This is a guest post by Howard Givner, Executive Director, the Event Leadership Institute.

letter sent via post officeIn this day and age, when we’re all confronted with an endless barrage of emails, sending a printed invitation through the mail can be a great way to get someone’s attention for your event.

Even if you then drive them to rsvp online, there’s something about opening the envelope and holding an embossed or engraved invitation on beautiful card stock that feels very, well, substantial.

The process involved starts with your general ideas, embellished by creative graphic design, sent to a reliable printer, and then delivered to the post office. It doesn’t take much deductive reasoning to quickly identify the weak link in that chain.

Every printer cringes when they talk about the post office

Perhaps the number one reason is that they have zero liability if they deliver invitations late, mangled, or if they get lost entirely. There are, however, a number of tips you can use to make the process go smoother.

  1. Always mail an invitation to yourself, and your client (or someone else involved in the planning process), so you can both personally know exactly when they are delivered, and can see what they look like when they arrive.
  2. Be aware that the post office will usually charge more for delivering rigid invitations, which they classify as a parcel rather than a letter.
  3. Square envelopes will cost more to mail than regular shaped envelopes.
  4. Ask for your invitations to be “hand cancelled” rather than machine cancelled. That means that a human being at the post office stamps your envelope over the postage, to ensure the stamp can’t be used again. The alternative, and default practice unless you request otherwise, is for them to run your invitations through a machine, which produces those wavy lines. Machine cancelling is not only less attractive, it can also damage delicate invitations with wax seals, and the like. There is no charge for hand cancelling; you just have to ask for it.
  5. Custom stamps, from sites like, add a great personalized touch. Be prepared to factor in about a week’s lead time, and a 40% up charge.

Don’t let the post office ruin your event invitations

Use the above tips so you’re better prepared with it comes to sending your event invitations via the post office.

Special thanks to Steve Paster, CEO of the Alpine Creative Group, for being my expert resource for this post.

For more information, check out the Event Leadership Institute’s video class on Invitations 101: Folds, Papers, Printing Techniques & More.

Here’s a clip: