Envelope Etiquette

Here are some basic examples of common addressing situations. Note that this is a guide and you can address your guests however suits them best, even if it varies from traditional etiquette.

Formally, invitations include an outer envelope, one that the USPS uses to deliver the mail, and an inner envelope, one that simply lists each guest’s name. Informally, only an outer envelope is used, in which case you would disregard the “inner” etiquette information.

This can also be used as a guide on how to write your guests’ names for place/escort cards and for a seating chart.

 
 

Formal

Married Couple
OUTER: 
Mr. and Mrs. George Smith
INNER: 
Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Married Couple with Children Under 18 Living at Home
OUTER:
Mr. and Mrs. George Smith
INNER:
Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Miss Sarah Smith
Mr. Noah Smith

Informal

Married Couple
George and Mary Smith

Married Couple with Children Under 18 Living at Home
The George Smith Family
or
George and Mary Smith and Family

 
 

The below examples are listed formally. If you would like to write them informally please reference the Informal examples above.

 
 

Single Woman
Traditionally, women over 18 are addressed as “Ms.”
OUTER:
Ms. Mary Johnson
INNER WITHOUT GUEST:
Ms. Johnson
INNER WITH GUEST:
Ms. Johnson and Guest
or
Ms. Johnson
Mr. Smith

Single Man
OUTER:
Mr. George Smith
INNER WITHOUT GUEST:
Mr. Smith
INNER WITH GUEST:
Mr. Smith and Guest
or
Mr. Smith
Ms. Johnson

Unmarried Couple Living Together
OUTER:
Ms. Mary Johnson
Mr. George Smith
INNER:
Ms. Johnson
Mr. Smith

Widow
OUTER:
Mrs. Mary Smith
INNER:
Mrs. Smith

Married Couple, Wife Kept Her Maiden Name
OUTER:
Mr. George Smith and Ms. Mary Johnson
INNER:
Mr. Smith and Mrs. Johnson

Married Couple, Wife’s Last Name is Hyphenated OUTER: Mr. George Smith and Mrs. Mary Johnson-Smith INNER: Mr. Smith and Mrs. Johnson-Smith

Married Couple, Husband is a Doctor
OUTER:
Dr. and Mrs. George Smith
INNER:
Dr. and Mrs. Smith

Married Couple, Both are Doctors, Same Last Name
OUTER:
Doctor George Smith and Doctor Mary Smith
or
The Doctors Smith
INNER:
The Doctors Smith

Married Couple, Both are Doctors, Different Last Names
OUTER:
Doctor George Smith and Doctor Mary Johnson
INNER:
Doctor Smith and Doctor Johnson

Married Couple, Wife is a Doctor, Same Last Name
OUTER:
Dr. Mary Smith and Mr. George Smith
INNER:
Dr. Smith and Mr. Smith

Married Couple, Wife is a Doctor, Different Last Names
OUTER:
Dr. Mary Johnson and Mr. George Smith
INNER:
Dr. Johnson and Mr. Smith

Same Sex Male Married Couple with the Same Last Name
OUTER:
The Messieurs George and John Smith
INNER:
The Messieurs Smith

Same Sex Male Married Couple with Different Last Names
OUTER:
Mr. George Smith and Mr. John Johnson
INNER:
Mr. Smith and Mr. Johnson

Same Sex Female Married Couple with the Same Last Name
OUTER:
The Mesdames Mary and Ellen Johnson
INNER:
The Mesdames Johnson

Same Sex Female Married Couple with Different Last Names
OUTER:
Mrs. Mary Johnson and Mrs. Ellen Smith
INNER:
Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Smith

 

To learn how to format your seating chart, visit the Seating Chart Etiquette page.