Addressing wedding invitations: the survival guide

Your wedding invitations are one of the most momentous messages you’ll ever send. They’re your guests’ first look at your nuptials, and should give a little hint of what’s to come at the big celebration. So, assuming you’re planning on hosting the most perfect, amazing, romantic day ever, you certainly don’t want to muddy that in any way with something as silly as an incorrectly addressed invitation. 

That said, figuring out how to address wedding invitations can require some special delivery savvy. That’s why we’re here to fill you in on all the down-and-dirty details of not only doing it right, but doing it well

 

A dark blue wedding invitation and insert with gold foil greenery beside a gold envelope.

Margent” by Paperless Post.

 

General etiquette for addressing wedding invitations

Before we get into the fine points of addressing wedding invitations, it’s helpful to keep a few rules in mind. These are your bread and butter of invitation addressing—the variables you’ll use to finesse your master guest list, and eventually request for them to join you in celebrating on the big day. 

As you plan out who you’ll invite, make note of the following:

 

— Titles: Use your guests’ correct social and professional titles (Mr., Mrs., Miss, Mx, Ms, Dr.) in their abbreviated forms, and any suffixes (ex: Jr., Sr., IV., Ph.D.) where needed. Be respectful of pronouns any individual may use, and reference them accordingly when choosing the right title. 

— Names: In general, it’s best to use your guests’ full names rather than initials, nicknames, or shortened names. Of course, there may be cases when a guest strongly prefers a nickname; use your best judgment. However, you can feel free to skip middle names and initials unless a guest uses their middle name as part of their preferred name. If you aren’t sure of a guest’s full name or the spelling, just ask. 

— Addresses: When including street names on your invitations, use the full street names rather than abbreviations (i.e., ‘Street’ over ‘St’). If you’re opting for online invitations that don’t necessitate them, be sure to use your guests’ most updated email address. Unless you’ve been told otherwise, send invitations to personal email addresses rather than professional ones. 

Likewise, if you’re not sure of a guest’s preferences on any of the things listed, just ask. Your guests will probably feel honored by the care you’re taking to get it right.

A screenshot of a Paperless Post guest list.
Paperless Post makes it easier than ever to address your online wedding invitations and keep track of RSVPs.

 

Why you should properly address wedding invitations

Addressing your invitations may seem like only a tiny tier of the massive cake that is your overall wedding planning. Still, just like choosing the perfect dress or asking the right questions to the wedding venues you’re scoping out, doing it properly will make a difference to the individuals you’re inviting. Seeing their names, titles, plus-ones, and family members spelled out correctly on the invite will show your guests how genuinely you welcome their presence.

Taking the time to verify the details ensures you don’t leave anyone out, avoid potential offense from using the wrong terms and titles, and confirm you’re not sending off your invites to the wrong person, email address, or home address.

 

A maroon wedding invitation with gold-leaf flowers.

Sanganeri” by Paperless Post.

 

The breakdown: How to address invitations to different groups and individuals

Now that you know the components of addressing your wedding invitations, it’s time to talk about how to put it all together. 

 

How to address wedding invitations to an individual

Individuals are probably the easiest people to address on this list, but there are still a few variables. For a male guest, simply address the card with his full name and title:

 

Mr. James Porter

 

For an individual female guest, you’ll want to confirm whether she prefers a title of Miss, Ms., Mrs., unless she uses a professional title like Dr. Otherwise, address her the same way:

 

Ms. Eliza Watson

If you’re inviting individuals to bring an unknown plus-one, you need only indicate this on the inner envelope or invitation by adding and guest after their name or by including a note or box to check on the wedding invitation. If you’re addressing an online invitation with a plus-one, send to Ms. Eliza Watson and guest, and mark the guest count as 2.

If you do know the added guest’s name, use the below instructions for unmarried couples.

 

Navy wedding invitation and insert with leafy border and white envelope with gold liner.

Flowering Mimosa” by Oscar de la Renta for Paperless Post.

 

What’s the difference between Miss, Mrs., and Ms.?

Excellent question. 

 

Miss can be used to indicate an unmarried woman.

 

Mrs. can be used by women who are married—even women who are married but have chosen to keep their maiden name.

 

Ms. is for any of the above. 

 

And that’s it. However, it truly is up to the person’s preference. If your Aunt Diane goes by Ms. Khan even though she’s been married to Uncle Ray for 40 years, that’s fine. Your best friend from college might like to be “Miss Collins” because it makes her feel like she’s in an episode of Downton Abbey. A quick text to your guest will be all you need to find the answer and make sure that the envelope looks beautiful—and respectful—to whoever it’s addressed to. 

