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One of the most overlooked factors when determining a budget for wedding invitations is how much to calculate for postage. While postage doesn’t seem like a cost you need to worry about, it can quickly blow your budget by a few hundred dollars depending on how many people you invite and how many pieces you intend to mail. This can mean that the custom design you found on Etsy or those beautiful Minted invitations aren’t within your budget at all.
Here’s a guide for everything you need to consider and how much to budget for postage when working on your wedding invitations.
How much are stamps for wedding invitations?
The United States Post office recently increased the cost of Forever Stamps.
In 2022, stamps for wedding invitations are $0.60 each for a standard letter-sized envelope weighing less than 1 oz sent via First Class mail.
Square or unusually sized envelopes will cost you $0.99 each. And postcard stamps are only $0.44 each. This is the cost for stamps sent within the U.S. If you’re looking to send invitations internationally, you’ll need pay $1.40 per stamp for First Class International.
But it’s not as simple as multiplying the number of guests by $0.60 to determine how much money you need to set aside for postage. Keep reading to learn how to determine what you’ll need to spend on postage.
Do wedding invitations cost more to mail?
Generally, wedding invitations do not cost more to mail than regular letters. The exception is if your wedding invitations are bulky, weigh more than 1 oz, are irregularly-shaped, or contain vintage postage.
I’ll cover the exceptions in more detail later but for most couples your wedding invitations won’t cost more to mail than any other card you stamp and drop in the mailbox. The sticker shock comes in when you are mailing a hundred or more invitations at once. That’s more mail than you’ve probably sent in the last decade.
How much does it cost to mail out wedding invitations?
The average couple spends $232.80 dollars on stamps for their wedding. This is based on the average guest list of 131 people (or 97 households) and assuming you’re mailing a save the date, invitation with RSVP card and thank you cards to people mainly within the United States.
According to the Knot, the average guest size is 131 people. And throughout the course of your wedding, you’ll send them four pieces of mail that require stamps. But you don’t need to send each person an invitation. You only need to send each household an invite. So that’s around 97 people if half of your guests are couples or families and half are single.
If you are mailing a large portion of your invitations internationally, your budget will be substantially larger. As international stamps from the USPS are a lot more expensive than $0.60 Forever Stamps. And if you’re mailing anything bulky or weirdly shaped, using express mail because you procrastinated a bit on your planning, or using an alternative service like Fedex or UPS, your costs will be a lot larger.
How did I get to that number?
I broke it down into each piece that couples typically send over the course of a wedding that requires postage. Most couples send a save the date, an invitation that includes an RSVP card and a thank you card. Each piece requires a Forever stamp, which as of 2022, is $0.60.
That means for 131 guests, you’ll spend $232.80 just on postage.
I remember this being a bit of shock to me when I was working on my own wedding. I wasn’t designing stationery at the time and I had naively budgeted $150 for my entire wedding stationery budget. Well I spent more than $150 on postage alone! Silly me.
If you’re looking for a budget guide that will help you navigate the average costs of wedding planning, check out mine. I send it to all of my email subscribers to make sure they’re getting the most up to date information when it comes to budgeting.
How much will you spend per person on your wedding postage?
Let’s go even further and break down the cost of postage per household to better help you estimate how much you’ll need to set aside in your budget.
As you can see from the above, the more guests you have, the more you’ll spend on postage. If you have 200 households receiving invites, you’ll spend more than the average couple spends on their entire stationery budget!
How often does the post office change their rates?
I mentioned above that the USPS changed their postage rate in 2022. You’ll see several sources on the web who STILL give you the 2021 pricing. The USPS updates their postage costs about once a year. They’ve increased their prices by a few cents every year for the past five years, even increasing it twice in 2021 to keep up with inflation.
It might be a good idea if you’re not getting married for a little while to buy your postage early to try and save money before rates are raised again.
How to save on stamps for wedding invitations
Speaking of saving money, there are a few tricks I have for saving money on stamps for your wedding invitations:
1. Send your save the date as a postcard instead of a regular letter
By creating a postcard that can be mailed without an envelope, you’ll save $0.16 per item. That doesn’t sound like a whole lot but by cutting that out of 100 save the dates, you’re saving $16 plus the cost of envelopes which could total another $20. We’re on our way to saving a good chunk of money if you combine it with the other tips!
2. Skip the RSVP card and use an online RSVP system
Instead of including an RSVP card and envelope that has to be mailed back, direct guests to your wedding website to RSVP instead. Depending on how you communicate it you will save on the postage, the envelope, and even the card itself. That’s a savings of up to $180.
3. Send thank you postcards instead of regular cards
Again, the postcard comes to the rescue. Since postcard stamps are only $0.44 you’ll save $36 versus what you would’ve spent on 100 thank you cards and envelopes.
