Who knew addressing wedding invitations could induce so much anxiety?! So many big little details factor into the address equation. Social titles, professional titles, partnerships, which names to list, the order and manner in which to list them. And that’s all before the essential street-city-state-zip info, which by itself is a chore to compile.
Take a deep breath….and exhale.
You’re in experienced hands. We’re here to untangle the knots of envelope etiquette and relieve that wedding tension like the stationery Swedish masseur of your dreams. Cheree Berry Paper & Design has seen every addressing scenario under the sun in our nearly 20 years in business. In this blog, we’ll answer all your burning wedding invitation FAQs* (*frequent addressing questions) so you’ll know how to address your wedding invites with ease.
Once you read the following guide, addressing your wedding invitations will be effortless. You’ll take the stressing out of addressing. You’ll walk away from the mailbox with confidence that your invites will arrive on time. And you’ll know what to write to get it right for your guests.
Do You Always Need to Follow Formal Wedding Addressing Etiquette?
Do you need to follow formality when addressing envelopes? Yes and no.
As we unpack the addressing situations we see most often, you can relax knowing formal envelope addressing etiquette isn’t some carved-in-stone, Emily Post-policed mail mandate. It’s simply a reminder to act in a way that respects your guests.
Whether you consider traditional etiquette tasteful or behind the times, approach addressing with thoughtfulness and try to defer to your guests’ preferences. It’s okay to deviate from an established system to accommodate someone’s personal values and beliefs.
A Great First Step: Calculate How Many Envelopes You Want for Your Wedding Invitation
Envelopes are the all-important but oftentimes overlooked supporting characters of wedding invitations. The Cameron Fry to Ferris Bueller. The George Downes to Julianne Potter. The Lilly Moscovitz to Mia Thermopolis. But just like the trusty BFF in the background, the envelope deserves your attention and consideration too.
First, ask yourself how many envelopes you want to include in your wedding invitation suite. One or two? Traditional calls an outer envelope and an inner envelope, but your final count isn’t a signed and sealed done deal. This may seem like a minor matter of aesthetic opinion, but your answer may well inform your approach to addressing.
What Is the Difference Between an Inner Envelope and an Outer Envelope?
An outer envelope includes guests’ titles, full names and address. An inner envelope then reiterates those names by title and surname for adults or by first name for children under the age of 18.
A more traditional practice, the inclusion of an inner envelope harkens back to the dirt road days of the Pony Express. Riders discarded dust-caked outer envelopes at the door before delivering the inner envelope by hand. Talk about white-glove service!
That’s why, even though we’ve upgraded from horseback to horsepower, it behooves us to follow this practice today.
Do I Need Both an Inner and an Outer Envelope for a Wedding Invitation?
No envelope ultimatums here! One or two, it’s up to you. If you’re looking for the more eco-conscious or budget-conscious option, go solo. Using an outer envelope only is 100 percent acceptable, equally impactful and increasingly common.
But two envelopes can be better than one. Make the envelope duo your M.O. if concerned about any of the below.
- Clarity: An inner/outer envelope double team enables you to specify by name the individuals you’re inviting to your wedding. This is particularly useful when inviting only certain individuals from within a family or household. You leave no room for confusion and avoid some potentially awkward convos in the process.
- Cleanliness: An outer envelope still serves as an extra layer of protection for the pièce de resistance inside – your wedding invitation. While we’re no longer contending with dirt and dust, those splotchy USPS postmarks and cancelling lines across your stamps are inevitable. As is the general wear and tear a piece of mail endures from point A to point B. An inner envelope guarantees a pristine presentation of your invitation.
- Consequentiality: An extra special event such as your wedding merits an extra envelope. The inner envelope’s added layer of formality elevates and differentiates your wedding invitation from the other celebratory mail we hope you post in your lifetime.
How to Formally Address a Wedding Invitation to a Married Couple
Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, allow us to present the formal wedding invitation addressing protocols for married couples. While one address format does not fit all, each should contain three components.
- Titles or professional honorifics: Prefixes and properness go together like champagne and caviar
- Full first and last names: Abbreviations, initials and nicknames are no-gos
- “And”: The conjunctive codeword, the grammatical glue binds the names of a married couple together
How to Formally Address a Wedding Invitation to an Opposite-Gender Married Couple
Composed by the man’s first and last name, this is perhaps the formal format that’s most familiar.
Include a Married Woman’s Name in a Formal Wedding Invitation Address
A woman should be able to list her title and include her first name too! Although a departure from formal etiquette, acknowledging a woman’s first name alongside her prefix is becoming an ever more requested, impartial approach to addressing – and we’re here for it! Consider this our official petition to add a page to Emily Post’s book.
We prefer the woman precede her husband in this case so that you don’t separate the man’s first name from his surname.
How to Formally Address a Wedding Invitation to an Opposite-Gender Couple with Different Last Names
When an opposite-gender married couple has kept their respective last names, include both party’s title, first and last name. Ladies first.
“Ms.” is the prescribed honorific for a married women who doesn’t take her husband’s last name. However, “Mrs.” works just as well if she so chooses.
The Meaning Behind Miss, Ms. and Mrs.
All the single ladies fall into the “Miss” or “Ms.” camp. Reserve the use of “Miss” for the 20 and younger crowd.
“Mrs.” is the traditional telltale sign of a married woman. However, more and more married woman opt for “Ms.” so as not to be defined by their marital status. Either is correct.
How to Formally Address a Wedding Invitation to A Same-Gender Married Couple
If a same-gender married couple shares a surname, include both individual’s title, first and last name.
How to Formally Address a Wedding Invitation to A Same-Gender Married Couple with Different Last Names
Whether or not a same-gender married couple shares a last name, we recommend listing them in alpha order by first name. Alternatively, order them based on who you know better.
How to Formally Address a Wedding Invitation to a Married Couple with One Non-Binary Individual
Use “Mx” as the honorific for guests who prefer to remain gender-neutral. If you’re unsure how a guest identifies, don’t assume – politely ask! It’s worth any perceived awkwardness to get it right for your guest.
How to Casually Address a Wedding Invitation to a Married Couple
Let’s drop the formalities like they’re hot!
For more casual forms of wedding envelope address, feel free to throw the honorifics and full names out the window. Throw the whole etiquette rulebook if you like. Nicknames, terms of endearment, inside jokes – all’s fair in love and casual addressing.
How to Casually Address a Wedding Invitation to an Opposite-Gender Married Couple
Leave off the honorifics altogether in favor of listing each individual’s first name. In the case of an opposite-gender couple, ladies first. For same-gender couples, list in alpha order by first name.
How to Casually Address a Wedding Invitation to a Married Couple With Different Last Names
You guessed it – just toss those titles to the side. Include both first and last names, either ladies first or in alpha order by first name.
At Cheree Berry Paper & Design, we’ve designed over 1,000 invitations and have had the pleasure of seeing many happy recipients. As a valuable bonus, we offer an Excel wedding invitation addressing template to keep your guest list organized. This resource allows you to collect all your guests’ addresses in one place easily and provides helpful addressing tips. If you’re interested in working with our in-house envelope addressing experts, click here to contact our team and get started today.