Wedding invitation wording etiquette depends on a variety of factors: the formality of the wedding, who is hosting the wedding, and the overall tone you wish to convey as you set the tone for your wedding with your invitations.
Use the guide below to help you choose the best wording for your wedding paper goods:
You've picked out your wedding invitations, you've finalized your guest list, and now it's time to think about addressing your envelopes. I provide calligraphy and envelope printing for my invitation clients, but before they submit their lists, I ask them to double-check every name and address to make sure they are correctly formatted.
There are all kinds of rules when it comes to the proper way to address an envelope for a formal invitation, and they vary based a guest's marital status, title, or living situation. There are also rules about how to format the addresses themselves to give your envelope the formality deserving of a wedding invitation. To avoid offending your guests, and to help clarify who is being invited to your wedding, make sure you adhere to the guidelines below. I've included two parts for your reference: first, a list of address formatting tips, and second, a list of proper etiquette for addressing your guests. I've also included a printable etiquette guide for your reference!
NOTE: these rules apply mainly to formal invitations, but you can apply them to your save the dates if you prefer to convey a more formal tone from the start.
Inner and Outer Envelopes
This guide was designed with the assumption that you will be using both inner and outer envelopes, which is more common for more formal and/or lavish invitations. If you’re using only outer envelopes, which is also very common, then children’s names and the addition of “and Guest” should ALSO be included on the outer envelope.
Formal vs. Informal
These rules apply to formal invitations, but you can apply them to your Save the Dates if you prefer to convey a more formal tone from the start. For informal invitations, you may simply exclude the titles (i.e. “John and Jane Smith” instead of “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith”)
Recognizing Women while still Honoring Tradition
As a proud feminist, part of me cringes when I recommend to couples that they adhere to these traditional rules, which oftentimes mean omitting a married woman’s first name altogether from the envelope. For couples who are concerned with this element of the etiquette guidelines, I recommend including the woman’s first name after her husband’s like so: “Mr. and Mrs. Robert and Gina Smith.” For less formal invitations or for save the dates, you can omit titles altogether and just list couples first and last names (i.e. "Robert and Gina Smith").
Some Basic Tips:
- If an invitee is allowed to bring a guest, make sure you denote this on the envelope by including “and guest” OR the guest’s full name (if you know their name, this is preferred) written on the line before your invitee’s name
- Adults who are not romantically involved but who live together (for example, if they are roommates), should each receive their own invitation.
- Children BELOW the age of 18 should receive the same invitation as their parents (but their names should be written on the inner envelope to clarify that they are invited; if the inner envelope is addressed only to the parents, they will assume their children are not invited). Children ABOVE the age of 18 should get their own invitations, even if they are living at home.
- Words such as “Street,” “Drive,” “Apartment,” “Unit,” or “Boulevard” should be spelled out.
- Cities and states should also be spelled out (i.e. “New York, New York; "Washington, District of Columbia")
- Apartment or unit numbers should be written on a separate line than the street address. I also prefer the zip code on the line after the city and state.
- Titles such as “Doctor” or “Captain” should be spelled out, but courtesy titles such as “Mr.” or “Mrs.” are typically abbreviated.
- “Miss” should be used for girls under the age of 18; “Ms.” should be used for women over the age of 18 who are not married.
- Street numbers and apartment numbers under 10 should be spelled out (i.e. “nine” instead of “9”)
DETAILED ADDRESS ETIQUETTE GUIDE
For a more detailed guide to the correct way to address individual guests, refer to the printable address etiquette guide below, which breaks it down by type of guest (married, single, bringing a guest, doctor, etc). Formatting address lists is often one of the most time-consuming and confusing aspects of the invitation process for my clients, so I provide all my couples with this handy guide.
For other questions of etiquette, I highly recommend Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette, an extremely useful handbook when it comes to wedding etiquette of all kinds. And of course, one of the benefits of working with a stationer or calligrapher rather than simply ordering your invitations from a large company online is that you have an expert first-hand source right at your fingertips. I am always happy to answer my couples' questions about tradition and etiquette.
And while it is important to make sure envelopes are addressed correctly, it's also important to remember that, at the end of the day, you're really just inviting your most closest friends and family to help you celebrate your love...and that's way more significant than whether you remembered to spell out the word "Apartment!"