February 18, 2021
Vintage stamps add SO much charm and personality to a wedding invitation suite. I swoon every time I see a flatlay or a calligraphed envelope adorned with vintage postage stamps. Believe it or not, vintage postage requires a lot of research to calculate, source, curate, and assemble onto your envelopes. With so many moving parts involved in acquiring vintage postage stamps, I’ve rounded up all about the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way. Read along to find out about the best practices for sourcing and using vintage stamps for your wedding invitations!
When To Start Planning for Vintage Stamps
Let your stationer know right away if you plan on incorporating vintage stamps on your wedding invitations. It’s truly best to start before or during the invitation design process. There are many things to consider when designing an invite suite with vintage stamps, like how much room to leave for addressing since there will be multiple stamps, what color envelope will best showcase your stamps, etc. In addition, you will need to know how much your invitation suite will weigh before you purchase your stamps, and your stationer can help you answer these questions from the start.
Choose Your Theme/Color Palette For Your Postage
Curate your vintage postage set based on wedding theme or incorporate tidbits of your personality! For instance, if you have a love for travel, you could source geographical stamps with places that are meaningful to you. If you are getting married in a garden or in nature, a collection of floral vintage stamps would be stunning. If you share a love for books or literature, there are a ton of stamps honoring famous authors. The possibilities are truly endless.
You could also curate your stamps based on your wedding color palette, which might be the easiest and most common route. Let your wedding colors be a guide and pick complementary colors or even go for a monochromatic look.
Calculate Postage Amount and Budget
This is where a stationer will come in handy. Depending on how many pieces you are ordering in your invitation suite and what kind of paper you are using, you will need to figure out the correct postage amount based on the weight, size, shape, and thickness of your envelope.
Generally, anything that weighs under 1oz and is not super thick is going to cost $0.55 (as of 2021) to mail domestically. If it weighs more than 1oz, you will have to purchase an additional postage, which is $0.20 per oz.
Square envelopes or envelopes that are not a standard size (A2, A6, A7, A8, A9, A10, No. 10 and 4 Bar) will incur a “non-machineable” surcharge. A non-machineable mailpiece cannot be sorted in USPS’s automated machines, meaning it will need to be manually hand-canceled with a rubber stamp. This charge is $0.20 extra ($0.75 total for a standard mailing). Envelopes that are rigid, lumpy, that include a wax seal, buttons/string, or clasps, are considered non-machineable and will require this postage amount.
Make sure that you will know how much postage you need to purchase and budget for it! You might be surprised to find that vintage stamps can be significantly more expensive than buying current postage stamps. Not all vintage stamps are priced equally, depending on availability and denomination. Be prepared to pay somewhere around 3-4x more for vintage stamps compared to the cost of purchasing current USPS stamps.
Don’t forget to order extra sets for keepsakes (like one to photograph on your wedding day), or for lost/returned mail.
Where to Find Vintage Postage Stamps
My go to stamp dealer is Verde Studio. Their collection is vast, and the communication and ease of ordering has been AMAZING through the years.
My advice? Let your stamp dealers curate a set for you. Simply give them your wedding colors/theme, how much postage you’ll need for each set, and how many sets you’ll need to order.
If you are going to source and curate stamps yourself, make sure to buy UNUSED stamps. Many stamp dealers sell used stamps because they have value as collectibles, but unfortunately these stamps cannot be used for mailing.
Plan The Layout of your Stamps
After you calculate your postage and source your stamps, you’ll have to figure out the actual layout of the stamps for the envelope. It’s best to discuss this with your stationer or calligrapher so they’ll know how much space to leave for addressing. It would be a shame to receive hand calligraphed envelopes from your calligrapher and realize later that there was not enough room for your vintage stamps!
Play around with the order of the stamps! You can have them go straight across the top right or have a few stacked on the right side. If you have a mix of vertical and horizontal stamps, play around with the layout. It’s a little bit like a puzzle to figure out which will look the most balanced yet visually interesting. You’ll want to keep the colors and sizes into consideration when planning out how you want them arranged.
Tips for Applying Vintage Postage Stamps
- Applying vintage postage to envelopes is tedious and detailed work. Make sure you have a clean and organized space to do this.
- Lay your stamps out in the order you plan to stick them onto the envelope to make the process go smoother.
- Many vintage stamps do not have a self-adhesive like the modern ones do. This means you will need to moisten them to adhere to your envelope. I like to use a simple shallow bowl and moistened sponge (you need less water than you think!). Sometimes a pair of tweezers helps to fine tune the application process, especially since you want to make sure they are perfectly straight and evenly spaced out.
- If a stamp is really old and doesn’t stick well, you can always use a glue stick to help.
Tips and Tricks
- Mix modern and vintage to save on costs
- If budget is a concern but you still want to use vintage stamps, consider only purchasing a limited number of sets to send to the super important people on your guest list.. no one will know they got a different stamp!
As your stationer, I can help you with this entire process and often times will work with stamp dealers directly to ensure an efficient workflow. We also offer assembly services if you’d rather have us handle all the tedious handiwork! Contact us today if you would like to start the invitation process by filling out our Questionnaire or simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.