Invitation Social Graces Part 4: Discussing the “How” of Wedding Invite Etiquette

Good Morning, Darlings!

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We are finally reaching the end of our wedding invitation etiquette series. Sad, I know, but all good things must come to an end. Over the past month, we’ve told you all about the who, what, and when of wedding invitation etiquette, and now for the grand finale: the how! Today, we’ll be talking about the etiquette concerning the envelope that brings the whole suite together, not necessarily what is inside (don’t worry, at some point we’ll do a whole series regarding invitation copy – promise). How you present your invitations, address them, and prepare them for the mail is chalk full of formalities. The proper way to approach your envelopes isn’t always super straightforward, but part of our job is to help you be informed of all the official how-to’s. So without further ado, here is the how you have been so patiently awaiting!


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Not only does it look fabulous, but it is proper etiquette to have the envelope of your invitations be hand written rather than printed or digitally produced. Computer calligraphy has become very advanced, but hand-drawn penmanship is still considered the proper form and is used for both the inner and outer envelopes (that is if you are going the more formal route and using two envelopes, most modern suites contain only one). We understand that not everyone has it in their budget to hire a professional calligrapher. If this is the case, please still consider hand-addressing your invitation. I bet there is a family member or friend in your life with great penmanship who has been asking how he or she can help. I encourage you to sit down with a calligraphy pen or hand it over to a loved one and ask for assistance! By having the envelopes hand written (whether by a paid calligrapher, or from someone in your life with fancy writing), receiving the invitation feels personal and special!

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Addressing Your Invitations

You will want to use the following guidelines when addressing your envelopes. Oh, and not to harp on this again, but remember that all of the below should be hand-drawn (please don’t break our hearts):

  • Spell out street, avenue, apartment, etc. Spell out state names, unless it won’t fit on one line, and use numerals in addresses.
  • Apartment numbers should be on a separate line above the street address.
  • Mr. and Mrs. are abbreviated, but spell out Doctor.
  • Use titles and full names for formal invitations. The most formal invites use middle names, but never initials.
  • The names of married couples belong on the same line, unless they do not fit.
  • The names of unmarried couples go on two separate lines, with the name of the person you know first. If you know both, the woman’s name comes first. For couples of the same sex, just follow the same rule! If you know them both, use alphabetical order to decide which name comes first.
  • With family members, if everyone is invited, you can simply say, “and family”, but if not, then list the names from oldest to youngest.
  • If you are inviting someone with a guest, try and find out their name to include it on the envelope after the person you know and are inviting (who should also be who you are mailing it to!). Try and save the use of “and guest” or “plus one” for wedding of 300 or more.
  • The return address should be located on the back flap of the envelopes and the response card envelopes.

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Final Stamp of Approval!

After all your hard-work of picking out beautiful paper products, taking the time to hand write all of your envelopes, and following all of the tedious guidelines, don’t let a little stamp be the wrench in the whole thing! By this time you are tired and you just want to get these babies in the mail already. We encourage you to take your time and do this part well! A personalized stamp, or even a special wedding stamp that coordinates with your design, is very much worth your while. Think of it as the finishing touch or the cherry on top- small but important! Also, another thing that will be worth the extra time, or charge, is having the post office hand-cancel postage. This ensures that your invitations are pristine when they arrive to your guests and don’t have any black ink smudges or lines on it. This is actually required by the post office when there is ribbon or something in the suite that isn’t completely flat. And lastly, don’t guess when it comes to your postage amount! Take your invitation to the post office, have it weighed, and find out exactly how much it will cost to send each one.

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As you can see, we saved the most tedious section for last. There are a lot of rules to follow, but in the end, they are steps you take to be polite and make your guests comfortable. These formalities have been fine-tuned, changed, and are still in flux, but they exist for a reason. We hope that this blog, along with the whole series, makes you feel more than capable of tackling your wedding invitations in a proper and gracious manner. And most importantly, we hope that you have fun! Picking and sending out wedding invitations is your first chance to show your guests what you are all about, as is your big day, so enjoy it and make it count!

Photo Cred: Image 1 (left) by My Urban Invites, Image 2 (right) by Paper and Lace, Image 3 by Perch Paper Company , Image 4 by Coastal Calligraphy, Image 5 by Gourmet Invitations, Image 6 by Calligraphy by Hillary 


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