Getting married is one of the most exciting times in anyone’s life, and it’s exciting to share all of your good news with your friends and family. A challenging aspect of getting married can be understanding how to address wedding invitations appropriately.
As part of the general wedding etiquette, you should address the inside of the invitation and your envelopes a certain way for different guests. Understanding how to do address wedding invitations properly lets you project your best self and impress your guests with your elegance before you even walk down the aisle.
There are several ways to address your wedding invitations, and familiarizing yourself with best practices before setting pen to paper is an excellent idea. Whether you’re inviting married couples, doctors, or single guests, use these address examples to address your wedding invitations.
Most wedding invitations come with outer and inner envelopes. Follow the below instructions for properly addressing outer envelopes. For inner envelopes, you can be a bit more informal. You can list out first names only, full names, or include the titles on an inner envelope.
To Married Couples
When addressing wedding invitations to a married couple, you need to put both of their names together. Whether you decide to use titles or individual names is ultimately up to you. Use “Mr.” and “Mrs.” for heterosexual couples. If there is a couple with different last names, simply list both names on the wedding invitation envelopes.
It’s an outdated tradition to use only the husband’s name on a wedding invitation, so it’s best to stay away from this if possible. The only exception is if a married couple wants explicitly to be addressed in this particular fashion.
- Together: Mr. and Mrs. John Smith or Mr. and Mrs. Smith
- Separate: Mr. John Smith and Mrs. Sally Field
- Same-sex couples: Mrs. Sally Field and Mrs. Jane Smith (either name can go first)
To Unmarried Couples
Addressing invitations to unmarried couples follows a similar pattern as a married couple with different last names. Similarly, it’s up to you to use titles like Mr. and Mrs. or not for an unmarried couple – just remember to keep it consistent across all envelopes you address. List the person you’re closest with first.
- Mr. John Smith and Ms. Sally Field
To Single Guests
Single females take the title “Ms.” Those under the age of 18 take “Miss.” For males, those over 18 take the title “Mr.” Single male guests under 18 don’t take a title based on traditional etiquette.
If a single guest is given a plus one, standard wedding invitation etiquette is to write “and guest” after the invited guests’ full name.
- Single females over 18: Ms. Jane Smith
- Single females under 18: Miss Jane Smith
- Single males over 18: Mr. John Smith
- Single males under 18: John Smith
To Families with Children
If you plan to invite families with children, address the outer envelope with just the parents’ names. If you have an inner envelope, use that space to list out every member of the family invited, using their first name only. The outer envelope can also address the group as a family if you prefer.
You could also include a second line for the names of the kids on the inner envelope.
If you are inviting guests with children, but you are not extending the invitation to the kids, make sure it is clear on your wedding invitations. Only list the couples names on the outer and inner envelopes, and consider including a line explaining that children are not on the guest list.
- Parents names (see married couple protocols above): Mr. and Mrs. John Smith
- Family address: The Smith Family
- Separate Lines: Mr. and Mrs. John Smith
Charles and Ashley
To Doctors or Other Distinguished Titles
If your guest is single, you can address them with their title. If your guest is married, the one with a distinguished title goes first, followed by the spouse.
If both spouses are doctors or have another distinguished title, there are two ways you can address them. Married doctors are often referred to as “The Doctors” or “Drs.” followed by their last names.
Spell out “doctor” on the outer envelope. On the inner envelope, abbreviate it to “Dr.”
- Single guest: Doctor John Smith
- One doctor: Doctor John Smith and Mrs. Sarah Smith
- Two doctors: The Doctors Smith or Drs. John and Sarah Smith
Follow the same protocol for other distinguished titles. If one spouse outranks another, list them first.
Tips for Addressing Wedding Invitations
These are just some standard tips to keep you on track and ensure that you are entirely successful with addressing your envelopes the proper way.
Consider Levels of Formality
First, think about how formal your wedding will be. The formality or informality of your wedding will dictate how your envelopes look.
You can get away with looser wording if your wedding is less formal, but if you’re going to go full elegant, you should adhere to a specific type of etiquette. For the latter, follow the address guidelines above closely for the best result.
Inner Envelope vs. Outer Envelope
As we mentioned before, there are two envelopes sent with a wedding invitation. Remember that the inner envelope is typically more informal than the outer envelope – our examples above are all for outer envelopes.
Write the more formal full name on the outer envelope, but feel free to use first names or other less formal wording on the inner envelope of the wedding invitation.
Use Appropriate Gender
It’s important that you are sensitive to gender when you address wedding invitations. The standard gender neutral title used to properly address invitations is “Mx.” If a wedding guest identifies as non-binary, gender non-conforming, or is otherwise uncomfortable with the binary “Mr.” or Mrs.”
If you are unsure of a guests preferred pronouns and it’s not easily found on social media, simply ask their preferred pronouns.
For same sex couples, whether they are a married or unmarried couple, use the same rules as above to address wedding invitations. You can put the person you are closer with first, or list them alphabetically.
Don’t Forget Special Titles
If you are inviting guests that have formal titles, you should include them. It is respectful to address people like doctors by their titles, although if you’re having a more informal wedding, you don’t necessarily have to.
If you decide that you want to include the title of doctor, you should include any military titles or ambassador titles as well. That may mean writing “Captain” for military positions or “Judge” or “The Honorable Judge” for judiciary positions, and so on.
If you write the formal titles, list the person with the higher rank first, regardless of gender.
Double Check Spelling
Please double-check your spelling, and then recheck it. You can never be too careful when writing out individual names. Start by sketching the name lightly with a pencil. Check the spelling several times. When you’re confident, you can trace over the pencil with a pen or marker.
Addressing your wedding invitations properly might seem like a minor step. Still, it’s a significant way to set the tone of your wedding and ensure that your guests are respectfully and appropriately addressed.
If you do make an error on one of your invitations, make sure that you apologize to the person or persons right away. Mistakes happen, but you will be less likely to experience many of them and be ready to focus exclusively on your special day with this guide.
Account for Kids
Do you plan on inviting kids to your wedding? If you want your wedding to be child-friendly, you must include their names on the inner envelopes. Otherwise, the inference is that they are omitted.
It’s bad form to include some children and not others, which can lead to serious drama within your family or group of friends. However, you can make a blanket rule that children over the age of 12 are welcome, which can help exclude younger children gracefully for a more adult function.
If you’re not sure how to politely let your guests know their children are not invited, check out our tips here.
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