Etiquette: Addressing the Envelope

Hello friends! Well, 2016 got off to a bang-up start with a round of sickness for the girls of ALD. We're all recovered now (#blessed) and so excited to share some fantastic content in the coming year!  And now, on to the regularly scheduled broadcast...

The Envelope

The tradition of an outer and inner envelope dates back to the early 1900s, when city sanitary conditions were less than pleasant. The outer envelope likely arrived to the recipient less than perfect, so the inner envelope was used to enclose the wedding invitation. This envelope is unsealed, without address information and using an abbreviated name for the guest (because it wasn't going through the post office!). Today - we use the inner envelope to be very specific about who is invited. Let's face it - a properly addressed inner envelope can prevent an awkward call from a guest about whether they can bring a plus-one or their little ones. 

Here are our favorite tips to make sure that you properly address you invitations!

For the outer envelope:

  • Use guest's full name and title. Keep in mind that Doctor (Dr.) and Reverend (Rev.) should only be abbreviated if there is not sufficient space. Military titles should not be abbreviated.

  • Make sure to spell out words like Street, Avenue, Post Office Box or Circle in the address line.

  • Do not include names in the return address. Simply include the address where you would like replies and gifts sent.

  • Invitations should always be addressed to both members of a married couple.

  • For a married woman who has kept her maiden name, list her husband first. (We know this one is a little old-school, but this is technically the proper etiquette. Want to break the rules? Go for it! #whoruntheworld #girls).

  • For guest with titles, list the individual with the title first. For married couples who are both have the same title (for example, doctors) you can address the envelope "The Doctors Costello".

  • For unmarried couples living together, list the gentleman first followed by the woman, following the same format for married couples. This is also the format to use for same sex couples.

  • For unmarried couples that are not living together, send the invitation to the person you know best at his or her address and list his or her plus-one on an individual, separate line.

  • Families. Here's where it gets a little complicated! Ideally, children over the age of 13 should receive their own invitation and children over 18 should absolutely receive their own invitation. If you feel that it can be clearly conveyed who is (or is not) invited, feel free to address the outer envelope as "Mr. and Mrs. Charles Adams and Family".

The inner envelope:
Inner envelopes have an etiquette all their own. In most cases, you'll use just the title and last name, but here are some tips for handling more complex cases:

  • For close family and friends, feel free to address the inner envelope with familiar names for close family members and friends (ex: Grandma James or Em)

  • For couples with young children, add the children's first or full names below their parents on the inner envelope. This is very important, especially if you're only inviting certain children in the family (like those older than 12). If there are teenagers in the home and you are unable to send them their own invitation, then include them on their parents invitation (like the above).

  • For couples who live together but are unmarried, address the inner envelope similarly to the outer envelope (ex: Mr. Adam Bennet and Ms. Katherine Phillips).

  • The inner envelope is the most important and gracious way to communicate a plus-one. If you are extending an invitation to the individual and a guest, that address the outer envelope to the invitee only and indicate the plus-one on the inner envelope, like the above.

  • One last note, for individuals with military or professional titles, treat those titles as you would social titles, but don't use abbreviations (ex: Officer and Mrs. Stone).


Do you have any burning envelope questions that we missed? Share them in the comments below! 

Happy addressing!
Kaitlynn +Emma