Addressing Your Envelopes

So you’ve narrowed your guest list down to 218 of your closest friends and family members…now it’s time to address the envelopes. Not sure where to start? We hope these tips will help point your pen in the right direction.

FIRST, THE ENVELOPES
Most wedding invitations are sold with double envelopes. The outer envelopes have glue on the flap, so you can seal them for mailing. Your guest’s name and full address is written on the outer envelope. The inner envelopes are slightly smaller and have no glue on the flap. Only names are listed on the inner envelope, no addresses. These double envelopes are traditionally used to ensure that each guest will receive a pristine invitation in a clean envelope, even if the outer envelope has been torn or soiled in the mail.

envelope addressing tip 1


NOW, THE RULES

‘Expert Addresser’ and calligrapher Moya Minns of MM Ink helps us sort through a few common questions…

{Question}: I am inviting a male friend and his girlfriend to my wedding. How should I address the envelope?
{MM Ink says}: For unmarried couples, it is always ladies first. The outer envelope would be addressed like this:

envelope addressing tip 2

{Question}: Is it acceptable to use ‘and Family’ or ‘and Guest’ on the outside envelope?
{MM Ink says}: No, it is not. Invitations should always be mailed to the adult household members with the names of the children (or ‘and Family’ for a less formal event) written on the inner envelope. For an unmarried person inviting a guest, it is best to find out the name of the guest to include on the outer envelope. If the guest’s name is not known at the time, then ‘and Guest’ may be written on the inner envelope only.

{Question}: My guest list includes married couples with children. What is the proper way to address the envelope?
{MM Ink says}: Children over the age of 18 should get their own invitation. Any child under 18 would be listed on the inner envelope only from oldest to youngest on a line below the parent’s name. The inner envelope would look like this:

{Question}: What is the difference between Miss and Ms.?
{MM Ink says}: While it is acceptable to use both of these titles for an unmarried female, Miss is typically used for a female under eighteen.

{Question}: I am inviting a judge to my wedding. Is there a particular way to address the envelope?
{MM Ink says}: For the inner envelope, using ‘Judge’ is acceptable, however, a judge should be addressed as ‘The Honorable…’ on the outer envelope:

envelope addressing tip 4

A few more important rules…

NO SHORTCUTS!
When addressing your envelopes, do not use abbreviations other than “Mr.” or “Mrs.” Spell out Avenue, Road, and Street as well as the State name.

LADIES FIRST….AND DOCTORS
Here are the traditional rules for listing guests on the envelope in order of importance:
Children: oldest to youngest if listed individually on the inner envelope
Unmarried couple living together: list the lady’s name first
Married couple with different last names: lady’s name first
If one person is a Doctor: Doctor first, regardless of gender
If both are Doctors: Use “The Doctors Smith ” on both the inner and outer envelopes
If one person is a Reverend: list the Reverend first, regardless of gender
If one person is Military: list that person first, regardless of gender
If both are Military: list the person with higher rank first, regardless of gender
If one person is a Judge/Justice: list that person first, regardless of gender
Gay couple: oldest first unless they’ve stated differently

POSTAGE
Remember! Before purchasing stamps, have one fully assembled invitation weighed at the post office to determine proper postage. Don’t forget to purchase stamps for the respond envelopes as well.

STILL NEED HELP?
Check out our Wedding Wording Guides and Envelope Addressing Guide with more samples, tips and etiquette rules.

Credits:
All calligraphy by MM Ink.


  • Bonnie

    December 10, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    Great advice…and thank you so much.
    Your site has helped me and my fiancee make some great color decisions and design choices. I don’t think we could have done it without seeing the products you had to offer.

  • Orion

    June 30, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Thank you, Ive always been confused whether or not to write children’s names on envelopes.

  • Kristen

    February 22, 2010 at 11:26 am

    What about gay married couples who have the same last name?

  • gia at betsywhite

    February 22, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    I’ve read that when addressing to a gay couple, you should either list the older partner first, or list their names alphabetically, unless they’ve stated differently. So if they’re married and have the same last name, you would write: “Anthony and Barry Smith”.

    To be on the safe side though, it’s probably best to ask how they would prefer to be addressed.

  • Keli

    March 2, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Great post! Answered a lot of questions I’ve been dealing with – many thanks!

    One clarification I’m seeking, though, if you might be able to help. Above you say if one guest in a couple is a doctor to list them first, regardless of gender. What I’ve been struggling with, though, is the case where the wife is a doctor and the husband is not. I can’t write Dr. and Mr. Jane Smith as you did in the Judge example…so do I therfore write both guest names, as in, “Dr. Jane Smith and Mr. John Smith” or do I write “Dr. Jane and Mr. John Smiith”? Both seem weird!

    Thanks in advance!

  • gia at betsywhite

    March 2, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Hi Keli,
    I believe you would address the envelope as ‘Dr. Jane Smith and Mr. John Smith’.

  • Giselle Thayer

    February 11, 2011 at 9:14 am

    I am so thankful I found your link…I am currently working on labels for some clients that ordered wedding invitations and they completely forgot about the outer flap address. So I needed to send them some information. I will refer them to your blog. Thanks so much!

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