How to win at stationery etiquette!
Photo Credit: JettWalker Photography
Timing - addressing, labeling, stuffing envelopes, stamping all take time so make sure you have plenty of time while still getting the invites in the mail seven to ten weeks prior to the wedding date. This includes allowing time for specialty stamps to be ordered.
Extras - make sure to order a few spare outer envelopes (and inner if you have those) so that mistakes are easy to fix.
RSVPs- Make sure that you have the address that you wish RSVPs sent to clearly identified.
Bonus tip: Keep a master list with a number for each guest. Then write the guest's number from the master list on the RSVP card so that if a guest doesn't put their name on the card you can still keep track of who has responded.
Ready to address!
Keep it clean - wipe down the table that you are working at (let it dry!) and wash your hands to avoid smears and smudges (if you are like me do not have a beverage at your work table unless it has a spill proof lid).
All in a name - make sure to double check that you have the correct spelling of your guests' names.
Married or Long-term and living together - these invitations always have both of the couple's names on the envelope so married might look like "Mr. and Mrs. John Doe", while a couple that has been together long-term and lives at the same address might look like "Mr. John Smith and Ms. Jane Doe". If the couple is long-term but does not live together then you send them separate invitations at their respective addresses
The Inner Envelope
This is a formal, but no longer required step in the invitation process. The reason for two envelopes dates back to the horse and carriage era when mail really took a beating (although sometimes the mail still arrives looking like it was drug in the dust!), so the outer envelope was to protect the inner envelope so that guests would receive a lovely invitation suite.
If you are using inner envelopes they are where you can address close family by more familiar terms for example the outer envelope may say "Mr. and Mrs. John Smith", but the inner might say "Aunt Jane and Uncle John". The inner envelope also allows you to be more specific about who you are inviting so if Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Jackson have children (Ashley and John) that are invited the inner envelope may read,
"Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Jackson
The Outer Envelope
This is where most people run into questions, so here are some answers!
The only abbreviations are titles (Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr.) all other words are spelled out - including state names if your invitation is very formal. If you do not have inner envelopes you will need to include children's names on the outer envelope to clarify who all is invited. Spell out any middle names that are needed for clarification instead of using an initial.
Here are some of the most common forms of address that you will need:
Married Couple: Invitations are always to the couple even if you only know one person.
Different last names: the names on the same line alphabetically listed (male or female doesn't matter it is purely based on the alphabetical order)
"Ms. Jane Jonal and Mr. Bryan Russel"
Same last name:
"Mr. and Mrs. John Doe"
"Mr. John and Mrs. Haley Doe"
Doctor(s) in the house - Married Couple: Invitations are always to the couple even if you only know one person.
Different last names: Doctor goes first:
"Dr. Jane Jonal and Mr. Bryan Russel"
Same last name:
"Dr. Barbara and Mr. John Doe"
"The Drs. Warner"
"Drs. Jane and Joe Warner"
LGBT Married Couple:
Different last names: the names are on the same line alphabetically listed:
"Ms. Jessica Barnet and Ms. Angela Smith"
"Mr. Bryce Johnston and Mr. Ryan Reynolds"
Same last name: same line alphabetically listed:
"Mrs. and Mrs. Maya and Rebecca Livington"
"Mr. and Mr. Bryce and Ryan Reynolds"
Long-term couple living together: Typically you invite both individuals when it is a long-term relationship even if you only know one person. Their names are on separate lines.
"Mr. Robert James
Ms. Britney Arhers"
LGBT Long-term couple living together: Typically you invite both individuals when it is a long-term relationship even if you only know one person. Their names are on separate lines (alphabetically ordered).
"Mr. Warren Ammerly
Mr. Walter Long"
"Ms. Lacy Chilens
Ms. Chelsea Warner"
Long-term couple NOT living together: Typically you invite both individuals when it is a long-term relationship even if you only know one person. In this case you will mail a separate invitation to each guest.
LGBT Long-term couple NOT living together: Typically you invite both individuals when it is a long-term relationship even if you only know one person. In this case you will mail a separate invitation to each guest.
How to tactfully say "and guest" - you could call and ask if there is a special someone, you may write it on the inner envelope if there is one, or write it on a small note to place in the envelope if you are not using two envelopes. If you are writing a note say something like,
"Jane, You are welcome to bring a guest. Would you please let me know their name so I may add them to the guest list? Thanks!"
Almost Finished - Invitations Assemble!
If you caught my geek pun above (Invitations Assemble - Avengers Assemble) let me tell you stuffing the wedding envelope is a bit trickier than it may seem!
So check out the image below titled "Wedding Invitation Guide, Details & Assembly". **PLEASE double or triple check that the inner envelope and outer envelope names match before sealing the outer envelope.** Then keep reading after that for the final few tips!
Ok, you're ready to mail these babies off! Congrats! Just a couple last details:
Take your completed invitation to the post office to be weighed (if you have extra items in the envelope for out of town guests - like room block info for hotels or maps etc- you will need to weigh that envelope too).
The post office often offers themed wedding stamps which will cover the additional weight fees. Make sure that you allow time for them to be ordered...just in case the post office is out of them.
Ask to have your invitations hand stamped (hand cancelled) as this will reduce damage to the envelope that is caused by running through the automated canceller and generally the cancel stamp from a hand stamp is considered more attractive - there may be added fees and this may take longer - and is completely optional.
Phew...there you have it Wedding Invitations in a nut shell! Make sure you track those RSVPs as they come in and follow up with anyone that you do not receive an RSVP from once you are two - four weeks out from your wedding date.
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