Invitation Tips & Etiquette

6 Invitation Tips & Etiquette

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Your Save the Date cards or Invitations set the tone for your wedding and are the first Impression your guests will see about the style and formality of your wedding. Below are some tips to make sure you make a great first impression.

Tip #1 The Rules of the Envelope: Let me try and sum this up because there are so many etiquette rules around the envelope. Spell out all words in an address on your envelopes. Rather than “St.,” “P.O. Box,” and “Apt.,” use “Street,” “Post Office Box,” and “Apartment.” This applies to city and state names as well; instead of abbreviations, write “Saint Paul, Minnesota” and “Washington, District of Columbia.” House numbers smaller than 20 should also be spelled out.  Sending out an invitation in two envelopes ensures that each guest will receive a pristine envelope, even if the outer one has been torn or soiled in the mail. Still, the two are not necessary; you may omit the inner envelope if you wish. The outer envelope includes all of the information the postal service needs for delivery. The inner envelope should have the names of the invited guests in the household (including children, whose names do not appear on the outer envelope).

Tip #2 Just say NO to Labels: The address on a wedding invitation should be handwritten; printed labels are NOT appropriate on formal wedding invitations. Calligraphy done by computer directly on the envelope is also acceptable. Depending on your handwriting and the level of formality of your wedding, you may want to have your envelopes inscribed by a professional calligrapher. Though etiquette for addressing and assembling invitations has relaxed, there are still some requirements. When a couple writes out an address in the correct way, it shows they’ve put thought into it. And when your guests receive your invitation, expertly assembled and addressed, there will be no doubt that you have done just that.  

Tip #3 Names & Titles: Your guests’ names should be written in full on outer envelopes — no nicknames or initials. Use the appropriate social titles as well, such as addressing married couples as “Mr. and Mrs.” If a man’s name has a suffix, write “Mr. Joseph Morales, Jr.,” or “Mr. Joseph Morales IV”; “Junior” can be spelled out on a more formal invitation. It gets a little tricky when husband, wife, or both have different professional titles. If the husband is a doctor, for example, the titles will appear as “Doctor and Mrs.”; if the wife is a doctor, her full name would come first, as in “Doctor Sally Carter and Mr. John Carter.” If both are doctors, write “The Doctors Carter.” If they have different professional titles, list the wife first: “The Honorable Pamela Patel and Lieutenant Jonathan Patel, U.S. Navy.”

Tip #4 Address Variations: Informal – To some couples, omitting wives’ first names feels too old-fashioned; including the first names of both husband and wife after their titles is appropriate on informal/casual invitations.

Different Last Names – When a husband and wife have different last names, the wife’s name is traditionally written first. Connecting the couple’s names by the word “and” implies marriage. For an unmarried couple that lives together, names should be written on separate lines without the word “and.” On the inner envelope, both are addressed by their titles and respective last names.

With Children – This outer envelope is identical to that of a couple without children — its writing, which is for the purposes of the post office, should be as simple and clear as possible. On the inner envelope, the name and title of each invited guest in the household is written out. A boy under the age of 13 is “Master,” not “Mr.” Girls and young women under age 18 are called “Miss.”

Single Guests – For a single woman, either “Ms.” or “Miss” is appropriate.The guest’s name is the only one that appears on the outer envelope. On the inner envelope, however, write the guest’s name followed by “and Guest.” If you know whom he or she will be bringing, it’s more personal to include that person’s name, on a separate line.

Tip #5 Save the Date: If you are planning your wedding on a holiday weekend, if you have a lot of out of town guests that will need to make travel arrangements, if you are planning a wedding weekend of events, or you are having a “destination” wedding, consider sending a Save the Date Card.  This is simply a notice to your guest list that you are planning a wedding for that date and to mark their calendars so they’ll be ready when the details follow by formal invitation closer to the wedding date. Save the Dates should be mailed 12-8 months in advance, if you can’t mail Save the Dates within this time frame it’s not worth sending them.

Tip #6 Get those Invitations in the Mail: Traditionally, it is advised to send out invitations six to eight weeks before your wedding.  Six weeks if most of your guests are in the same state or local, eight weeks if you have a lot of out of town guests. It also lets you make the RSVP date a little earlier, ideally 3 weeks before the wedding so you can start working on your assigned table seating, instead of trying to do this a week before your wedding!

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Even though there is a proper way to address and send your invitations, there isn’t a set standard on what they should look like. They should speak to your style and the theme of your wedding.  There are so many types and styles to choose from.  One last bonus recommendation is not to order your formal wedding invitation on-line. I am a firm believer in feeling the paper quality and being able to see it in person because once they are printed, there are no do-overs!!

P.S. – Don’t forget you only need to order one invitation per household not per person!

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