Wedding Etiquette for Addressing Invitations

December 21, 2022

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When it comes to the wedding etiquette for addressing wedding invitations and save-the-dates, couples often have a lot of questions. If you're one of them, you've come to the right place. You may be wondering:

  • How do you list doctors on an invitation?
  • Who do you list first on the envelope?
  • What's the difference between an inner envelope and an outer envelope?
  • What if couples have different last names?

The questions are endless. Fortunately, I LOVE etiquette and grammar, so both of these come in very handy when it comes to how to the etiquette for addressing the envelopes for your wedding invitations and save the dates.

Today we address many of the common questions when it comes to the etiquette for addressing wedding invitations.

Before we dive in, a quick note on the difference between outer and inner envelopes. Outer envelopes or mailer envelopes are what your inner envelope and invitation will go inside. It is the outermost envelope that will be seen by the post office, where your stamps go, as well as the address of the recipients. Your inner envelopes are what is used to keep the invitation looking neat and clean. Historically, the outer envelope was discarded and the inner envelope and its contents was what was given to the recipient by their staff.


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Invitation Wording for a Married Couple With the Same Last Names

This one may be the most common.

For a heterosexual couple, use “Mr.” and “Mrs.” and spell out the husband's first and last name. For a same-sex couple, either name can go first.

  • Outer envelope: “Mr. and Mrs. John Rose”
  • Inner envelope: “Mr. and Mrs. Rose” or “John and Moira”

As times changes, some women may have a strong aversion to having their name left out and lumped in with their husband's. If you fall into this camp, an alternative to follows:

  • Outer envelope: “Mr. John Rose and Mrs. Moira Rose”
  • Inner envelope: “Mr. Rose and Mrs. Rose” or “John and Moira”

Invitation Wording for a Married Couple With Different Last Names

For a heterosexual couple, write both names on the same line listing the woman's name first; if both names together prevent it from fitting on one line, list them separately.

  • Outer envelope: “Ms. Kelly Kapowski and Mr. Zachary Morris”
  • Inner envelope: “Ms. Kapowski and Mr. Morris” or “Kelly and Zach”

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Invitation Wording for a Married Couple With One Hyphenated Last Name

If one of the partners has chosen to hyphenate their last name, then you need to include that in their invitation wording:

  • Outer envelope: “Mr. Ross Gellar and Ms. Rachel Green-Gellar”
  • Inner envelope: “Mr. Gellar and Ms. Green-Gellar” or “Ross and Rachel”


Invitation Wording for an Unmarried Couple

If the couple is unmarried but lives at the same address, address both people on one line. List the person with whom you have the closest relationship first.

  • Outer envelope: “Ms. Desiree Abeleda and Mr. Michael Adams”
  • Inner envelope: “Ms. Abeleda and Mr. Adams” or “Desiree and Michael”

Invitation Wording for a Single Female

Use “Ms.” if the guest is over age 18. If she is younger than 18, then “Miss” is the acceptable choice. If she is under 18, “Miss” should be spelled out, not abbreviated.

  • Outer envelope: “Ms. Isla Adams” or “Miss Isla Adams” (if she is younger than 18)
  • Inner envelope: “Ms. Adams” or “Miss Adams” or “Isla”

If you are inviting her parents and she is under age 18, you would invite her with her parents. See below.

Invitation Wording for a Single Male

Use “Mr.” if the guest is over 18. If they under age 6 or 7, formal etiquette uses the term “Master” before their name. Between age 7 and 16 to 18, they have no title. At age 18, they use the formal title “Mr.” According to Emily Post, “Mr.” is the default social title for a man.

The plural “The Messrs” is used to address two brothers at the same address and most often used on the inner envelope of a wedding invitation.

  • Outer envelope: “Mr. James Montgomery” for 16-18 and up
  • Inner envelope: “Mr. Montgomery” or “James”


Invitation Wording for a Married Couple When One is a Doctor

If the combined names are too long to fit on one line, list them separately. You should spell out “doctor” on the outer envelope, and abbreviate it on the inner.

  • Outer envelope: “Doctor Ross Gellar and Ms. Rachel Green”
  • Inner envelope: “Dr. Gellar and Ms. Green” or “Ross and Rachel”

Invitation Wording for a Married Couple When Both are Doctors

In the case of married doctors, it is proper to use: “The Doctors.”

  • Outer envelope: “The Doctors Smith” or “Drs. Neil and Ingrid Smith”
  • Inner envelope: “The Doctors Smith” or “Neil and Ingrid”

In the case of married doctors and one has chosen to hyphenate: If both titles don't fit on one line, indent the second line.

  • Outer envelope: “Doctor Neil Smith and Doctor Ingrid Abeleda-Smith”
  • Inner envelope: “Dr. Smith and Dr. Abeleda-Smith” or “Neil and Ingrid”


Invitation Wording for a Couple With Distinguished Titles Other Than Doctors

Apply the same rules for military personnel, judges, reverends, etc., that you use for doctors. If both titles don't fit on one line, indent the second line. And remember that whichever half of the couple “outranks” the other (say, a doctor, member of the military, or some other profession that includes a title) goes first, regardless of gender.

  • Outer envelope: “The Honorable Caleb Campbell and Mr. Edward Campbell” or “Captains Caleb and Edward Wood, US Navy”
  • Inner envelope: “Judge Campbell and Mr. Campbell” or “The Captains Campbell”

If you’re addressing someone who is an attorney, use “Esq.” after their name. Example: Michael Adams, Esq. The title of Esq. is not required on the inner envelope, but it should appear on the outer envelope along with their full mailing address.

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Invitation Wording for a Family, Including Children

When inviting an entire family, the family name or the parents' names should be listed alone on the outer envelpe, and everyone can be included on the inner envelope.

When including female children under the age of 18, address them with the title of “Miss.”

  • Outer envelope: “The Addams Family” or “Mr. and Mrs. Gomez Addams” or “Mr. Gomez Addams and Mrs. Morticia Addams”
  • Inner Envelope: “Gomez, Morticia, Miss Wednesday, and Master Pugsley”

Wedding Etiquette for Addressing Invitations for a Casual Wedding

Once you've read through this, you might still ask, “What if my wedding isn't formal? Do my invitations still need to be formal?” The short answer is yes. We understand the temptation to omit titles or only use first names, comes to addressing wedding invitations for a more casual event, we understand the temptation to just use first names, or first and last names without titles. This is a milestone in your relationship and we feel that you should treat it as such. However, if you're truly having a very informal event in your backyard or you may be able to get away with it (although we still think you should use titles).

Your wedding is the time to use formal wording, especially for older or more conservative guests. While your guests may not notice that you were being formal, they will definitely notice if your invitations feel too informal or casual. Are you sending them a birthday party invitation or a wedding invitation?