How to Address Wedding Invitations

A reader recently asked me about how to address his wedding invitations. He and his fiance are not formal by nature, so while I would have said “just address it any old way” I thought it might call for a blog post!

photo from The Wedding Lens

When you’re starting to write out your invitations, there is an “etiquette” of sorts to addressing the envelopes. Obviously, address the invitation to who you want to come! That means, if someone’s kid isn’t invited, don’t put the kid’s name on the invitation!

Now, there’s an outer envelope that’s more formal than an inner envelope. The chart below should help clarify what I mean. The tradition is to handwrite the envelopes, despite what you would think! Nowadays, I would recommend using a printer; it’s faster and easier to handle.

The general rule is to address by alphabetical order when there are no titles involved and there are different last names. For children, list them in the order of oldest to youngest.

You can write “and Guest” on the inner envelope to invite your single friends who can bring a date of his or her choice.

For relatives, the outer envelope should be formal, but the inside envelope should be what you call them. For example, write “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith” on the outer envelope and “Uncle John and Aunt Jenny” on the inner envelope.

  Outer Envelope Inner Envelope
Single Man Mr. Michael Smith Mr. Smith
Single Woman Miss/Ms. Jennifer Johnson Miss/Ms. Johnson
Divorced Woman, using married name Mrs. Jennifer Smith Mrs. Smith
Divorced Woman, using Maiden name Miss/Ms. Jennifer Johnson Miss/Ms. Johnson
Married Couple Mr. and Mrs. Michael Smith Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Married Couple, Wife with Maiden Name Mr. Michael Smith and Mrs. Jennifer Johnson Mr. Smith and Mrs. Johnson
Married Couple, Wife is a Doctor with Maiden Name Dr. Jennifer Johnson and Mr. Michael Smith Dr. Johnson and Mr. Smith
Married Couple, Wife has a title, Same last name The Honorable Jennifer Smith and Mr. Michael Smith Judge and Mr. Smith
Married Couple, Husband is a Doctor Dr. Michael and Mrs. Smith Dr. and Mrs. Smith
Married Couple, 2 Doctors with Same last name The Doctors Smith OR Drs. Michael and Jennifer Smith The Doctors Smith
Married Couple, 2 Doctors with different last names Dr. Jennifer Johnson and Dr. Michael Smith Dr. Johnson and Dr. Smith
Gay Married Couple with same last name The Messrs. John and David Smith The Messrs. Smith
Gay Married Couple with different last names Mr. John Smith and Mr. David Johnson Mr. Smith and Mr. Johnson
Lesbian Married Couple with same last name The Mesdames Jennifer and Judy Johnson The Mesdames Johnson
Lesbian Married Couple with different last names Mrs. Jennifer Johnson and Mrs. Judy Smith Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Smith
Unmarried couple who lives together Miss/Ms. Jennifer Johnson and Mr. John Smith Miss/Ms. Johnson and Mr. Smith
Unmarried couple who doesn’t live together Ms. Johnson (closest friend of the two) Ms. Johnson and Mr. Smith
Family with Children Mr. and Mrs. John Smith Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Walter, Winifred, and Wendy

For people with titles, here’s another chart:

Elected officials (Governor, Mayor, Senator, Etc.) The Honorable Jennifer Johnson and Mr. John Smith  ORGovernor/Senator/Mayor Jennifer Johnson and Mr. Smith The Honorable and Mr. SmithGovernor/Senator/Mayor and Mr. Smith
Judge The Honorable Jennifer Johnson and Mr.  John Smith Judge Johnson and Mr. Smith
Priest Father John Smith Father Smith
Rabbi Rabbi and Mrs. John Smithkowitz Rabbi and Mrs. Smithkowitz

That should about cover it. Have somone I haven’t covered? Just ask!

~ Natasha


What Goes inside a Wedding Invitation?

I just received a beautiful wedding invitation. But, of course, it doesn’t just include an invitation telling me where and when the wedding is. So what DOES go in a wedding invitation?

Photo from The Wedding Lens

Photo from The Wedding Lens

First, the envelope addressing: Make sure you address it to who you want to go. Seems simple, but if you want your friend John to take his girlfriend, Jane, make sure you address it to both John and Jane. If you want Julia to bring someone, but you’re not sure who she’d like to bring, you should be sure to address it to Julia and Guest. Otherwise they won’t know and shouldn’t bring someone! (Remember my tips on invitations and guests!)

Second, the invitation: Include an invitation to the ceremony — date, time, and location. If there’s a reception following, say “reception to follow.”

Third, the reception card: If the reception is at a different location, add in another card that tells your guests where the reception is and what time it starts.

Fourth, the response card: This is the little card that you get back that lets you know whether your guests will be able to come! If you want (or your venue requires it) you can also put the menu options on the response card so you can tell your venue in advance how many of which dish you will need. You can also be creative with your response cards by sending, for example, blank cards that let your guests say what they wish. Be sure to include a deadline!

Fifth, optionals: If you want, you can include a map and directions of the locations. You can also put in ideas for accomodations (especially if you have a room block at a local hotel). And, of course, your website! The website can keep everyone up to date on everything.

Be sure that you do NOT include registry information, though you can put it on your website — so take that for what it’s worth. (No pun intended)

Did you include anything else with your invitations?

~ Natasha

Invitations & Bringing a Date to a Wedding

Whether you’ve invited people to your wedding or received a wedding invitation yourself, you have probably wondered what to do about the “and guest” or “plus 1” for singles.  Here’s the scoop for those of you trying to figure it out.

If you are the host:

If you want your single friend to bring someone (and you don’t want to specify who), then address the invitation to your friend “plus guest” or “and guest.” 

If you want to specify who someone brings as a date, write that person’s name on the invitation also. For example, if your guest has two girlfriends and you want him to bring one or the other of them, it is acceptable to specify which person (by name) you want him to bring.

If you don’t want your guests to bring a date, don’t include a date’s name and omit the “and guest” from the envelope! It should be known what you mean, even if your RSVP reply card has a line that says “Number of Guests.”  And after reading this blog, your guest will definitely know they’re not allowed to bring someone if it’s not on the envelope! That said, if you have singles at your wedding and you don’t want to be uncomfortable, be sensitive to where you seat them.

If you are the guest:

If you receive an invitation that says “and guest” then you are free to bring any guest.  I received an invitation to a wedding last year and my boyfriend couldn’t come. I didn’t want to assume that I could bring a friend, so I asked the bride.  She said that she specified “and guest” because she wanted me to bring someone (she knew I wouldn’t know anyone else at the wedding) and she didn’t care who it was.

That said, if the invitation specifies your significant other’s name, then you should not assume that you can bring anyone; only your boyfriend/girlfriend is invited.

Likewise, if you receive an invitation and it does NOT say “plus guest” or “and guest” and it does not include someone else’s name specifically (such as your significant other’s name), then you CANNOT bring a date. Please do not put “2” in the RSVP reply card as the number of attendees (even if the reply card says “Number of Guests” on it!). Your hosts did not intend for you to bring a guest and it will only put both of you in an awkward position. One friend had to call the guest to explain that the invitation was addressed only to the guest and that the couple couldn’t afford to host an additional person.

A tip for the single guest who isn’t allowed to bring a date: Be Understanding! Weddings are expensive & there are often lots of family guest list expectations to contend with. Don’t take it personally that you will go it alone and don’t make the couple feel bad! If it’s SO upsetting to be going to a wedding alone, then maybe you shouldn’t go. I hope that helps put it in perspective!

~ Natasha

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