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Invitation and Addressing Etiquette

INVITATION DO’S AND DON’TS

Invitation Do’s
Here are some invitation issues that warrant particularly careful attention:

 

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Order extras.
It is far less costly to print extras that you may not need than to go back to order more as you will most likely incur a rush fee.

Remember to order an extra for yourselves, to include as a keepsake in your album or organizer, as well as extras for your family and in-laws, who may want to do the same.

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Think about where you want responses sent.
Do think about where you want responses sent. Usually, gifts are sent to the return address on the envelope or to the address printed by the RSVP. If the bride lives in Johannesburg but her wedding will be held where her parents live in Cape Town, it is far handier to have gifts sent to her Johannesburg home than to her parents, who will have to pack them up and ship them to Johannesburg. Then there is the question of who is keeping track of responses. If it is the bride, then by all means, her address should be used.

 

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Allow plenty of time.
Start with invitations 5-7 months before – so you can hand out 4 months before your wedding.

Time is both an invitation do and an invitation don’t. Don’t run out of time.

Do allow plenty of time to carefully address, assemble, and mail your invitations, especially if you are using a calligrapher to do the writing.

If other obligations leave you pressed for time, ask to have envelopes sent to you well in advance of the invitations so that you can start addressing early.

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Get organized.
Develop a system or organization that makes the process of addressing and mailing your invitations pleasurable, not painful.

Prepare in advance by writing in your wedding organizer the names and addresses of everyone on your guest list.

Other brides find a computer database or spreadsheet helpful.

Perhaps family and future in-laws could be persuaded to send you their complete lists with full names and addresses, including names of any children or unmarried partners to be invited.

As replies are received, make helpful notes to yourself, such as “friend of Andy’s parents” or “Susie’s date” so that you’ll know who’s who when finalizing your table arrangements and greeting guests in the receiving line.

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Check postage.
It would be extremely annoying (and time consuming!) to mail all your invitations, only to have them returned because of insufficient postage.

Before you buy stamps and apply them, take an assembled invitation to the post office and have it weighed.

It’s likely that the inserts, or a large square envelope, will necessitate extra postage.

Remember that maps and other directional inserts sent to out-of-town-guests will make heavier invitations than those sent to local guests and may require a postage adjustment. In that case, be sure to assemble two sets, have both weighed and pay close attention when affixing postage so that the appropriate stamps go on the right envelope.

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Use correct names and titles of guests.
It is most flattering when invitations are addressed correctly.

This means using correct titles, as well as spelling names right.

Some professional titles that are also used socially and that would be used when addressing an invitation include:

The Honourable (judge, governor, mayor, Canadian senator, member of parliament, cabinet members, ambassadors) and The Reverend, The Most Reverend, or The Right Reverend.

When in doubt, ask before addressing.

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Use the names of guests of invited guests when possible.
It is so much warmer and more welcoming to use the correct names of those who will be guests of your friends on invitations and placecards.

Whether you also send these guests their own invitations or include their names on your friends’ invitations is up to you but the guest feels personally invited when his or her name is actually written on the envelope. This also enables you to write a placecard using the person’s name instead of “and guest” on your friend’s placecard or a card that read “Miss Johnston’s Guest”.

Invitation Don’ts
Certain information should never be included on or placed inside a wedding invitation:

 

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Registry or gift information.
Although a wedding invitation demands a gift in return, it is in extremely poor taste to insert a “helpful” list of places where the bride and groom are registered or a checklist of things they want or don’t want. This information should be shared with parents and attendants who can be resources for guests who want to know.

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The inclusion of “No Gifts”.
Often a second-time bride or groom or an older couple feels that they have everything they need and prefer that their guests not give them gifts. Regardless, the joy and happiness a wedding represents include the giving of gifts to celebrate the happiness, and the printing of “No Gifts, Please” on the invitation is not acceptable. Again, family members and attendants can share this information with guests or can provide the name of a favourite charity to which guests may contribute in lieu of giving a wedding gift.

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The inclusion of “No Children”.
Never print “No Children” or “Adults Only” on an invitation. The way an invitation is addressed on the envelope, indicates exactly who is–and by omission on who is not–invited to the wedding. If absolutely necessary, the wording “Adults Only Please” can be included on the reply card.

