A Crash Course on How to Address Your Wedding Invitations

How to address wedding invitations and wedding planning tips from #thehandlettershop

When you begin thinking about how to address your wedding invitations, you quickly realize how many different situations can affect the process. On the one hand, it feels like you’re stepping back into a time of charming etiquette and manners. On the other hand, you want to avoid offending anyone.


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Unless you’re regularly addressing envelopes, it’s hard to keep track of the traditional etiquette. I’ve put together a guide for some of the most common envelope addressing scenarios.

Here are a few lesser known facts about wedding invitations that can help you before you start addressing your envelopes:

 

How to address wedding invitations and wedding planning tips from #thehandlettershop

Envelopes

Two envelopes are used to protect the invitation from getting damaged in the mail. The inner envelope also denotes who specifically is invited to the wedding. (Kids? Is a guest included? The inner envelope lets you know!)

Inner envelopes serve a specific purpose of letting you say who specifically is or isn't invited. This can clear up a lot of confusion! For example, if you’d like to indicate that an invitee can bring a guest, do so on the inner envelope. Write “and guest” or the guest’s name if you know it.

Invitees who live together but are not romantically involved should receive separate invitations (for example, roommates).

 

Titles

“Ms.” is reserved for divorced women or women you don’t know the marital status of. If you know she isn’t married, the proper etiquette is “Miss” and if you know she is married, use “Mrs.”

Boys listed on an inner envelope under their parent’s names don’t need to be addressed as “Mr.” but girls between the ages of 13 and 18 should be addressed as “Miss.”

Children over the age of 18 who live on their own should get their own invitation.

A general rule of thumb: using full names (first, middle, last–or just first and last) is always a step up over just using a title and last name (example: Mr. Stephen Lawrence is more formal than Mr. Lawrence).

 

Addressing

Words in the address such as “Drive,” “Apartment” or “Suite” should be written out, along with cities and state names.

Example:

3787 Flint Street

Apartment 4

Killeen, Texas

 

staying organized

It helps to organize all your invitees in spreadsheet form. Or, if you are hiring someone to address your envelopes for you, they will likely have you format your guest list in a spreadsheet. Here’s a free spreadsheet you can use to get started!

If there is uncertainty about how to address a specific invitee, it is always best to ask the guest personally what they'd prefer. It might feel awkward at first, but taking the time to ask shows that you care, and it keeps you from wondering what to do in unique situations. This is the best way to avoid offending anyone, and make the process of inviting seamless!

 

Common addressing situations

I've included the most common situations you're likely to have in the comprehensive list below. The format used here is for a formal, more traditional wedding. If you're wedding is more laid back or casual, you might not have to use the same level of formality that is listed here.

If you're unsure about how traditional your wedding is, go with more formal rather than casual, to avoid offending someone.


Single Invitees

 

Unmarried

Miss Lydia Hawthorne

 

Unmarried and Guest (if you don’t know their date)

Outer:

Miss Lydia Hawthorne

Inner:

Miss Lydia Hawthorne and Guest

Unmarried and Guest (if you know one better)

Outer:

Miss Lydia Hawthorne

Inner:

Miss Hawthorne and Mr. Michaels

 

Unmarried and Guest (if you know their date well)

Outer:

Miss Lydia Hawthorne

Mr. Peter Michaels

(On separate lines)

Inner:

Miss Hawthorne and Mr. Michaels

WIDOW

Outer:

Mrs. Sarah Lawrence

Inner:

Mrs. Lawrence

 

Single Guest and child

Outer:

Miss (or Ms.) Lydia Hawthorne

Inner:

Miss Lydia Hawthorne

Adelaide*

(On separate lines)

*Miss Adelaide Hawthorne if she’s over 13

*once over 18, she receives her own invitation

DIVORCEd

(until divorce/through separation)                

Outer:

Mrs. Sarah Wallace (if she keeps his name)

or

Ms. Sarah Hammond (if she goes back to her former name)

Inner:

Mrs. Wallace/Ms. Hammond

 

Couples

 

MARRIED COUPLE

Outer:

Mr. and Mrs. Stephen and Sarah Wallace

or

Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Wallace

Inner:

Mr. and Mrs. Wallace

 

UNMARRIED COUPLE LIVING TOGETHER

Outer:

Mr. Stephen Wallace

Miss Sarah Hammond

(On separate lines)

Inner:

Mr. Wallace and Miss Hammond

MARRIED COUPLE WITH DIFFERENT LAST NAMES

Outer:

Mrs. Sarah Hammond and Mr. Stephen Wallace

Inner:

Mrs. Hammond and Mr. Wallace

 

SAME-SEX COUPLE

Outer:

Ms. Diana Lawrence and Ms. Abigail Barth

or

Diana Lawrence and Abigail Barth

(Alphabetical order, or whomever is the closest acquaintance)

Inner:

Ms. Lawrence and Ms. Barth


families

 

with One Child:

Outer:

Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Wallace

Inner:

Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Wallace and Miss Emma

(Girls ages 13-18, use Miss, boys under 18, do not use a title.)

 

CHILDREN 18 and OLDER

If children 18 and older do not live with their parents, they should receive their own invitations.

Inner and outer:

Miss Emma Wallace

or

Mr. Jacob Wallace

with Multiple Children:

Outer:

Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Wallace

Inner:

Include parents' names and "and Family" afterwards

Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Wallace and Family


special titles

 

DOCTORS

(if both are doctors)

Outer:

Doctors Sarah and Stephen Wallace

Inner:

The Doctors Wallace

 

(if one is a doctor)

Outer:

Dr. Sarah and Mr. Stephen Wallace

or

Dr. Stephen and Mrs. Sarah Wallace

Inner:

Dr. Sarah and Mr. Wallace

or

Dr. Stephen and Mrs. Wallace

 

MILITARy

Outer:

Both captains in the military: Captains Sarah and Stephen Wallace, US Army

or

Different titles: Captain Stephen Wallace and Lieutenant Sarah Wallace, US Army

Inner:

Captains Wallace

or

Captain Stephen and Lieutenant Sarah Wallace

 

MINISTERS

Outer:

Reverend Stephen and Mrs. Sarah Wallace

Inner:

Reverend and Mrs. Wallace


Invitation addressing etiquette certainly is important, but don't let it stress you out too much. Ultimately, what is normal is changing in today's world. This guide serves to give you what is traditional for invitation addressing, but is by no means perfect for every situation.

For unusual situations, it is always best to just ask the invitee how they'd like to be addressed.

I hope you found this post helpful, and if you have any more questions about wedding invitations, send me an email!

xo

Vivian

P.S. For more wedding advice, inspiration and fine art curation, view the Pinterest Library here.

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Your engagement doesn't have to be stressful!

Learn how to savor this time (and stay organized) with a free Guide to Engagement.