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  • Serena Kramer

Wedding Invitation Etiquette: How to Address Them with Grace

Updated: Apr 17, 2023

Are you one of the lucky couples who have just received their wedding invitations but are now wondering how to address them? Fear not, because we're here to help! In this article, we'll guide you through the entire process of addressing your wedding invitations.

Following these etiquette rules will help you set the tone for the event, show respect for guests, provide clarity, honor tradition, demonstrate professionalism, and add to the aesthetics of the invitations. By adhering to these etiquette guidelines, you will make your guests feel respected and appreciated. In this article, we'll discuss the proper etiquette for addressing both the outer and inner envelopes.

Outer Envelope Etiquette

The outer envelope is the first thing that guests will see when they receive their wedding invitation, and it's important to make a good impression. The outer envelope should be addressed formally and should include the full names and addresses of the recipients. Here are some general guidelines for addressing the outer envelope:

  • Use proper titles: When addressing the outer envelope, it's important to use proper titles. For married heterosexual couples, the husband's name should be listed first, followed by the wife's name (e.g., Mr. and Mrs. John Smith). If the wife has kept her maiden name, both names should be listed (e.g., Mr. John Smith and Ms. Jane Johnson). For unmarried couples living together, both names should be listed (e.g., Ms. Jane Johnson and Mr. John Smith ). The woman's name should be listed first on her own line. The man's should be listed on the second line. For single guests, use their full name and appropriate title (e.g., Miss Sarah Johnson or Mr. William Smith).

  • The proper etiquette for addressing an outer envelope going to a same-sex couple depends on the couple's preferences and the context of the mailing. Here are a few options to consider:

    1. Use both individuals' full names: If you know the full names of both individuals in the couple, you can use both of their names on the outer envelope. For example: Mr. Michael Lee and Mr. John Smith. Write them in alphabetical order by last name.

    2. Use the couple's shared last name: If the couple shares a last name, you can address the envelope using their shared last name. For example: The Smith-Lee Family.

    3. Use gender-neutral titles: If you don't know the names of both individuals or if the couple prefers gender-neutral language, you can use gender-neutral titles such as "Mx." or "Messrs." For example: Mx. Smith and Mx. Lee or Messrs. Lee and Smith. This approach is appropriate for situations where you want to avoid assumptions about gender or when the couple has expressed a preference for gender-neutral language. It's always a good idea to check with the couple directly to see how they prefer to be addressed. Respect their wishes and preferences, and use language that makes them feel seen and valued.

  • Use formal language: When addressing the outer envelope, it's important to use formal language. Avoid using abbreviations and nicknames. Instead, use the full name and appropriate title (e.g., Doctor, Reverend, etc.). Avoid using "&" in place of "and."

  • Use proper addressing format: The address should be written in a proper format. Start with the recipient's name and title, followed by their street address on the next line. The city and state go on the next line. Traditionally, the ZIP code is on the same line as the city and state. A more modern aesthetic allows for the ZIP code to go on the bottom/last line. Make sure to spell out the state name in full (e.g., California, not CA). Rural Route and Post Office Box should always be written out as well.

  • Place apartment numbers on the second line: Apartment numbers or unit numbers should go on the line below the names. The third line would be the street address. This is because mail carriers read from bottom to top, starting with the zip code.

  • Write out Street Numbers: If it's aesthetically pleasing, you can write out the street numbers if they are between one and twenty.

Inner Envelope Etiquette

The inner envelope is the second envelope that guests will open, and it's important to follow proper etiquette when addressing it. Here are some guidelines for addressing the inner envelope:

  • Specify which guests are invited: The inner envelope is a good place to specify which guests are invited. For example, if only the parents are invited, the inner envelope should read "Mr. and Mrs. John Smith" on the first line. If children under 18 are invited, they will be listed below the parents in first names only: Jonathan, Molly, and Nate.

  • Children over the age of 18 should have an individual invitation mailed to them separately.

Addressing wedding invitations can seem like a daunting task, but following proper etiquette for addressing both the outer and inner envelopes can help make the process go smoothly. By using formal language and proper titles on the outer envelope and more informal language on the inner envelope, you can make sure your wedding invitations set the right tone and provide guests with all the important information they need. Remember to double-check your spelling and formatting to ensure that your invitations look their best. Happy planning!

Did you know?

The social etiquette of sending wedding invitations began around the beginning of the 18th century when reading and writing was a sign of education. In the 18th century, the tradition of sending wedding invitations began. They often varied from region to region, and where the postal service was unreliable or non-existent, it was common for the couple's family or servants to hand deliver them.

Recommended Resources

  • The Wedding Blue Book by Crane & Co.

  • The Blue Book of Stationery, The Definitive Guide to Social and Business Correspondence Etiquette by Crane & Co.


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