In a world of email and text messages, we don’t often send out formal mail to family and friends. When it comes to mailing out your wedding invitations, chances are you’ve got a few households that have you stumped on how best to address the envelopes. Maybe your cousin has a plus 1 that you don’t really know or your your Aunt is a doctor but your uncle is not. All these situations can be tricky and with all the time and effort that went into creating your wedding invitations, getting those lovely envelopes addresses properly is the final icing on the cake so today we are sharing our ultimate guide to addressing your wedding invitation envelopes.
Envelope Addressing for a Married Couple
The most traditional form of addressing an invitation. You may also wish to include both person’s names instead to read “Mr. Benjamin and Mrs. Rebecca Gilbert”. If you are using an inner and outer envelope, the outer envelope should be addressed as shown above. For the inner envelope you may choose either “Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert” for a formal invitation, of “Benjamin and Rebecca” for a more modern or casual invitation.
Envelope Addressing for a Married Couple with Different Last Names
It is appropriate to list the person to whom you are the closest with first. This is true for both outer and inner envelopes if you are using them. If you know each person equally as well you may list them in alphabetical order or as you wish.
Envelope Addressing for an Unmarried Couple Living Together
Both names should be included on the envelope and you can treat the names the same way you would for a married couple with the first name being that of the person you are closest with or your choice if you know them equally.
Envelope Addressing for a Same-Sex Couple
Use the same rules you would for any other unmarried or married couple. If the couple is married, list the names on the same line.
Envelope Addressing for Distinguished or Professional Titles
If only one person in the couple has a distinguished title, it is proper to put his/her name and title first. If the wife has the professional title and uses her maiden name professionally, you should address her as such.
If both people in the couple have professional titles and have different last names, both of their names should be written.
If both people in the couple are professionals and have the same last name, you may address them as shown above or “The Doctors Jones” would also be acceptable. Many of the same rules as Doctors apply to military personnel, reverends, judges, etc. If both parties have distinguished names, it is best to put the person with the highest rank first. Also, it is best to include “The Honorable” in front of any title for an elected government position excluding the President.
“The Honorable Governor of Pennsylvania Tom Wolf and Mrs. Frances Wolf” or “Colonel Elizabeth Kurtz, U.S. Navy and Dr. James Kurtz”.
Envelope Addressing to a Divorced Woman
The best practice is to address her as either Mrs. or Ms. and use her maiden name if she no longer uses her former husband’s surname.
Envelope Addressing to a Widow
Traditionally, you would use the deceased husband’s last name in the address, as well as his first name. However, this depends greatly on her personal preference and what she will find respectful. Some choose to use their own first name, and sometimes they also may use their own last name. If you are unsure, it is always best to ask the person before mailing her invitation.
Envelope Addressing for Families with Children
If you are using an inner and outer envelope, traditionally children are not listed on the outer envelope but may be listed by name on the inner envelope. Remember girls under 18 should be addressed as “Miss”. Boys do not require a title until they are 18.
For single envelopes (the more modern approach) you may address the envelopes to the family or list the children individually.
Envelope Addressing to Children over 18
Children over 18 that no longer live at home should receive their own invitation. If they still live with their parents, they may be included with their family’s invitation. Also, be sure to include “and guest” if you welcome the single people to bring someone with them.
More Helpful Tips for formal addressing:
- Do not abbreviate except for Mr., Mrs., or Ms.
- Do not use Symbols
- Spell out the word “and”
- Do not use initials
- Use figures only when writing house numbers and zip codes
- Write out the words “Street”, “Boulevard”, “Avenue”, etc.
- Do not abbreviate state names
- Designations “Attorney” and “esquire” are not used on social invitations
- For a formal invitation designations such as junior and senior are separated by a comma and are not capitalized – example: Mr. and Mrs. John Smith, junior.
- A comma does not separate designations such as II or III – example: Mr. and Mrs. John Smith III
- On informal invitations it is acceptable to use first names but always be sure to list the woman’s name first – example: Susan and William Smith
Remember: Traditional wedding invitation addressing reflects the formality of the event – not the level of formality of a relationship.
The Return Envelope:
Most couples today are responsible for collecting the RSVPs and keeping track of who can and cannot attend. In these cases, the return envelope should be your current address.
It may not always be that simple such as when the bride and groom still live with their own families, or soemone else is collecting the RSVPs. Whomever is collecting the RSVPs should be the person and address listed on the return envelope. This will ensure that the responses are going to the person responsible for collecting that information.
If you know you will be moving, it may be wise to use a close friend or family member’s address to ensure that all the responses are going to one singlular place.
Remember: Do not forget to add postage to the RSVP envelope before mailing your invitations.
Whether you plan to hire a calligrapher, are having your envelopes printed through your stationer or doing it yourself, knowing how to properly address your envelopes makes getting your wedding invitations ready to be mailed out go much smoother. Have a unique situation that you aren’t sure how to address? Let us know and we’ll be happy to help you out!
More Resources for your Wedding Invitations:
- Wedding Invitation Wording and Etiquette
- Things You Should Know Before Ordering Your Wedding Invitations
- Wedding Stationery Timeline
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