Will USPS mail an invitation with stickers near the stamps?
May 7, 2021 8:05 PM   Subscribe

I'm sending wedding invitations and would like to create the look of multiple vintage stamps, but more affordably with one real stamp and stickers printed like vintage stamps. Will the USPS mail my invites if the envelopes have stickers on them, near the real stamp?
posted by Phatty Lumpkin to Grab Bag (12 answers total)
USPS uses scanners to sort mail. Multiple "stamps" are likely to confuse the scanners, resulting in the mail being sent for hand-sorting. The mail will still likely get through. But you'd be making a lot of unnecessary work for busy postal workers, if that matters to you.
posted by SPrintF at 8:13 PM on May 7 [4 favorites]

From the Domestic Mail Manual, section 604.1.4: “Matter bearing imitations of postage stamps, in adhesive or printed form, or private seals or stickers resembling a postage stamp in form and design, is not acceptable for mailing.”

Have you considered using real stamps in odd denominations? You say you don't want to buy vintage stamps because they're expensive, but you could instead buy modern odd-denomination stamps from the USPS, e.g. 10¢, 20¢, 36¢. An assortment of stamps in odd values (adding up to at least the correct total) might give your mailing the kind of eclectic vintage-ish look you're seeking, and you wouldn't have to pay more than face value.
posted by Syllepsis at 8:27 PM on May 7 [25 favorites]

"If I had to hand-sort a bunch of envelopes with fake stamps on them, the mail would not get through."

And them you wouldn't be working for the post office much longer.

I've mailed some kooky things and never had problems, and I've mailed things that seemed like they were totally normal, but something about them got them returned. It would suck if your wedding invitations got returned, and then you had to re-send them. Personally, I wouldn't chance it. But if you're set on the idea, at least check with the post office. Ideally, the main post office for your area. There should be someone there who helps companies with bulk mail issues, and they should be able to tell you whether your idea will fly.
posted by jonathanhughes at 8:33 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]

Put them on the back of the envelope. Maybe come up with one cool image that conveys what you want to convey and sticker it to the seal point on the back, like a wax seal of old.
posted by vrakatar at 8:35 PM on May 7

It's a shame that the USPS ended their customised stamp product last year. Have you considered using old but unused (and therefore valid) stamps instead? This seller on Etsy is well-reviewed.
posted by Tawita at 8:39 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]

You might be able to buy older stamps.
posted by theora55 at 9:23 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]

I wonder if you could take them with just the fake stamps to the post office and get them bulk stamped right there with the postage paid stamp.
posted by zengargoyle at 9:51 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]

You might be able to buy older stamps.

I second this – if you want the look of vintage stamps, you can buy real non-rare vintage stamps for close to face value and they’re still valid postage! A philatelist grandfather-in-law used to send us cards with old stamps as the only postage and it was wonderful getting mail from him.
posted by zsazsa at 11:12 PM on May 7 [4 favorites]

I added stickers that look like stamps next to the real stamps on my holiday cards this year. They went through fine.
posted by homodachi at 11:17 PM on May 7

Have you considered nesting two envelopes and putting stickers on the inner one?
posted by redlines at 4:05 AM on May 8 [4 favorites]

I'm a huge post office nerd and I'll just summarize what I know....

1. This might work, in fact it would probably work
2. It will not 100% definitely work
3. The US post office is in a weird place right now. If you live someplace rural you could likely do what zengargoyle suggests
4. There are a TON of unused vintage stamps for sale on places like eBay which you can get for usually face value and you could find ones which match your theme likely. Do not purchase lots that are "mixed" unused and used because you never know what you are getting
5. I do this, use vintage stamps, all the time and the only real risk is that the glue might be old/bad so you need to use your own adhesive (don't tape over stamps, this will make things more likely to not work)
6. Doing funky rubber stamp type stuff is less likely to cause a problem as long as it doesn't resemble a postmark
posted by jessamyn at 10:35 AM on May 8 [2 favorites]

This was a very long time ago but they let us do our own hand canceling of our wedding invitations so we could get a nice city postmark instead of the generic metro area unreadable grey smear. I would go midmorning and midweek to you local post office and ask.
posted by wnissen at 10:03 PM on May 8

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