4. Send one invitation per household, including kids
The official etiquette is that adult kids should get their own invitation, even if they still live at home. Well I love to challenge traditional etiquette if it doesn’t serve you or your guests. Honestly, does anyone keep up with these rules unless they’re currently in the process of getting married? I think not. Do yourself a favor and address your invitations to “The Jones Family” if everyone in the household is invited or “Mr. and Mrs. Jones and Alex Jones” to invite the parents and one of the children.
What makes wedding invitation postage more expensive?
And if you want to avoid going over budget or you want to splurge on a few items, here’s what will cause your wedding invitation postage to cost more.
1. Multiple pieces
If you have a lot of different pieces of paper in your envelope that causes it weigh more than 1 oz you’ll have to pay for more postage. The post office sells additional postage in $0.01-0.10 increments so you can add the right amount of postage per envelope. The amount you have to pay will depend on how much you’re over 1 oz.
2. Heavy, thick paper
Heavy card stock, such as the type used in letterpress, may either cause your invitations to be over weight or too thick to be put through the USPS’s automated machines. When your letter can’t go through the machine it’s called “non-machinable” and subject to not only additional postage but hand-cancelling fees.
It’s hard to estimate the cost of this since the USPS is not very good at universally applying their hand-cancelling rules. Some workers will let it slide or even let you hand-cancel it yourself to save on costs. Others will take a hard line and charge you.
3. Unusual materials
Acrylic, wood, or even magnet invitations depending on the thickness can either cause your invitation to be over weight or non-machinable.
4. Wax seals
Adding wax seals, while pretty! can also trigger hand cancelling fees. They also often get torn off of the outer envelope when sent through the mail, even if you pay for them to be hand canceled. The post office workers at different offices often don’t pay attention and put it through the machine anyway regardless of what you’ve paid.
Adding ribbon if it’s not tied in the right way can cause your invitations to become bulky or overweight as well. This means more postage or hand-cancelling fees.
6. Irregularly shaped envelopes
Square, circle, or other strangely-shaped envelopes are also considered non-machinable and will cost more to mail.
7. Vintage stamps
Vintage stamps are alas also non-machinable. They have to be hand-cancelled to determine if they’re real and if you’ve put the right amount on each envelope.
8. International guest list
Sending a lot of invitations internationally will cost you more than one pretty penny. Remember that you not only have to pay to mail the invitations but for your guests to mail the RSVP card back if you include one.
Why do my wedding invitations have to be hand-canceled?
Wedding invitations have to be hand-canceled when they can’t go through the United States Postal Service’s automated sorting machines. A couple of common reasons why invitations will need to be hand-canceled are if they are too thick, bulky, rigid, heavy, small, big, or irregularly-shaped to go through the machine.
Adding ribbon, wax seals, or using non-paper materials often causes the price of postage to go up.
Do I need to put a stamp on my RSVP cards?
You need to stamp your RSVP card envelopes so guests can easily mail the envelope back to you. It’s considered cheap and tacky by many to require mailed RSVPs if you do not include return postage. And it makes RSVPing inconvenient for your guests.
My smart aleck answer is, “only if you want your guests to RSVP.” If you’d like to save money on postage, just ask for RSVPs online instead, okay?
Where can I find vintage wedding stamps?
So you love the vintage look and are willing to spend more on postage in order to get it? You can find vintage stamps that haven’t been used (that’s the key!) at many reputable online retailers. I like Champion Stamp Co. for example. Do not purchase stamps from a shop that you don’t know and trust. It’s very easy to be tricked into buying counterfeit or used stamps on the Internet. And you won’t know you’ve been duped until you’re about the send them out when the Post Office refuses to mail them.
What do vintage wedding stamps cost?
Vintage stamps often cost more than Forever Stamps. How much more will depend on its face value, how old it is, and how rare of a stamp it is.
The face value of the stamps is often less since they’re based on previous year’s cost of postage. For example, you might find an older stamp that’s only worth $0.30 so you’ll need to use two of those stamps to equal the $0.60 you need to put on the envelope.
If it’s a Forever Stamp though it will have the same face value as today’s Forever stamps. So a Forever Stamp that you bought a few years ago for $0.49 is worth the same as a $0.60 Forever stamp today.
But the cost of a true vintage stamp is usually more than the face value. For example, a vintage stamp seller may charge you $1 or more for that $0.30 stamp depending on how rare it is. Plus shipping costs.
How else can I save money on my wedding invitations?
One of my favorite tips to cut down on costs is to use an affordable wedding stationery option. Zazzle has some of the best quality and beautiful designs for the price. You can check out my favorite styles on Zazzle here. And don’t forget to check out my review of Zazzle to see why I recommend them.
If you’re looking for more tips on how to keep your stationery budget down, try these articles for my best advice:
- When to send out wedding invitations
- When to send out save the dates
- Cheapest Wedding Invitations
- How to Make Wedding Invitations Look Expensive
- Best Wedding Invitations For the Price
- Where to Print Invitations From Etsy