How To Address Wedding Invitations: Tips and Etiquette

Formal and Elegant Invitations
Photo: Jason Wallis

We take our weddings—and our wedding etiquette—seriously. When it comes to formal wedding invitations, understanding the appropriate titles and abbreviations is a colossal headache. As if planning your entire dream wedding is not hard enough. It's easy to be intimidated by the formal rules of appropriately addressing your wedding invitations.

Our advice? Don't try to memorize the formal wedding invitation formula. As is true with many traditions, the traditional wedding invitation addressing process isn't exactly the most intuitive thing to learn. For instance, did you know there's a different way to address a family's invitations once their children turn eighteen? Likewise, the invite-game changes if an invitee goes by her maiden name. And don't even get us started on formal wedding invitations for juniors. Instead of handling this confusing conundrum alone, turn to this handy wedding invitation guide that answers all your questions about addressing formal wedding invitations. Spend your time picking your perfect venue, tasting delicious wedding cakes, and choosing a beautiful, personalized color scheme. Let us handle the formality with this etiquette guideline for addressing perfectly proper wedding invitations.

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Tips for Properly Addressing Your Wedding Invites

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How to Formally Address Wedding Invitations

How to Formally Address Wedding Invitations

Start with the basic etiquette to address any invitation.

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The Basics

The Basics of Addressing Wedding Invitations

Before we jump into the nitty-gritty, here are some basic rules of thumb to keep in mind. First, always use the complete, formal name of your guest. Your Uncle Steve? Formally, he's Mr. Steven Lewis Nelson. Use a guest's full middle name when you know it.

If you don't know it, omit it. Never use initials or any abbreviations at all. That means no ampersand and no shorthand versions of "Avenue," "Road," "Street," and "Highway." This rule also applies to the State name—write out "Alabama," don't write "AL." One last thing: the "and guest" is kept lowercase for guests bringing guests.

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Invitations with One Envelope

Singe Envelope Wedding Invitations

Here is a list of ways to formally address invitations contained within one envelope. Some examples include married couples, single individuals, and families with children.

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Married Couples

Addressing Wedding Invitations to Married Couples

Traditionally, "Mr. and Mrs." precedes the male's full formal name.

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Juniors

Addressing Wedding Invitations to Juniors

For formal invitations, denote that a man is a junior by writing out the entire word in lowercase letters. For informal invitations, "Mr. Steven Lewis, Jr." is more casual.

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Married Couple When Woman Kept Her Maiden Name

Addressing Wedding Invitations to Married Couple with Maiden Name

In this case, the female's name comes first. You can also write "Mrs. Rachel Cooper-Smith," if applicable.

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Unmarried Couple Living in the Same Household

Adressing Wedding Invitations to Unmarried Couple

List your friend first, regardless of gender, and their partner on a separate line below. Use "Ms." or "Miss" for single women.

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Single Woman

Addressing Wedding Invitations to Single Woman

Refer to her using her full, formal name and the title, "Miss."

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Single Man

Addressing Wedding Invitations to Single Man

Refer to him using his full, formal name and the title, "Mr."

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Family with Children Under the Age of Eighteen

Addressing Wedding Invitations to Family with Young Children

Children's names are listed by seniority underneath parents' names, omitting the last names.

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Family with Children Over the Age of Eighteen

Addressing Wedding Invitations to Family with Adult Children

Children over the age of 18 receive a separate invitation. List their names by seniority.

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Friend with Known Guest

Addressing Wedding Invitations to Friend with Known Guest

List your friend first, regardless of gender, followed by the formal name of their guest on the line below.

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Friend with Unknown Guest

Addressing Wedding Invitations to Friend with Unknown Guest

List your friend's formal name, followed by "and guest." Remember, the "and guest" is written in lowercase.

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Invitations with Double Envelopes

Addressing Double Envelope Wedding Invitations

Here is a list of ways to formally address invitations delivered in more than one envelope—an example includes invitations with inner envelopes.

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Single Woman

Addressing Double Envelope Wedding Invitations to Single Woman

List your friend's formal name, followed by "and guest." Remember, the "and guest" is written in lowercase.

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Divorced Woman Who Uses Her Married Name

Addressing Double Envelope Wedding Invitations to Divorced Woman

Instead of "Miss," go with "Mrs." or "Ms." Again, the "and guest" only appears on the inner envelope. On the inner envelope, refer to the invitee using her title followed by only her last name.

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Single or Divorced Man

Addressing Double Envelope Wedding Invitations to Single or Divorced Man

Write the man's formal name on the outer envelope. On the inner envelope, refer to him using his title and last name, and, if applicable, indicate his guest using "and guest."

