Hey friends! As I was sitting down to start a post on how to address an envelope, I had a realization. Of course, people want to know how to properly address wedding envelopes, but also - it’s 2018. These days, a lot of wedding formalities are going out the window. And while I’m all for creative envelope addressing, there is also a time and a place for both formal addressing and more casual addressing.
Traditional Envelope Addressing Etiquette
Traditional envelope etiquette serves a purpose. It’s a way to show classic mannerisms, formal code, and in general, is just a regular protocol that can be used across many social and professional uses. If you’re having a black tie wedding or addressing envelopes for a formal business event, you’ll likely want to stick to traditional etiquette. Older generations (and I’m sure, some young generations) appreciate good form and proper use of titles, position, and order, so it might be in your best interest to avoid insulting anyone. Maybe your parents or grandparents insist that you properly address their friends and relatives. Whatever the reason, it’s good to know how to properly address an envelope according to traditional etiquette!
Here are the basic guidelines:
Inner Envelopes - Many formal events will make use of inner envelopes. These envelopes include the titles and last names of anyone who is invited to an event. Anyone not listed on the inner envelope is considered to be not invited.
Inner Envelope Example: Mr. and Mrs. Rosewood
Children - If children are invited, they’re typically included just below the parents names like so:
Mr. and Mrs. Rosewood
Outer Envelopes - For outer envelopes, you should include titles, first, (middle is optional,) and last names. There are a ton of rules for addressing outer envelopes, generally based on the relationship and living arrangements of the people you are addressing.
Note: Unless requested or in certain special cases, you don’t want to include a middle initial. Either write out the full middle name or leave it off.
Family Invites - While some people opt to include things like “and Family” or children’s names on the outer envelope, it’s not totally necessary and can be seen as informal. Children’s names are typically only included on the inner envelope. If you’re not using an inner envelope, it can be included on the outer envelope, similar to the form mentioned above for inners.
Example: Mr. and Mrs. Anthony James Rosewood and Family
Guests - Traditionally, you would not put “and guest” on the outer envelope for formal events. The outer envelope will be addressed to the main guest (Mr. Johnathan Rosewood), while the inner envelope can include “and guest” (ie. Mr. Johnathan Rosewood and Guest). If you’re not using an inner envelope, it’s fine to include “and Guest” on the outer.
If you’re interested in more detailed examples, I suggest checking out Emily Post’s Guide for Addressing Envelopes - it’s the best guide I’ve found!
Modern Envelope Addressing Etiquette (or the Lack Of)
In modern times, it’s become more acceptable than ever before to break traditional etiquette. It’s even preferred for some brides (myself included - we’re not fancy!) It’s fun to get creative with your wedding invitations, and your envelopes are a great and underutilized way to do that.
How to Address an Envelope to Suit You
Modern envelope etiquette (or rather, lack thereof) is best for casual weddings, semi-casual weddings, small weddings, or weddings where the bride and groom just don’t care too much about traditions and fancy titles! There are no major rules anymore - aside from the standard mailing rule to include names and full addresses, of course.
Calligraphy Envelope Addressing
With the huge resurgence of calligraphy and lettering in recent years, leading to looser and more informal styles, it’s a no-brainer that addressing etiquette takes a backseat for many couples. Now, you can pick a calligraphy style to coincide with the informal or formal addressing you choose to use - or completely contrast it (think: super formal calligraphy style but casual/informal addressing.)
You’ll want whatever calligraphy and addressing style you pick to match the mood or feeling of your event. If you’re having a casual backyard wedding, you probably don’t need to have super formal envelopes. And your envelopes are the perfect chance to showcase your personalities immediately - even before guests see your invitations! Since it’s no longer 1950, we can breathe easy knowing that envelope etiquette is a choice, not a requirement.