How to Address Your Invitations

Paper Goods

There is a bit of a science to addressing your invitations.  Is it Mr and Mrs?  What if the doctor is the wife?  What if I don’t know the plus one’s name??  Read on, my friend. We’ve got you covered.  Additionally, if you are sending these off to a printer or calligrapher be sure to check with them about what exact format they want you to supply this information.  Typically they will have specific requirements for submitting addresses in excel spreadsheets or word docs.

Also a few notes – a lot of this traditional etiquette is hetero-normative and assumes hetero couples and is (more than a little) sexist.  I’d like to note that we include this information as a resource because we find our clients are often curious as to what the traditional etiquette is so that they can decide whether it works for them to follow it or stray.  These days, really anything goes.  Additionally, some of these formulas are  interchangeable regardless of sex, but some of them aren’t.  The good news for same-sex couples (and non-traditional hetero couples too) is that you can really do what you want.  The bad news is that, well, it’s totally obnoxious and antiquated and doesn’t provide a solid enough resource for your invitation addressing needs! Please know that I see you.  If you’ve got questions, let’s hop on a call and chat – I’m happy to be a resource!


To a Married Couple: There is no need to have the husband’s middle name, but if you do, write it out in full rather than using an initial.

Example: Mr. and Mrs. John Smith


To a Family With Children: Even when the kids are invited, the outside envelope should be addressed only to their parents. Children’s names should appear on the inner envelope on the line beneath Mom & Dad’s. Start with the oldest, followed by his or her siblings in order of diminishing age. If you are taking a more formal approach on the inner envelope, refer to a boy under the age of 13 as “Master,” not “Mr.” Girls and young women under th e age of 18 are called “Miss.” And since they are young siblings, the word “and” which implies marriage when used with adults’ names) linking the children’s names is acceptable.  NOTE: If you are skipping the inner envelope all together, address the outer envelope as “The Smith Family.”

Example on Inner Envelope:

Mr. and Mrs. John Smith

Master George and Miss Katie


To a Couple with Different Last Names: Whether they are living together or not, address the female guest first. If it’s a married couple in which the wife has chosen to keep her maiden name, “Ms.” can be used.  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.

Example Married: Ms. Lisa Lewis and Mr. Joe Jones

Example Not Married:

Ms. Lisa Lewis

Mr. Joe Jones


When One Guest Is a Judge: Recognize a judge by using “The Honorable,” and list him or her first. It gets a little complicated when both the husband and wife have professional titles. Generally, list the wife first.

Example: The Honorable Nancy Nickels and Doctor Nate Nickels


When One Guest Is a Commissioned Officer: If her husband is not a “Captain,” address invitations to “Captain Hilary Hughes and Mr. Harry Hughes”. Her name comes first because her professional title “outranks” his social title.


When One Guest Is a Doctor: If the husband is a doctor, the titles will appear as “Doctor and Mrs.”; if the wife is a doctor, her degree “outranks” her husband’s social title of “Mr.,” and the wife should be listed first, with “Doctor” spelled out. If both the husband and wife are doctors, write “The Doctors,” followed by their first names and family name, or just the family name.


Doctor and Mrs. Tim Thomas

Doctor Shelly and Mr. Steve Simons or Doctor Shelly Springs and Mr. Steve Simons

The Doctors Shelly and Jeff Simons or The Doctors Simons


Etiquette for Adding a Plus One: Spouse of attendees should always be invited. When it comes to your friend’s significant others or dates, to add or not add a plus one can be a tough question. Use your discretion depending on your budget and how long the couple have been together (six months is a good gauge). If you are inviting someone with a plus one, try to find out the name and address of his or her date and send two separate invites. If that’s not possible, address the outside envelope to the primary invitee, with the inside envelope reading “Ms. Holly Hart and Guest.” If you know whom he or she is bringing, it’s more personal to include that person’s name on a separate line.


Ms. Holly Hart

Mr. Doug Davis

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