We had the idea to “hand-cancel” our wedding invitations. I can’t remember where the idea came from – when you read the magazines and forums, you get bombarded with cute ideas, many of which seem good at the time.
“Cancelling” is when the postal service prints something over the stamps to prevent them being peeled off and used again. Normally this is done by a machine printing a dot-matrix design with the date, district, and perhaps a seasonal message. However, when you’re putting together your beautiful invitations, with every little detail just right, you may not want a big ugly design printed over your envelope. Hand-cancelling is an option for you, and it consists of manually stamping over the stamps with a red-inked round rubber stamp, which looks cute and old-timey. Stamp, stamp, stamp.
To do this, you go to the post office with your stack of invitations, wait in line, and then say to the person that you would like to hand cancel. The first couple of USPS branches we tried told us it wasn’t possible. Finally we convinced a very nice lady in a smaller branch that we could do it, and it wouldn’t be a problem. So we stood at the counter and got to work.
The stamp used is the same one that is used when the staff stamp a form or parcel, so they kept asking for it back. It kept running out of ink as well, causing us to interrupt the clerk and get her to re-ink it. The glossy finish of our custom photo stamps didn’t take the ink very well. It became very embarrassing and annoying, so we gave up two-thirds of the way through and just stuck the rest in the mail to be cancelled by machine as normal.
Overall, it wasn’t worth it. It may be possible on a quiet day in a quiet local post office, but it’s not really possible in a city in the morning, when you have to go to work. The stamp doesn’t look that great, especially when it’s too faded to see, or if the ink is smeared over a glossy stamp – and I have to ask who would really notice what the outside of the envelope looks like? It may have been better if our custom stamps had taken the ink better, but I preferred having cool stamps.
Verdict – don’t bother.