Ask The Expert, Illustration, Stationery, Tips and Tricks, Weddings

May 13, 2022

To Mail or Not to Mail: Why I Mail Invitations For My Clients

Recently, I shared a few stories on the ‘gram about Why I Mail Invitations for My Clients. It…got some traction. I heard from a lot of you stationers (hi!), and from a handful of planners as well.

And let me tell you: there are some passionate stationers out there. I love it for a lot of reasons, but mostly because the ones who benefit most from that passion are our clients!

I polled my followers over 24 hours on Instagram, and here are the results:

Results from the 24-hour IG survey titled, “Do you mail invitations for your clients?”
Also, I love graphs.

(I see those 6.9% of you who didn’t know you had a choice. Let me tell you a secret: it’s your business to run as you like, and it’s always your choice. 🙂 )

The majority of stationers said that “It Depends” on the client whether or not they mail. I’m honestly surprised at how many stationers currently DO mail for their clients. Like, REALLY surprised – especially considering the *ahem* tone of the messages I was getting.

A few people said they “hate” mailing for their clients. That intrigued me, so I asked why. Did they hate worrying that invites might get lost in the mail, and the client would blame them? Did they hate going to/waiting at the post office? Was it fear of being blamed for something rather than hating it?

I got this answer, which I’ve edited slightly out of respect for the author’s anonymity:

“I hate mailing for my clients! I feel like I’m doing it wrong. I’m worried that invitations may not arrive to guests because I did something incorrectly. Do you have any tips on ensuring invites get their best shot at being delivered?”

Anon IG user

And OH BOY, do I have tips!

I’m not going get into a debate about why you should or shouldn’t mail invitations for your clients, but I am going to explain why I mail for my clients. That way, you can see how I do it and decide if this is something you’d like to offer your clients.

I’ll be sharing some of my own mailing tricks in Part II of this blog post, so get ready for the most secret, non-secret tips to making sure invitations make it into the hands of your client’s guests!

Bad news first: the post office isn’t perfect.

Aside from hand-delivering every one of your invitations, paying for certified mail (which, meh), or hiring a process server (my husband’s suggestion 😂), there is no special way to mail invites to guarantee they arrive at their destinations on time, in good condition, or at all.

Like Miley Cyrus, the post office can’t be tamed.

Thinking the post office is infallible is like thinking Adobe won’t crash in the middle of a rush project you haven’t saved in hours because you’re so in the zone.

Believing that the post office won’t lose your mail every now and again, whether you mail or your client does, is like believing The Bachelor is real life.

It’s just not realistic.

The post office isn’t perfect.

And once the invitations are in the mail – again, whether you mail them or not – you can’t control what happens to them. (My stationers know this already!)

Once you’ve made your peace with that fact, and once you’ve educated your clients about that fact, you’ll all be in a better place.

Now for the good news!

There are definitely ways to help invitations arrive safely, alleviate some stress on your end, and set expectations with clients! But first, let’s dive into why stationers do the things they do.

After my IG poll, I started doing a little research. Of the stationers who answered, what were their average investments for clients? Were they fully custom designers, collection/semi-custom designers, or did they strictly offer pre-designed suites from big box companies?

And wouldn’t you know…there was a pattern.

First off, there’s no right or wrong way to create invitations. (There are definitely wrong ways to style invitations for photos, though…*ahem* looking at you, shoes!)

But in my research, I noticed that the stationers who swore up and down that they’d never mail for their clients were playing a different ball game than the ones who *do* mail for their clients. And the stationers who said It Depends? They were somewhere in the middle.

The middle of what? Everyone’s favorite “P” word: pricing.

This isn’t causality and isn’t a hard and fast rule by any means, but I noticed that stationers who voted fell within three price brackets (I’ve added in Minted for price comparison purposes):

  1. Minted ($)
  2. Medium ($$)
  3. Moderate ($$$)
  4. High/Luxury ($$$$)

MOST of those in the Medium investment range ($$) said they would never mail for their clients. Those in the Moderate investment range ($$$) said It Depends. You guessed it, the High/Luxury investment range stationers ($$$$) said they absolutely mail for their clients.

Why is there such a difference there? Because we’re all working with different types of clients! A Medium investment range stationer may work with clients who want to assemble invitations themselves with their friends or family over a glass of wine. They make a night of it! And they definitely don’t want to pay for something they want to do themselves.

On the other hand, my clients are often working long hours (like doctors/med school students), traveling for work, don’t have any desire to be hands-on, or are otherwise busy professionals. They’re more willing to say they trust me completely, are likely invest in more bells and whistles and upgraded production methods, and don’t have time to wait in line at the post office.

And frankly, I don’t think they should for what they’re investing in their invitations with me.

However, my Collection Invitations (a.k.a., semi-custom line) fall in the Medium/Moderate investment category, so I give clients the option: they can mail the invitations themselves at the base price, or they can add on mailing services for an additional fee.

The majority, not surprisingly, choose to have me mail for them. I can hear the relief in their voices when I offer this option to them! They truly do not want to mail their own invitations and seem to dread the post office.

This is an interesting study that would require a LOT more investigating to uncover a tried and true pattern, but I wanted to share the results of my informal IG poll with you so you could see how other stationers operate their businesses.

Another Reason Why I Mail

I’ve shared this story before, but it begs repeating because I see variations of this story from so many stationers – it’s crazy.

When I had just moved to Seattle from Florida and was building up my business, a bride reached out about getting invitations printed. We made some gorgeous invites together, she was beyond lovely, and I was super pleased with the end result. She wanted to mail the invites herself in order to have them hand-cancelled with her post office’s stamp, which I was cool with at that point. (Spoiler: I don’t offer this anymore.)

We met up in person and I put a box of her invitations directly into her hands, showing her how to seal the envelopes (they were already assembled), and what to use to seal them. She gushed over them and I felt like the world was a perfect place.

I didn’t hear from her until weeks later, when a scathing email landed in my inbox. Some of this bride’s invitations aSoon, I received a SCATHING email about how the invitations arrived late, unsealed and damaged to her guests. I asked if she had sealed them the way I recommended, and how long it took her to mail them. She said she mailed them over a week after I dropped them off to her and no, the envelopes should be able to be sealed any way she chose because “they’re envelopes”.

I explained that I can’t be held responsible for how invitations were sealed (because I didn’t seal them) and that some arrived damaged (I don’t run the invitations through USPS’s machines).

After that, she demanded I refund her entire order and threatened to sue me if I didn’t.

It was a nightmare that I still have literal nightmares about, and it’s so sad that things turned out that way.

That experience made me realize something: my clients don’t know as much as I do about invitations, paper products, or the post office. Which makes total sense, right? Our clients *shouldn’t* know much about invitations…that’s why they’re coming to us!

And as a Type A, enneagram 1w2, INTJ – yup, I’m a control freak – it was so important for me to be able to really flex the muscle I’d be steadily working on for years: mailing invitations.

It’s super interesting to hear how other stationers react to similar situations: some, like myself, insist on mailing everything from that point on because we want to make sure it’s done correctly/on time/to specifications/etc. to make sure invitations have the best possible chance of arriving at their destination.

Others go the opposite way and refuse to mail for their clients ever again. Like, they won’t even touch postage.

AGAIN: both of these are okay! Just like how I’m not ever going to be good at live IG sales, some people won’t be “good” at post office stuff. It’s totally okay.

Stay tuned for Part II, coming on May 27th!

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