How to address wedding invitations: A wedding couple gets confetti thrown at them by their guests

It’s just two months until the big day. The bridal party is chosen, the menu selected, and the cake taste-tested. Now is the time to send out the invitations — but how does one address wedding invitations? Don’t worry — this is our territory.

There is a formal way to address wedding invitations, and we’re happy to walk you through it. The questions may already be bubbling up in your own mind: Whose name should you write first? How do you tell single guests whether they’re welcome to bring a plus one? How do you invite a whole family?

All of these questions — and probably a few others — are about to be answered. But before you write the addresses for each person on your guest list, let’s talk about envelopes.

Wedding Envelopes: Inner vs. Outer

How to address wedding invitations: the Elegant Overlay invitation design from Greenvelope

Design: Owl and Toad

When sending out wedding invitations, unless you’re sending one virtually, there are two envelopes. We know it sounds a bit confusing, but stick tight with us for just a minute, and we’ll clear things up. If you do choose to send one digitally (and save plenty of paper in the process!), we’ll address that further down in this post.

The Outer Envelope for Mailing

The outer envelope is where you print a guest’s physical address. Therefore, this is the envelope handled by your mail courier. You’ll type (or hand write, if you’re feeling ambitious) your guests’ names on the first line, complete with titles, first names, and last names (middle names are optional). While you can abbreviate a title, you should spell out first names.

Next, write the physical address of your guests’ home or post office box. Again, use full words here (no abbreviations) writing Street instead of St., Road instead of Rd, and so on and so forth.

The Inner Envelope for Inviting

Within the inner envelope, your guests will find the invitation suite. Each guest invited to the wedding will have their names printed on this envelope. Except this time, you just need to print titles and last names.

Take note: This is your opportunity to be very specific about who is invited to your wedding. If you are welcoming plus ones, you will allude to that here (more on this below). If you’re inviting two people, both their names should be printed.

Invitation Etiquette: How to Address Wedding Invitations

How to address wedding invitations: the Vintage Floral Frame invitation design from Greenvelope

Design: Signature Greenvelope

Now that you have the envelopes sorted out, it’s time to address your invitations. But how does one do this? Below, you’ll learn exactly how to address each envelope, depending on your guests’ names, titles, and relationships to one another.

1. A Married Couple with the Same Last Name

For married couples with the same last name, you have a few options. The most common approach for formal invitations is to write both the husband and wife’s titles on the outer envelope, in addition to the husband’s first and last name. On the inner envelope, you’ll write just the couple’s title and collective last name. So if you take this approach, your envelopes will look like this:

Outer envelope:

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Portz

Inner envelope:

Mr. and Mrs. Portz

However, some women appreciate their full names being printed. If you anticipate your guest wishing to be addressed as such, print the woman’s name alongside her husband’s.

Outer envelope:

Mr. Thomas Portz and Mrs. Karen Portz

Inner envelope:

Mr. and Mrs. Portz

(You could also simply write “Thomas and Karen” if you’d prefer a more casual tone.)

With heterosexual couples, it’s customary for the male’s name to be written first. Although, this is simply a tradition, and we encourage you to address envelopes in whichever way you see fit. With same-sex couples, you can choose to write their names in alphabetical order, such as:

Outer envelope:

Mrs. Kira Gonzalez-Strong and Mrs. Sarah Gonzalez-Strong

Inner envelope:

Mrs. and Mrs. Gonzalez-Strong (or Kira and Sarah)

2. A Married Couple With Different Last Names

If you have guests who are married but share different last names, there’s a bit of discrepancy as to whose name should be written first. Some believe that ladies go first (the opposite of the above scenario). Others state that you should write them in alphabetical order, while still others believe the guest you’re closest to should be written first. An example of this scenario would be:

Outer envelope:

Mrs. Cristina Anderson and Mr. Ben McCartney

Inner envelope:

Mrs. Anderson and Mr. McCartney (or Cristina and Ben)

3. Unmarried Couples

If a couple is not married, it’s customary to write their names on two separate lines. For an unmarried couple living together, you will write their names in alphabetical order. For example, you’ll write:

Outer envelope:

Miss (or Ms.) Stephanie Belitz

Miss (or Ms.) Katie Foster

Inner envelope:

Miss (or Ms.) Belitz

Miss (or Ms.) Foster

On the other hand, if the couple does not live together, you will send the invitation to the guest you’re closest to. Therefore their name will be the only one listed on the outer envelope. So this scenario will look like this:

Outer envelope:

Miss (or Ms.) Megan Peterman

Inner envelope:

Miss (or Ms.) Peterman

Mr. Jacobsen

4. Single Guests

If your guests are single, you will write their full name and title on the outer envelope. If you are welcoming a plus one, you will write their name with “and Guest” on the inner envelope. It would look like:

Outer envelope:

Mr. Ari Black

Inner envelope:

Mr. Black (and Guest)

If your guest is a formerly married woman, her title will change depending on whether she returned to her maiden name. If she kept her married name, you would address her as “Mrs. Carole McCarthy.” However, if she returned to her maiden name, you would write, “Miss Carole Perrin.”

5. Children

If children are invited to your wedding, you will simply write each family member’s first names underneath their parents’ names, from oldest to youngest. If, however, the child is over the age of 18 (even if they still live with their parents), they should receive their own invitation. To include the entire family on an invite, you would write:

Outer envelope:

Mr. and Mrs. Chris Thompson

Inner envelope:

Mr. and Mrs. Thompson

Nathan, James, and Bella

6. Professional Titles

If one of your guests is a doctor, judge, pastor, or military personnel, their respective invitation should reflect their distinguished titles. If each guest within a couple has a title, and the two combined names and titles don’t fit on one line, it is customary to indent the second line. Some examples include:

Outer envelope:

Dr. Abby and Mr. Tom Baker

Inner envelope:

Dr. Baker and Mr. Baker

You could also use a format like this:

Outer envelope:

Captain Juliana Frye

Lieutenant Steven Bryant

Inner envelope:

Captain Frye

Lieutenant Bryant

How to Address Wedding Invitations with One Envelope

How to address wedding invitations: the Forever Script invitation design from Greenvelope

Design: Claudia Owens

Finally, what happens if your wedding invitations only have one envelope? With Greenvelope, you’ll skip the post office line and conveniently send your wedding invitations directly to your guests’ inboxes. There will only be one envelope, so you’ll typically use the “outer envelope” standards, with two  exceptions: Be sure to list every guest’s name, including children and those who live in different households, and include “And Guest” on the envelope for those whom are allowed to bring a plus one.

On Your Day, You Make the Rules

With all these customs in mind, this is your wedding, so you get to make the rules. Your wedding day will be filled with your favorite people from all walks of life — with many different lifestyles and living situations. Think of each individual guest as you write their invitation, considering how they wish to be addressed.

From all of us at Greenvelope, have a wonderful wedding day. The countdown is officially on!