Addressing & Sending Wedding Invitations
Preparing wedding invitations for mailing
Opening a wedding invitation is unlike opening any other piece of mail. Much care goes into addressing both the inner and outer envelopes. Several enclosures usually accompany the invitation itself, and there is a thoughtful order to how they are placed inside the outer envelope.
How to Address the Envelopes
The inner envelope
The inner envelope bears the title and last names of the specific people invited. This allows the host to be very clear about who is invited, and by omission, who is not invited.
For example, the inner envelope for Mr. and Mrs. James Darling and the two Darling children, Sarah and Johnathan, would be written:
Mr. and Mrs. Darling
It's also fine to write familiar names for close family: Aunt Martha and Uncle Bill.
The outer envelope
The outer envelope is addressed conventionally using titles, first, (middle), and last names. While titles are abbreviated (Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr.) all other words such as "Street," or "Boulevard" are spelled out. State names may be written in full or use the two-letter postal code abbreviation. Middle initials aren't used, so either write out the middle name or omit it. Generally, an invitation to parents and children is addressed to the parents:
Mr. and Mrs. James Arthur Darling
Listed here are some common forms of address. For a complete guide, click here.
To a married couple
Invitations are always addressed to both members of a married couple, even though the bride may know only one or knows that only one will attend.
To an unmarried couple living together
Invitations to an established couple who are unmarried but live at the same address are addressed to "Ms. Nancy Fellows and Mr. Scott Dunn," on one line.
To a married woman doctor or two married doctors
If the woman uses her husband's name socially, the address is "Dr. Barbara and Mr. James Werner." If she uses her maiden name both professionally and socially, it is "Dr. Barbara Hanson and Mr. James Werner." If the husband is also a doctor, the address is either "The Drs. Werner" or "Drs. Barbara and Robert Werner."
How to add "and Guest"
Since it's awkward and impersonal to address the outer envelope as "Mr. James Smith and Guest," the two envelope system works well. Address the outer envelope to "Mr. James Smith" and the inner envelope to "Mr. James Smith and Guest." If you're only using one envelope, include a short note with your invitation: "Dear James, You're welcome to bring a guest to the wedding. Please let me know. Best, Laura." If there's time and James supplies the information, you can send his guest an invitation, too.
How to Stuff the Envelopes
- When two envelopes are used, insert the invitation (folded edge first for a folded invitation, left edge for a single card invitation), so that you see the printed side of the invitation when the envelope flap is opened.
- When there are enclosures--reply card and envelope, map, printed directions--they are placed on top of the invitation, printed sides up, in size order with the smallest on top. Again, when the flap is opened, the printed side should be visible. If the invitation is folded, insertions are stacked in size order - smallest on top - but within the fold.
- The inner envelope is then placed unsealed in the outer envelope, so when the outer envelope flap is lifted, the name(s) of the guest(s) is visible.
Before you buy stamps, take an assembled invitation to the post office and have it weighed. It's likely that the inserts, or even an unusually shaped envelope, will call for extra postage.
Remember that maps and other inserts sent to out-of-town guests will make those invitations heavier than ones sent to local guests and may require a postage adjustment. In that case, be sure to assemble two sets and have both weighed.
Lastly, ask at your post office if it is possible to have your envelopes hand-stamped. This produces a different postmark (often considered more attractive) than if your invitations were run through an automatic sorter.
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For more information on wedding invitation etiquette, we recommend Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette, 6th edition, by Anna Post and Lizzie Post. Released in 2014, this edition has new and expanded chapters on invitaiton wording, enclosures, and addressing. View our full line of wedding etiquette books.