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Married Couple

Addressing Double Envelope Wedding Invitations to Married Couple

Use the couple's formal title and name on the outer envelope. Drop the first name on the inner envelope.

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Married Couple When Woman Kept Her Maiden Name

Addressing Double Envelope Wedding Invitations to Married Couple Maiden Name

Use the couples' formal titles and names on the outer envelope. Drop their first names on the inner envelope.

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Friend with Known Guest

Addressing Double Envelope Wedding Invitations to Friend with Known Guest

List your friend first, regardless of gender, and their guest on the line below. On the inner envelope, drop the first names.

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Friend with Unknown Guest

Addressing Double Envelope Wedding Invitations to Friend with Unknown Guest

On the outer envelope, write the invitee's formal title and name. On the inner envelope, include "and guest."

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Unmarried Couple Living in the Same Household

Addressing Double Envelope Wedding Invitations to Unmarried Couple

The woman's name usually appears first and can be prefaced using "Miss" or "Ms." On the outer envelope, write each formal title and name on a separate line. On the inner envelope, drop the first names and refer to each invitee using their title and last name.

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Same-Gender Couple

Addressing Double Envelope Wedding Invitations to Same Gender Couple

Order same-gender couples' names alphabetically by last name. On the outer envelope, write each formal title and name on a separate line. On the inner envelope, drop the first names and refer to each invitee using their title and last name.

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Family with Children Under the Age of Eighteen

Addressing Double Envelope Wedding Invitations to Family with Young Children

On the outer envelope, list the parents' formal title and name. Children's names are listed by seniority on the inner envelope, omitting the last name.

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Family with Children Over the Age of Eighteen: Females

Addressing Double Envelope Wedding Invitations to Family with Adult Daughters

Children over 18 should receive a separate invitation, even if they still live in the same household as their parents. On the outer envelope, write each invitee on a separate line. On the inner envelope, group titles together when applicable. For instance, the plural form of "Miss" is "Misses."

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Family with Children Over the Age of Eighteen: Males

Addressing Double Envelope Wedding Invitations to Family with Adult Sons

The plural form of "Mr." is "Messrs."

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Family with Children Over the Age of Eighteen: Male and Female

Addressing Double Envelope Wedding Invitations to Family with Adult Children

Separate by title on two different lines, ordered by seniority.

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Judge

Addressin Double Envelope Wedding Invitations to Judge

On the outer envelope, refer to a Judge by their formal title, "The Honorable," followed by his formal name. Include the spouse's title for a married Judge. If single, drop the spouse's name. Drop the first names of both the Judge and spouse for invitations with an inner envelope. If the Judge is single, add "and guest" if applicable.

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Medical Doctor

Addressing Double Envelope Wedding Invitations to Doctor

For medical doctors, write out the word "Doctor."

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Academic Doctor (Ph.D.)

Addressing Double Envelope Wedding Invitations to Academic Doctor

For academic doctors, the "Dr." abbreviation is appropriate.

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Married Female Doctor

Addressing Double Envelope Wedding Invitations to Married Female Doctor

List the female first, followed by her husband on the line below. For a medical doctor, spell out the word "Doctor," for academic Ph.D., abbreviate "Dr."

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Married Couple, Both Medical Doctors

Addressing Double Envelope Wedding Invitations to Married Doctors

Include the female's first name if she also has a doctorate-level degree. For academic doctors, write "Drs. Ryan and Morgan Adams" and "The Drs. Adams." Drop the first names on the inner envelope, when applicable.

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Clergy

Addressing Double Envelope Wedding Invitations to Clergy

Distinguish between the titles of the Reverend and their spouse. Drop the first names on the inner envelope, when applicable.

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Priest

Addressing Double Envelope Wedding Invitations to Priest

Drop the first name on the inner envelope, when applicable.

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Rabbi

Addressing Double Envelope Wedding Invitations to Rabbi

Distinguish between the title of Rabbi and his spouse, and drop the first names on the inner envelope, when applicable.

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Military Officer: Male

Addressing Double Envelope Wedding Invitations to Male Military Officer

Distinguish between titles of the male officer and his spouse, but use the man's first name in the formal name. Ensure you know the correct title, and understand your guest's military rank and service. This address applies to both active duty and retired service officers.

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Military Officer: Female

Addressing Double Envelope Wedding Invitations to Female Military Office

Write the female's name first, with her husband or partner's name on the line below. Ensure you know the correct title, and understand your guest's military rank and service. This address applies to both active duty and retired service officers.

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