So you've officially ordered your wedding invitations and now you face the daunting task of preparing your guest list for the calligrapher. I've been there, and it can be stressful. Besides narrowing down WHO to invite, you also need to figure out HOW. Wedding etiquette is tricky because you're (likely) not addressing a formal invitation to family members with five children often. Do you list out each name individually? Do you address it to "The Jones Family?" What if you only want to invite adults over the age of 18? There's so much to consider and in the words of my Southern mother, "For heavens sake - we don't want to offend anyone!"
It's a lot to take in - especially when you have Google spitting out differing opinions and advice. So I've compiled a complete list for you, along with examples so you can easily replicate and pass along an 'etiquette-approved' list to your Calligrapher. A professional will be able to advise you if you have any specific questions. So if you need to, make a note and your calligrapher will be able to confidently confirm that your Great Aunt Margaret won't be appalled when she receives her invitation in the mail. (Mostly kidding!)
Keep in mind that these guidelines provide examples in the most common situations. While lots of couples opt to address their invitations in a less formal way (i.e. James & Claire McCoy), I tell my clients to GO BIG - it's not everyday someone gets a wedding invitation in the mail, so make it special and formal in the way you invite them!
Disclaimer: I always address a guest list exactly as it is provided to me, barring any obvious typos. But these are my guidelines and best practices:
1. A Married Couple
Traditionally, Mr. and Mrs. precedes the man's name.
Outer Envelope: Mr. Andrew and Mrs. Emily Wimer OR Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Wimer
Inner Envelope: Mr. and Mrs. Wimer OR Andrew & Emily
2. A Married Couple with different last names
Names of the couple should appear on one line, listing the woman's name first.
Outer Envelope: Mrs. Claire McCoy and Mr. Alexander James
Inner Envelope: Mrs. McCoy and Mr. James OR Claire and Alexander
3. An Unmarried Couple Living Together
Both names should appear on each envelope, however they appear on separate lines.
Outer Envelope: Mr. Jackson Andrews
Ms. Abigail Clark
Inner Envelope: Mr. Andrews
4. A Same-Sex Couple
When addressing an invitation to a Same-Sex Couple, the same guidelines apply to any married or unmarried couple. If the couple is married, their names appear on the same line. If they are unmarried, their names appear on two separate lines.
Outer Envelope (married): Mr. Thomas Watt and Mr. Everett Green
Outer Envelope (unmarried): Mr. Thomas Watt
Mr. Everett Green
Inner Envelope (married): Mr. Watt and Mr. Green
Inner Envelope (unmarried): Mr. Watt
5. A Married Woman Doctor
If a woman uses her husband's last name professionally and socially, the envelopes should be addressed as follows:
Outer Envelope: Doctor Emily and Mr. Andrew Wimer
Inner Envelope: Doctor and Mr. Wimer
If a woman uses her maiden name:
Outer Envelope: Doctor Emily Clark and Mr. Andrew Wimer
Inner Envelope: Doctor Clark and Mr. Wimer
6. Two Married Doctors
If both attendees are doctors, address the envelopes as follows:
Outer Envelope: Doctors Andrew and Emily Wimer
Inner Envelope: The Doctors Wimer
7. Those With Other Distinguished Titles
Always apply the rules you would use for doctors to judges, members of the military, reverends, etc. If both titles won't fit on one line, you may indent the second line.
Outer Envelope: Reverend and Mrs. Andrew Wimer
Inner Envelope: Reverend and Mrs. Wimer
8. Children and Families
Guests under the age of 18 year old should be included on their parent's invitation. Their names should appear on the Inner Envelope only. Do not write "and Family" if you would like children included. Instead, write their names (by order of age) on a separate line below their parents.
Outer Envelope: Mr. and Mrs. Philip Wimer
Inner Envelope: Mr. and Mrs. Wimer
Miss Mia, Miss Vivian and Connor
*Note: Male guests under the age of 18 do not need a title in front of their name. At the age of 18, add the title Mr. in front of their name.
9. Children 18 Years and Older
Children 18 years and older should receive their own invitation separate from their parents. Add the title Miss, Ms. or Mr. in front of their name.
Outer Envelope: Mr. Andrew Wimer OR Miss Emily Clark
Inner Envelope: Mr. Wimer OR Miss Clark
A few other helpful tips:
- Spell out words like "Street", "Boulevard" and "Road"
- Do not use symbols (&). Instead, write out the word "and"
- If you are including an unknown guest for one of your single friends, be sure to write "and Guest" on the Inner envelope only. (Example: Miss Clark and Guest)
- If you are not using an Inner Envelope, it's appropriate to add guests and children on the Outer Envelope.
For more information on wedding invitation design or services, please visit my Website. If you have any specific questions regarding proper etiquette, please do not hesitate to reach out.