Wait a Minute Mr. Postman

Yesterday morning on my way to the train station, I stopped by the post office with our first wave of invitations. Despite it being 8:30am in the morning, I fell in behind a line of people and chimed in when people started complaining that there was only one window open.

When it was finally my turn, I put on a cheery smile and told the woman behind the window that I had wedding invitations I wanted “hand canceled.” She looked at me and said “Sorry honey, we don’t hand cancel here.” How is that possible I ask, I called USPS and they said every post office does it and does it free of charge. She looked at me unamused and said “well, we don’t do it.” How do you cancel oversized mail that doesn’t feed into the machine then, I asked. “We have another machine for oversized mail,” she said. “Besides, even if you avoid the stamp cancel machine, your invitations go through other sorting machines.” Oh, I said defeated. Fine. So I handed over my babies to her and told them to be strong and prevail against the evil machines they would soon face.

Hand Canceling:

To cancel out the value of stamps, post offices usually feed mail through a machine that imprints a post mark over the stamp.


To avoid these evil machines’ dirty smudges, a lot of people request to have the stamps on their wedding invitations to be canceled with a cleaner and neater hand held imprint.


(photos from : liweddings.com)

Our wedding invitations are dark brown and metallic so my concern was not so much with the envelopes getting dirty but with the possibility that they may be mangled by the canceling machine. But since mail also need to go through further sorting machines, I guess hand canceling is just a piece of mind request.

I’ve read from different forums that post offices sometimes let you hand cancel your own invitations right there under their watch. I was hoping to get to do that but I guess not.

BOOOO 20th Ave and 66th Street post office BOOOO~!!!


Mrs. Spider

New York
Wedding Date:
October 2006
Most Popular
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  1. Guest Icon Guest
    Bye, Babies… » Weddingbee » The Wedding Blog, Guest @ 2:45 pm

    […] and otherwise attempt to destroy those beautiful little pieces of paper. I had lofty ideals about having them hand cancelled, but trying to get that done in the city of Chicago makes the phrase “uphill battle” an […]

  2. Guest Icon Guest
    pinkstar.org » Blog Archive » Two weeks later…, Guest @ 8:32 pm

    […] What is hand-canceling?  Read more about it here. […]

  3. Guest Icon Guest
    Cordially, Of Course » Weddingbee » The Wedding Blog, Guest @ 12:02 pm

    […] batch. First thing Thursday morning, I took them around to post offices looking for one that would hand cancel. The main branch of the Seattle PO obliged me, but I’m only half convinced that they won’t show […]

  4. Guest Icon Guest
    Evan K., Guest @ 4:10 am

    Incidentally (and this is in the regulations; hunt around 231.4 in the link above) — once you get your invitations postmarked by hand, they should be placed in a separate “tray” with a note that your letters should NOT be placed in the machine for automated canceling. Mail is, technically, not supposed to be canceled twice; but sometimes you need to press this issue, because it makes their processes less efficient.

    http://www.jbink.com/mailing.html for a few helpful tips as far as this goes.

    This link brings up good points about accommodating the post office (asking to come at their least busy time, etc.), making them most likely to happily accommodate your request.

    Incidentally: You ARE, technically, not prohibited from hand-canceling your invitations yourself, so long as you’re under the “supervision” of an authorized employee. Practically speaking, this generally means that they can see you, to make sure you’re not engaged in any fraudulent activities with their date stamp.

    — Evan K.

  5. Guest Icon Guest
    Franking Machines, Guest @ 5:55 am

    It is sad how service is at USPS branches, it’s quite pathetic and though it is understandable that the person on the other side of the booth is quite frustrated and tried accommodating a long line. They still should put a cheery smile. But apparently it has to be us. I have given up hope on using the services of USPS since it’s recent turmoil of bad debts and chances of bankruptcy. But now they have gone and canceled service on Saturday too. I have purchased my own new postage machines, I recommend that you all who have frequent mail and post to conduct purchase this machines. You can get it of from Pitney Bowes who are the number one manufacturers of franking machines. Honestly it made my life much easier and saved me from those long lines and boredom.

  6. Guest Icon Guest
    Danielle, Guest @ 2:43 pm

    I just went through the same thing in San Francisco. I went to the quietest post office in San Francisco and they told me first that my invitations would be 20 cents more -WTF? O.k. ugly head of Washington stamp make it happen!

    Then that they would NOT hand cancel them. Mind you I was their all by myself. The postal worker looked around and said , “What the hell.” “Don’t tell anyone I did this.” He took my whole box of 100 invitations and hand canceled them.

    I know hope they get to there recipients in one piece. Oh wedding blogs why do you give us such torturous ideas. Making us work so hard for days!

  7. Guest Icon Guest
    goby, Guest @ 9:53 pm

    I send mail with wax stamps sometimes and pay an extra 0.20 per letter to have them hand sorted/stamped. The person at the post office assured me that the 66 cent stamp was a special one that indicated to hand sort and stamp so it wouldn’t touch a machine. I dunno if the added cost is an issue for you, but this seems like the route to go, assuming I got good information from the clerk.

  8. Guest Icon Guest
    goby, Guest @ 9:53 pm

    err, I mean wax seals.

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