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Addressing Etiquette

Notes on Addressing (or, "how not to accidentally invite all five of your friend's children to your wedding")

Addressing is a funny thing. There isn't always one right answer, but there certainly can be a wrong one. But, there's no need to be nervous: we've done this before, and we promise to guide you right!

A few basic tips to get us started:

The Outer Envelope: The recipient's name and address should appear on the front of this envelope. (See our Addressing Etiquette Guide for more details on exactly how the names and addresses should be written.) The name and address may be centered or staggered, based on your preference.

Traditionally, the sender's return address appears on the back flap of the envelope without names. Postage, of course, is placed on the upper right corner of the front of the envelope.

The Inner Envelope: If you choose to have an inner envelope, you will traditionally write only the recipient's name on the front. No address is needed, as that is already on the outer envelope (See our Addressing Etiquette Guide for more details on exactly how the name should be written.)

There should be no abbreviations on the envelopes, with the one exception being any titles used. For example, Doctor can be abbreviated to "Dr." Other abbreviations include "Mr.," "Mrs.," and "Sr." You should be careful to spell out all street names and states. For example, "FL" should be "Florida," "Ave" should be "Avenue," and "N" should be "North."

Here is one rule that is frequently broken, and we leave its application up to you: The words "and guest" or "and escort" should not be used when addressing (meaning, it is technically not correct to write, "Mr. Regas and guest"). If you would like for your guest to bring a friend or date, it is much more personal to call that guest, find out the name of their intended companion, and address the invitation to both parties. The same applies to "and family", which can be deemed unclear and vague. Invitations should instead be addressed to the parents, with the names of the children invited written on the outer envelope beneath their parents' names. Note that when addressing to children or siblings, it is traditional to write their names in order of age, oldest first. Children over the age of 18 living at home should each receive their own invitation.

Using numerals vs. writing out numbers. It is traditional to use numerals for addresses and zip codes; however it is also good practice to write out numbers lower than twenty (Example: 319 West Gwinnett Street vs. Five Richland Court).

When addressing to a "junior" or "senior" it is customary to write that element (or "Jr." or "Sr.") on the outer envelope. It is not necessary to repeat it on the inner envelope, unless the "junior" and "senior" reside at the same address.

It's also helpful to note that titles of distinction bump the line as to whose name is listed first. When one half of your couple has a more distinguished title than the other, the higher-ranking individual should always come first.

Finally, we like to think of there being three "levels" of formality in the way that names are written:

Least formal: First name, last name (no title)
More formal: Title, first name, last name
Most formal: Title, first name, middle name, last name

In our Addressing Guide we've provided examples of all three levels of formality to help you pick the voice that's just right for you and your event.

With a few best practices in place, it's time to get started. Download our addressing guide to use as a reference in building your own list.