Working out how to correctly address wedding invitations can add completely unnecessary stress to your big day, leaving you scratching your head over little details like titles and plus ones. We hear you! While casual wording is increasingly popular, it’s hard to know where to turn for information if you want to stick to traditional wedding invitation etiquette.
In this comprehensive article we have you covered with everything you need to know about addressing your invitations, including:
- How to address different kinds of names
- How to work out who is hosting (and how you should word your invite accordingly)
- How to address couples, as well as singles and their plus ones (or not)
- How to address unmarried or same sex couples
- How to address families
- How to address children
- How to address a wedding invite to family members and people with complicated titles
As well as practical questions like:
- How to ask someone for their address, and
- How to address single envelope.
So sit back with a cup of coffee (or champagne, wedding planning is worth celebrating, right?), relax, and search or scroll to find the relevant subheading to answer your questions.
Hosting: how to address modern style wedding invite
Wedding invite etiquette: How to address host from bride and groom
When it comes to wedding invitation address etiquette, You may be wondering how to address modern wedding invitations if you are paying for your own wedding – it can be tricky because you don’t want to offend parents. The most common thought on how to address invitations if a couple is hosting is to put the bride’s name first and groom’s second.
request the honour of your presence
at their wedding
If you are paying for your wedding but are looking for a way to avoiding offending sensitive families, you could try:
and Harry Windsor
together with their families
request the company of
at their wedding
When parents are hosting/paying
Whoever ‘hosts’ the wedding is the one who pays. Historically, the bride’s father would finance the entire wedding (also giving him most, if not total, control over decisions) but today it is common for any combination of family members to split the cost. If parents are funding your wedding, etiquette dictates that you word the invitation accordingly. If one set of parents are paying, you would put their names first and then their child (whether bride or groom), followed by the other person’s name.
John and Elsa Bourke
request the pleasure of your company
to celebrate the marriage of their daughter
[son of Michael and Jessica Kane]
If both parents are paying:
John and Elsa Bourke
together with Michael and Jessica Kane
request the pleasure of your company
to celebrate the marriage of their children
How to address the invitations with grooms divorced parents or bride’s divorced parents
Things may get a bit tricky if one or both set of parents are divorced. And what if they have remarried? You can ultimately judge this case by case depending on your relationships with each parent (and possible step-parent), as well as factoring in who is contributing financially. Remember that you don’t have to include all parents’ names if it doesn’t feel natural. An easy way out of this awkward situation would be to address it from the couple and use the phrase ‘together with their families’, but we understand if you want to honour parents specifically.
Keys to remember for divorced parents:
- Mother is listed before father
- Names go on separate lines and aren’t joined by the word ‘and’
- Use the surname that Mum is currently using (even if married name)
- The correct title for mum if she is unmarried is ‘Ms’
Ms. Elsa [current surname]
Mr. John Bourke
request the honour of your company
at the marriage of their daughter
Jacob Michael Kane
You can incorporate these rules into any format, whether just including one set of parents or both.
How to address when one parent is deceased
Getting married is already emotional enough – without adding the stress of how to honour a loved one who has passed away. We do have some suggestions on alternate ways to honour them, but if you would really like to include their name on the invitation, you definitely can. It is important to make sure that you don’t make it sound like they are hosting or helping host the wedding, as this can cause painful confusion.
An example of alternate wording:
daughter of John Bourke and the late Elsa Bourke
son of Michael and Jessica Kane
request the honour of your presence at their wedding
Other ways to honour a deceased loved one at your wedding:
- A poem or song during the ceremony
- A photo and inscription on the ceremony order of service
- Lighting a candle
- A mention during speeches, or reading of a letter
- Sharing a short memory during the ceremony
How to address couples
How to address to a married couple
How do you address invitations to a married couple? If you want to go traditional or formal you would say something like ‘Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Bekken’, but if you want to know how to address wedding invites to a married couple in a more casual manner, you could forego the titles and just list the names: ‘Daniel and Jacqueline Bekken’. When wondering how to address to a married couple listing both names, the most common option is usually: ‘Mr. Daniel and Mrs. Jacqueline Bekken’.
How to address to a married couple with different last names
If you are wondering how to properly address the invitations if the women kept her maiden name, or any married couples where the last name is different, the main thing is that names are listed alphabetically, regardless of gender.
