There are guidelines to follow when addressing envelopes for weddings or other events, particularly when the event is formal. Here are some rules of thumb to go by when addressing envelopes for your special event.
At Indigo Envelope, we do very few invitations that have both an outer and inner envelope. Most of our clients prefer to do fancy enclosures that hold multiple cards detailing their event plans. There is not room in a standard envelope to have both an outer and inner envelope, and an Envelopments enclosure. We also feel that this tradition is pretty antiquated. It dates back to a time when many people had domestic workers who took an invitation out of an outer envelope and brought them the inner envelope. Most of our clients prefer to do something more interesting with their funds than just adding an extra envelope.
Since we are usually addressing invitations without an inner envelope, as is the modern trend, it is important to completely address the outer envelope to everyone who is invited to your event. Make sure to be explicit in your envelope addressing. If you do not put a guest’s name on the envelope, or invite “the family,” then that person or kids are not invited.
Ms. versus Mrs.
Many women today prefer the more common title of “Ms.” rather than the traditional “Mrs.”
“Ms.” is also considered to be the standard, default, courtesy title for women today, unless you know that a woman prefers to use “Mrs.” You should always seek to address people the way they would like to be addressed. If you are not sure, you should guess based on what you know about the guest, or just default to “Ms.”
Children over 18, Guests Living at Same Address
Traditionally, each single guest over the age of 18 should receive their very own personally addressed invitation−even if that means two invitations are sent to the same address. For instance, if you have three friends living as roommates−all at the same address−you should probably send them each their own invitation so that they all will feel personally invited, and also have something to keep for their scrapbooks.
Couples with Different Last Names
If an invitation is addressed to a couple with different last names, you should just list their names on the invitation on separate lines in alphabetical order. It is not necessary to include the word “and.”
Ms. Jane Brewster
Mr. Robert Jones
4354 Smith Place
City, State Zip
When a married couple has the same last name, you can address the invitation using courtesy titles and the man’s name IF the woman uses the man’s name socially and prefers this tradition. The address would go: Mr. and Mrs. John Smith, followed by their address.
Otherwise, just list both names: Ms. Jane Brewster and Mr. John Brewster
OR, if you are not using courtesy titles: Jane and John Brewster
It is INCORRECT to write: Mr. and Mrs. John and Jane Brewster
Gay and Lesbian Couples
It is not at all difficult to address envelopes for gay and lesbian couples. If the couple is married, whether they have the same last name or not, their names go on a single line. If they have different last names, alphebetize them. If they are not married, list them on separate lines, with the last names alphebetized. Here are examples:
Married, same last name:
Ms. Jane and Ms. Joan Porterfield
Mr. John and Mr. David Smith
Married, different last names:
Mr. John Doe and Mr. David Smith
Ms. Jane Lastname and Ms. Joan Doe
Ms. Jane Lastname
Ms. Joan Blackman
Mr. John Doe
Mr. David Smith
Full Names or Middle Names
Use formal names, not nicknames generally on invitations. If you use middle names, you should use them in full. If you don’t know the full middle name, don’t substitute the initial. We feel, for space considerations, however, that it is often better not to worry about middle names.
Courtesy Titles and Abbreviations
Mr., Ms., and Mrs. are always abbreviated, as are Messrs. and Esq.
Usually, Jr. is also abbreviated. It may or may not be preceded by a comma and followed by a period, but we usually prefer to use the punctuation when we are handling address lists.
Doctor is always spelled out for medical doctors, including psychiatrists, veterinarians and dentists. For PhDs, the title of “Dr.” is abbreviated.
Judges are called “The Honorable” on the exterior of the envelope or in formal invitation text and then called “Judge” as a title on an escort card or other materials.
When dealing with titles, a simple rule is to stick with alphabetical order (by last names of the couple) unless the title supercedes it. A judge is more prominent than just a Mr. For example:
Judge Judy Smith and Mr. Scott Able
If the partners have different names and they each have a title, then apply the alphabetical rule:
Judge Martin Cass and Doctor Sara Douglas
Generally, if the couple has the same last name, the titled person is listed first:
Doctor Maria Bost and Mr. Samuel Bost
Reverend James Spetler and Mrs. Irene Spetler
Reverend and Mrs. James Spetler
Guests Bringing Guests
If one of your guests is bringing a date, and you know the date, you should include the guest’s name on the invitation. Otherwise, if they are invited to bring a date, you can add the words “and Guest” on the envelope.
Many people simply call their friends and family ahead of time and just ask the name of the guest they would like to bring, and then put that name on the invite.
Inviting Children and Courtesy Titles for Kids
If you are inviting children, you should address the invitation to the couple and then add the phrase “and Family” on the envelope to let them know it is okay to bring their kids. You can also include the specific children’s names.
Kids about 18 years and older receive courtesy titles and are listed on a separate line. We generally do not use courtesy titles such as “Master” or “Miss” for children. “Master” especially is a throw-back that has unpleasant layers of meaning. So just leave the courtesy titles off for young kids.
Style for Street Addresses and States
Spell out everything on your wedding invitation addresses, such as East, Apartment, Road, Drive, etc. You can either spell out state names or use postal (two letter) abbreviations for them. Spelling everything out is considered to be more formal, but may not really be preferred by the U.S. Postal Service.
Use ampersands (&) if your lines are too long and you think the addresses might not fit.
Finally, don’t forget to send invitations to your parents and officiant. Also send one to yourself first thing so you can see how long it takes to arrive and in what condition.