Before your guests see your gorgeous bridal gown and elegant wedding jewelry, your exquisite wedding cake, or your breathtaking centerpieces, they will see your wedding invitations. As the invitations are the first impression most folks will have of your wedding, you certainly want to make sure that it is a favorable one. From the moment they find the envelope in their mailbox, your wedding stationery should seem special and elegant. This quick primer on addressing wedding invitations will help you to get your wedding off on the right foot.
Determine Your Level of Formality
To some extent, the way you choose to address the invitation envelopes will depend on the style of your wedding. Just as your invitations should match the formality of your wedding, so should the form of address match the formality of the invitations. For instance, if you are having a black tie wedding, complete with a designer bridal gown and custom wedding jewelry, heavy cotton stationery with engraved lettering would be the appropriate style of invitation. Graceful hand calligraphy is the appropriate lettering style for the envelopes. For such a traditional invitation, you should use the most traditional form of address. If you were inviting a married couple to your ceremony, the envelope would read as follows: Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Archer, followed by their complete address. Everything should be spelled out, including first names, titles (other than Mr. and Mrs.), streets, and states. The inner (non mailing) envelope would simply say: Mr. and Mrs. Archer without the address.
Getting the Names Right
For a married couple with different last names, the formal way to address their invitation is: Mr. Thomas Archer and Ms. Kelly White (it is technically improper to use Mrs. with a woman’s first name). The “and” indicates that they are a married couple. If Thomas and Kelly were an unmarried couple living together, their invitation would read: Mr. Thomas Archer / Ms. Kelly White. Their names would be on two separate lines, and you would skip the “and”. Sometimes your guests have professional titles that are also used socially. When the husband is a doctor, the envelope would state: Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Archer. If they are both physicians, then you can write: The Doctors Archer. By the way, if the wife is a doctor and her husband is not, then her name goes first: Dr. Kelly Archer and Mr. Thomas Archer.
Tips For Casual Wedding Invitations
The most formal style of envelope addressing is not necessarily the best choice for a very casual wedding. Let’s say you are planning a laid back backyard ceremony and barbeque celebration. Pick informal invitations (without inner envelopes) and write the names in a less formal manner (although still use your best handwriting!). In this instance, the couple above could be Mr. Thomas Archer and Ms. Kelly Archer for a semi-formal effect. Or if you really want to be casual, they can just be Thomas and Kelly Archer. It is still nice to spell out names and streets, although for an ultra casual invitation, it would be okay to use the standard state abbreviations. So your pal Tom would be Thomas and their address on Maple Ave. would be Maple Avenue. By the way, wedding invitations should always be hand-addressed; pre-printed stickers are too commercial, even for a very laid back affair.
These are the basics on addressing your wedding invitations. There are a number of books and websites available to help you with specific protocol for military titles, divorced or widowed parents, and other special situations. When you know the proper way to address your wedding invitations, they will be sure to convey the right impression.
Bridget Mora has written hundreds of articles about wedding etiquette, wedding stationery, and wedding planning for the customers of Silverland Jewelry. Whether your wedding style is formal or casual, you wil find fabulous wedding jewelry for your entire bridal party at Silverland Jewelry.