Mr. Brian Barbee
Mrs. Emily Geyer
Mr. Barbee and Mrs. Geyer
What if they are divorced?
How to address the invitations for divorced couples can be awkward but we recommend some version of the following:
Outer envelope (if sending to the one address):
Ms. Elsa [current surname]
Mr. John Bourke
If you are sending the invitations separately then just follow etiquette for a single person (and decided whether or not you want to offer them a plus one).
How to address for unmarried couples
How to address to unmarried couples can be tricky, but is determined primarily by the living situation. If you are posting the invitations and they don’t live together, you can just send them separate invitations, addressed like you would a single person (without any references to plus ones, obviously). If they don’t live together but you are hand delivering invitations and want to address them together (which will also save money) you can do either name first, but a good idea is to do so alphabetically.
If the couple are not married but live together, place their names on separate lines with no ‘and’ joining them. Traditionally the man is listed above the woman, but you could choose to go by alphabetical order or whichever guest you are the most familiar with.
How to address to the engaged couple
The same rules apply as other unmarried couples, depending on whether they share an address.
How do you address to a same sex couple?
There is a lot to consider with the subject of wedding invitation address etiquette. If you are wondering how to address gay couples on the invitations, just follow the same protocol as for an unmarried or married couple, putting the names in alphabetical order.
How to address to singles
While single guests at a wedding can be a little tricky, we don’t want to make them feel like they are problematic! This section is for if you want to know how to address with a plus one and what to do when addressing a divorcee or someone widowed – also what to do if you don’t want to offer a plus one.
How to address with a plus one
Tackling how to address the invitations with a guest is the least awkward single option because you are offering for them to bring a date/friend. A simple tip on how to address to include a guest is to write ‘Ms. Bennet and guest’. It sounds nicer than plus one and is clear that they are allowed to bring someone. This phrase is only necessary for the inner envelope and on the outer envelope you can just put ‘Ms. Mary Bennet’ and the address. If you already know the guest’s full name, you can write it on the invitation (but only if you are happy for them to come alone if your friend can’t make it, as then it comes across as if they are invited in their own right).
Hot tip: when you write ‘and guest’ on your invitation, both words are left lowercase.
Is it okay to offer some guests a plus one and others not?
We say yes, as long as you are discreet. Don’t feel as if you have to offer every single guest a plus one. How to address invitations when you only know one person can depend on a few things, most importantly how well you know them, and your wedding budget. If you are trying to tighten the purse strings, it is okay to offer only some guests a plus one, such as family members or bridal party, for example. (However, remember that a guest of a member of the bridal party will be alone for the ceremony and reception because of the nature of wedding party duties).
The only way your guests without the plus one are going to know is from the guests with the plus one, so if you are worried about the discretion of any of your guests, maybe have a chat with them in person or give them a call about keeping it on the down low.
How to address to a single person without a guest
It is perfectly fine to not offer plus ones to your single guests, especially if your budget won’t allow for it. While it is considered rude to state on the invitation that the guest is not allowed to bring a plus one, you can hint at it in a few ways.
On your invitation: ‘Ms. Mary Bennet’
On your RSVP cards: Please indicate the number of guests able to attend the wedding.
____ of __1__ guests will be attending.
If you are worried that some guests won’t take the hint you can talk to them in person and say something like, “While we would love for everyone to be able to bring a plus one, unfortunately our wedding budget just doesn’t allow for any more than we have invited.”
How to address a divorcee
Wondering how to address foil stamped wedding invitations to divorced women?
If she currently goes by her married name use the title ‘Mrs’. If she has gone back to her maiden name, use ‘Ms’.
If she has divorced and remarried, it is usually considered rude not to invite her new husband if you are inviting her. The same etiquette applies to a man who has been divorced and remarried.
How to address to a widow
How to address to widow is actually fairly simple. Unlike a divorcee, a widow would be fond of the memory of her late husband and want him remembered, so he is usually honoured on the outer envelope, as shown below.
