Wedding Etiquette for Addressing Envelopes

We’re kicking off the week with another good dose of “do’s and don’t” as I’m back today sharing tips on addressing mailings.  If you missed the first post in my etiquette series, The Etiquette of Wedding Mailings, be sure to take a peek. 

When Emily Post first wrote her book, life was simple.  Women were married young, rarely had PhDs and almost never “out-ranked” men.  Today’s world is far from simple and neither is proper address etiquette.  I’m definitely no Emily Post (insert chuckles) but I like to keep things as easy as possible, so let’s break it down a bit.

Save the Date, Wedding Invitation, Rehearsal Dinner

Wedding invitations are the no-brainer here. 99% of the time they should be addressed formally.  That’s the hard stuff, (i.e.: the nitty gritty) that we’ll review soon.  Save the dates and rehearsal dinner invitations do not need to be addressed formally, unless the meal or expected attire dictates such.  It is often perfectly acceptable to address a save the date without titles, using first and last names only. 

Nancy Ray Photography

Nancy Ray Photography

The Formal 101

Let’s review a few of the basic principals by using an example. Your wedding guests are your neighbors, Suzy and John Smith. “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith” is how you would address their wedding invitation and “Susanne and John Smith” is how the save the date could be addressed.  The first basic principal is that the woman’s name typically precedes the man’s name because his first and surname traditionally are not to be separated.  With words like “surname” you may be rolling your eyes- I know, but that’s etiquette!  What about their kids, you may ask?  Well come back tomorrow as I am spending the entire day on that subject!

The Nitty Gritty

The best way to know how to deal with special case scenarios is to handle them one example at a time, so let’s get this party addressed!

Single Guests

Unmarried female                                                                   Ms. Sarah Johnson

Divorced female, uses married name                                     Mrs. Jennifer Ashburg

Divorced female, uses maiden name                                      Ms. Christina Smith

Unmarried male                                                                       Mr. Seth Hamburg


Married couples                                                                      Mr. and Mrs. John Smith

Married couples- women kept maiden name                        Mrs. Emily Hendrickson

                                                                                                Mr. Keith McCarthy

Unmarried couple who live together                                     Mr. Steve Early

-       list your friend first                                                         Ms. Kelsey Schmitz

-       if both are friends, alphabetical by last name

Same gender- alphabetical by last name                              Mr. Alan Peterson

Nancy Ray Photography

Nancy Ray Photography

                                                                                                Mr. Nathan Riley


Judge                                                                                      The Honorable and Mrs. Doug Miller

Clergy                                                                                      The Reverend Thomas Taylor

Doctor (medical)                                                                     Doctor Bryan Pope

Doctor (PhD)                                                                           Dr. Mackenzie Bowers

Married female doctor                                                             Doctor Sarah Landon

                                                                                                  Mr. Derek Landon

Married couple, both doctors                                                  The Doctors McCarthy

Officer- man (active or retired)                                               Colonel and Mrs. Jackson Linstrom

Officer- woman                                                                         Lieutenant Ashley Anderson

                                                                                                  Mr. Jason Anderson

Children over 18                                                                        Ms. Madeline Taylor

- should receive their own invitation, even if still at home      or

                                                                                                  Mr. Tyler Willard


This basic template above helps answer some of the most common/ uncommon addressing scenarios.  As with everything, not all things are created equal and fit within the box.  It’s okay to take each circumstance on a case-by-case basis and use your judgment as you see best fit.  The key with etiquette is to show your good manners and avoid offending anyone.  If your judgment call can accomplish both of those feats, you should trust your instinct.

Until tomorrow!