envelope etiquette

Below are some tips (collected from a variety of old and new etiquette books) for correctly addressing envelopes.

Here is a sample of traditional addressing for both an outer and inner envelope 

(using just an outer envelope is less traditional, yet still perfectly correct):

Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Dillon Smith                            Mr. and Mrs. Smith

123 Marlborough Street, Unit 6

Boston, Massachusetts  02116

Many people prefer to use less formal titles (or no titles at all) 

on either or both of the envelopes:

Ms. Anna and Mr. Tim Smith                                                Anna and Tim

123 Marlborough Street

etc., etc.

Children’s names may go on the inner envelope if you are using two:

Mr. and Mrs. Timothy D. Smith                                Mr. and Mrs. Smith

123 Marlborough Street                                         Miss Emily Smith

Boston, Massachusetts  02116                                 Master William Smith

Here are two less formal ways to do the same thing:

Anna and Tim Smith and Family                                Anna and Tim

123 Marlborough Street                                        Emily and William

etc., etc.


Anna and Tim Smith

Emily Smith and William Smith

123 Marlborough Street

etc., etc.

Note: if there are children living at home who are older than 16, they should receive a separate invitation:

Mr. William Smith                                        Mr. William Smith and Guest                or            Will and Guest

123 Marlborough Street

etc., etc.

For unmarried couples living together, or for married couples with different last names, the woman’s name goes first:

(Miss or Ms.) Anna Russell                    (Miss or Ms.) Anna Russell               or            Anna  and Tim  

and (Mr.) Timothy Smith                        and (Mr.) Timothy Smith

123 Main Street

etc., etc.

Note: unmarried couples living in separate households should receive separate invitations.

For married or unmarried couples of the same gender, he or she who is the oldest is listed first; if you are unable to determine who is the elder member of a same-sex couple, he or she whose last name comes first alphabetically should be given the first line:

Mr. Daniel Stafford                                      Mr. Stafford and Mrs. Coombs            or            Daniel and Russell

Mr. Russell Coombs

425 Washington Street, Apartment 2

Boston, Massachusetts  02115

Miss (or Ms.) Rebecca Klein                Miss (or Ms.) Klein and Miss (or Ms.) Stephens            or         Becca and Jax

Miss (or Ms.) Jackie Stephens

51 Pleasant Street

Marlborough, Massachusetts  01752

When in doubt, contact your guest to confirm how he or she prefers to be addressed.  They will likely be very pleased that you took the time to ask.

© Astrid Elizabeth Wendth 2012