Outer envelope: Mrs. Charles Meeks
Inner Envelope: Mrs. Meeks (and Guest)
For a widower: Mr. Jonathan Sanders
For a less traditional take, simply write her name as she currently uses it. (e.g. Mrs. Eleanor Meeks)
How to address for families
If you are wondering how to address invitations to families, we’ve got you covered. Many people don’t know how to properly address invites to a family but here is an example of a basic invitation to a family where the parents are married and the children are under 18.
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Bingley
Mr. and Mrs. Bingley
You could also add Miss or Mr in front of the children’s names. Knowing how to address a family on the invitations can be a little tricky but you want it to be clear to avoid confusion over who is included in the invitation.
How to address to family with grown children
If the invitation is addressed to daughters over 18 the girls will be ‘Ms’. If the boys are grown they will have ‘Mr’ in front of their name, even if the children didn’t.
How to address an unmarried couple with children
Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy
Ms. Elizabeth Bennet
James, Mary and
If you are looking for tips on how to address invitations with two different last names, the example above would suffice.
Adults only vs including children
How to address for adults only
Knowing how to address invitations if children are not invited is important so that it can be handled tactfully without feelings getting hurt. It is quite common for wedding receptions to not include children so most people won’t be too surprised if their children are not included, especially if they are young. If you are not having any kids at your reception but still want to make nieces and nephews feel special you could do some ceremony invitations – that way it makes it clear which part of the wedding they are invited to but also avoids offence.
It is often considered bad manners to state ‘adults only’ or ‘no kids’ on your invitations so if your wedding is adults only be sure to write the parents’ names specifically, rather than just a general invitation. Word of mouth or your wedding website can also be great ways of getting the word out about no kids.
Invitations including children
If you are wondering how to address invitations with children’s names, you can see the example for unmarried couples with children. How to address a junior on invitations is slightly less formal than adults, and their first name will do.
Wondering how to address with multiple children? Start the children on a different line to the parents and separate the names with a comma, and the last two with ‘and’. If there are lots of children, start a new line if starts to get longer than the parents’ line.
What do I do when guests have titles?
How to address to military personnel
Knowing how to address military the invitations can be complicated. First tip: when a member of the military are on active duty, never address them as Mr/Mrs/Ms. When wanting to know how to address to navy corpsman or other branches of the military, you can divide it into senior and junior officers.
For senior, the title is listed before the name, for junior (or company grade), the title is written on the line below. The branch of service is on the line below for senior officers and on appears on the same line for junior officers.
How to address retired military
It is unnecessary to state the status of a person’s military service so when addressing retired members of the military on the invitations, simply follow the etiquette for those in active service.
How to address to doctors
For a single doctor you would address them as follows:
Outer envelope: Doctor Colin Newell
Inner envelope: Doctor Newell
How to address married doctors
Want to know how to address to a dr and wife? First tip: don’t shorten ‘doctor’ to ‘dr’. Any abbreviation of title would make the invitations less formal.
Outer envelope: Doctor and Mrs. Colin Newell
Inner envelope: Doctor Newell and Mrs. Newell
How to address when the wife is a doctor
Outer envelope: Doctor Helen Newell and Mr. Colin Newell
Inner envelope: Doctor Newell and Mr. Newell
How to address the invitations with a married couple who are both doctors: The Doctors Newell (for both outer and inner envelope).
How to address to a catholic priest
For religious titles it is always best to double check with the church in question as it can vary, but usually Catholic priests should have the title ‘Reverend’ before their name, while a deacon will have ‘Reverend Deacon’.
How to address to reverend and wife
For a reverend, address it the same as a Catholic priest with wife’s name joined on the same line by the word ‘and’.
How to address to orthodox priest and wife
For an orthodox priest, use the same title as a Catholic priest.
How to address to office colleagues
Addressing invitations to office colleagues would be the same for any normal invitation, unless they have specific titles.
Lawyers and Judges
For a lawyer you can use a comma and ‘esq.’ after their name, or just address them as you would other guests.
For a judge: The Honourable Colin Newell (for outer envelope) and Judge Newell (for inner envelope).
How to address to same sex couples
Wondering how to address to a same sex couple? It is similar to other couples, which makes it easy. If one person’s parents are paying for the wedding, their name should appear first. If both parents are paying equally, or the couple is paying equally, the names are listed in alphabetical order. If you are planning a slightly less formal occasion and only want to include first names, you could put them in whichever order comes naturally, like if everyone refers to you as ‘Rachel and Jess’.
