Wedding Etiquette: Addressing Invitations

Etiquette. I know, I know. It’s not on the fun side of things like watercolor and calligraphy are. There are so many rules, how on earth are you supposed to keep them all straight?! Especially when you don’t have to use them every day?

My favorite resource for wedding etiquette is, and always will be, Emily Post. I have the book sitting on my desk within reach so I can look at it whenever I need it (which is pretty often, to be honest). Most of the rules you’ll find in this blog post have come from that book, others can be found on the Emily Post website.

Over the past few months I have found myself typing out examples of guest addresses to email clients, so much so that I even made an email template that’s ready to send when the question of etiquette comes up. I thought it might be even more helpful to make a blog post about it! Now, forewarning, I do not make the etiquette rules. And if etiquette is not something you value and you’re looking for something more casual, by all means; do whatever you want! More and more couples today are leaving etiquette rules behind for a more modern approach to their wedding invitations. You do you!

With all that said, let’s take a look at some popular questions that come up, shall we?

  1. Can I address my Save the Dates and invitations differently?
    Yes! You can! Save the Dates don’t have to be as formal as your invitations.
    Example: Mr. and Mrs. John Smith rather than Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Smith. You could also do Jane and John Smith. (This second example isn’t my favorite option, but it is done this way sometimes. It’s just important to note that the man is never separated from his last name.)
  2. Can I use a middle initial instead of their middle name?
    Etiquette says no to this one. If you’re using middle names, you need to write the whole middle name out. Don’t ask me why, because I don’t have an answer for that 🙂
    Example: Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Michael Smith or Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Smith, not Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan M. Smith
  3. How should I address an envelope to…
    – A married couple? Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Smith (same-sex couples are below. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about you, friends!)
    > If the wife uses her maiden name, the man goes first.
    – A married couple where one is a doctor? Doctor/Dr. and Mrs. Jonathan Smith
    – A married couple where BOTH are doctors? The Doctors Smith/The Drs. Smith, Drs. Jane and John Smith/Doctors Jane and John Smith 
    – Unmarried couples living together? Their names are on one line – Mr. Jonathan Smith and Ms. Jane Harris
    – Same sec couples? They are listed the same way (names on one line), in either order or alphabetical.
    – A guest with a plus-one? When you know the name of the plus-one and the couple does not live together, list who you’re inviting on the first line, and the guest’s name on a second line.
    > If you don’t know the plus-one’s name, just use “and Guest”. Mr. Jonathan Smith and Guest
  4. Do I abbreviate or write everything out?
    I recommend writing everything out. It’s traditional to write out words like Street, Boulevard, Post Office Box, and, etc., as well as state names.
  5. What names do I put on the return address?
    Etiquette says that traditional return addresses don’t actually have names, just the address where guests can send replies and gifts. This has become less strict though, so if you want to use your names on the return address (first names only, first and last names, etc.) it’s done fairly often.
  6. Calligraphy/handwritten or printed addresses?
    Etiquette says that wedding envelopes should be hand addressed because it’s a personal and special event in someone’s life. Hand addressing could be in calligraphy or your own handwriting (obviously haha). It has become more common to print envelopes though, especially if you’re on a tight budget, and we can always choose a font that looks like hand calligraphy to save a little bit of money for you. Good news is, I offer both addressing methods in-house!

Some of these answers have been modeled very closely to the book’s text, and I take no credit for them as my own if they’re super similar. It’s not my intention to copy anything. Just a quick side note there!

These are some of the most common questions I come across, but what did I miss? I know this only answered a handful of questions, but hopefully, if you can hop over to the Emily Post website you can find all the answers you need.

Oh and guess what? When we work together, I always help you walk through all the etiquette guidelines! Interested in getting an estimate and setting up a free consultation call? Fill out this form and we’ll schedule something! I can’t wait to chat!