Invitation Etiquette: Addressing Wedding Invitation Envelopes

In today’s world, properly addressing an invitation is no longer as simple as adding “Mr. and Mrs.” in front of your guests’ names. Many women hold professional titles or elect to keep their maiden name upon marriage. Couples live together without ever getting married. It can be a challenge to know the appropriate manner for addressing many of the guests on your list!

I thought I would share with you a portion of a wonderful article from a business etiquette guru, Lydia Ramsey, who concisely outlines the correct way for addressing nearly every situation I could think of. If you come up with something that isn’t covered here, let us know. We love to get to the bottom of these thorny etiquette issues!

Excerpted from Lydia Ramsey’s Greeting Card Etiquette article published on The Sideroad.

• Always write titles on the envelope. The card or invitation goes to “Mr. John Smith,” not “John Smith.” It is addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith,” instead of “John and Mary Smith.”

• When you address a couple, use titles, rather than professional initials. It’s “Dr. and Mrs. John Smith,” not “John Smith, M.D. and Mrs. Smith.”

• If both the husband and the wife are doctors, you write, “The Doctors Smith.” However, if they use different last names, you address the envelope to “Dr. John Smith and Dr. Mary Brown.” The husband’s name is placed first.

• If the wife is a doctor and the husband is not, you send your invitation to “Mr. John Smith and Dr. Mary Smith.”

• Try to get it all on one line. When the husband has an unusually long name, the wife’s title and name are indented and written on the second line:

The Honorable Jonathon Richardson Staniskowsky and

Mrs. Staniskowsky

• When a couple is not married and share a mutual address, their names are written on separate lines alphabetically and not connected by the word “and.”

Ms. Mary Brown

Mr. John Smith

• When the woman outranks her husband, her name is written first. It’s “Major Mary Smith and Lieutenant John Smith.”

• Note: The man’s name is always written first unless the wife outranks him or if the couple is unmarried and her last name precedes his alphabetically. So much for “Ladies first.”

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