Updated Aug 6, 2017
Congratulations! You have everything set in motion and are now ready to make it official and send out your wedding invitations. However, as you sit down and start to think about addressing wedding invitations you may have many questions running through your mind, questions such as:
You will find the answers to all these questions and many examples for you to look at further down on this page.
But before we go any further
There are some things that you should keep in mind when putting the details onto your wedding envelopes.
Now let's get those questions answered
The wedding envelope will be the first thing your guests will see so special attention to details such as the correct spelling of names and using the correct titles is important this will show them that you care.
Using an inner and outer envelope is something that dates to back to a time when the mail was delivered via horse and carriage. The correspondence was placed into two envelopes, the first being the inner envelope which was then placed into another envelope called the outer envelope which was to act as a protective wrapper against dirt and damage during the long slow journey.
Even though mail delivery is much quicker today the tradition of using two envelopes of wedding invitations is still used by many. You see the reason for this is that the typical wedding invitation does not have a place for the wedding guest name so this is where the inner envelope comes into play.
The inner envelope is the where you write all the names of the people invited to your wedding and the outer envelope is addressed to the heads of the household.
There is nothing wrong by using only a single envelope but there are benefits of using two:
Benefit 1: Using inner and outer envelopes helps keep the information neat and clear.
As mentioned earlier the inner envelope is where you would list the names of all the people invited. However, if you were to use only the outer envelope you would need to include all the guest’s names here and this could end up messy.
The reason for this is that you would need to include the postal address, this would be fine if using just one or two names but, on the other hand, it can get quite crowded if you need to add three or four more names here.
Benefit 2: Using and inner envelope ensures that guest details are not lost.
If you are using a single envelope with the guest’s names listed on it there is a high probability that most people will end up disposing of the envelope soon after opening, not realizing the valuable information it contains.
Which in turn could make them assume that every member of their family is invited and this might not be the case. To avoid this, you could adopt one of the other methods listed below when using only an outer envelope for your invitations.
As mentioned in the above question you would list the names of the invited guests on the outer envelope but it does have its drawbacks when it comes to large families, so here are some things that you could do.
Use a belly band instead of an inner envelope.
A belly band for invitations is simply a decorative wrapper that holds all the various wedding inserts together, your invitations may already come with them or you could DIY.
You could either hand write the names directly on to the belly band or you could print the details onto card stock and glue them to the band as a way of addressing the invitations.
Include a cardstock insert.
If you are forgoing the inner envelopes due to postage costs or you simply don’t want to use them. You could include a printed cardstock insert in a thickness and color that matches your invitations. These inserts would be placed at the front of the invitation when assembling your wedding invitations.
Carefully word your RSVP cards.
You could prefill the names of the guests on the RSVP cards before you send them out. This method will make it clear as to who is invited.
Alternatively, you could have your RSVP cards printed with the following words:
Before posting you would pre-fill the "reserved for you" blank space with the number of people you are inviting.
There is an etiquette rule that says the invitation is only extended to the people whose names are written on the inner envelope – however not everyone is aware of this. So, to avoid confusion make it clear from the start by using one or all the methods listed below:
Although it might seem excessive I would use all the above options, as it is just a subtle way to get your message across – but do choose your wording carefully you don’t want to appear rude.
How to address an envelope to a family, the basic rules here are:
If using an inner and outer envelope – you would write only the parents’ names on the outer envelope and on the inner envelope you would list the parents first, then on the next line you would place the names of the children by order of age.
If addressing wedding invitations with one envelope – You would write the parents’ names first followed by the children’s names in age order.
When addressing to children under 18 years old for fromal invitations you would use “Miss” for girls.
You don’t need to give a boy a title until they are over 18.
If there are children over the age of 18 years living at the parents address they would receive a separate invitation. See examples on how this is done.
