Addressing & Assembling Wedding Invitations

Under the Sun Photography – Lazy Creek Designs

We receive more questions about wedding invitations, and how to address and assemble them, than anything else on the wedding checklist. We have sent countless emails to clients, and even recommend books on this subject. Finally, we will tell it all (or most of it) in this blog post to keep our clients and fans in the know on the proper ways to address wedding invitations.

Opening a wedding invitation is unlike opening any other piece of mail. Much care and artistry goes into not only the invitation design, but addressing both the inner and outer envelopes as well. Several enclosures usually accompany the invitation itself, and there is a thoughtful order to how they are placed inside the inner and outer envelopes, as well as a few things to consider before you stamp and mail them.

Invitations Ordering Timeline

  • 5-6 Months – Wedding invitations should be ordered 5-6 months in advance. The ordering process will take at least a month, including the design decision, proofing, printing and shipping processes.
  • 4-5 Months – If you plan to hire a calligrapher, an additional 3-4 weeks will be required to complete your inner and outer envelopes, depending on the number of envelopes. *It must be noted that you should get on a calligrapher’s schedule 8-10 months in advance to reserve your desired work time. 
  • 3-4 Months – Once all of your envelopes are addressed, they will then need to be assembled with care. It is very important to not be in a hurry during this process. Be sure to review your envelopes carefully when assembling to check for mistakes. If errors are discovered, you will have time for the calligrapher to make the needed corrections.
  • 2-3 Months – Lastly, your invitations should be mailed 8 weeks before the wedding date.

Important Details to Consider

  • Consider the reply address you will wish to use. Guest responses and gifts are likely to be sent to the return address on the outer envelope. If guests should reply to a different address, use it for the reply card envelope or list it below the RSVP line on the invitation.
  • Do not forget to order extra envelopes—inner and outer—in case of errors.
  • When addressing or assembling, be very certain that the area is clean. Be careful with beverages, and wash your hands before you begin.
  • Organize the master guest list in Aisle Planner’s Guest Manager, double check the spelling of your guests’ names, and make sure that the master list is updated as guests RSVP.
  • When response cards are used, lightly mark the back of each card with the RSVP number that is automatically generated in the Aisle Planner Guest Manager. This will allow you to know who the response card is from if they fail to write their name(s) on the response card before mailing.

Formal Addressing for Inner and Outer Envelopes

Invitations are always addressed to both members of a married couple, even though you may know only one will attend. Additionally, invitations should also be addressed to both members of and established couple who are unmarried but living at the same address. Allowing single guests to bring guests or married couples to bring their children is not mandatory for all guests, and can certainly be considered on a case by case basis.

Titles such as “Mr., Mrs., and Ms.” may be abbreviated, but all other distinguished titles such as “Doctor, Judge, Captain, Lieutenant, and Reverend” must be spelled out. Additionally, all other words such as “Street, Boulevard, Apartment, and Post Office Box” should not be abbreviated either. States may be written in full or use the two-letter postal code abbreviation may be used. Middle initials should never be used, so either write out the full middle name or omit it altogether.

The Inner Envelope
The inner envelope bears the formal title and last names of the specific guests being invited. This allows the host to be very transparent to who is invited, and by omission, who is not.

If children are invited, their names may be written on a line below their parents’ names on the inner envelope.

* Note – All adult children, whether living with parents or elsewhere, should receive their own invitations.

The Outer Envelope
The outer envelope is addressed conventionally using titles, first, (middle), and last names, and bears the address to where the invitation is going.


Examples of Addressing

Married Couple with Invited Children

Inner Envelope
Mr. and Mrs. Darling
Sarah Darling
Jonathan Darling

*Note – It’s also acceptable to write familiar names for close family member guests; i.e. Aunt Martha and Uncle Bill, Grandma and Grandpa, or Cousins Cindy and Bob

Outer Envelope
Mr. and Mrs. James Arthur Darling

1234 Wedding Street
San Antonio, Texas 78266

*Note – There is no need to write the children’s names on the outer envelope, as they have been addressed on the inner envelope. However, if no inner envelope is used, invited children’s names should be written in full on the outer envelope below the names of their parents.

