Thursday, March 24, 2011

{Tip} How to Address Wedding Invitations

Here's a post for all the brides questioning the proper etiquette in regards to their wedding invitations.

Outer Envelope
The outer envelope should always be addressed by hand. The address is typically centered neatly with the guest name(s) and address on the front. Your return address would be printed on the back side at the top center of the flap.

Abbreviations should be avoided. The words Apartment, Post Office Box, Street, etc. and East, West, North and South should be spelled out as well as the name of the city and state. Single digit street numbers should be spelled out (i.e. One, Two, etc.).

Formal first names should always be used (i.e. Daniel not Dan). Use a comma before Sr. or Jr. as Mr. John Smith, Jr. Do not use a comma before the roman numerals II or III when it follows a name. The name should read Mr. John Smith III. If the capital letter "I" doesn't look like the roman numeral one in the script typeface being used, write it out as Mr. John Smith the Third or eliminate the suffix all together.

Here is a helpful chart in determining the proper way to address your guests on the outer envelope:

Single Guests

Unmarried Female
 

"Miss Emily Smith" or "Ms. Emily Smith"
 

Divorced Female, kept married name (Smith)
 

"Mrs. Emily Smith" or "Ms. Emily Smith"
 

Divorced Female, back to married name (Smith)
 

"Ms. Emily Smith"
 

Widowed Female
 

"Mrs. Emily Smith" or "Mrs. John Smith"
 

Children

Children under 18 if using an inner envelope
 

*Do not list children under 18 on the outer envelope if using an inner envelope. Only list the parents.
 

Children under 18 if using one envelope
 

"Mr. and Mrs. John Smith
Daniel Smith and Emily Smith"
*List from oldest to youngest
 

Children under 18 if using one envelope, more formal
 

"Mr. and Mrs. John Smith
Mr. Daniel Smith
Miss Judy Smith"
or
"Mr. and Mrs. John Smith
Messrs. Daniel and Elliot Smith"
or
"Mr. and Mrs. John Smith
Misses Judy and Mary Smith"
*List from oldest to youngest
 

Child 18 and over
 

"Miss Emily Smith"
*Children 18 and over should receive their own invitation.
 

Couples

Unmarried couples who do not live together
 

"Miss Emily Smith"
*Only list the guest living at the address
 

Unmarried couples who live together

"Miss Emily Smith and Mr. John Jones"
or
"Miss Emily Smith
Mr. John Jones"
 

Married couples
 

"Mr. And Mrs. John Smith"
 

Married Couple, kept maiden name

"Ms. Emily Smith
and Mr. John Jones"
 

Married Couple, with hyphenated last name
 

"Ms. Emily Smith-Jones
and Mr. John Jones"
 

Same sex Couples
(list alphabetical)
 

"Mr. Fred Smith and Mr. John Jones"
 

Professional Degree, such as Doctor

Married Couple, she has a professional title and he does not.
 

"Doctor Emily Smith
and Mr. John Smith"
 

Married Couple, he has a professional title and she does not.
 

"Doctor and Mrs. John Smith"
 

Married Couple, both are doctors

"Doctor Emily Smith
and Doctor John Smith"
or
"The Doctors Smith"
 

Married Couple, both are doctors with different last names
 

"Doctor Emily Smith
and Doctor John Jones"
 

Married Couple, he is a doctor and she kept her maiden name
 

"Doctor John Jones and Ms. Emily Smith
and Doctor John Jones"
 

Non-medical PhD

*This title is not generally noted in formal addressing
 

Judge
 

"The Honorable and Mrs. John Smith"
 

Reverend (or Rabbi, etc)
 

"The Reverend and Mrs. John Smith"
or
"Reverend and Mrs. John Smith"
 

Attorneys
 

*Esquire is not used after a name on formal invitations.
 

