Addressing Invitations without First Names

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I am inviting some co-workers and their husbands to my wedding but I do not know their husbands' first names. How should I address the invitations?

- Jessica


Envelope addressing issues are common on wedding invitations. Don't worry, it's ok to ask for the names of your guests' significant others. You could simply ask your co-workers what their husband's names are before you write the invitations. If you cannot ask, consider addressing the invitations to Mr. and Mrs. Smith, rather than using first names, although, first, middle and last names are the proper etiquette for addressing invitation envelopes. Check out our Tips for Addressing Your Wedding Invitations for easy invitation addressing reference.

Wording Tricky Requests

I am helping my sister with wording on her wedding invitations etc and was wondering what the correct etiquette is when you do not wish to receive presents but would like the guests to pay for their own meal at the reception (this is a second marriage for both parties).

- Fiona


This is a tricky question of etiquette, indeed. Asking your guests to forgo purchasing a gift for the couple is straightforward, but asking that guests pay for their own meal at your wedding reception is not entirely "etiquette acceptable". I suggest taking an alternate approach entirely.

If you are determined to have a formal and traditional full service meal at the reception, consider narrowing down your guest list to accommodate your budget. For a modern and informal option, consider asking guests to bring a main course, salad or dessert dish in lieu of gifts, and have a more casual "pot-luck" celebration. This is much less likely to offend your guests, and more likely to make for a good reception.

If all else fails and you are still comfortable with the unconventional notion of asking your guests to pay for their meal at your reception, consider a phrase such as, "The bride and groom request that you meet the expense of your reception meal in lieu of a wedding gift." But for goodness sakes, don't expect your guests to pay for a meal worth much more than an evening out at a local pub.

Indicating an Adults-Only Wedding

What would be the proper and least offensive way to request on invitations that no children under 12 are invited to the wedding or reception?

- Deanna


Sadly Deanna, there is no 100% inoffensive way in which to limit your wedding to guests over the age of 12. You may wish to simply state on the invitation that children over the age of 12 are welcome, or state that it is an adult only reception and let guests draw their own conclusions. Usually, sending invitations with only the names of the people you wish to attend your wedding should work. This should imply that names not included on the invitation are not invited.

However, some guests may simply assume that children are welcome at every event. Send personal notes to the guests you know will understand and respect your wishes. Consider asking a close friend or family member to spread a casual word about your wishes regarding children to those guests with whom you are not as familiar.

Addressing Reception Cards

Can you please tell me how the reception cards are to be addressed? Is it Mr. & Mrs. Smith or Mr. & Mrs. John Smith? Also, how are couples who are not married addressed?

- Peg


Addressing wedding invitation and reception cards using proper etiquette can certainly be tricky! The outer envelope is addressed to Mr. and Mrs. John Smith, and the inner envelope is addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Smith. For unmarried couples addresses are as follows: Ms. Mary Jones and Mr. Michael Smith. Click your way over to the Tips for Addressing Your Wedding Invitations article for other addressing tips.

Including a Deceased Parent in Wedding Invitation Wording

I am the Bride and my father is deceased. It is very possible that the groom's parents will be divorced at the time of the wedding. I want to include my fathers' name, along with my mother's - who is not re-married. Also, more than likely the grooms' father may not attend or contribute to the wedding. Can you please give me some ideas on the proper wording for my invitations?

- Adriane


There are a variety of standard wordings for wedding invitations, but they do not cover every situation, as you well know. To include your father's name on the invitation, you can use his first name in the invitation paired with your mother's by writing your father's name after Mrs., and then your mother and father's shared last name. For example, "Mrs. Adam Thomas Smith requests the honor of your presence" This will allow your father to become a part of your wedding with your mother.

Also, traditionally, it is the bride's family that issues the wedding invitations, so you need not include the groom's parents on the invitation at all.

Stuffing the Wedding Invitation Envelope

How do you stuff wedding invitations?

- Melody


Formal invitations are placed into an inner envelope, and then inserted into an outer envelope for mailing. When inserting wedding invitations and accompanying response card and envelopes, the folded edge of the invitation faces the back of the envelope so that it is the first thing your guest will read.

Reply cards are placed in their accompanying addressed envelope, and then placed in the outer envelope so that the invitee will see it after they have first seen and removed the invitation. Place any other maps or information last.

Leave inner envelopes unsealed with the flap away from the person filling the envelope. You can place a layer of tissue in between each item in the envelope as a divider, but this is not necessary.

On traditional wedding invitations the outer envelope bears the address and full names, including first, middle and last names of the invitees, for example, "Mr. John Robert Smith and Mrs. Jean Grace Smith." Inner envelopes bear the names of the invitees only, no first names or address required, for example, "Mr. and Mrs. Smith". See our Tips for Addressing Your Wedding Invitations for further addressing tips

Addressing the Outer Envelope

My hand-writing is terrible and my invitations are late going out. Is it okay to use address labels for the addressees on the outside envelope?

- Kathy


Hand-writing invitations can be a chore for busy brides and anyone with less than perfect penmanship. It can be a daunting, time-consuming task, but you really need to set aside a few hours to sit down and address those envelopes.

Traditionally, wedding invitations should be addressed by hand in clear, legible, handwriting, preferably in black ink. Computer-printed address labels really are a faux pas.

Have you asked a friend with nice handwriting to help you? If you can't convince someone to help you with this task, consider hiring a calligrapher to address your invitations. For a fee, your invitations will be done quickly and beautifully without breaking with tradition.

If you're in a real pinch, find a computer with a good handwriting font and have your invitations addressed this way. It won't be as personal or pretty, but it will work.

Inviting Guests to a Destination Wedding

We are planning on getting married in Las Vegas and having a reception after we return. How do we word the invitation so that guests are invited to the wedding in Las Vegas but don't feel like they have to go if they can't afford it. That is why we are having the reception at home and how do we put that on the invitation?

- Kathy


Destination weddings are growing in popularity, and make a great alternative to a traditional wedding plan. Your wedding invitations should be sent to only those family and friends whom you would like to attend your Las Vegas wedding. Keep in mind that when you invite people to your destination wedding, it is generally understood that you will be paying for accommodations.

To make sure invitees won't feel obligated to attend if they cannot afford the trip or the time to get away, state clearly on the invitation that their attendance would be cherished, but is not essential. State clearly that you will be having a celebration for friends and family when you return. After your return, your wedding announcements and reception invitations can be sent to those whom you wish to attend the at-home reception.

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