How To Properly Address Wedding Invitations
Whether you’re an unconventional or a traditional one your wedding invitations give your guests a glimmer of the style and theme of your wedding. The hardest part in the wedding invitation process isn’t necessarily picking out the invites, but for me it’s writing out the envelopes! So many rules, so many ways, formal vs causal weddings.
Though the etiquette for addressing envelopes has relaxed a bit, when in doubt you should always refer to Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette Guide available through Amazon and other major booksellers. While you may think how you address them doesn’t matter, it does. It shows to the recipient that you’ve put thought into the little details.
How To Address Wedding Invitations
To A Married Couple
Traditionally, if the woman uses his surname, it is written as Mr. and Mrs. (His First Name) (Last Name). If that’s too formal including the first names of both husband and wife after their titles is appropriate.
- Formal: Street Numbers are written out if under the number 20
- Formal: Street, Avenue, Lane, etc should be written out in full
- Formal: PO Box should be written out as Post Office Box
- Formal: Apt should be written out as Apartment
- Formal: City and State should be written out in full
- Informally, you can write out the house number and can use abbreviations for the City and State such as St. Paul, MN
To a Married Couple That Use Different Last Names
For a married couple who uses two different names, traditionally the wife’s name comes first as per Martha Stewart. However, you can address it in any of the following ways:
- List the person you’re closest with first on the outer and inner envelopes.
- If you’re similarly acquainted with both, list them in alphabetical order.
- Should you use Mrs. or Ms. for the wife’s name? The Knot says to use Mrs. whereas Emily Post says to use Ms. We at Inked Weddings say to address it as she addresses herself.
To a Married Couple and The Wife Uses A Hyphenated Last Name
To an Unmarried Couple Living Together
For an unmarried established couple living together, the names are entered on one line.
To a Married or Unmarried Same-Sex Couple
All same rules apply to same sex married couples – join their names with Mrs. and Mrs. or Mr. and Mr. and on the same line. If they are unmarried but an established couple follow the same general rules for couples.
To A Married Couple, When One or Both Are Doctors
- When the wife is a doctor and uses his last name, address the envelope as: Doctor Jane Davis and Mr. John Davis
- When the wife is a doctor and uses her last name, address the envelope as: Doctor Jane Smith and Mr. John Davis
- When the husband is a doctor address the envelope as: Doctor John Davis and Mrs. Jane Davis
- When they are both doctors, but different last names: Doctor Jane Smith and Doctor John Davis
- It is acceptable to use the Dr. abbreviation as well, however, the full word is more formal.
To A Married Couple, When One or Both Are Commissioned Officers
The rules for enlisted, commissioned and retired officers are vast but the basic format is (Rank/Rating) + Name followed by spouses name. If both are officers, then the higher rank is placed first. However, Robert Hickey author of Honor & Respect gives a great breakdown of all the possible ways in the blog post How to Write The Names of Members Of the Armed Services on Invitations
To A Married Couple, When One is A Judge
To A Married Couple, With Children Invited
As you can see if you are invited a married couple with children the outer address envelope is only addressed to them. It is the inner envelope that you formally invite the children of the household. You would write the children’s names on the inner envelope underneath their parents names with the titles Master (if the male child is under 13) or Miss for girls / ladies under the age 18. (Ex – Master Gabriel and Miss Amanda). For the informal version, you would just use their names without titles. If there are children over 18 in the household, they would receive their own wedding invitations.
To Brothers or Sisters Living Together in the Same Household
Brothers or sisters living together (over 18) in the same household can be sent one envelope. In the above we use the abbreviation Messrs. for both brothers. For two sisters the proper form would be: Misses Elizabeth and Nancy Smith
To A Single Guest (Male or Female)
To A Divorced Woman
After divorce a woman may keep her married name – and if so, she may still use Mrs. It is perfectly acceptable to use Mrs. or Ms. when addressing the invitation when she has kept her married name. If she changed her name back to her maiden name, however, then you should address her as Ms. only.
To A Separated Woman
While separated a woman may use Mrs. or Ms. along with her married surname. It is best to check first on their preference.
To A Widow
Traditionally a widow keeps her husband’s name until she remarries. Some widows prefer to use their first name – so it is best to check first on their preference. Either Mrs. John Smith or Mrs. Jane Smith are acceptable.
Address Wedding Invitation Tips
The Outer Envelope
- Titles should not be abbreviated unless space necessitates it. Exception: Mr. and Mrs.
- Do not use nicknames or initials, use full names. Middle names need not be written
- Do not add “and family” or “and guest” – children and guests are invited on the inner envelope
- Write out the word and – do not use the ampersand (&) sign
- Suffixes are preceded by a comma including roman numerals.
- Junior and Senior can be abbreviated if you wish (Jr. and Sr.)
- If North, South, East or West is in the street name, it should be written out. (Ex – 123 North Main Street)
- If North, South, East, West, Northwest, etc.. are after the street name use a comma and abbreviate (Ex – 123 Main Street, N.W.)
The Inner Envelope
- For informal weddings, you can skip on the inner envelope.
- It’s purpose is to keep the integrity of the invitation intact.
- The inner envelope should have the names of the invited guests in the household (including children, whose names do not appear on the outer envelope).
- Write the first names of children to be invited below in order of age, oldest first.
- If children are not invited, do not include them on the inner envelope.
- If you are extending the invitation to “and guest” the words should not be capitalized.
How To Assemble A Wedding Invitation
- The invitation is on the bottom, print side up.
- A sheet of tissue paper can be placed over it.
- Stack all other inserts, such as a map, reception card, and reply card, on the invitation in order of size (smallest on top).
- The reply card should be under its envelope’s flap; this envelope should be pre-printed with the return mailing address, and should be stamped as well. (You do not want to require your guests to pay for return postage for the RSVP).
- Insert everything into the inner envelope with the print side up, so that when guests open the envelopes they will see the lettering.
- Slip the unsealed inner envelope into the outer envelope with the names facing the back flap.
Special Touches to Add to Your Wedding Invitations
- Stamps & Postage: Make sure you bring a completed invitation to the post office to get the proper postage needed. See what stamps they have available and if none are to your liking you can have custom stamps made up online to match your theme.
- Hand canceling: take your invitations to the post office and request that they be hand-canceled. Machines print bar codes on the envelopes, but hand-canceling — just marking each stamp — keeps invitations neat and prevents damage that machines can cause.
- Special Postmarks: All the towns listed in the envelope photos above are real towns. Call the post office and request if they can give your wedding invitations a special postmark. If they say they can, follow their instructions and put them in a box and mail the entire parcel to the post office you requested. They will postmark them and mail them for you. Find out a list of towns that do this and get more information here on the Post Office’s website.
I hope I answered your questions on how to properly address your wedding invitations. If there is a special title or circumstance I’ve missed and you’d like to know how to address the envelope, please comment below!