Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Addressing the Wedding Envelope

So you’ve narrowed your guest list down to 218 of your closest friends and family members…now it’s time to address the envelopes. Not sure where to start? We hope these tips will help point your pen in the right direction.

Most wedding invitations are sold with double envelopes. The outer envelopes have glue on the flap, so you can seal them for mailing. Your guest’s name and full address is written on the outer envelope. The inner envelopes are slightly smaller and have no glue on the flap. Only names are listed on the inner envelope, no addresses. These double envelopes are traditionally used to ensure that each guest will receive a pristine invitation in a clean envelope, even if the outer envelope has been torn or soiled in the mail.


‘Expert Addresser’ and calligrapher Moya Minns of MM Ink helps us sort through a few common questions…

{Question}: I am inviting a male friend and his girlfriend to my wedding. How should I address the envelope?

{MM Ink says}: For unmarried couples, it is always ladies first. The outer envelope would be addressed like this:

{Question}: Is it acceptable to use ‘and Family’ or ‘and Guest’ on the outside envelope?

{MM Ink says}: No, it is not. Invitations should always be mailed to the adult household members with the names of the children (or ‘and Family’ for a less formal event) written on the inner envelope. For an unmarried person inviting a guest, it is best to find out the name of the guest to include on the outer envelope. If the guest’s name is not known at the time, then ‘and Guest’ may be written on the inner envelope only.

{Question}: My guest list includes married couples with children. What is the proper way to address the envelope?

{MM Ink says}: Children over the age of 18 should get their own invitation. Any child under 18 would be listed on the inner envelope only from oldest to youngest on a line below the parent’s name. The inner envelope would look like this:

{Question}: What is the difference between Miss and Ms.?

{MM Ink says}: While it is acceptable to use both of these titles for an unmarried female, Miss is typically used for a female under eighteen.

{Question}: I am inviting a judge to my wedding. Is there a particular way to address the envelope?

{MM Ink says}: For the inner envelope, using ‘Judge’ is acceptable, however, a judge should be addressed as ‘The Honorable…’ on the outer envelope:

A few more important rules…

NO SHORTCUTS!When addressing your envelopes, do not use abbreviations other than “Mr.” or “Mrs.” Spell out Avenue, Road, and Street as well as the State name.


Here are the traditional rules for listing guests on the envelope in order of importance:

Children: oldest to youngest if listed individually on the inner envelope

Unmarried couple living together: list the lady’s name first

Married couple with different last names: lady’s name first

If one person is a Doctor: Doctor first, regardless of gender

If both are Doctors: Use “The Doctors Smith ” on both the inner and outer envelopes

If one person is a Reverend: list the Reverend first, regardless of gender

If one person is Military: list that person first, regardless of gender

If both are Military: list the person with higher rank first, regardless of gender

If one person is a Judge/Justice: list that person first, regardless of gender

Gay couple: oldest first unless they’ve stated differently


Remember! Before purchasing stamps, have one fully assembled invitation weighed at the post office to determine proper postage. Don’t forget to purchase stamps for the respond envelopes as well.


Check out this Wedding Wording Guides and Envelope Addressing Guide with more samples, tips and etiquette rules.

Credits:All calligraphy by MM Ink

Images and information by Betsy White Stationery Boutique

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