How to address invitations for bridal party, family and parents
How to address bridesmaid (or groomsman)
If you are wondering how to address a bridesmaid and her husband on wedding invitations, or a single bridesmaid, simply follow the earlier etiquette for married couples and singles if you are using formal wedding invitations. If you are striking a more casual tone or want to specifically honour a member of your bridal party, you could prefix their name with something like ‘to my honoured bridesmaid/groomsman’ but some people find that a little clumsy.
How to address to family
When it comes to inviting family members, how formal you go is up to you and usually guided by how formal the rest of your wedding is. We say opt for whatever feels natural.
How to address parents
Whether parents are helping host (or fully hosting) the wedding, it can seem overly formal and awkward to address them as Mr. and Mrs. Smith, instead of just ‘Mum and Dad’. It comes down to how formal you want to be, but if you really want to stick to proper titles you absolutely can.
The same rules apply for grandparents.
How to address divorced parents
With divorced parents it is customary to issue separate invitations, and use your mother’s current surname, whether maiden or married.
How to address for retired parents in military
For a formal way to address retired parents in the military, follow the same guidelines above in the military section. If you prefer to choose a less formal option, you can still address them as ‘Mum and Dad’. In this case it may be best to respectfully ask them what they would prefer.
How to ask for the address
It seems straightforward but we have outlined a list of options for obtaining addresses:
- White pages online (or other online directories)
- Facebook direct messaging (not a group message, as the notifications are annoying and some people don’t feel comfortable posting their address whether others can see)
- Using parents’ address book, or having your parents ask around for you (a good way to get them involved)
- Use a site like Postable to get your guests to fill in their own addresses
- If a close family member has recently gotten married, use their list of addresses to get you started
- Email or call people (calling takes longer and it’s trickier to get all the spelling correct)
- Text message (this may be the best option for last minute requests to younger friends who move around a lot)
- A small note on the bottom of a digital Save The Date requesting postal addresses to be sent to a certain email address
How to address casually
Most of the examples given so far have been for how to address formal invitations. If you are wondering how to address informal invitations, you have more freedom from the traditional rules of etiquette. Some casual invitations don’t even have the names printed on the invitation card, just the envelope, but that can still allow for confusion about exactly who is included on the invitation.
The most common option for casual invites is to just list first names on the inner envelope, or you could even include nicknames if you want to bring some personality into it. The order of the names is also more flexible and you can choose between:
- Woman first
- Alphabetical order
- Guest you know the best listed first
- Most common way of referring to a couple (i.e. Mae and Allan compared with Allan and Mae)
If the invitation is to members of the same family, the parents will still always be listed before the children, no matter how old.
How to address apartment numbers
If you are wondering how to address apartments, we have provided an example below.
Mr. and Mrs. Joel Sahayam
11 Huon Road, Apartment 216
How to address with multiple envelopes
How to address inner envelopes
Inner envelopes typically don’t include a first name on a formal invitation, just the title and surname. For example, Doctor Newell. For a less formal option you can just do first names, no last name or title.
How to address without inner envelope
If you’re wondering how to address the invitations with one envelope or how to properly address without inner envelopes, you can include the guest and kids on:
- The outer envelope
- Indicate the exact guests on the RSVP card
- Guest address on the pocket
- Address the guests by name on the belly band
Addresses on labels, return addresses and return envelopes
How to return address
How to address return labels for the invitations doesn’t have to be complicated. You can either have an inner envelope with your return address on it (or whoever is receiving RSVPs) or an RSVP postcard that guests can fill out and mail back. In either of these cases, it is considered polite to include a postage stamp. If you are wondering how to write return address on the invitations for a wedding that is fast approaching, consider telling guests to RSVP via email or a wedding website.
How to make address labels
Wondering how to print address labels for the invitations, or even how to use a printer to address your invitations? There are apps and programs you can use at home to print your own address labels, but make sure you count the cost of blank labels, ink and time. Sometimes DIY projects don’t actually turn out cheaper and the risk is considerably higher. If you are wondering how to use a printer to address your invitations, you may want to consider following a tutorial.
Consider ordering professionally printed address labels when you order your invitations and other wedding stationery to save yourself the hassle of printing your own labels. This will ensure everything matches and looks great.
