The When and How of Whose Name Goes Where
Finding and sending the perfect invitation sets the mood for your
wedding, making it an essential part of the planning process. It’s not
just the look and feel of invites that couples should take into
consideration, how the envelope is addressed is just as important!
tradition surrounding envelope etiquette abounds, the formality of the
past is slowly loosening. Experts on stationery and invitations urge
couples to keep etiquette in mind, but they are also adapting to new
“Etiquette has gotten to the point where it’s flexible
and couples should decide what really fits best for them and their
guests,” says Tara Vanderheyden, owner of Invitations by Design
are leaving their mark on each facet of their big day, including
spicing up invitations and envelopes with personal touches.
are managing most aspects of the wedding themselves, now (as opposed to
the parents),” says Kasey Larson, president and co-founder of DBY invitations
“Their personality is coming through in all aspects of the wedding,
especially custom designed invitations.”
out properly addressed invites makes guests feel wanted and welcomed,
and signals the event is sure to be fabulous and fun.
With so many
different situations out there, couples want to be careful not to
offend anyone by misaddressing an invitation. Couples can stress about
properly addressing envelopes and come down with a bad case of writer’s
block, or they can consult the experts to help them navigate envelope
Melissa Mizel, proprietor of stationery design house Dear Emily
shared the following tips:
When couples are unmarried and living together, tradition says to put
the name of the first guest on one line and the name of the second
guest on the second line. However, when it’s a close call (because the
two people think of themselves as “practically married”), consider what
would please the recipients, and if your intuition tells you to, put
the names on one line joined by the word “and” or an ampersand.
When couples are unmarried and not living together,
it’s nice (and
correct) to send a separate invitation to each individual’s
address. This is because some couples may take offense at the
thought that the sender believes that they receive mail at a single
a woman is married and chooses to keep her last
name, keep the husband’s and wife’s names on the same line, if
possible. The prefix in front of the woman’s name would be Ms. and the
last name would be her own: Mr. Jonathan Reynolds &
a woman has been widowed, take into
consideration how recently this occurred. The more recent the death,
the more likely an elderly woman, in particular, will appreciate seeing
her husband’s name, thus: Mrs. Ignatius Clarke rather than Ms. Amelia
Clarke. A younger woman, though, may have been called Ms. Amelia Clarke
for decades and wouldn’t necessarily appreciate a name “makeover” just
because she is now widowed. Always remember to respect what you know
about a person’s past practice.
Pay attention to how addresses
are written out, as well. Vanderheyden noted that couples sometimes
forget to fully write everything out on the envelope. Weddings are a
time to be formal, and it’s best to write out guests’ full names and
not use common abbreviations such as “St., Ln., or P.O. Box.”
seems silly, but writing out lane, street, post office box, or
apartment gives it a more formal feel,” says Vanderheyden. “When guests
see it, it makes them think, ‘Ooh, this is important.’”
to invite or not invite children to weddings can be awkward for many
couples. However, there are polite ways to indicate their decision via
the invitation and envelope.
If children are not invited, do
not place their names on outer or inner envelopes. Additionally, leave
a space on RSVP cards for guests to fill in the number of people
attending from each household. If only the couple’s names appear on the
envelope, but the RSVP card indicates more than two guests will be in
attendance, that lets the host know something is off. They can then
handle it on a per-guest basis.
“RSVP cards can also say, ‘We
have reserved two seats in the guests’ honor,’” says Larson. This
politely lets guests know that a place has been reserved strictly for
“Couples have been asking to include ‘Adult reception to follow’
directly on the invitation, as well,” Larson adds.
If children are invited to the wedding, couples can clearly indicate
that on the front of the envelope.
names can appear on the second line of the invitation or you can
address the invitation to Mr. and Mrs. Jones and Family,” recommends
Mizel also suggests, depending on age, sending an
envelope for just the children or, when using formal invitations with
inner envelopes, adding children’s names to the parents’ on the inner
envelope to indicate they are included. Thus, an outer envelope might
say, “Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Jacobson,” and the inner envelope might say,
“Uncle Joe, Aunt Kate, Zoey and Hugo.”
Envelopes Your Own
Experts suggest beginning to design invitations at least four months in
advance of your wedding date.
takes about a week to get a proof of the invitation and you also need
to leave a week for the envelopes to be addressed,” notes Dottie
Bucaro, store manager at Marvelous
Bucaro recommended several ways couples could create more elaborate
initials, doves, or interlocking rings on the back of the envelope are
ways for couples to add their personal touch,” says Bucaro. Sprinkling
aspects of their reception into the invitations allows couples to
customize their invites and gives them an extra wow factor.
are finding fun places to add spark from the invitation design to the
envelope so it’s not mixed in with the mail. They’re placing details
from the invitation onto the envelope,” says Vanderheyden.
can get lost in the shuffle like a plain white envelope. Try
coordinating your envelope with the color palette used to create your
invitation suite. If you must go with a white envelope, try addressing
it with a bold color ink. And nice stamps will be sure to grab the
attention of your guests,” says Candice Dora, owner and lead creative
designer at aDORAble Designs by Candice
Stepping Outside the
are still most commonly enclosed in envelopes. However, couples can
step outside the box by sending invitations set inside handcrafted
“I am starting to notice more clients interested
in having their invitations delivered in boxes. I think it’s a
fantabulous way to ‘set the tone’ to your wedding day,” says Dora.
invitations are an added expense. If you’re watching your budget, opt
to send two types of invitations — boxed invites for your bridal party,
and VIPs and enveloped invites for your other guests.
brides send two versions of an invitation — one more elaborate for the
family VIPs. We’ve also done multi-language invitations in both English
and French, Spanish, German, and Slovak if a majority of guests speak
another language,” says Larson.
return addresses are printed or written in calligraphy on the back of
the envelope. It adds a stunning touch to any invitation, but
Vanderheyden warns that invitations might accidently be mailed to the
original sender if addressed this way. The post office prefers that
return addresses appear in the upper left corner. However, it's still
acceptable to place them on the back or front of the envelope. Some
bold couples are taking their chances and really getting creative,
opting to place them in unique locations like the side of the envelope.
Finally, remember to avoid a common faux pas regarding registry
information and invitations.
“Don’t put registry/gift information on the invitations,” cautions
are coming to enjoy a fabulous party and celebrate the marriage. While
it’s customary to bring gifts, refrain from directly supplying registry
details on invitations. Instead, add an insert card with the couple’s
website address, if they have one. That will direct guests to the
registry should they choose to bring a gift.
As all the
experts pointed out, remember to have fun! The wedding day and all the
events leading up to it are special moments to be enjoyed together!