Learn How to Address Wedding Invitations Like a Pro With This Envelope Etiquette Guide
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Sending the invitations sounds like a hassle-free to-do (off to the calligrapher they go!), but now’s not the time to slack off. Prepping your paper goods requires so much more than a stack of stamps, since there’s a definitive right and wrong way to address each wedding invitation.
To make sure those formal invitations are addressed properly, we turned to Anna Post, author of Emily Post’s Etiquette, 19th edition ($27; amazon.com) for her expert advice. Anna’s great-great-grandmother, Emily Post, set the standard for everyday etiquette with her definitive guides to American manners in the early twentieth century, and Anna’s advice on modern manners is just as helpful, especially for couples in the midst of planning the biggest party of their lives.
Planning to invite a few single friends to your wedding reception? Follow Anna’s advice for addressing envelopes to single female guests. (Hint: The trick is to use “Ms.” If she’s over the age of 18.) Anna’s wedding invitation address etiquette even includes tips for same-sex couples, widows, divorcées and married guests with different last names.
Avoid an envelope faux pas of your own by consulting this trusty wedding invitation guide before putting anything in writing.
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In this case, it is proper to use Mr. and Mrs. Dean Wooley. Spell out the husband’s first name. If you decide to include the husband’s middle name, it should be spelled out, not abbreviated as an initial.
In the case of a single female guest, it is proper to use Ms. if she is over age 16 or 18. If she is younger, than Miss is the acceptable choice.
Hyphenated Last Name
In the case of a wife who has chosen to hyphenate her last name, then she should be addressed using Ms. (Mrs. is also acceptable) + her first name + maiden name + married name: Mr. David Crosby and Ms. Lynn Carter-Crosby.
Unmarried Couple Living Together
The word “and” was once used to represent a marriage, a union. This rule no longer applies. In the case of a couple who is living together, address the male first, followed by the female: Mr. Luke Davis and Ms. Mary Carter.
Divorced Female Who Kept Her Married Name
After a divorce, a woman might keep her married name. In this instance, it is okay to use Mrs. or Ms. to address the guest and use her first name (spelled out). It is often best to find out what she prefers to go by.
In this case, it is totally acceptable to put either guest first. If you can’t decide, address them in alphabetical order.
Traditionally, a widow retains her husband's name until she remarries. Some widows prefer to use their own first name as well. In this case, it is best to ask what she prefers. Mrs. John Dunlop or Mrs. Jane Dunlop would be acceptable.
Divorced Female Who Uses Her Maiden Name
After a divorce, a woman often stops using her husband’s last name. Addressing her by either Ms. or Mrs. is acceptable.
Married Couple, Both Doctors
In the case of married doctors and the wife has taken her husband’s last name, it is proper to use: The Doctors. Another acceptable option: Drs. Barbara and John Kline.
Wife Is a Doctor
If her husband is not a “doctor,” address invitations to Dr. Linda Smith and Mr. Mark Smith. Her name comes first because her professional title “outranks” his social title.
Married Doctors With Different Last Names
If both guests are doctors, but she has chosen to keep her last name, it is appropriate to address her first and with both full names: Doctor Maura Lydel and Doctor John Morris.
Wife Is a Commissioned Officer
If her husband is not a “Captain,” address invitations to Captain Sara Trace and Mr. Jake Trace. Her name comes first because her professional title “outranks” his social title.
Husband Is a Retired Commissioned Officer
In this case, it is important to recognize the husband’s position or ranking: Colonel and Mrs. Kurt Shaw.
Husband Is a Judge
In this case it is appropriate to recognize a title, such as a judge: The Honorable Judd Walter and Mrs. Walter.
Wife Is the Judge
If her husband is not a judge, address invitations to the Honorable Ann Lewis and Mr. John Lewis. Her name comes first because her professional title “outranks” his social title.