vintage stamp

In the coming weeks I am going to do a series on tips and etiquette when it comes to your invitations and paper goods. The first installment will be dedicated to addressing your invitations. I have had lots of questions in regards to this so I thought I would write a post on it.

Outer & Inner Envelopes:

Outer Envelope is the first envelope your guests will see. Always use the complete formal name and address of your guest. Make sure to spell out full words such as “Street: and “Avenue”, avoid using abbreviations.

Inner Envelope is typically used with formal invitations. These are used to tactfully invite only certain members of a family. On this envelope informal names can be used (ie. “Mr. & Mrs. Robert Lee” or “Jenna and Robert”. Children’s first names should be listed under their parents’ names, if they are invited.

Make sure to always double, triple, quadruple check the spelling of the names and titles of invited guests.


When you’re ready to address your outer envelopes, sticking to the following conventions announces your upcoming celebration with grace and style:

Married couples
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Lee

Married couples with different last names
Mr. Robert Lee and Mrs. Jenna Rochester

Married couples with one doctor (the Dr. title precedes a Mr. or Mrs.)
Dr. and Mrs. Robert Lee or Dr. Jenna and Mr. Robert Lee

Married couples with a judge
The Honorable Robert and Mrs. Jenna Lee

Unmarried couples living together – it’s good to use two lines, do not indent and do not link the names with ‘and.’ Either name may be used first.
Mr. Robert Lee
Ms. Jenna Rochester

Return address:

The return address indicates where guests should send replies and gifts when a specified RSVP address does not appear inside the invitation suite. Traditionally, guests mail responses to the parents of the bride. Today, many brides prefer to handle the responses themselves. In that case, use only the bride’s address, even if the bride and groom live together.

If the groom wants to have his name appear in the return address, proper etiquette is to present the couples’ names on separate lines:

Jenna Rochester
Robert Lee
123 Any Street
City, Florida 92111

Save yourself hassel and lightly mark the back of each response card with a number corresponding to each guest on the guest list. That way, if someone forgets to write their name on the card, you’ll know who it was from.

Other good to know tips:

When determining postage, make sure to assemble one complete invitation set and weigh it at the post office before stamping your envelopes. Improper postage will result in returned invitations, which can be disastrous.

Don’t use a sponge to seal the envelopes. It may not taste great, but the lick-and-stick method guarantees a tight seal.

Do not use an apostrophe in family names (ie: WRONG – The Rohan’s, CORRECT – The Rohans).

When children aren’t invited, it’s best to communicate this by only writing the parents’ names on the inner or outer envelope

If you want to invite a friend and you don’t want them to bring a date its best to just list their name on the envelope. If your friend asks if they may bring a guest, simply communicate to them that, unfortunately, your seating is very limited and you don’t have enough room. Married couples and guests who are engaged or living together should customarily be invited.