Your English teacher would cringe at capitalizing “Guest” or “Escort” or “Family.” However, I would estimate that 98% of my clients prefer that I capitalize these words, as they feel it is much more pleasing to the eye. The use of the word “and” between two adults implies marriage. Therefore, proper etiquette dictates that you should not see the following: Miss Katherine Gaddy and Mr. Theodore Ingmire but rather:Miss Katherine Gaddy
Mr. Theodore Ingmire
(2 separate lines)Another common etiquette problem involves the use of “Mrs.” and “Ms.” A married or widowed woman, only uses “Mrs.” with her husband’s name. To use “Mrs.” with a woman’s name always indicates she is divorced.
The word “and” should be spelled out, as in “Mr. and Mrs.” for all married couples. Occasionally the calligraphy ampersand needs to be used for a very small envelope, to help shorten the line. I will only do this with if it is necessary.
There are no abbreviations used in addressing envelopes, except Mr., Mrs., Dr., Sr., or Jr. The only exception: Dr. can be spelled out when room allows.
The use of nicknames or abbreviated names is considered inappropriate, unless your affair is one of a casual nature. Middle initials are not used; the full name should be spelled out.
“Ms.” is never used with a husband’s name, as in the following example of improper etiquette:
Mr. and Ms. Theodore Ingmire
If you are only inviting a married woman and not her husband, then it is perfectly acceptable to address the invitation to:
Ms. Katherine Ingmire
Either Ms. or Ms (no period) is acceptable.
By addressing an envelope in the following manner:
Mr. and Mrs. Theodore and Katherine Ingmire and Janet Fetter
In essence, three people have been addressed (Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Ingmire, and also “Janet Fetter”).
If you desire to have the first name of both the husband and the wife addressed, then it is best to drop the titles all together:
Theodore and Katherine Ingmire
The words “and Family” are not used on the outer envelope. To invite children, only first names are listed on the inner envelope, in order of birth, from oldest to youngest.
Mr. and Mrs. Hacker
Ryan, Emily, and Matthew
If a child living with his/her parents is 16 years or older, he/she should have their own invitation. The title “Miss” or “Master” is used for children.
Following are examples of etiquette when addressing wedding invitation envelopes:
(choose either Miss or Ms.)
Miss/Ms. Penelope Dial
If two adults (brother and sister, mother and adult daughter, etc.) are living together, they should receive separate invitations.
For instances where the wife has chosen to retain her maiden name after marriage, two lines are used, with the word “and”, to denote them as a married couple.
Mr. Robert Thompson
and Ms. Catherine Campbell
For couples living together, two lines are used, with no “and”. If you know both people equally well, the woman’s name comes first, with the man’s name dropping down to the second line. If you know the man better, his name should appear first.
Ms. Janet Tumbler
Mr. Allen Duncan
123 Fifth Avenue
Bonkers, New York 10034
Gay couples are listed on two lines, with the most familiar partner listed first.
I have listed the most common forms of address. I have etiquette books to help with religious, education, political and military forms of address. The following site is an excellent resource for wedding envelope etiquette:
Finally, the main purpose of etiquette is to put your guests at ease – to make them feel comfortable and informed about your event. If your wedding is going to be more traditional and formal, then by all means your invitations should reflect that.
If your wedding is going to be less traditional and less formal, then your invitations should reflect that as well. I have done calligraphy for many, less formal weddings. For example:
Tim and Donna Hacker
Tim and Donna
I hope you will find this page useful as you compile your guest list!
Please know that one thing I am not is the etiquette police. :) I will address your envelopes in whatever manner you choose. This page is simply a guide to proper etiquette for those who are interested and want the advice.