Military

He is a commissioned officer (General)
 

"General and Mrs. John Smith"
 

He is a non-commissioned officer or enlisted man
 

"Mr. And Mrs. John Smith"
 

He is a retired commissioned officer (General)
 

"General (Ret.) and Mrs. John Smith"
 

She is a commissioned officer, he is not
 

"Mr. and Mrs. John Smith"
or
"Captain Emily Smith
and Mr. John Smith"
 


Inner Envelope
Traditionally formal invitations used an outer envelope and an inner envelope. Today this is not a requirement for a formal invitation. The inner envelope with its invitation is placed in the mailing or "outer" envelope The guest name is placed in the center of the face side of the inner envelope.

It is also acceptable to use family or first names on the inside envelopes in cases where the recipients are close friends or family (i.e. "Uncle John and Aunt Emily", or "Emily and John Smith", or simply "Emily and John").

Here is a chart on determining how to list your guests on the inner envelope:

Single Guests

Unmarried Female
 

"Miss Smith and Guest"
or
"Ms. Smith and Guest"
 

Divorced Female, kept married name (Smith)
 

"Mrs. Smith and Guest"
or
"Ms. Smith and Guest"
 

Divorced Female, back to married name (Smith)
 

"Ms. Smith and Guest"
 

Widowed Female, recently widowed
 

"Mrs. Smith"
 

Widowed Female
 

"Mrs. Smith and Guest"
 

Children

1 Child under 18
 

"And Emily"
 

Children under 18
 

"Emily and John"
*List from oldest to youngest
 

Child 18 and over
 

"Miss Smith and Guest"
 

Couples

Unmarried couples who do not live together
 

"Miss Smith
Mr Jones"
 

Unmarried couples who live together

"Miss Smith
Mr Jones"
 

Married couples
 

"Mr. And Mrs. Smith"
or
"Mr. and Mrs. Smith, John and Emily"
 

Married Couple, kept maiden name

"Mrs. Smith and Mr. Jones"
 

Married Couple, with hyphenated last name
 

"Mrs. Smith-Jones and Mr. John Jones"
 

Same sex Couples
(list alphabetical)
 

"Mr. Smith and Mr. John Jones"
 

Professional Degree, such as Doctor

Married Couple-She has a professional title and he does not.
 

"Doctor Smith and Mr. Smith"
 

Married Couple, both are doctors

"The Doctors Smith"
 

Married Couple, both are doctors with different last names
 

"Doctor Smith and Doctor Jones"
 

Judge
 

"Judge and Mrs. Smith"
 

Reverend (or Rabbi, etc)
 

"Reverend and Mrs. Smith"
 

Military

He is a commissioned officer (General)
 

"General and Mrs. Smith"
 

He is a non-commissioned officer or enlisted man
 

"Mr. and Mrs. Smith"
 

He is a retired commissioned officer (General)
 

"Mr. and Mrs. Smith"
 

She is a commissioned officer, he is not
 

"Mr. and Mrs. Smith"
or
"Captain Smith and Mr. John Smith"
 


RSVP Envelope
The Response Card or RSVP is an item included with your invitation that is used by your guests to let you know if they will be attending your event. The response card envelope is usually pre-stamped with the appropriate postage. You can save little money by choosing a postcard style RSVP. You won't need to pay for envelopes and the postage will be cheaper.

The RSVP date should be one or two weeks prior to when you must notify your caterer of a head count. It is not uncommon for guests to forget to fill in the response card before returning it to you. It is a good idea to pencil in a small number on the reverse side of the card. This number would correspond to a number on your guest list, which in turn would enable you to identify who it is from should they have forgotten to fill it in. You can also pre-fill in the RSVP card with the Guests name which could also double as an indicator as to whom is invited -- "Mr. and Mrs. John Doe and Family", when an inside envelope is not being used.

It is acceptable to place a phone number or e-mail address on the RSVP card to receive responses via the telephone or internet.

Mailing Invitations
Four to eight weeks before the event is the general rule for mailing your invitations to ensure your guests receive their invitations and are able to respond with sufficient time.

Any envelope weighing over 1 oz., having an irregular shape (square, not flat because of adornments like bows, etc.), extremely large size, or smaller than 3 1/2"x5" will require extra postage, as well as invitations being sent out of the country. It is best to check with your postal service to determine the correct charges before mailing. Prior to shipping all of your invitations, consider putting a complete assembly together and having it weighed and sized at the post office to determine proper postage.

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