Hand Cancelling; what it is, and why you need to do it.

From types of flowers to all of the etiquette, there is so much to learn when you are planning a wedding. Bear with me, and please add one more item to your list; hand cancelling.

Top: Postage Cancellation by Machine, Bottom: Hand Cancellation

Top: Postage Cancellation by Machine, Bottom: Hand Cancellation

I may be a bit biased, but your wedding invitations are one of the most important details about your big day. Without them, your guests would have no idea when and where to go, and what to wear. In terms of executing all of the plans you have spent countless hours on, mailing your invitations is step one in ensuring everything runs according to plan. The good news is, that to ensure your invitations are successfully delivered it only adds one step that should not take much time at all, and there is no additional charge (yay for staying on budget!).

So what does it mean to hand cancel, and why is it so important? Let’s start with the basics. A cancellation is a postal marking over the postage stamp to deface it so that it cannot be reused. The cancellation marking is most commonly applied by a machine. When the mail is fed through the machine, it scans the text to read the address of the recipient. A hand cancellation is applied by hand as a postal employee reads the address.

The machine sometimes has a hard time deciphering calligraphed script, especially if there are a lot of flourishes or if the ink is metallic. It is important to have calligraphed mail, or any very important mail (like your wedding invitations!), hand cancelled to ensure the address is read correctly for an accurate and timely delivery.

In order to have your invitations hand cancelled, you must walk into the post office and hand them to an employee at the counter and specifically request to have your mail hand cancelled. Do not drop your invitations in the box. The post office does not charge for this service. I repeat, you have to request this service, and there is no additional fee.

In summary, here is the recipe for successful delivery of your wedding invitations.

  • Take your sealed, stamped, and addressed invitations inside the post office, and hand to a postal employee at the counter.

  • Request that your invitations are hand cancelled.

  • Go home feeling confident that your invitations will successfully be delivered to all of your guests.

Cheers to checking another planning task off your list!



Sealed with Love

Without question, my favorite adornment to a wedding invitation is a wax seal. There is just something about the way it elevates an envelope to give it a special feeling for a notable event. In this digital age we live in, there has definitely been a resurgence of old-world and handmade consumer goods. While we all love how modern convinces can save time, we also can appreciate the skill and time spent by someone that has handcrafted an item. A pizza fresh from a brick oven made with hand-tossed dough tastes much better than anything from the frozen food aisle that you heat up in your oven, am I right? The same idea applies here. An envelope sent with a wax seal is more fun to receive and open than one without. Wow your guests with a little added handcrafted touch that elevates your invitations by following the tips below!

How to add a wax seal to your envelope.

Tools You Will Need

  • low temp glue gun

  • sealing wax sticks

  • envelopes - addressed, stuffed, and sealed

  • small bowl of ice

  • clean cloth

  • wax paper

  • sealing stamp

Step-By-Step Directions

  • Make sure all of your envelopes are addressed, stuffed, and sealed along the standard glued edges.

  • Put the wax stick into your glue gun and plug in/turn on. Place the wax paper underneath the nozzle to protect your work surface.

  • While the wax is heating up, prepare a small bowl of ice, and place the stamp over the ice.

  • Point the nozzle of the glue gun over the center of the envelope flap where it meets the back side of the envelope. Pull the trigger until the desired amount of wax comes out, about half a teaspoon. It should be enough to cover the circumference of the stamp once you press it down.

  • Pull the stamp out of the bowl of ice. It must be cold to attain the most crisp imprint in the wax. Be sure to wipe off any excess moisture with the cloth.

  • Place the stamp in the wax until it sets, about 30-60 seconds.

  • Remove the stamp to reveal the wax seal!

  • Repeat steps until seals have been applied to all envelopes!

  • Be sure to place the stamp in the bowl of ice and completely cool between each stamp.

Addressing all of your addressing questions

I am asked all the time about the right way to properly address my client's wedding guests. And I'm not talking about their physical address. 307 Maple Street? Thats the easy part! I'm talking about how to address their names. Their titles. While there are some hard and fast rules, just like most things in life there are some shades of grey, or leeway if you will.  

Like all other things with your wedding, the formality of the event will dictate how much you need to "follow the rules". If you are having a Black Tie affair, your guests will expect that you to stick to the rules. If you are having an intimate backyard union, then you are able to be more lax and familiar with the way you address your invitations. 

Here are a few examples of the most commonly asked questions and their answers.

  • Who uses a title other than your standard Mr., Mrs., Ms., and Miss?

    • Physicians, Veterinarians, and Denists

    • Clergy

    • Active Military

    • Judges

    • Government officials such as Mayors, Senators, The Queen (if you are that lucky!)

    • All of the above titles should be spelled out in full, such as Doctor, The Reverend, Colonel. However, (here come those shades of grey!) you can abbreviate any of these except Military titles if you would like, or if there is not enough room on the envelope.

  • What about someone with a PhD?

    • Generally speaking, those with a PhD are addressed as Mr. or Mrs./Ms., but if they are are known by "Doctor", then it is fine to use address them as Doctor John Smith.

  • What about a household with two Doctors?

    • If both members of the house are doctors, there are a few options, but the woman is always listed first. Examples: The Doctors Mary and John Smith, The Doctors Smith, or Drs. Mary and John Smith

  • Following Orders

    • Okay this one can be a bit tricky depending on the way in which you choose names to be written. I'll give you a few examples to help clarify.

      • If the names are being written with the titles in front of the names, the man's name should be written first. Example: Mr. and Mrs. John Smith

      • If only their first names are being used (while not the most popular with etiquette sticklers, it is becoming more common), the woman's name should be written first. Example: Mary and John

      • Man or woman, the person with the title is always written first. Example: Doctor Mary and Mr. John Smith


I just gave you a lot of rules, and some with some wiggle room to reach into those shades of grey. If you ever have questions or want to to talk about the rules, just give me a shout!