Wrap around labels are a practical way to save time and money because you don’t need to use two labels and the different sides of the label display their relevant information.
How to hand address
Don’t want to navigate printing fancy labels for your invites but aren’t sure how to neatly address the invitations for so many people? Or perhaps how to hand address invitations with bad handwriting? If you don’t want to hire a calligrapher, you could learn some basic calligraphy yourself, or enlist the services of a friend whose penmanship you’ve always admired.
How to address hand delivered
Hand delivered invites tend to be a bit less formal, and will often suit a local or small, intimate wedding where you know everyone very well. You can still opt to use people’s formal titles, but consider whether it is going to feel strange handing an envelope to your buddy or your mother when it reads ‘Mrs. Mary Crawley, esq.’.
How to address international
Knowing how to address the invitations to foreign countries or cultures can be tricky, especially if the guests come from your fiance’s side of the family. Below are some tips on few different cultures we are frequently asked about.
How to address Indian invitations
- Invitations are formally issued from the bride’s home
- RSVP cards are not part of Indian wedding culture and it is assumed you are coming unless you send your regrets
- Close family and friends (especially if older) should be invited in person (and followed up with a phone call to remind them closer to the date)
- Guests who are not as close as the above can be mailed an invitation
- Friends of bride and groom’s parents are invited, as well as business acquaintances of both families
- Make guest list first, book venue after (you want to make sure you pick a venue with adequate space)
How to address Chinese invitations
- Invitations are traditionally issued from the groom’s parents
- Relatives and family friends are invited by the parents of the bridal couple
- Bride and groom issue the invite to their own friends
- Refer to an online chart if confused on specific Chinese titles to avoid disrespecting anyone
- If inviting a whole family, follow up closer to the wedding date to clarify how many seats you will need for them
How to address invitations in Spanish
If you are wondering how to write Spanish invitations or how to address a Hispanic family for invitations, you would use ‘Sr. y Sra.’ as titles instead of ‘Mr. and Mrs.’ and the children below (if included). If you are planning a bilingual wedding and want to honour Spanish heritage, you could have the invitation written out twice, with English and Spanish side by side, one after the other, or line for line.
Note: if you are doing Spanish invitations in the United States, it can be a good idea to write the outer envelope in English and the inner envelope in Spanish to avoid confusion with the postal service.
Stamps for invitations
In Australia it only takes a $1 postage stamp to post your invitations nationally. However, this can take anywhere from 5-7 business days. To get it there in a more 21st century style, you can add a priority sticker for an extra 50 cents to bring it back to 1-2 business days. This concludes our section on invitation envelope etiquette. You are an expert on all things relating to invitation etiquette now.
INVITATIONS FOR DESTINATION WEDDINGS
For destination wedding invitation etiquette, start by sending out invitations as early as possible. It is polite to give people time to save for the trip so they can attend your wedding, especially if they are travelling long distances.
Be aware of numbers when you send out your destination invitations. When it comes to destination weddings many couples send out a certain number of invitations expecting many less will turn up. In reality everyone loves the idea of a beautiful destination wedding which is often a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The main reasons people don’t attend destination weddings is not having time to save for the trip and getting pregnant. Otherwise you can expect them all to be there.
Following wedding invitation etiquette, it is common for couples to request no gifts. The cost of the airfares, accommodation and trip is quite substantial so that is generally considered as the wedding gift.
Creating a website with wedding information and travel advice is a way to help your guests have a great experience during your destination wedding adventure. You can add the website to the invitation or put text indicating the website is coming soon. This will put your guests at ease and encourage them to attend.
Making the dress code clear is important, especially if you are getting married in another country. For example guests attending weddings in the tropics are often confused how summery, beachy or formal they should dress and women often worry about if they should wear flat shoes, sandals or high heels.
Learning how to address your invitations can be a bit exhausting but we hope that our comprehensive article has been helpful!. To read up on even more wedding invitation address etiquette here is another useful article.
Etiquette is a complicated and delicate area of weddings but it’s important to make sure that we be as polite and respectful to everyone as we can. Now you have all the tools you need to be able to address your wedding invites with confidence (and no faux pas), so get writing! Best of luck from the Paperlust team.