I know I said your wedding is all about you and there are no rules, I fibbed. Whether your big day is formal, casual or somewhere in between – there is no excuse for addressing envelopes incorrectly. Don’t slack off when typing out your DIY address labels or list to send to the calligrapher – PAY ATTENTION!
One error can disregard someone’s degree, job or marriage. Something you most likely don’t want to do to one of your guests.
The glorious detail of address labels is that it states who is invited! (This can be very relevant when you may not want to invite your second cousin’s daughter’s boyfriend of 2-weeks.)
First thing first: You must know that there is a different format for each envelope.
The Outer Envelope
NAMES: Addressed conventionally using titles, first and last names. Title & Suffixes can be abbreviated (ie: Mr. rather than Mister, Dr. instead of Doctor and Jr. in place of Junior)
ADDRESSES: Words such as “Street” or “Avenue” should be spelled out. Do not use the two-letter postal code abbreviation for states. (ie: Pennsylvania not PA)
The Inner Envelope
Use the names of the specific individuals invited. This is a very clear way of inviting who you’d like and omitting others. If you are inviting children with their parent/guardian, list the couples name and below it, the name of the child (each on a separate line).
The Response Envelope
Like the outer envelope, write out all words here, too. House numbers & zip codes should be written in numeral form except for “one,” which should be spelled out.
This most likely isn’t a shocker, but in 2014 – there are many variations of families, couples and relationships. Without a doubt, I will not cover how to address every various, unique situation – My apologies. (However, Google can be mighty helpful.)
The most common type of guests:
The married couple
Always, always address the invitation to both individuals.
- Outer envelope: Mr. and Mrs. Michael Hupley
- Inner envelope: Mr. and Mrs. Hupley
The un-married couple
The word “and” used to represent a marriage; however, this is no longer the case. List the male first.
- Outer envelope: Mr. Michael Hupley and Ms. Sophia Tucker
- Inner envelope: Mr. Hupley and Ms. Tucker
A child or children
- Outer envelope: Exactly how the outer envelope should be for any guest: married, unmarried, same-sex, single, etc.
- Inner envelope: List the guests names as they should be on the inner envelope, the name of the child or children can be listed below (each on a separate line) or address it by the names and “and family.”
A single guest
- Outer envelope: Should only list the guest’s name. (For a woman, Miss. or Ms. is appropriate)
- Inner envelope: can include the individual’s name “and guest.” If you know who their quest would be, it’s more personal to include their name. (This is also a very subtle way of picking who will be in attendance on your big day.)
A hyphenated last name
In the case of a wife who has chosen to hyphenate her last name, then she should be addressed using Ms. or Mrs. + her first name + maiden name + married name.
- Outer envelope: Mr. Michael Hupley and Mrs. Sophia Tucker-Hupley
- Inner envelope: Mr. Hupley and Mrs. Tucker-Hupley
A divorced or widowed female who has kept her married name
In the instance of a death (not a divorce) the woman retains her husband’s full-name, rather than last name.
- Outer envelope: Ms. Sophia Hupley (widow or divorce)
- Inner envelope: Ms. Hupley (widow or divorce)
- Outer envelope: Mrs. Michael Hupley (widow ONLY)
- Inner envelope: Mrs. Hupley (widow ONY)
A same-sex couple (married & unmarried)
List alphabetically by last name.
- Outer envelope: Mr. Michael Hupley and Mr. Daniel Ward
- Inner envelope: Mr. Hupley and Mr. Ward
- Outer envelope: Mr. and Mr. Michael Hupley
- Inner envelope: Mr. and Mr. Hupley
Some etiquette books will disagree with me on this one, saying you should give the formal title to showcase with work. (ie: PhD) Use your own discretion.
- Outer envelope: The Doctors Hupley (Used is both guests are doctors and are married with the same last name.)
- Inner envelope: Drs. Hupley
If both guests are doctors who are married, but have different last names the female should be listed first.
If the wife is a doctor and her husband is not. Her name comes first because her professional title ‘outranks’ his social title. If the husband is a doctor, he should be listed first.
- Outer envelope: Doctor Sophia Hupley and Mr. Michael Hupley
- Inner envelope: Dr. and Mr. Hupley
Just like doctors, if the wife has a military title and her husband has a social title; list her first. Always recognize a military ranking! However, if a guests is non-commissioned Officer or enlisted, use Mr., Mrs., etc.
- Outer envelope: Colonel and Mrs. Michael Hupley
- Inner envelope: Colonel and Mrs. Hupley
Just like doctors, if the wife is a judge and her husband is not; list her first.
- Outer envelope: The Honorable Michael Hupley and Mrs. Hupley
- Inner envelope: Judge & Mrs. Hupley
Priest, Rabbi, etc.
- Outer envelope: The Reverend Father Michael Hupley
- Inner envelope: Reverend Hupley
- Outer envelope: Rabbi and Mrs. Michael Hupley
- Inner envelope: Rabbi and Mrs. Hupley
- Outer envelope: The Reverend and Mrs. Michael Hupley
- Inner envelope: Reverend and Mrs. Hupley
Overwhelmed? Ready to hire someone?
Just take a deep breath, double check your list and have a close friend or family member look it over too. Ready to rip your hair out? A glass of red & a to-do list should get you through.