Your big day is approaching quickly and the invitations need to be sent. Not sure how to properly address wedding invitations? Here are the dos and don’ts for writing the address lines.
The outer envelope should be more formal – it should have full names and titles. The inner envelope is informal – it should have only shortened titles and last names. Inner envelope should also list the names of all invitees at the address, including children.
- Write the name(s) of the guest(s) in the middle of the envelope. Keep in mind their titles and marital status.
- Titles such as Reverend, Doctor, Captain, etc. should not be shortened.
- Mister and Misses should be shortened to Mr. and Mrs.
- Junior and senior can be shortened or spelled out. If shortened: Jr. or Sr. (capitalized). If spelled out: junior or senior (not capitalized).
- Use full names only, do not use initials or nicknames.
- All suffixes are proceeded by a comma, including Roman numerals.
- Write out the word “and”, don’t use symbols.
- Do not add “and family”. Children’s names will be listed on the inner envelope.
- Exclude the first names of the recipients, write only their titles and last names.
- When you are sending invitations to friends and people with whom you are on a first name basis you can write only their first names on the inner envelope.
- Write first names of the children below the parents’ names. Write them in order of age (oldest child first). If you don’t include each child’s name, you’re implying that children are not invited. If the children aren’t on the guest list, don’t include their names.
- It’s fine to write familiar names for close family. For example: Aunt Hannah and Uncle John.
Addressing a couple who is married and has the same last name
Invitations are always addressed to both members of a couple who is married, even though the bride and groom may know only one of them. You should write both names on one line.
OUTER ENVELOPE: Mr. Jonathan and Mrs. Hannah Patterson or Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Patterson
INNER ENVELOPE: Mr. and Mrs. Patterson or Jonathan and Hannah
Addressing a couple who is married and has different last names
First write the name of the person you’re closer to. Write both names on one line.
OUTER ENVELOPE: Mr. Jonathan Patterson and Mrs. Hannah Smith
INNER ENVELOPE: Mr. Patterson and Mrs. Smith or Jonathan and Hannah
Addressing a couple who isn’t married but lives together
Include both names on the outer envelope. Write each name on the separate line. List names in alphabetical order. You can also separate names with a coma. For example:
Mr. John Patterson
Ms. Hannah Smith
Mr. John Patterson, Ms. Hannah Smith
Addressing a same sex couple
If the couple is married, write the names on the same line. Also, use “Ms.” instead of “Mrs”. If the couple isn’t married, separate their names with a coma or give a new line to each name. You can list their names with or without the titles. For example:
OUTER ENVELOPE: Ms. Maria Smith and Ms. Hannah Patterson or Maria Smith, Hannah Patterson
INNER ENVELOPE: Ms. Smith and Ms. Patterson or Maria and Hannah
Addressing a doctor or doctors
If you are addressing a couple where one of the people is a doctor, list his or her name first preceded by “Doctor”. Etiquette dictates that the spouse with the professional title is listed first.
OUTER ENVELOPE: Doctor Hannah Smith and Mr. John Patterson
INNER ENVELOPE: Doctor Smith and Mr. Patterson
Or, if she uses the name of her husband socially:
OUTER ENVELOPE: Doctor Hannah Patterson and Mr. John Patterson
INNER ENVELOPE: Doctor Patterson and Mr. Patterson
If both people are doctors, write Doctors in front of couples names.
OUTER ENVELOPE: Doctors Hannah and John Patterson or Doctor Hannah Smith and Doctor John Patterson or The Doctors Patterson
INNER ENVELOPE: The Doctors Patterson or Doctor Smith and Doctor Patterson
Same goes for anyone with a distinguished title, such as Reverend or Captain. If both titles don’t fit, add the second line.
OUTER ENVELOPE: The Honorable Hannah Patterson and Lieutenant John Patterson or Captains Hannah and John Patterson, U.S. Navy
INNER ENVELOPE: Judge Hannah and Lieutenant John, U.S. Navy or The Captains Patterson
Addressing a family
Write the word “The” followed by the family’s last name. Don’t address children on the outer envelope. Include them on the inner envelope of their parents’ invitation. Use “Miss” for girls that are under 18. Boys are addressed as “Mr” when they turn 18, until then the title isn’t necessary.
OUTER ENVELOPE: The Smiths or The Family Smith
Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Mr. and Mrs. John Patterson
James, Peter, Miss Anna and Miss Samantha
Addressing a single individual
Write the title, first and last name of the individual.
OUTER ENVELOPE: Ms. Hannah Smith or Mr. John Patterson
INNER ENVELOPE: Hannah or John
How to add “and Guest”
Since it’s awkward to address the outer envelope as “Mr. John Patterson and Guest” the inner-outer envelope system works well. Address the outer envelope to “Mr. John Patterson” and the inner envelope to “Mr. John Patterson and Guest”. If you’re using only outer envelope, include a short note with your invitation: “Dear John, you’re welcome to bring a guest to the wedding. Please let me know. Best, Hannah.”
Write the address below the names on the outer envelope. This should be the address of the family or the person you are most familiar within a couple (if the couple is not living together). Do not shorten or use initials in the street address, spell out all words in an address on your envelopes. Use “Street”, “Post Office Box” and “Apartment” rather than “St.”, “P.O. Box” or “Apt.”. This applies to city and state names as well. You should spell house numbers smaller than 20. Add post office box numbers if needed.
The preferred place for writing/printing the return address is on the outer envelope’s back flap. Don’t use abbreviations, write out all words here, too. The return address is important for knowing which guests did not receive their invitations. If an invitation is returned to you unopened, it means that you probably wrote the wrong address. Call up your guest and confirm the correct address.
RSVP envelopes address
Address the return envelopes. These are the envelopes that your guests will send their responses in. You should put your name, house number, street, town, state, and zip code.
What are your thoughts on how to address wedding invitations? Do you have any tips? Share them in comments!
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