Wedding Planning 101: Invitation Etiquette

Calligraphy: Rosann Konieczny (   )

Calligraphy: Rosann Konieczny (


If you read our last Wedding Planning 101: Guest List, then you’ve decided on who was lucky enough to get invited to your special day. Now that the list is complete, it’s time to conquer the invitations. This may seem like a minor step in the wedding planning process, but many couples don’t know the proper etiquette for addressing invitations. Do you write both of the guests names? Just the husband's name? What if the guests live together but are not married? And what about the kids? We’d be lying if we said there’s not an overwhelming amount of etiquette rules to remember, so let’s break it down into the most essential things to know.

First things first, let’s begin with how to address who you are inviting. Always use full, given names, not nicknames.  If the couple is married, address them as “Mr. and Mrs.” followed by the husband’s first and last name. If the wife kept her maiden name, write the couples names in alphabetical order: Ms. Susan Jones and Mr. John Smith. If the couple has different titles, write their names separately. If the wife is a doctor, her full name is first followed by the husband's full name. If the husband is a doctor, the title should read “Dr. and Mrs.” and if both the husband and wife are doctors, address them as “Drs. Susan and John Smith.” If you are addressing a couple who live together but are not married, write their names on two separate lines with the primary guest on the first line. If you are addressing a single women under 21, she should be addressed as Miss, if she is 21 or over she should be addressed as Ms. Here are a few examples:

Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Smith  {Note we didn’t use Tony!}

Dr. Sharon and Mr. Gary Lawrence {Women is a doctor}

Dr. and Mrs. John Smith {John is the doctor}

Ms. Jane Smith {Unmarried woman over 21}

Next, how do you address children or {politely} make it clear that they’re not invited? The rule of thumb is to always list the names of every guest invited on the invitation. For infant boys through age 8, the proper title is Master. Boys age 8 – 16, there is no title. For boys 16 and up, the proper title is Mr. The proper title for girls is Miss. By listing all guests’ names {instead of just “and family”}, there’s no room for confusion. The childrens’ names are listed on the second line without a last name:  Master John and Miss Abigail

Remember that this is your wedding, most likely the single most important {and formal} day of your life. The invitations should follow suit, so don’t sell your big day short with an informal invite {remember this isn’t a thank you note or a cocktail party invite!!}. Address labels {even the clear ones - yes, you can still tell it’s a label!} should not be used on a formal invite. Opt for beautiful calligraphy or have your invitation provider print the address information on the front and back flap for you using the same fonts as the invitation.  If you must, use an address wrap. Yes it is a sticker, but if it is beautifully branded to match the invite and wraps around the envelope with the return address, then it is considered acceptable.  It’s also important to remember to never use abbreviations. If there’s one time in life to spell it out, now’s the time! "Street," "Post Office Box," “Northwest” and "Apartment" should all be spelled out as well as city and state names and house numbers smaller than 20. If you don’t know if it is a condo or apartment, use the word “Unit.”

There you have it! Now there’s no excuse for etiquette faux pas on your invites! Complicated enough?! {We know it’s a lot to remember!} Bookmark, save, or copy this page so you can return back for a refresher on the proper way to address your invites. And if you are still questioning your etiquette, have one of our planners show you the do’s and don’ts.