how to address your wedding invitations

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In our last post, we discussed how to assemble the various pieces of your wedding invitations to prepare them for mailing. Today, we'll talk about how to address your wedding invitations.

I could probably write an entire website just about the etiquette of properly addressing your envelopes. There are rules to guide you in writing out the recipients' names, addresses, titles, and pretty much everything else. Fortunately there are already many excellent etiquette guides available that cover this information, so I can just point you to a couple of my favorites instead of attempting to cover it all here:

In reading these and other etiquette guides, remember that etiquette is just that: A guide. Etiquette "rules" exist to make our interactions with one another as pleasant and productive as possible; etiquette is not intended to be a tool for judging one another. So if you find that bending the "rules" a little bit works better for your particular situation, that's okay. For example, maybe you have an aunt who really hates being called, "Mrs. James Smith." If you'd rather write "Mrs. Sally Smith" on her invitation, go ahead. The idea is to make these decisions with your guests' comfort and happiness in mind.


There's more to addressing your invitations than getting the wording just right. Here are a few of my favorite pointers for getting the job done in good order:

  • Order extra envelopes. Try as you might, you're bound to make a mistake or two, and you don't want to have to send out invitations that have cross-outs or correcting fluid on them.
  • Have your addresses in good order before you get started. Make sure they're all current and correct, and have them available to you in an organized way, like a spreadsheet. If you have to skip an invitation and come back to it later because of address questions, it's too easy to forget it and accidentally not send it out.
  • Use a guide to keep your lines of writing nice and straight. Your invitations may come with one, but if they don't, then you can easily make your own by printing thick, dark horizontal lines on a piece of cardstock and cutting it to fit inside your envelope. Slide this guide into each envelope before you start writing. You should be able to see the lines on your cardstock through the envelope paper well enough to use them as a writing guide.
  • Use a good pen. You want a pen with ink that won't run if it gets wet during delivery. Also look for a pen with ink that won't bleed through the envelope and guide.
  • Make sure your handwriting is legible. This sounds like a no-brainer, but it's easy to look past legibility issues in your own handwriting -- you look at it all the time, and of course it's legible to you! Make sure the delivery information on each envelope is clear and readable, because you don't want invitations returned to you undelivered.
  • Give yourself plenty of time, and block out several days or evenings for this task. Stop when your brain or your hand gets tired, and come back to the addressing project later. You're more likely to make mistakes if you're fatigued.
  • Keep snacks and drinks away from your work area. Crumbs and fingerprints can leave grease spots or stains on your invitations and envelopes, and of course an accidentally upset drink would be a disaster.

Finally, my favorite tip?

  • Hire a calligrapher.

Sure, you can address your wedding invitations yourself. After all, you address envelopes to be mailed all the time, and they almost always get to their intended destination. Remember, though, that these aren't just any envelopes. You've probably spent a great deal of money, time, or both on these invitations, and the outside of the envelope is the first thing your guests will see. Make their first impression extraordinary by having a professional address the envelopes for you. Your wedding planner should be able to direct you to a professional calligrapher who fits both your budget and your wedding style.

Both images via Wikimedia Commons.