Paper Trail

Agonizing over invitation suites is nothing new for soon-to-be-weds. Letterpress or thermography? White diamond or ecru? Pocket-fold or flat? It’s enough to overwhelm even the most carefree duo.

But it’s only half of the paper battle. There’s the envelope, too, where couples are faced with the pressure to splurge on calligraphy, Emily Post’s laundry-list of etiquette rules and the challenge of finding stamps that compliment the vibe of the wedding.

For those lovebirds that just can’t get excited about the ho-hum designs the post office is hocking these days, vintage stamps provide a great alternative, while helping imbue a retro-inspired tone right from the get-go.

“It’s such a fun part of your invitations, if you feel like putting the time in,” says Kristina Hedrick Meltzer of 100LayerCake.com. “It isn’t as expensive as people think it is, plus it’s so much more visually interesting to look at a whole row of bold cool stamps, instead of the two rings together that the post office gives you.”

Word of advice: Start collecting early. Seek out estate sales and stamp collectors in the area, who often have plenty of face value stamps to sell. “They aren’t worth anything on the collectable market, but they’re perfectly cool for sending invites,” says Hedrick Meltzer, who took on the task of stamp collecting for her 2008 nuptials.

Look for high-value varieties like 20 or 25-cents, because it takes a lot of those little lovelies to cover the 61-cent fee it costs to mail most info-packed invites today. Once you’ve gathered the small works of art, Hedrick Meltzer suggests grouping them by color and theme, before selecting sets for each letter.

“My husband’s cousin is a pharmacist, so I had vintage pharmacy stamps,” she recounts. “If there’s an interest that a guest had and I remembered, I put those on. If you have people that appreciate those details, they will totally keep your envelope forever.”

Another helpful item to note: If you do decide to have a calligrapher address the invites, be sure to let them know about your vintage stamp plan, so they can leave enough space along the top of the envelope. And, when the time comes to apply those little guys to the paper, Hedrick Meltzer recommends recruiting a teammate.

“I made my husband do it,” she says, with a smile. “I told him, ‘I did everything else, you have to lick them.’ It was like the Seinfeld episode where Susan dies from licking too many envelopes.”

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