When you address wedding invitations or another piece of formal correspondence, traditional etiquette rules provide very specific directions about using titles, ordering the names and even how many lines to use.
We’ve updated our wedding envelope etiquette rules to answer all your questions. And maybe some you haven’t thought of yet.
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To some folks, yes—absolutely. But some wedding invitations, like many weddings, have become less formal.
So the decision to use traditional wedding envelope addressing etiquette has become a mix of wedding vibe, couple’s choice (most important) and respect for the guests’ preferences. For example:
- Especially in the case of occupation-related honorifics, titles are earned. Using them correctly shows you hold your guests in high esteem.
- Women may prefer to have their first names included in addition to their husband’s.
- Women or both members of the couple may hyphenate their two last names.
If you choose to depart from traditional wedding etiquette rules, you can mix and match to suit the styles of your guests. Address your always-proper great aunt and uncle’s envelope to “Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Sells” and the one to your close couple friends to “Bailey and Parker Johnson-James.”
Formal invitations call for courtesy titles or “honorifics”:
- Mr. (for Mister or French Monsieur) for married or unmarried men
- Master for boys 12 and younger (this one is kind of old-fashioned)
- Mrs. (for “Mistress”) for women who are married or have been married
- Ms. for women who are unmarried, have married and kept their own last name or hyphenated both last names, or prefer a title that doesn’t refer to their marital status
- Miss for young girls (18 and younger)
- Mx. for people who don’t identify with either gender or choose not to use a gender-specific honorific (this isn’t a generic term for someone whose gender you just don’t know—using “Mx.” is an expressed choice)
- Mmes. (abbreviation of French “Mesdames”) for married women with the same last name
- Messrs. (abbreviation of French “Messieurs”) for married men with the same last name
Honorifics also include occupation-related titles, such as:
- Dr. or Doctor
- Father, The Reverend, Rabbi
- The Honorable (for high-ranking federal and state officials and judges)
- Military ranks
This one is pretty straightforward: Just use the appropriate title and full name (unless they are divorced or their spouse has passed away, in which case scroll down for guidelines). So:
Ms. Alyssa Smith
Mr. Brandon Jones
Mx. Jayden Walker
Captain Angel Garcia, U.S. Army
There are so many “rules” and alternate rules and rules that change with the times. Here are the common ones:
- Use “and” to join their names, and put them on the same line—unless the names are too long, in which case put them on separate lines still joined by “and.”
- The traditional rule that the man’s name should come first has changed—now either is appropriate. You can list the person you’re closer to first or go alphabetically.
- If one partner has a distinguished, occupation-related title, their name should be listed first. If both do, go by rank. If there’s no “rank,” you get to decide the order.
Here are examples of correct usage (though we didn’t show every single variation possible). If titles are separated by a slash, either is OK to use.
Married couple with same last name
Mr. and Mrs. Michael Smith
Mr. Michael and Mrs. Lisa Smith
Mrs./Ms. Lisa Smith and Mr. Michael Smith
Mx. and Mrs. Taylor Williams
Mx. Taylor Williams and Mrs./Ms. Gabriella Williams
Mx. Taylor and Ms. Gabriella Williams
The Mmes. Jessica and Ashley Johnson
Mrs./Ms. Jessica and Mrs./Ms. Ashley Johnson
Mrs. Jessica and Ms. Ashley Johnson
The Messrs. Matthew and Joshua Jackson
Mr. Matthew Jackson and Mr. Joshua Jackson
Mr. Matthew and Mr. Joshua Jackson
Married couple with different last names
Ms. Lisa Rodriguez and Mr. Michael Smith
Mr. Michael Smith and Mrs./Ms. Lisa Rodriguez-Smith
Mx. Taylor Williams and Mrs./Ms. Gabriella Brown
Mr. Matthew Jackson and Mr. Joshua Walker
Ms. Jessica Johnson and Ms. Ashley Jones
If you add in occupation-related titles, the name with the title goes first.
Married couple with military title for man
Colonel and Mrs. Michael Smith
(Leave off the branch in this case.)
Married couple with military title for woman
Colonel Lisa Rodriguez-Smith, U.S. Army and Mr. Michael Smith
Married couple, both military
Captain Matthew Jackson, U.S. Army
and Lieutenant Joshua Walker, U.S. Air Force
Married judge with wife
The Honorable and Mrs. Michael Smith
Married judge with husband
The Honorable Lisa Smith, Senator and Mr. Michael Smith
Married couple both doctors
The Doctors/Drs. Jessica and Ashley Johnson
Dr. Jessica Johnson and Dr. Ashley Jones
More examples of distinguished titles
Rabbi Joshua Walker and Mr. Matthew Jackson
Rabbi Joshua and Mr. Matthew Jackson
The Reverend Gabriella and Mx. Taylor Williams
The Reverend Gabriella Williams and Mx. Taylor Williams
The Honorable Lisa Rodriguez, Senator and Colonel Michael Smith, U.S. Army
Colonel Michael Smith and the Honorable Lisa Smith
Traditionally, you’d leave out the “and” and put their names on two separate lines. These days, some people prefer to use “and” for any committed union—or you might use an ampersand (&).
In this case, go in alphabetical order by last name.
Unmarried couple living together
Ms. Lisa Rodriguez &
Mr. Michael Smith
Mx. Taylor Williams
Ms. Gabriella Brown
Mr. Matthew Jackson and
Mr. Joshua Walker
Ms. Jessica Johnson
Ms. Ashley Jones
No need to change the title if it’s Mr., Ms. or Mx.
Women who have divorced or are widowed may choose how they prefer to be addressed:
- Divorced women may use Mrs. or Ms. and choose to keep or drop their married last name.
- Widows might continue to use “Mrs.” with their husband’s first and last names or use their own first name instead.
Divorced woman who uses her married last name
Mrs./Ms. Lisa Smith
Mrs. Michael Smith
Mrs./Ms. Lisa Smith
One of the reasons for the “inner envelope” in wedding invitations is to let guests know which members of the family are invited. If you’re using an inner envelope, list the invited children’s first names underneath the parent or parents’ names.
When kids turn 18, traditional envelope addressing etiquette says they get their own invitations, even if they’re still living at home.
A casual version would be to address “The Jones Family”—which you can also use on an outside envelope.
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