Addressing Your Wedding Invitations

Tips for Addressing Your Wedding Invitations Properly

In spite of the general slackening of wedding traditions, the wedding invitation remains one of the most time-honored customs associated with marriage. Yet, the confusion surrounding how to address them remains a common wedding dilemma.

If you are unsure of how to address your wedding invitations, use our time-tested tips for faultless wedding invitation etiquette.

  1. Think of your wedding invitation as a visual preview of your wedding day. Your invitation's style, design, and color make a visual statement to the addressee even before they read the words. Proper invitations should be heavyweight, cream, ecru or ivory paper. Formal invitations look best engraved or written in calligraphy, and characters should be in a classic style such as Roman. Keep in mind that your invitation is a direct expression of your wedding's tone and style. For contemporary invitations, tailor the invitation style appropriately.
  2. The hosting parties of the wedding, traditionally the bride's parents, are responsible for sending the invitations. More often though, it is the couples themselves who are hosting their wedding, and as such, it is their invitation. The return address on the reply envelope should be that of those hosting the event.
  3. Wedding invitations are usually written in the third person, such as, "Mr. and Mrs. Brian Jones invite you to celebrate" No punctuation is used except in the case of titles, such as Dr. or Mr. and Mrs.
  4. Wedding invitations are ceremonial by nature. Names of the bride and groom should be written in full. Guest names should be written out in full also; no nicknames. Do not use abbreviations or initials, and ensure that the spelling of your guests' names is correct.
  5. Keep it formal. All numbers, except house numbers should be written out for addresses, dates and times. Use "seven o'clock in the evening" instead of 7pm, and "the fourth day of August Two Thousand Six" instead of August the 4 th, 2006 . Do not abbreviate streets, states or words like Saint and Mount.
  6. The actual wording of the wedding invitation is a matter of tradition, etiquette and personal preference. There are many options for the invitation. From, "Mr. and Mrs. Brian Jones request the honor of your presence at the wedding of their daughter" to, "Katherine Anne Jones and Michael Robert Murray request the honor of your presence at their wedding." Do some research when choosing the right wording for your invitations.
  7. Invitations should be in black ink and addressed by hand in a clear and legible hand. If you are not a gifted penman, ask a friend or family member with good penmanship to address your invitations. For truly elegant appearance, consider hiring a calligrapher.
  8. Be specific about who you are inviting. Etiquette states that only the names of the people you are inviting should be on the invitation. If there is a name missing from the invitation, etiquette suggests that they are not invited. Do not write, "and family", unless you mean for your guests to bring an unlimited number of relatives.
  9. The entire invitation package should, in most cases, contain a wedding invitation , a response card and pre-addressed return envelope. The response card should be placed its own envelope in the package. There should also be a reception invitation outlining the time and location of the reception. The addition of extras like maps and save-the-date cards can make envelope stuffing tricky. Make sure there is one of everything in each envelope before you seal them. Always write the return address on the outer envelope flap in case the invitation is lost.
  10. Wedding invitations should be sent no later than 6-8 weeks before the wedding. Prior to mailing all of your invitations, do a trial run and have invitations weighed for correct postage, then send one to yourself to see how long your invitations will take to arrive in your area. For out of town guests, consider sending their invitations a couple of weeks earlier than the rest. Select a decorative postage stamp to add a personal touch.

Addressing your wedding invitations correctly can be tricky. If you need a quick reference, follow these examples of addressing etiquette for the outside and inside of your wedding invitation envelopes.


Your Guests Outside Envelope Inside Envelope

Married Couple

Mr. and Mrs. Michael Smith

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Married Couple with Children

Under 13

Mr. and Mrs. Michael Smith

(Children over 18 can receive a separate invitation)

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

John and Amy

Brothers and Sisters at Same Address

Messrs. John and Adam Smith

Misses Amy and Nancy Smith

Ms. Amy and Ms. Nancy Smith

The Messrs. Smith

The Misses Smith

Ms. Smith and Ms. Smith

Divorced Woman

Ms. Janice Miller

Ms. Janice Smith

(Maiden name restored)

Ms. Miller

Ms. Smith

Widow or Separated

Mrs. John Miller

(Ms.) Janice Miller

Mrs. Janice Miller

(This is incorrect

but in common usage)

Mrs. Miller

Ms. Miller

Jr. or junior

Mr. Michael Smith, Jr.

Mr. Michael Smith junior

Mr. Smith


Mr. Michael Smith II

Mr. Smith

Married Couple Both Doctors

The Doctors Smith

Drs. Michael and Mary Smith

Dr. Mary Jones and

Dr. Michael Smith

The Doctors Smith

Dr. Jones and Dr. Smith

Wife Only Has Title

Dr. Mary Smith and Mr. Michael Smith

Dr. Smith and Mr. Smith

Wife Uses Maiden Name

Ms. Mary Jones and Mr. Michael Smith

Ms. Jones and Mr. Smith

Couple Living Together Unmarried

Ms. Mary Jones and

Mr. Michael Smith


Mr. Michael Jones and

Mr. James White

Ms. Jones and Mr. Smith


Mr. Jones and Mr. White

Single Person and Guest

Ms. Sophie Smith

Ms. Smith and Guest

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