Welcome to our first blog post of our new series, paper etiquette. Within the series we will talk about traditions and etiquette behind all things paper. Our first installment will be on addressing the envelope. A lot of brides always seem to have questions on this particular subject – some of the questions I hear are: “what is the purpose of the inner envelope, why do I need it and how do I address it if I have it”.  Back in the day, wedding invitations were delivered by hand to each individual guest’s home. The servants of the home would receive the invitation from the footman and remove the invitation from the outer envelope and present the invitation to the guests in the pristine inner envelope. The outer envelope was considered dirty and too common for the guests to handle. The inner envelope had only the names of the guests written on them. The outer envelope was used solely for transportation and contained the address to which it would be delivered. Abbreviations were never used in the address, everything was spelled out in its entirety “avenue,” “street,” “apartment,” etc. The only exception to the abbreviation rule was in the case of  “Mr.” and “Mrs.”.

On the inner envelope, guest’s names are repeated but only their titles and surnames are used. Children under the age of 18 living in the home that are invited were also listed on the inner envelope. The children were listed on a separate line underneath the parent’s name in the order of their ages, the oldest first. If a child’s name is not on the envelope, they were not invited to the wedding. If a child was over the age of 18 and living at home, they received their own invitation.

Outer Envelope: Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Rohan

Inner Envelope: Mr. and Mrs. Rohan
Patrick, Laura, Daniel, Bryan, Michael and Grace

In modern times, it is becoming a common practice to forgo the inner envelope and use just the outer envelope.  With this method, all the guests invited to the wedding are listed on the outer envelope. Instead of listing the entire family’s name, if they are all invited, it is acceptable to say: “Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Rohan and Family”. If you want to invite only the parents and no one else in the family, then you would simply address the envelope to, “Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Rohan”.

I always love finding the tradition behind the way we do things especially with correspondence. Living in the modern world with technology at our fingertips, the written word is often lost and traditions that have lasted throughout the generations are starting to disappear. So whether or not, you decide to use an inner envelope I think its refreshing and interesting to at least know the reason it’s there.