The rules for wedding related paper products (i.e. invitations, save the dates, and the like) are a little less formalized nowadays. However, there are still guidelines you should follow when sending along your love mail! According to Emily Post, here are some rules that you should follow:
- Save the dates should be sent six to nine months in advance of the big day.
- Wedding Invitations should be sent six to eight weeks in advance.
- Double check the names on your guest list before the envelopes are addressed, to be sure they are spelled correctly.
- There are many guidelines to addressing your guests, see below for more.
- No abbreviations or initials are used when addressing formal invitations.
Here is a cheat sheet for all engaged couples whom may be experiencing pangs of confusion on how to address your wedding guests – some people have fancy titles like doctor and judge.
How to Address Your Guests
To a Married Couple
Even if you aren’t close with both members of the couple, you still need to include both names on the outer envelope. Guests rely on the outer envelope to determine who exactly is invited. For example:
Mr. John and Mrs. Carrie Preston
Mr. and Mrs. John Preston
1234 Park Avenue
New York City, New York 11238
On the inner envelope, lose the first names or the titles and last names if you’re very close with the couple:
The Inner Envelope
Formal invitations are always slipped into an unsealed inner envelope to be placed inside the outer envelope. They are addressed in a more informal fashion — typically only title abbreviations and last name — and include the names of all invitees at the address, including children. For example: Mr. and Mrs. Estonia & Farrah, Gilbert, and Harriet
Mr. and Mrs. Preston or John and Carrie
To a Married Couple that (Different Last Names)
List the person you’re closest with first on the outer and inner envelope. If you’re similarly acquainted with both, list them in alphabetical order.
Mr. John Preston and Mrs. Carrie Bradshaw
To an Unmarried Couple Living Together
Like a married couple, both names should be included on the envelope, but in this case, each name gets its own line.
Mr. David Hirsch
Ms. Samantha Jones
1234 Benoit Road
Plano, Texas 75023
Again, go for alphabetical order if you know the couple well. If you’re primarily friends with only one member of the couple, it’s completely acceptable to address the outer envelope to that person and include “and Guest” or that person’s name on the inner envelope:
Mr. Hirsch and Ms. Jones or Mr. Hirsch and Guest
To a Same-Sex Couple
Use the same rules as you would for any other unmarried or married couple. If the couple is married or lives together, list them on the same line:
Ms. Celine Dion and Ms. Jacqueline Laurita
Or simply list their full names on the same line without titles.
Celine Dion and Jacqueline Laurita
On the inner envelope, use titles and last names:
Ms. Dion and Ms. Laurita
Or you can skip titles and simply address it to their first names.
To a Married Woman Doctor or Two Married Doctors
If a woman uses her maiden name professionally and socially, the outer envelope should read:
Dr. Addison Montgomery and Mr. David Thompson
Or, if she uses her husband’s name socially:
Dr. Addison and Mr. David Thompson
If both parties are doctors, you can address the outer envelope:
The Drs. Thompson or Drs. Addison and David Thompson
The same format is followed for other distinguished titles, such as reverend and honorable.
To Children and Families
Younger guests can be included on the inner envelope of their parents’ invitation by their name(s) or “and Family” — although the latter is easier to misinterpret.
Mr. and Mrs. Tom Ford
Daniel, Jeffrey, Brittany, and Kelly
Mr. and Mrs. Tom Ford and Family
To Children 18 and Older
They should receive their own invitations, although siblings over 18 can be sent a joint invitation, in which case the outer envelope should include their names alphabetically on individual lines:
Miss Audrey Abraham
Miss Lily Abraham
Mr. Jack Abraham
If you don’t include “and Family” or each child’s name, you’re implying that children are not invited. That said, don’t be surprised if some guests still mistakenly assume their children are welcome. If you’re concerned this will happen with your guests, ask your immediate family and bridal party to help spread the word that the wedding will be adults-only. In the end, you may have to follow up with guests who don’t get the message via phone to gently explain the situation.