." and I thought, "Oh no!" and settled myself in for a tale of woe.
So here's what happened:
The day before I got my invite, the bride's parents received approximately 30 of the invites back in their own mailbox, many of them totally mangled. When the FOB took the invites back to the post office to figure out what happened he was told that the invites needed extra postage and that the return address that was positioned on the center back of the invite was a) in the wrong place and b) too large. The invites that were returned to the sender were invites that the USPS (or their machines) basically read backwards, return address as sending address. I am not going to tell you about the horror the FOB had to deal with at the post office and getting these invites sent back out, but I will tell you it included a LARGE, BLACK SHARPIE. *shudder*
So what can we learn about this? What can we take from this experience? Here's my advice
1. Take ALL your invitation parts to the post office and weigh them for correct postage. Make sure to include the ribbon, tissue, everything that's going in that dang envelope.
2. Take a completed invitation to the post office, weigh them compared to the components (just in case) and ask about the THICKNESS of your invite. (Step 1 &2 can be done at the same time). I just happened to do this for my invites on a fluke. The Postmaster saw the completed invite and asked to see it. He told me that the price wouldn't change, but that the bow that was tied inside was creating a large bump. This bump would make it fine through any feed, he explained, but what it would do is make that passage slightly uneven, which could catch on any of the corners of my pocket fold invite and tear the edges, potentially ruining the invite (my pocked fold WAS the invite, no outside envelope). I ended up modifying the bow so that it was a ribbon cross-over with a glue-dotted flower versus the bow that created a smaller bump. This was an easy decision change for me because the simple truth us this: I HATE BOWS. I hate tying them because it takes me at least 47 tries to get it right.
3. HAND CANCEL you invitations. Do this. Period. DO NOT let the USPS do this to your invites. DO NOT trust the USPS to do this, even if they say they will. Do it yourself. There are too many inconsistencies between Post Offices to know which ones to trust and which ones not to. My suggestion is to go to a small, satellite Post Office versus the big ones. The satellite offices are where I got my best service, advice and consistency in what I was being told. I will say it again: HAND CANCEL your invites. You just paid beau coup dollars on your invites, spent time on wording and formatting and all that crap. Don't flush all that down the crapper by letting the USPS mangle them with their auto-cancel machine-thingy.
4. Be mindful of your return address. The USPS standard for return addresses in the top left hand corner of an envelope. Many of us like to write them on the back. Lots of invitation designs have them on the back because of the large pretty font or calligraphy on the front. Makes sense, right? However, if you choose to have your return address on the back, make sure that it's a significant font size difference (meaning smaller) and at the TOP of the back of your invite, not centered. This will help ensure that the invite gets to the party it was intended for versus right back in your own mailbox.
5. Don't sweat it once they're out. Marie is a calm-planning bride. She's particular, but not fussy. She's planning a kick-ass wedding for a lot of people in less than 6 months (go girl!) and is amazingly serene. THe reality is when it comes to invites you've got three camps:
a. You've got people who will open them and save them as a memento.
b. You've got people you will open, write down the date and then toss the invite.
c. You got people who will open, stick on the fridge as a reminder for the next 6 weeks and then toss.
That's it. That's what will happen to your invites. It's one reason why I refused to spend a lot of money on mine, simply because I know what happens to them in the end. My invites weren't going to be any more special then anyone elses and would end up in the garbage (make sure you keep one for yourself!) eventually. Once the invites are out, that's it. Whether they get mangled in the post or arrive super-pristine, there's just nothing you can do about it. Time to let that particular task go. My friend Marie seems to have taken to the "letting it go" part of wedding planning like a fish to water. Good for her! Can you?
Am I missing anything here? What additional invite advice would brides from days of yore suggest? Got anything to add? Leave a comment if you do!