 

How to address wedding invitations to a married couple

There are many options to choose from when addressing a married couple. The traditional method of formal addressing includes the titles of a husband and wife, the husband’s first name, and the last name they share, as follows:

 

Mr. and Mrs. James Porter

 

However, there are modern alternatives that make it easier to be inclusive. These alternatives also make more sense when you need to incorporate any variations in names and titles. This happens more than you think. For example, if one spouse is a doctor, uses a hyphenated name, or has a different last name altogether. In this method, you simply list both full names separately, as follows:

 

Mr. James Porter and Mrs. Eliza Porter-Watson

Dr. Eliza Watson and Mr. James Porter

Mr. Scott Holmes and Mr. Robert Henry

 

Note that you can list a couple’s names in any order, although generally, one would list those with a professional title first.

 

How to address wedding invitations to an unmarried couple

For unmarried couples attending the wedding together, your method of addressing will be similar to that of married couples with name variations: simply list each person’s title and full name.

If you’re inviting a couple, but you don’t know one of the partners, or if you’re inviting an individual to bring a plus-one, it’s still a nice touch to include both—if you can find out the name of the other person, that is. However, if you’re inviting an individual who you think might bring a guest but aren’t sure, see our above note on adding “and guest” to an individual’s invitation.

 

A gif shows what a Paperless Post wedding invitation looks like to the guest receiving it.

Paperless Post wedding invitation in action. 

 

How to address wedding invitations to a family

If you’re inviting any families including children, the conventional form of address is to include the parents’ names and address on the outside and include the children’s names on the inside of the invitation. Ensuring that you list the children’s names somewhere helps the parents avoid any questions about whether children are meant to attend.

 

For families with adult children that live in the same household, you can use a form of address that acknowledges all parties more directly, such as:

 

The Watson Family

 

This approach is considered slightly less formal, but it’s still helpful in ensuring you don’t leave anyone out. On the invitation itself, however, be sure to still list the first names of those invited so that you don’t leave anyone wondering (or accidentally invite more guests than you meant to).

 

A wedding invitation shows a photograph of a couple with a border of gold leaves.

Leaves of Gold” by Paperless Post.

 

Addressing wedding invitations for a casual wedding

What changes when your wedding is a more casual affair? In general, many of the guidelines above still apply in terms of ensuring accuracy and being sensitive to personal details. However, depending on the casualness of your wedding, you have the option to use a less formal approach.

If the situation feels right, you can adjust your invitations to feel slightly more personal, such as:

 

— Skipping titles

— Using nicknames and shortened names

— Including childrens’ names

— Abbreviating street names

 

However, even if your wedding features a tractor-pulled hayride to the chapel or you’re requesting guests to arrive barefoot, you don’t necessarily need to drop the formality in your invitations. Adding those special touches helps to signify the deep emotions you and your partner carry with you to your wedding, as well as the respect you hold for those invited—regardless of how formal or informal the event itself may be. 

Here’s the bottom line: do what feels right for you. When in doubt, it doesn’t hurt to opt for the more formal approach.

 

What information goes where?

Once you’ve figured out what titles to use and for whom, you’ll also need to consider the exact shape of your invitations and where those addresses will go. The main thing to keep in mind is that figuring out how to address wedding envelopes will vary depending on whether you’re using printed or online invitations.

 

Print invitations: Single envelope vs inner and outer envelopes

Whether you’re primarily sending printed invitations or need to send a few invites to your offline friends and family, you may encounter the puzzle of inner and outer envelope addressing. 

According to Emily Post, your outer envelope is the most formal layer and uses titles, full names, and the address of any adults being invited. For example:

 

Mr. James Porter and Mrs. Eliza Porter

1234 Blue Street

Gary, Indiana XXXXX

 

Meanwhile, the inner envelope can omit the street address. Here, you can include either titles and last names only, or opt for a more personal use of first names:

 

Mr. and Mrs. Porter 

OR 

James and Eliza

 

If the invitees include children, you can also add them to the inner envelope below their parents’ names:

 

Mr. and Mrs. Porter

Edward Porter

Katie Porter

 

Online invitations: An easier approach

Given that they require no physical envelopes at all, using online invitations simplifies things quite a bit, and also saves you money on invitations. However, you might still wonder where to list kids’ names, or whether the same etiquette applies to titles.

With premium online invitations, such as those from Paperless Post, your guests are typically sent a digital envelope they can open to view the invitation itself. In such cases, you can follow the same rules as above for what to include on the outer envelope. Of course, you should opt out of including a street address.

 

Paperless Post: The stress-free way to address your invitations

The rules and conventions of addressing your wedding invitations can seem a little complex, but it’s these small details that show your appreciation for those who’ve been invited to partake in your special day. Once you’ve navigated the waters of titles and hyphenated names, addressing and sending the invitations themselves doesn’t have to be complicated. 

Make things even easier on yourself, your guests, and the earth with paper-free wedding invitations from Paperless Post. Our user-friendly tools make it simple to address your invitations automatically using our customizable, beautifully designed cards. 

Plus, you can track RSVPs and follow up with guests directly from Paperless Post, so connecting and following up with those you care about is a breeze. 

After all, that’s the whole point of the invitations—to bring all your favorite humans together to celebrate your love.

 

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