How To Address Wedding Invitations

Photo: getty
How to Address Wedding Invitations

Etiquette has changed so much over the years, and with more variety in parental situations, there are always questions about how to address wedding invitations and word them properly. And for wedding invitations, what seems to be the simplest task on the to-do list can often become one of the biggest stressors.

But the first step in addressing your wedding invitations is a comprehensive and correct guest list. According to Kimberly Allen, CEO and co-founder of Something Fabulous, “This list should include the correct title and names of your guests, and accurate address information to include zip code.”

RELATED: Paper Or Email: Should Wedding Invitations Be Digital At This Point?

In the event that you are inviting single guests, be aware of whether or not they are bringing a "plus one." And it is best to know the name of significant others, in general.

Says Allen, “If your cousin is a serial dater, 'and guest' is a perfectly acceptable way to address their invitation. If your guest has been living with their partner or dating someone for any length of time, you need to take the time to know that person's name and use it properly in your envelope addressing.”

Also keep in mind who your actual guest is.

For example, if you are inviting your co-worker, his wife is just his "plus one." Says Danielle Rothweiler of Rothweiler Event Design, “In my humble opinion, the most important thing to consider when addressing the wedding invitation is exactly whom is invited.”

There's also the issue of using envelopes and writing out addresses. According to Allen, “A traditional wedding invitation will most likely have two envelopes: an outer envelope which would include your guest's titles, names and address with an inner envelope that will be written in the way you address these guests in person.”

For example:


Mr. and Mrs. Robert Smith

123 Main Street

Anytown, Pennsylvania 12345

Formal Inner:

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Informal Inner:

Auntie June and Uncle Robert

In today's informal world, there are invitation suites that do not include double envelopes, and in this case, it is extremely important to be specific on the outer envelope.

“An accurate guest count is imperative for most wedding receptions, so it's best to advise who is invited rather than leaving it open to interpretation by your guests,” Allen suggests. Admittedly, in some cultures your specificity won't matter, but it's worth the effort.

RELATED: 8 Simple Tips For Fighting Pre-Marriage Anxiety To Make Your Wedding Day Wonderful

In addition to envelopes and the guest list, there are a few simple rules of thumb to follow:

1. Name titles

The first is an MD, Psychiatrist, Dentist or Veterinarian; the second is a PhD. “This guest took time to get the degree, so you should take time to use the proper title,” Allen warns.

2. Name orders

In most cases, you would never separate a man from his name; therefore, when using first names of a married couple, it is correct to list the lady first. For example, Anna and Tony Roberts rather than Tony and Anna Roberts. (Note: there are some cultural exceptions to this one.)

3. Inviting children

“If you are inviting a couple, but not their children, then it just needs to be addressed to them. If children are invited, then you need to add those children by name (as opposed to saying 'and family'). If someone is invited with a guest, you list on the envelope 'and guest,'” advises Rothweiler.

Basically, the names on the envelope of the invitation are the people you are inviting, no more and no less.

4. Correct spelling

Make sure you take the time to use correct grammar and spelling. It's a sign of respect, according to Allen. So, for example, if your cousin Jennifer introduces herself as Jennifer, don't address her as Jen or Jenny.

5. Abbreviations

Quite simply, don't abbreviate on the envelope. Spell out their name, state, address, and so on. So, "Main Street" instead of "Main St."

6. Address labels

Should you use one? Says Allen, “Some contemporary invitations have stylized address labels that complement the design of the invitation suite. These labels are convenient and give your envelopes a little extra special touch. Clear or white labels from the office supply store do not.”

But keep in mind that your envelope is likely the first impression your guests will have of your wedding celebration. "If you're going to spend the time and money it takes to send a traditional invitation, be sure to spend the time in getting your guest details correct in advance,” Allen advises.

Remember, this should be the first thing you do, not an afterthought the week your invites hit the mailbox.  

Although times have certainly changed, proper etiquette is timeless. Allen has a piece of advice: “It tells your guests that they are an important part of your celebration, and shows courtesy and respect to those who will be a part of your wedding memory-making and reminiscing for years to come.”

RELATED: How To Plan A Wedding Without Losing Your Soul And Your Sanity

Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyles writer who focuses on health, wellness, and relationships. Her work appears in dozens of digital and print publications regularly. Visit her on Twitter or email her at