Figuring out how to address wedding invitations seems like it should be a straight-forward process, but once you’re in the thick of it, plenty of questions pop up. Should you write “and guest” if you don’t want your cousin to bring a totally random date? Is it proper to put “Third Avenue”, or will “3rd Ave” do? While online wedding invitations are gaining in popularity, paper still reigns supreme in the wedding world. Here are some tips to keep in mind when figuring out how to address wedding invitations.
Before you start:
- Gather all your guest addresses in a spreadsheet.
- Allow plenty of time for putting invitations together. Depending on the number of invites you’re sending, this particular task could take anywhere from a few hours to a few days! Remember that wedding invitations need to be sent out 6-8 weeks before your wedding, so plan accordingly. Learn more about when to send wedding invitations here.
- Make sure that anyone who needs to approve the guest list (groom, mother-in-law, etc.) has looked it over before you address your wedding invitations.
- Decide on who gets a plus one and find out the names of all dates and significant others ahead of time.
- Double check the spelling of all names and addresses.
- Make sure your workspace is clean—no dusty countertops or glasses of Diet Coke sitting nearby!
While you address wedding invitations:
- Decide who your wedding invitation is coming from. Although this used to be the bride’s parents, we all know that today there really are no rules. If you and your groom are paying for most of the wedding and would rather just address the invites from yourselves, go for it! Or even if you’re not paying for it you can choose to send the wedding invitations as well. You can also choose to have the invitation sent from both sets of parents. The return address typically goes on the back of the envelope for wedding invitations. See our favorite return address stamps here.
- Depending on your wedding invitation style, you might have both an outer envelope and an inner envelope. The inner envelope should have specific names of those invited, like children and guests.
- Addresses don’t go on inner envelopes—only the names of those invited. You can also use first names only on the inner envelopes if you want to go for something a little less traditional
- Remember that invitations are always addressed to both members of married couples on both outer and inner envelopes. And as mentioned above, you may want to be specific and research significant others instead of putting “and guest” to avoid a potentially awkward situation.
I like this simple guide from Crane and Co. for addressing wedding invitations.
Important Tips to Remember:
1. If you’re inviting children, their names go directly under their parents names on the inner envelope only (the outer envelope would just say Mr. and Mrs. John Weasley). An example of how the inner envelope would read:
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley
Rose and Hugo
Any children 18 and older should receive their own wedding invitation.
2. Spell out street titles, like “Boulevard” and “Avenue”
3. Spell out titles like “Doctor” or “Father”
4. If both parties are doctors, you can address them as such together by writing “The Doctors Smith.” If only one guest is a doctor and uses their maiden name professionally, the outer envelope could read as follows:
Doctor Margo Smith and Mr. Peter Underwood
If she uses her husband’s name socially it could read:
Doctor Margo and Mr. Peter Underwood
If the husband is a doctor, the outer envelope would read:
Doctor and Mrs. Peter Underwood
The inner envelope would read:
Doctor and Mrs. Underwood
5. For military personnel, you would address the guest using their full title. The outer envelope would read:
Colonel and Mrs. John Smith
The inner envelope would read:
Colonel and Mrs. Smith
For a female officer, the outer envelope would read:
Captain Sarah Smith,
U.S. Air Force
and Mr. John Smith
If both parties have distinguished titles, like military personnel or judges, write the person with the higher title first. For instance, a Sergeant is above a Private in the army, so a military couple with such roles would be written as:
Sergeant Sarah Smith and Private John Smith, U.S. Army
6. To a married couple with different last names, include both their first and last names on two separate lines. (Note that their names would be listed alphabetically, no matter if the man or woman comes first). An example:
Ms. Leslie Knope
Mr. Ben Wyatt
The inner envelope should read:
Ms. Knope and Mr. Wyatt
NOTE THE USE OF MS. VS. MRS.
7. Unmarried couples that live together should be addressed by both their first and last name as above.
Read more about proper wedding invitation wording here.
After you address:
- Take your invitations to the post office to have them weighed. Particularly if you have both an inner and outer envelope, they may require extra postage. You’d hate to get your gorgeous envelopes back with “Return to Sender” stamped on them!
- Triple check for any misspellings.
- Consider customized stamps for a fun touch.
- Remember to add postage to your RSVP envelopes as well.
- Consider paying a small fee to have your envelopes hand-processed. Machines can occasionally bend or wrinkle envelopes. Read more tips for mailing your wedding invitations here!
With these guidelines, learning how to address wedding invitations should be a total breeze! If it still seems like too much of a project, just hire a pro—your envelopes will have beautiful calligraphy, and you can trust them to follow the rules of etiquette. If you are learning to address wedding invitations on your own, here’s a handy infographic to keep everything straight! P.S. Disregard their rule about children listed, below, and read our etiquette for a kid free wedding instead!