Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wedding Invitation Etiquette

Clients often ask me how to format their addresses for their wedding envelopes. Many questions involve answers about proper etiquette. Over the years, I have found that Crane's Wedding Blue Book has been very help as well as Amy Vanderbilt's Book of Etiquette for finding answers to difficult etiquette questions. The Crane's book is available online at http://www.crane.com under wedding blue book. In addition, both books offer help and suggestions for wedding invitation wording.

Here are answers to common etiquette questions, as well as how to format a guest list for the Calligraphy Lady®. We offer addressing of envelopes by long hand or by computer calligraphy:
  • All guest lists MUST be typed. Handwritten lists will not be accepted.
  • Please do not use all caps. Number your addresses.
  • Do not use initials or abbreviations (except for titles): spell out first and last names, street
    names, apartment, place, court, avenue, number and states. Do not use "&" instead of "and" (for example -- do not put Mr. & Mrs. Smith).
  • Always include titles. For example: Mr., Mrs., Ms., Miss, Dr., etc.
  • Use only the five-digit zip code.
  • Please obtain the correct title for clergy or military guests.
  • Professional designations
    such as Esq., MD, PhD, etc. are not appropriate for wedding stationery. However, a title such as Dr. is appropriate. "Dr." may be used instead of "Doctor".
  • "And Family", "And Guest" and children's names do not go on the outer envelope. These phrases and names appear on inner envelopes only in an envelope set. If you have only outer envelopes (no inner envelopes), then it is acceptable.
  • "Sr.", "Jr." and "III" only appear on the outer envelope after the man's last name. However, these are not put on the inner envelope.
  • Inner envelopes should include a title and last name only (except for invited children younger than 18 in which case only the first name is used). Less formal invitations allow for the use of first names such as Mom and Dad, or Kimberly and Todd on inner envelopes.
  • Children older then 18 should receive their own invitation, even if they are still living at home.
  • Use home addresses only.
  • Lists should be typed using a standard font like Times and a 12 point font, in the following format. Put your name, contact info., marriage date and completion date needed at the top of the list. Also put any specific requests as well:
Hand calligraphy for invitations and envelopes. Computer calligraphy for envelopes, addressing invitations. 1. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Adams 2458 Southwest Pine Place Pine Valley, Georgia 55555 Mr. and Mrs. Adams Erika and Joel 2. Mr. Robert Kelly, Sr. 12 Madison Avenue Apartment 4G New York, New York 55555 Mr. Kelly and Guest NOTE: Envelopes will be addressed exactly as they appear on your guest list. Need to check an address or zip code while creating your invitation list? CLICK HERE for the US Postal Service website. Can't find the answer to your etiquette question on this page? For an additional resource, check out the Online Etiquette Handbook

Single Guests

Outer Envelope Inner Envelope

Unmarried female

Miss or Ms. Rose Baines

Miss or Ms. Baines and Guest

female, kept married name

Mrs. Anna Beckley

Mrs. Beckley and Guest

Maiden name

Miss (or Ms.) Paula Weigel

Miss (or Ms.) Weigel and Guest

Widowed female

Mrs. Cindy Mitchell or

Mrs. Gregory Mitchell

Mrs. Mitchell and Guest

Unmarried male

Mr. Daniel Bischler

Mr. Bischler and Guest


Outer Envelope Inner Envelope

Married Couples

Mr. and Mrs. Christopher

Mr. and Mrs. Robbins

or (less formal -- Sarah and Christopher)

Married Couple, woman kept maiden

Ms. Kimberly Jones and

Mr. Todd Anderson

Ms. Jones and

Mr. Anderson

Unmarried couples who do
not live together or live together. Send to the person you know best, if they do not live together.

Miss (or Ms.) Jennifer Clark

Mr. Alfred Young

Miss (or Ms.) Clark

Mr. Young
Two men or women over 18 who live together --
address either alphabetical by last name or to the closest friend first

Mr. Todd Vanderbilt

Mr. Sam Patterson

Mr. Vanderbilt

Mr. Patterson


Outer Envelope Inner Envelope

Child under age 18

Do not include on outer
envelope. If you do not have an inner envelope, then put "and family" on the second line of address

under the parent's name)

or more children - list by age, oldest first - Todd and Caroline

Mr. and Mrs. Anderson

Todd and Caroline

over 18 should receive their own invitation

Miss Jessica Clemons

Mr. Matthew Slack

Miss Clemons (and Guest)

Mr. Slack (and Guest)

over 18 should receive their own invitation. If they are two grown children of the same sex:

Misses Jessica and Nancy Clemons

Messrs. Matthew and Anthony Slack

The Misses Clemons (and Guest)

The Messrs. Slack (and Guest)


Outer Envelope Inner Envelope


The Honorable and Mrs.
Gerald Rocha

Judge and Mrs. Rocha


Reverend and Mrs. John Mattingly

Reverend and Mrs. Mattingly

Officer Man (active or retired)

Commander and Mrs. Rich Richards

Commander and Mrs. Richards

Woman who is an officer or has any title like "Dr."

Dr. Jessica Young

and Mr. William Young

Dr. Young
and Mr. Young