 

Unmarried Couple Living Together

Inner Envelope
Mr. Williams and Miss Samuelson

*Note – “Miss” is utilized for all unmarried women under the age of 40. Older unmarried women should be addressed as “Ms.”

Outer Envelope
Mr. Kevin Michael Williams and
Miss Sarah Jane Samuelson
1234 Wedding Street
San Antonio, Texas 78266

*Note – An invitation to an unmarried couple residing at the same address is addressed with both names connected by “and.” Use one or two lines, depending on length of the last names.

 

Single Person with Invited Guest

Inner Envelope
Mr. Williams and Guest

Outer Envelope
Mr. Kevin Michael Williams

1234 Wedding Street
San Antonio, Texas 78266

*Note – There is no need to write “and Guest” on the outer envelope, as the guest has been addressed on the inner envelope. If you are only using one envelope, include a short note with your invitation: “Dear Kevin, You’re welcome to bring a guest to the wedding. Please let me know her name and address. Best, Laura.” If there’s time and Kevin supplies the information, you may send his guest an invitation, too.


Married Female Doctor
Woman uses her husband’s name socially

Inner Envelope
Doctor and Mr. Werner

Outer Envelope
Doctor Barbara and Mr. Robert  Werner
1234 Wedding Street
San Antonio, Texas 78266


Married Female Doctor
Woman uses her maiden name both professionally and socially

Inner Envelope
Doctor Hanson and Mr. Werner

Outer Envelope
Doctor Barbara Hanson and
Mr. Robert Werner
1234 Wedding Street
San Antonio, Texas 78266


Two Married Doctors

Inner Envelope
The Doctors Werner

Outer Envelope
Doctors Barbara and Robert Werner
1234 Wedding Street
San Antonio, Texas 78266

*Note – All women with doctoral degrees and distinguished titles should be written first on the invitation, even if their husbands are also doctors or have distinguished titles. This same rule applies for couples with other same distinguished titles, such as: Captains, Lieutenants, Judges, Reverends, etc.


Those with Other Distinguished Titles

Inner Envelope
Judge Kelly and Lieutenant Kelly, U.S. Navy

Outer Envelope
The Honorable Jane Elizabeth Kelly and
Lieutenant Jonathan Ronald Kelly, U.S. Navy
1234 Wedding Street
San Antonio, Texas 78266


Those Who Does Not Identify with a Specific Gender

Inner Envelope
Mx. Peterson

Outer Envelope
Mx. Alex Lewis Peterson
1234 Wedding Street
San Antonio, Texas 78266

 

Assembling Envelopes

  1. When two envelopes (inner and outer) are used, insert the invitation (folded edge first for a folded invitation, left edge for a single card invitation), so that you see the printed side of the invitation when the envelope flap is opened.
  2. When there are enclosures—reply card and envelope, map, printed directions, etc.—they are placed on top of the printed side of the invitation, with their printed sides up, in size order with the smallest on top. Again, when the flap is opened, the printed side should be visible. If the invitation is folded, insertions are stacked in size order—smallest on top—but within the fold. Tissues are optional. If used, they are placed on top of the invitation and below any enclosures. If the invitation is folded, they are inserted into the fold.
  3. The inner envelope is then placed unsealed in the outer envelope, so when the outer envelope flap is lifted, the name(s) of the guest(s) is visible.
  4. Before sealing the outer envelope, double- and triple-check that the names on the inner and outer envelopes match up.

Mailing

Before you buy stamps, take an assembled invitation to the post office and have it weighed. It’s likely that the inserts, or even an unusually shaped envelope, will call for extra postage. The post office usually has wedding-themed stamps that will cover the cost of most invitations with enclosures. Some post offices may be out of stock, however, so leave time to find them at another branch or to order them online.

Remember that maps and other inserts sent to out-of-town guests will make those invitations heavier than ones sent to local guests and may require a postage adjustment. In that case, be sure to assemble two sets and have both weighed.

Last but not least, ask your post office if it is possible to have your envelopes “hand-stamped”. This produces a different postmark, and is considered more attractive than if your invitations were run through an automatic sorter.

A Good Read 

 

More detailed information on invitation etiquette may be found in The Blue Book of Stationery by Crane and Co. We highly recommend this book for all of  your stationery etiquette needs.