Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

How to address wedding invitations

By Editors of Real Simple
updated 8:48 AM EST, Fri December 6, 2013
From married couples with the same last name to members of the military -- here's how to get your wedding invitations where they're going in style. From married couples with the same last name to members of the military -- here's how to get your wedding invitations where they're going in style.
HIDE CAPTION
Follow the script -- addressing invitations
Follow the script -- addressing invitations
Follow the script -- addressing invitations
Follow the script -- addressing invitations
Follow the script -- addressing invitations
Follow the script -- addressing invitations
Follow the script -- addressing invitations
Follow the script -- addressing invitations
Follow the script -- addressing invitations
Follow the script -- addressing invitations
Follow the script -- addressing invitations
Follow the script -- addressing invitations
Follow the script -- addressing invitations
Follow the script -- addressing invitations
Follow the script -- addressing invitations
Follow the script -- addressing invitations
Follow the script -- addressing invitations
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Having a formal wedding? There's a proper way to address the invitations
  • Couples may or may not share a last name, and that calls for protocol
  • After a divorce or a death, names may or may not change
  • Military titles, higher education and judgeships present special circumstances

(Real Simple) -- You may have finalized the guest list, but that doesn't mean your wedding work is done. (But you're so close!) Sending the invitations sounds like a hassle-free to-do (off to the calligrapher they go!), but now's not the time to slack off.

To make sure those formal invitations are addressed properly, we turned to Anna Post, author of "Emily Post's Etiquette, 18th edition," for her expert advice. Consult this trusty guide before putting anything in writing.

All calligraphy done by Laura Hooper Calligraphy.

Married Couple

In this case, it is proper to use Mr. and Mrs. Dean Wooley. Spell out the husband's first name. If you decide to include the husband's middle name, it should be spelled out, not abbreviated as an initial.

Stunning backdrops, expensive gowns, strung-out couples on the most important day of their lives ... how much drama can be packed into a single photo? We asked well known destination wedding photographers for their most striking work. For a winter wedding at Lake Tahoe, guests bundled up in down jackets and boots and huddled in the snow. Photographer Aaron Morris of Chrisman Studios says the main challenge, aside from frozen hands, was maneuvering in the snow. "When I would take a step, my leg would sink knee-deep into the snow," he says. Stunning backdrops, expensive gowns, strung-out couples on the most important day of their lives ... how much drama can be packed into a single photo? We asked well known destination wedding photographers for their most striking work. For a winter wedding at Lake Tahoe, guests bundled up in down jackets and boots and huddled in the snow. Photographer Aaron Morris of Chrisman Studios says the main challenge, aside from frozen hands, was maneuvering in the snow. "When I would take a step, my leg would sink knee-deep into the snow," he says.
Lake Tahoe, California
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
>
>>
Farzana Shaikh applies henna to visually impaired brides at the Andh Kanya Prakash Gruh institute as part of a ritual ahead of their marriages in Ahmedabad, India. Farzana Shaikh applies henna to visually impaired brides at the Andh Kanya Prakash Gruh institute as part of a ritual ahead of their marriages in Ahmedabad, India.
Brides around the world
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Brides around the world Brides around the world
19-country trek ... in a wedding dress?

Single Female

In the case of a single female guest, it is proper to use Ms. if she is over age 16 or 18. If she is younger, than Miss is the acceptable choice.

Hyphenated Last Name

In the case of a wife who has chosen to hyphenate her last name, then she should be addressed using Ms. (Mrs. is also acceptable) + her first name + maiden name + married name: Mr. David Crosby and Ms. Lynn Carter-Crosby.

Unmarried Couple Living Together

The word "and" was once used to represent a marriage, a union. This rule no longer applies. In the case of a couple who is living together, address the male first, followed by the female: Mr. Luke Davis and Ms. Mary Carter.

Divorced Female Who Kept Her Married Name

After a divorce, a woman might keep her married name. In this instance, it is okay to use Mrs. or Ms. to address the guest and use her first name (spelled out). It is often best to find out what she prefers to go by.

Same Sex Couple

In this case, it is totally acceptable to put either guest first. If you can't decide, address them in alphabetical order.

Widow

Traditionally, a widow retains her husband's name until she remarries. Some widows prefer to use their own first name as well. In this case, it is best to ask what she prefers. Mrs. John Dunlop or Mrs. Jane Dunlop would be acceptable.

Divorced Female Who Uses Her Maiden Name

After a divorce, a woman often stops using her husband's last name. Addressing her by either Ms. or Mrs. is acceptable.

Married Couple, Both Doctors

In the case of married doctors and the wife has taken her husband's last name, it is proper to use: The Doctors. Another acceptable option: Drs. Barbara and John Kline.

Wife is a Doctor

If her husband is not a "doctor," address invitations to Dr. Linda Smith and Mr. Mark Smith. Her name comes first because her professional title "outranks" his social title.

Married Doctors With Different Last Names

If both guests are doctors, but she has chosen to keep her last name, it is appropriate to address her first and with both full names: Doctor Maura Lydel and Doctor John Morris.

Wife is a Commissioned Officer

If her husband is not a "Captain," address invitations to Captain Sara Trace and Mr. Jake Trace. Her name comes first because her professional title "outranks" his social title.

Husband is a Retired Commissioned Officer

In this case, it is important to recognize the husband's position or ranking: Colonel and Mrs. Kurt Shaw.

Husband is a Judge

In this case it is appropriate to recognize a title, such as a judge: The Honorable Judd Walter and Mrs. Walter.

Wife is the Judge

If her husband is not a judge, address invitations to the Honorable Ann Lewis and Mr. John Lewis. Her name comes first because her professional title "outranks" his social title.

More from Real Simple:

Common Registry Questions Answered

16 Ways to Save on Wedding Expenses

Real Wedding Bridesmaid Dress Ideas

13 Unique Wedding Rings

9 Money-Saving Tips for Bridesmaids

Top 24 Wedding Etiquette Questions

Got a quibble with any of these? Let us know in the comments below.

Get a FREE TRIAL issue of Real Simple - CLICK HERE!

Copyright © 2011 Time Inc. All rights reserved.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT