I originally wrote this post about vintage stamps for wedding invitations back in 2013 (10 years ago!). It’s such an important topic—one that my couples are asking about more + more each season—that I knew it was time for an update. I hope this post about using vintage stamps and how to use special postage on your wedding invitation envelopes is a helpful resource for my couples and any engaged person who stumbles upon it.
Current Roseville Couples, please know that vintage postage stories are an add-on available to any client! Read the last section for more details on my custom postage stories, and enjoy the postage eye candy below!
Vintage postage refers to stamps that are from the past, and not currently available through the US Postal Service. This could mean a stamp from a few years ago, or back a hundred years!
As long as a stamp hasn’t been used, it never expires. Whatever amount it says on the stamp is how much it is worth through the mail. Any stamp that says “forever” on it means that it is the current value of a first-class stamp. So even if you bought a forever stamp when the current rate was 54 cents, if it’s 63 cents now then that’s what it’s worth. A great return on investment, don’t you think? 🙂
The answer is, it depends. I tell my clients they can expect to spend between $200-$800. Just like custom invitations, the price for a custom stamp set comes down to many factors. The value of a vintage stamp is determined by not only its face value, but also how hard it is to find. Remember, when the postal service releases a new stamp, it does on bulk print run, then retires it. It doesn’t go back and print more the next year. So you may have a stamp that is worth 13 cents, but if it is rare then the price you pay for each one may be much higher. A 20-cent stamp can be worth 20 cents, or a 5-cent stamp can be worth 45 cents. As vintage postage increases in popularity, stamps in quantities needed for wedding envelopes (usually between 80 and 200) gets more difficult to find. For example, vintage stamps with flowers on them are a very hot-ticket item!
For this reason, if you love the look of a mix of stamps but don’t have a huge budget for postage, consider mixing a current USPS stamp (or two) with a couple vintage stamps. This will give you a unique look, but you won’t spend as much. Also, you’ll probably save a lot of time with assembly since current USPS stamps are all self-adhesive.
For my couples, I curate their stamps through trusted sellers I have built relationships with over the years, many of whom only work with professional stationers + calligraphers. If you want to DIY, Etsy is a good bet. Some sell curated sets of stamps, while others allow you to pick + choose your stamps. Be sure to confirm at the post office how much postage you need before purchasing any stamps. And beware, there are lots of scammers on the web who are trying to get away with selling counterfeit stamps. Make sure you only buy vintage stamps from a reputable dealer, and current USPS stamps ONLY through USPS.com. No exceptions!
Depending on the type and amount of stamps, this can be a very labor-intensive process! Most of my clients who opt for a vintage postage story will pay me to do the assembly. If you are taking the DIY route, I recommend you treat your friends or loved ones to a night of wine + cheese, while you create an assembly line and knock it out! Have one completed envelope on display in front of everyone so they remember the correct order + layout.
A large percentage of postage stamps are not self-adhesive, so the stickiness on the back needs to be activated. 5 stamps x 130 envelopes = gross taste + tired tongue. (Insert meme of George Castanza’s fiancé licking envelope flaps to her death!). You can lightly brush the back with a paintbrush dipped in water, or use an envelope moistener. Either way, vintage stamps are delicate and not very flexible when it comes to adjusting, so when you stick be confident! And be sure that all the corners are adhered, because a loose stamp could get caught in the sorting machine at the post office and be accidentally marked as having insufficient postage. Eek!
First thing I’ll do is send you a questionnaire asking things about you as a couple. (I love learning fun facts about my clients!). I take that information, plus the look of the wedding invitations, and come up with 2-3 set ideas. Like with the custom invitation design process, some mixing + matching is welcome! However, there is a minimum postage amount we’ll need. This is based on the weight, size, and other details of the suite, but more on that later…
Clients can choose to apply the postage themselves, or for an additional fee I can take care of it! Most couples choose the latter, as they want to make sure it is done right by a professional. As is clear from this post, this is not a simple project. It takes time + effort, and if you have printed envelopes you get one shot at each one. Going back to print on an envelope you messed up is a pain. (Have I ever had to get an envelope reprinted or calligraphed again because of an error on my end? I sure have! But I pay and the client never knows about the hiccup. Professionals aren’t perfect, but they know how to fix a mistake.)
This is service only for current Roseville clients, as I work with a select number of couples each season in order to provide my highly customized level of service.
Looking for more tips about invitations? Check out the Planning Tips section of the blog full of helpful posts! And if you love the vintage stamp story and want to learn more about working with me, visit the contact page.