Good morning Mr. and Mrs. Reader! Or is it Ms. Reader? The Drs. Reader? Addressing envelopes can be tricky, confusing, and frankly, not a whole lot of fun (except for some of us crazy enough to do that for a living). Because snail mail has declined in popularity, and overall our correspondence has lost some formality over the years, wedding invitations are one of the only things that remain in which we actually refer to our guests in formal terms. And because many of us never practice this skill, it’s tough to remember all the right ways to address your guests when it’s time to send out your invitations. So, we have created a guide to wedding invite address etiquette that will make this a snap for you and your fiancé when the time comes!
LEVELS OF FORMALITY
We’d like to note that all addressing etiquette relies on formality. We will be covering the most formal terms and rules here, but feel free to adapt for a more casual or modern wedding! The rules are a lot less strict if your invitation wording and overall vision are a little less traditional.
Spouses are fairly straightforward! The only tricky thing to remember is that a man’s first name should never be separated from his last name. Check it out below:
Formal: Mr. and Mrs. Jack Conrad Geller
Still formal, but less so: Mr. and Mrs. Jack Gellar
Same-Sex: Mr. Chandler Bing and Mr. Joey Bing (Keep both men with their last names, even if last name is the same) or Mr. and Mr. Bing
Same-Sex: Monica and Rachel Green / Mrs. and Mrs. Green
For same-sex couples, you can address either person first. We recommend starting with the one you know better, or if you can’t decide, alphabetical order is a good way to go!
Technically, having both spouse’s names in a male/female relationship is not proper – such as “Mr. and Mrs. Chandler and Monica Bing”. This is also A LOT on an envelope and can make the spacing tough! If you want both first names to appear, you can use something like “Monica and Chandler Bing” although it’s less formal.
This can get a little trickier. If you do not know the name of the guest, simply address your invite and add “and guest” at the end. If you know the name of the guest, then etiquette says to address the man first. Many people these days are listing the person they know best first on the invite, but that is slightly less formal. Still, no matter what, do not separate the man’s first and last names.
Example: Mr. Chandler Bing and Ms. Monica Geller
Etiquette says that each roommate over the age of 18 should receive their own invitation. If they are family members, you can technically combine them in one invitation, but put each sibling on a different line (to indicate that they are not married). If females are under 18, they are referred to as “Miss” but after 18 they are “Ms.” and men have no title until the age of 18, when they become “Mr.”
Mr. Ross Geller
Ms. Monica Geller
The most formal way to indicate families on your list is by using only the parents’ names on the outer envelope, and using all of the invitees’ first names on the inner envelope. However, if you are only using one envelope, there are other ways to go about this. Again, anyone over the age of 18 receives their own invitation, even if they still live at home.
Outer: Mr. and Mrs. Bing
Inner: Chandler, Monica, Jack and Erica
With only Outers:
Mr. and Mrs. Chandler Bing
Jack and Erica
The Bing Family
If either person in a couple has a distinguished title, but their spouse does not have a distinguished title, then the person with the title is listed first, regardless of sex. Titles should not be abbreviated if at all possible.
Example: Doctor Ross Geller and Mrs. Rachel Geller / The Honorable Rachel Geller and Mr. Ross Geller
If both couples have distinguished titles, it is simply pluralized.
Example: The Doctors Geller / The Honorables Geller
A divorced female can be referred to as “Mrs.” or “Ms.” and by whichever last name she decided to keep after the divorce.
Example: Ms. Carol Willett / Mrs. Carol Willett
A widow typically retains her husband’s last name, and a “Mrs.” title.
Example: Mrs. Carol Gellar (not that we’re fantasizing Ross’s death or anything….)
Wedding invite address etiquette can be tricky, but we hope this guide has helped lead you in the right direction and alleviated some stress! Every family is different, and we would not be surprised at all if we missed an example or two! Let us know in the comments below if you have any specific questions or unique invitation situations, and we would be more than happy to assist!
Wedding invitations to tell your story, and business education to help you write your own.