Envelope Addressing Etiquette

Basic rules of etiquette

It is traditional to use the complete, formal name and address of your invited guests on the outer envelope of a double envelope set and on the outside of a single envelope. Do not use abbreviations other than "Mr." or "Mrs." Spell out Avenue, Road, and Street as well as the State name. See the "Basic Rules of Etiquette" section under "Wording your Wedding Invitation" above for more detail on how to write titles and suffixes. Include zip codes on the same line with the city and state.

The inner envelope of a double envelope set carries only the last name preceded by titles (Mr., Mrs., Doctor) of the primary person or couple being invited. There are no addresses. Invited children’s first names appear under the parents’ names. (Invited children over 18 or older still dwelling with their parents should receive separate invitations.) If you are allowing single people, who are not dating anyone in particular, to bring a guest, you would say so on this inner envelope by adding "and guest" to their title and surname. If you are using a single envelope, you must put this information on the outside of the single envelope by adding the children’s names below the parents’ names or the "and guest" line beside the single guest’s name.

Remember! Before purchasing stamps, have one fully assembled invitation weighed at the post office to determine proper postage. Don’t forget to purchase stamps for the respond envelopes as well.

Sample Addressing Formats Wording for (nearly) Every Situation

  1. Invitations with a single envelope
  2. If you elect to use a single envelope with your invitation, here are some suggestions for addressing the outside of the single envelope.

    1. Married Couples
    2. Married couples living in the same house

      Mr. and Mrs. George Smith, junior
      800 Park Avenue, 3C
      New York, New York 10025

      Married couples in which the woman has retained her maiden name or professional name
      Some experts say the woman’s name appears first

      Ms. Elaine Austin Rogers
      Mr. Edward Paris Whittemore
      Three Greenleaf Lane
      Huntington Beach, California 94640

      Others suggest the names be listed alphabetically

      Ms. Judy Paris
      Mr. Benjamin Jeffery Straton
      etc.
      Mr. Bernard Dawson
      Ms. Anne Fisk
      etc.
    3. Unmarried Couples
    4. Unmarried couples living in the same house should be listed alphabetically

      Ms. Elaine Alla
      Ms. Susan Zaph
      40 Sparrow Drive
      Dallas, Texas 75341

      Ms. Caroline Parker
      Mr. David Randolph
      Three Greenleaf Lane
      Huntington Beach, California 94640
    5. Family Invitation
    6. A family with young chlidren

      Mr. and Mrs. George Smith
      Martha and Susan
      800 Park Avenue, 3C
      New York, New York 10025
    7. Single Individual with Guest
    8. If you wish to encourage a single friend to invite a guest, find out the guest’s name, especially if the couple is engaged, living in the same house, or seeing each other on an exclusive basis. If they live at different addresses, it is considerate to send an invitation to the guest directly. Otherwise address as follows:

      Ms. Evelyn Phelps
      Mr. John Wesley
      Eight Beaver Dam Road
      Seattle, Washington 98110

      If you cannot obtain the name ahead of time, it is also correct to address

      Ms. Evelyn Phelps and guest
      Mr. John Wesley and guest
  3. Invitations with double envelopes
  4. If you elect to use two envelopes with your invitations, here are suggestions for addressing the inner and outer envelopes:

    1. Married Couples
    2. Married couples living in the same house

      Outer Envelope

      Ms. Elaine Austin Rogers
      Mr. Edward Paris Whittemore
      Three Greenleaf Lane
      Huntington Beach, California 94640

      Inner Envelope

      Ms. Rogers
      Mr. Whittemore
    3. Unmarried Couples
    4. Unmarried couples living in the same house should be listed alphabetically

      Outer Envelope

      Ms. Caroline Parker
      Mr. David Randolph
      Three Greenleaf Lane
      Huntington Beach, California 94640

      Inner Envelope

      Ms. Parker
      Mr. Randolph
    5. Family Invitation
    6. A family with young children

      Outer Envelope

      Mr. and Mrs. George Smith
      Martha and Susan
      800 Park Avenue, 3C
      New York, New York 10025

      Inner Envelope

      Mr. and Mrs. Smith
      Martha and Susan (by seniority)

      It is considered correct to send a separate invitation to each child 18 years or older. You may also use the title Master if the young man is under the age of 13.

    7. Single Individual with Guest
    8. If you wish to encourage a single friend to invite a guest, you should learn the name of the guest, especially if they are engaged, living in the same house, or seeing each other on an exclusive basis. If they live at different addresses, it is considerate to send an invitation to the guest directly. Otherwise address as follows:

      Outer Envelope

      Ms. Evelyn Phelps
      Mr. John Wesley
      Eight Beaver Dam Road
      Seattle, Washington 98110

      Inner Envelope

      Ms. Phelps
      Mr. Wesley

      If you cannot obtain the name ahead of time, it is also correct to address

      Outer Envelope

      Mr. Walter Robinson
      126 Woodland Creek Drive
      Dallas, Texas 75225

      Inner Envelope

      Mr. Robinson and guest