The Proper Way To Address Wedding Invitations

Wedding Invitation Envelopes

Wedding invitations used to be delivered by hand. Brides had footmen who would deliver invitations to each guest’s home, where servants would receive the package, remove the invitation from the outer envelope, and hand them to the appropriate member of the household to whom the inner envelope was addressed. While this is no longer a necessary convention (unless you do, in fact, have a footman at your disposal), it’s a tradition that many brides continue to follow with formal invitations.

Traditional wedding invitations are compiled of an inner and an outer envelope:

The larger outer envelope contains:

Recipient’s Name Street address
Return address

The inner envelope has less information (usually only the name of the person(s) being invited). Traditionally, the inner envelope is not sealed with a gummed flap. You may either tuck the flap inside or place a seal on top of the flap to seal it loosely. The inner envelope should be addressed as if you are hand delivering it.

A chart detailing inner/outer addressing

As contemporary invitations and new styles are becoming increasingly popular, many do not include an inner envelope, but rather just one outer envelope. Please make sure to pay close attention to this detail (which can be found in the individual product description) if having both and outer and inner envelopes, or outer envelopes only, is important to you.

More about inner and outer envelopes here


Traditional etiquette says that you should abbreviate absolutely nothing. It has recently become acceptable to abbreviate titles (Dr., Mrs., etc.). It will be up to you how closely you want to adhere to traditional rules as writing everything out can be time consuming and in some cases costly. Writing out street numbers and state names is an elegant touch, but it can also be a daunting task and even delay the delivery of your invitations. The United States Post Office would rather you adhere to standard abbreviations (“CA” instead of “California”). Either option is acceptable and left to your own personal judgment.

Hand Addressing

Traditional etiquette says that your invitations should be hand addressed in black ink. This too is a time consuming task! Consider enlisting the help of friends and family whose handwriting you admire.

The Return Address

The return address should be printed (again, by hand if possible) on the back envelope flap. This should the address of the person or persons hosting the event. For example, if the bride’s parents are hosting the wedding, the invitations should use the parents’ address. Traditionally, names are not included on a formal return address. It’s important to note that guests who are unable to attend or who wish to send their gift before or after your wedding date will send packages to this address.

Traditionally speaking, the names of the bride and groom should not appear together in print until after the wedding. In most cases, if an unmarried couple is living together, the return address should be addressed to the bride only.

For more Wedding Invitation Mailing Etiquette, click here.

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