The wedding invitation envelope. Never has there been a more confusing yet simple topic as how to correctly address guests on your invitation envelopes! With a plethora of information and opinions out there it can be difficult to know where to start. Hopefully you find the information below helpful if you are at this juncture in the planning process!
Before diving in, please note this guide is geared towards invitation suites that do not utilize both an inner and outer envelope. While an inner envelope serves a wonderful purpose and indicates a certain level of formality for a wedding, it is not always common practice for couples to use both. Therefore this post is only focused on the use of one envelope.
Addressing an individual without a plus-one: A guest's' name should be written out in full and include any appropriate titles.
Addressing an individual with a plus-one: Rather than addressing the envelope to "Ms. Jane Doe and Guest" I suggest making every effort to find their plus-one's full name and include them on the envelope. Write the primary invitee's name on the first line, followed by their plus-one's name on the second line without the word "and." Another option would be to find their date's address and send them their own separate invitation.
Addressing an unmarried couple that lives together: Names should be written with their appropriate titles on separate lines without the word "and." This applies to same-sex couples as well. Note that if a couple (same-sex or not) has been together for a long period of time but has chosen to remain unmarried for personal reasons, you may find it more fitting to write both names on the same line and separate them by "and."
Addressing a married couple: Traditionally you should use both of the couple's titles followed by the husband’s first and last name, for example, “Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Smith.” If you'd prefer a more modern approach you can use the first and last names of both guests: “Mrs. Jennifer Smith and Mr. Jonathan Smith.”
If a married woman has chosen to keep her maiden name, address the female guest first: "Ms. Caroline Kelty and Mr. Dean Murphy."
For same-sex couples write both names on the same line and separate them with an "and." This will work if they share the same last name or if they have kept their last names after marriage.
Recognize a judge by using “The Honorable,” and list him or her first. When both the husband and wife have different professional titles, you should generally list the wife first.
When a guest is a doctor you should spell out "Doctor" on the envelope. If the husband is a doctor it will be: "Doctor and Mrs." If the wife is a doctor she will be listed first on the invitation. If both are doctors write, "The Doctors," followed by their last name.
Addressing a Family: It is simplest to address the envelope to the entire family, for example: "The Culp Family." Another option is to include the parent(s) names on the first line with each of the children's first names, from oldest to youngest, on the second line.
Spell out all words in an address. Rather than "St.," "P.O. Box," and "Apt.," use "Street," "Post Office Box," and "Apartment." The same applies to "North," "South," "East," and "West." City and state names should be completely written out as well; instead of abbreviations, write "Scottsdale, Arizona" and "Washington, District of Columbia" etc.
The return address should go on the back flap of the envelope. Traditionally, whoever is hosting the wedding handles returned mail and response cards, but it is perfectly fine if you would rather do it yourself or delegate it to someone. Just decide who will be taking care of the response cards (parents, couple, etc.) and use their address as the return address on both the invitation envelope and RSVP envelope.
RSVP ENVELOPES AND ADDRESS
Including a self-addressed, stamped envelope for your RSVP cards is standard practice and makes it as easy as possible for guests to respond in a timely manner. Whichever address you chose as your invitation return address should also be the address on your RSVP envelopes.
There are many "rules" on the correct uses of Mrs. vs. Ms. in situations when women choose to keep their maiden, when they are widowed, divorced, etc. In my professional opinion rather than trying to follow all of these "rules" simply ask (or try to find out) that person's preferred greeting and address their envelope in that way. They will probably appreciate the gesture.
If you’re planning to use a calligrapher to address your invitation envelopes you will want to allot enough time to have that done and get your invitations in the mail on time. It is also wise to book a calligrapher early on rather than waiting and rushing the process.
Start collecting guest addresses as you build your guest list so you are not stressed for time to gather addresses later on.
Whatever platform you use to build your guest list (Google Docs, Excel, etc.) write out your guests’ names and addresses as they should appear on the invitation envelope. For example, write “Street” instead of “St.”, “East” instead of “E.”, add names with their correct titles, etc. This will save you time later on from having to go back through and reformat everything.
Hopefully you find the above information helpful as you work through the logistics of your wedding invitations and guest list. If you are currently in this stage of planning you might find this post on wedding websites or tips for your guest accommodations beneficial as well!
Cover photo by Melissa Jill Photography