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Bulletin Board Invitations.
It is not a good idea to post an invitation on a bulletin board at work. It implies that anyone reading it is welcome to attend, and each person may feel he or she is also welcome to bring a spouse, a date or children. Instead, it is much better for each person to receive his or her own invitation at home, not at work, particularly if some colleagues are invited and others are not.

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Dictating dress.
It is incorrect to put “Black Tie” or “White Tie” on the invitation to the ceremony. If it seems essential to include this directive, it can be added only to the invitation to the reception. Avoid writing “Black tie invited” or “Black tie preferred” as these phrases can be confusing.

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Labels.
Do not use labels to address wedding invitation envelopes, even when inviting hundreds of guests. Instead, plan ahead and take the time to handwrite (or hire a calligrapher to do so) every envelope, so that it is in keeping with the personal tone of the wedding.

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Alcohol information.
It is unnecessary to put “Alcohol-Free”, “Wine and Beer Only” or “Cash Bar” on the invitation. Surely this information will not be the deciding factor as to whether or not guests attend. You are inviting them to a wedding, not a cocktail party.

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Don’t underestimate your time.
Count on the printing of your invitations and their related inserts to take four to eight weeks in advance. Factor in that it can take an extraordinarily long time to address, assemble, and mail invitations. Don’t underestimate the time this takes. Allows several extra weeks in your schedule to prepare your invitations for mailing.

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Don’t mix typefaces.
Once you have selected a typeface for your invitation, stick with it for all related printed inserts and other printed material.

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Don’t offend your guests.
Inviting people at the last minute makes it obvious that they are last-minute invitees–a notion that will make them feel more unwelcome than if you had not invited them at all.

ADDRESSING ETIQUETTE
Tips for making sure there are no errors in etiquette:

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Single Guests Address As Guest
Unmarried female Miss (or Ms.) Jennifer Smith and Guest*
Divorced female Mrs. Jennifer Smith (uses married name) and Guest*
Divorced female Miss (or Ms.) Jennifer Smith (uses maiden name) and Guest*
Unmarried male Mr. Andrew Johnson and Guest*

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Couples Address As If Guest
Married couples Mr. and Mrs. David Smith
Married couple Mrs. Jennifer Smith (woman kept maiden name) and Mr. Andrew Johnson
Unmarried couples who live together Mr. Andrew Johnson (alphabetical by last name) and Miss (or Ms.) Jennifer Smith
Same gender couples Mr. Mark McDermitt (alphabetical by last name) and Mr. Foster McDonald

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Children Address As
Child under age 18 Ms. and Mrs. David Smith and Family
Children over 18
(should receive their own invitation)
Miss Jennifer Johnson or (even if still living at home) Mr. Andrew Johnson

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Miscellaneous Address As Guest
Judge The Honourable and Mrs. Al Riker
Clergy The Reverend Donald Riker
Doctor (medical) Doctor Benjamin Riker and Guest*
Doctor (PhD) Dr. Benjamin Riker and Guest*
Married Woman Doctor Doctor Jennifer Johnson and Mr. Andrew Johnson
Married Couple (Both Doctors) Doctors Tim and Laurie Johnson
Officer – Man (active or retired) – Colonel and Mrs. Andrew Johnson
Officer – Woman – Lieutenant Amy Smith, U. S. Navy and Mr. Samuel Smith

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Guidance
* Wherever possible, do not write “and Family” or “and Guest”. Take the time to find out the names of your guests’s partners and family members and address them properly.

  • Address all invitations by hand or calligrapher. Invitations can only be printed by printer if printed directly on envelopes.
    DO NOT use printer labels.
  • Families can receive one invitation, but children over 18 should receive their own.
  • For couples who don’t live together, send each an invitation. If you would prefer to send one invitation to the person you’re closer to that’s okay too, but address both parties by their full name and on separate lines.
  • If you are inviting someone who is single, you may write “and guest” on their invitation so they have the choice of bringing a guest or date (single guests often feel uncomfortable attending a wedding alone).
  • No abbreviations on address, use ‘Street’, ‘Avenue’,’Crescent’, etc. The province or state can be abbreviated due to the post office preferring this format.
  • Most titles are abbreviated, like ‘Mr.’, ‘Mrs.’ but Dr. should be written; Doctor.
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Postage
Buy self-adhesive stamps.
Don’t forget to include a stamp on RSVP envelope.
Be aware that the weight of your invitations with all the inserts may require additional postage.
Bring a complete invitation set to the post office to be weighed to ensure you have the correct postage.