The Five Million Ways to Address Envelopes

May 10, 2016

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Just Kidding.  I don’t think there are five million different ways on how to address envelopes.  I hope not at least.

In order to be socially mobile you must know how to properly address those around you.  Knowing the proper etiquette to use when addressing envelopes shows your level of education, your awareness of social practices, and attention to detail.  If you were not brought up surrounded by those who practiced traditional etiquette that is totally fine.  The point is you are here, and you are willing to learn.  Print this sheet out and keep it next to you as you start addressing those envelopes.  If you hired someone to address your envelopes you are off the hook.  However, you may want to use this to double check that your calligrapher is practicing the correct form.

Tip: Clean hands and a Netflix series will make this process not quite as painful.

I reached out to Kathrine @capital_calligraphy to grab some images of her work.  She graciously sent over some photos so I could dress up this post.  She is a Richmond, VA based calligrapher and she does some pretty incredible things.

Follow her on Instagram @capital_calligraphy



How to address Envelopes:

  • Address the guests using their titles (Mr. Mrs. Ms. Dr. etc.) and their correct names.  No nicknames or abbreviations.
  • Write out everything.  You will need to spell out Street, Boulevard, Place, etc.
  • Write out the city, but you can use the proper abbreviation for the state.
  • If you are addressing someone who has a middle initial in their name either write out their middle name, or drop the initial.
  • If you are inviting children, their names need to be on the envelope immediately following their parents.
  • Don’t forget to include your return address either in the top left corner, or on the back flap of the outer envelope.

To a Married Couple:

Lead with the female’s name

Mrs. Jane and Mr. John Smith

To a Single man or woman with a plus one:

List the guest you are inviting, followed by “and guest”

Ms. Jane Smith and Guest

To an unmarried couple who you are sure will still be dating on your wedding date:

Etiquette says lead with the person who you are closest to.  If both parties are equally as close to the couple then lead with the female.

Ms. Jane Smith and Mr. John Pitt

To a Single Woman not receiving a plus one:

Just her title and name is fine:

Ms. Jane Smith

*Write out Miss if the female is under the age of 18.

To a Married or Separated Woman:

If the woman is using her husbands name socially you may address her with her title and her husbands last name.

Mrs. Jane Smith

It is the more formal and traditional etiquette to use her husbands name.  Although this is correct, many women now prefer to use their own name. Tread carefully, this is a hot topic in the etiquette world.

Mrs. John Smith

To a Divorced Woman:

If the woman is divorced and is using her maiden name, address her with her title and maiden name

Ms. Jolie

If the woman is divorced but still using her married name address her with her title and ex husbands name

Ms. Smith

To a Widowed Woman:

If you are unsure of the woman’s preference it is safe to address her with her late husbands name.

Mrs. John Smith

If you know she prefers to be addressed as a single woman, addressing her with her title and name is acceptable.

Mrs. Jane Smith

To a woman who outranks her husband either in an elected office, or military rank:

The woman title/rank and name are listed first. If you are unsure of her exact title Honorable is always acceptable.

The Honorable Jane Smith and Mr. John Smith

If this won’t fit on the same line, move “and Mr. John Smith” to the second row.

To a woman who outranks her husband in a professional or educational degree:

Her name is listed first with her appropriate title

Dr. Jane Smith and Mr. John Smith

If both are doctors (PhD or Medical) and use the same last name:

Drs. Jane and John Smith

If both are doctors and she uses a different last name:

Dr. Jane Jolie and Dr. John Smith

To a Judge:

The Honorable John Smith and Mrs. Smith

To a woman who is a judge:

The Honorable Jane Jolie and Mr. John Smith

If one or both are lawyers:    

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

To Diplomatic Leaders:                                                   

The President and Mrs./Mr. Smith

To a Single Male not receiving a plus one:

Title and name is fine:

Mr. John Smith




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