If you are inviting someone with “a plus one” try and find out the guest’s name. If it is not possible to find out the name you should address the invitation to the person you know on the same line. However, if you do know the name, the “plus one’s” name should appear on a separate line below your primary guest’s name. You can see examples of how to address invitations for plus ones here.
Yes, you should put a return address on your wedding invitation envelope, you would place your return address on the back of the envelope usually on the envelope flap.
The reason is you may have written the address incorrectly wrong or the person may have moved and if this is the case your wedding invitation can be forwarded back to you. Read more about wedding invitation address etiquette here.
1. Family Members
When addressing envelopes to family members you can use their relationship tile and first name on the inner envelope. On the outer envelope, you can either address them as Mr, Mrs etc. or use the relationship title.
2. Husband and Wife - with the same surname
When addressing an invitation to a husband and wife his name would appear first.
Use the husbands middle initial if known on the outer envelope.
3. Husband And Wife - with different surnames
On the inner envelope, the wife's name should be first. On the outer envelope, the names are traditionally placed on separate lines with the wife’s name above her husbands.
4. Husband and Wife - the wife has a professional title
When it comes to titles, the name of the person with the title should alwasy appear first in this case the wife has the professional title so her name would appear first.
Wife is a Doctor
The example below show how invitations should be addressed if the wife has a different surname to her husbands. If she has the same surname as her husbands the inner envelope would read Doctor and Mr Ames. The outer envelope would read as Doctor Patrica T. Ames and Mr Edmond M. Ames.
5. Husband and Wife - the husband has a professional title
Husband is a Doctor
6. Husband and Wife - both have a professional title
In the case where both coupls have a title the husbands title and name should come before the wife's.
7. Husband and Wife With Children - and the children are not invited
As mentioned earlier in the article by tradition only the names of the people that appeared on the inner envelope are invited to the wedding. So if the children’s names are not included this is a good indication that they are not invited.
Not everyone is aware of this rule so it might be wise to state that it is a child free wedding. This could be done on the invitation itself, on the RSVP cards or even include a separate card with the invitation stating that it is child free wedding. Just use which ever method you think is appropriate.
8. Husband and Wife With Children Under 18 Years Old - the children are invited
If you are inviting children to the wedding, you would include their names only on the inner envelope under the parents. List the eldest child first working down to the youngest. Their names would not appear on the outer envelope.
This only applies for children under the age of 18 years. If they are over the age of 18 years, it is customary to send an invitation addressed to them (see below for examples).
9. Husband and Wife With Children Under and Over 18 Years Old - the children are invited
A separate invitation would be sent to children over the age of 16 years. You can group the over 16’s on one invitation if they are living at the same address.
Example Of Invitations Addressed To A Family With Two Children Under 18 Years And Two Over The Age Of 18
10. Addressing Invitations To Children Over 18 Years Old - In a More Formal Manner
Two sisters over 18 years old living at the same address
Two brothers over 18 years old living at the same address
Brother and sister over 18 years old living at the same address
Brothers and sisters ove 18 years old living at the same address.
11. Guests With Military Titles
Because this is such a large area you might like go over and have a look at formsofaddress.info this site has a frequently asked section that could help you more specifically
12. Single Woman - regardless of her age
When addressing an invitation to a single woman you use either Miss or Ms. But always go with the title that you know she prefers to use (if you know it).
13. Single Divorced Woman
When addressing an invitation to a divorced woman check to see if she is still using her married name or reverted back to her maiden name - use whichever title is appropriate.
15. Single Woman - with plus one invitation
You can address her as Miss or Ms (use her preferred title if you know it). Only use guest if you don't know her guests name, other wise use the guests first and last name on the inner envelope.
17. Single Man - with plus guest invitation
Only use the word guest if you don't know the guests name, otherwise use the guests first and last name on the inner envelope.
18. Unmarried Couple Living Together
When addressing to a couple living together who are not married, place their names on seperate lines with the mans name first.
20. Same Sex Couples
When addressing invitations to same sex couples are like the above examples only you would list the names in alphabetical order.