Philadelphia Veteran Event Planner puts to rest common wedding addressing myths & mistakes

Have questions on invitation/save the date etiquette?  Wondering if you should put “& Guest” on the envelope? Stop stressing yourself out! Look no further! 18 year veteran event planner Karen Pecora clears up all of your questions with some of our client’s questions!
Q. Do couples who live together but aren’t married receive a single invitation or separate invitations?

A.Unmarried couples who live together receive a single invitation because they are a couple. Address it the same way you’d address the invitation of a married couple with different last names — alphabetically, on separate lines on the outer envelope:
Ms. Janine Myers
Mr. Richard Stevenson

The inner envelope would read:

Ms. Myers and Mr. Stevenson
Janine & Richard

Q. How should you address an invitation to a widow? What about a divorced woman who has retained her married name? And what about those who are bringing significant others who do not live with them? Can I send just one invitation or do I have to send one to each of them?

A. A widow is traditionally addressed as “Mrs. John Jones,” but if you feel the guest may not want to be addressed that way, it’s totally okay to ask her how she prefers to be addressed. A divorced woman who has kept her married name should be addressed as you suggested — “Ms. Jane Johnson.” As far as a couple who does not live together, technically you should send each their own invitation, but it’s not horrible to simply send the invite to one of them — say, the person you’re closer to — with both names listed alphabetically (each on its own line) on the outer envelope.

Q. How do you address an invitation to a married couple, both of whom are doctors?

A. If a wife and husband are both doctors, the outer and inner envelopes should be addressed to: “The Doctors Rosenthal.” It’s that simple! If they’re married, but have different last names, list both names, in alphabetical order (on separate lines): “Dr. Rosenthal” and on the next line, “Dr. Schwartz”.

Q. What if the woman is a doctor and the man is not? Does the woman’s name come first because of her title?

A. Yes, the spouse with the professional title is listed first. Outer envelope: “Dr. Kate Randolph Mr. Brian Randolph.” Or, “Dr. Kate Randolph and Mr. Brian Randolph” (if it fits on one line). The inner envelope would read: “Dr. Randolph and Mr. Randolph” or “Dr. and Mr. Randolph.”

Q. How do I address an invitation envelope to a lesbian couple? I want to invite my sister and her partner, who had an exchange of vows ceremony a few years ago, where my sister took her partner’s last name.

A. You have a couple of options, depending on how formally you want to address the envelopes. Because you won’t be saying “Mr. and Mrs.”, for a formal invite you’ll probably want to address it this way: “Ms. Joan McDermott Ms. Theresa McDermott.” This way, you’re not saying “Ms. and Ms.”, which would sound awkward. Joan comes before Theresa alphabetically. Another option, if you don’t want to use titles or put the two on separate lines, since they are, in effect, married: “Joan and Theresa McDermott.” No matter which way you address the outer envelope, the inner envelope should read: “The McDermotts.”

Q. We’re having a small wedding. Do we have to invite Mr. Smith “and Guest”? One friend told me that if a guest is not seriously dating someone, I can just address the invite to Mr. Smith, and he’ll know he’s not supposed to invite someone. Is that true? What do I do if such guests reply for two anyway?

A. Most guests will understand that without “and Guest” or another name on the invitation, it’s meant for them alone. Especially if you are having a small wedding, you probably aren’t going to invite everyone to bring an escort, unless it’s a fiance(e) and/or a serious significant other. Technically, you’re never supposed to write “and Guest”; instead, you should find out the name of the significant other. What to do if some clueless souls reply for two? Call them up and explain that you’re having an intimate wedding and, unfortunately, you were not able to invite everyone with a guest. They should understand that.

Q. Is it improper to have the outside envelope addresses printed in a fancy font on the printer, or should they be handwritten?

A. Some will say a font that looks amazingly like cursive writing is acceptable, but we don’t necessarily agree. Etiquette does say that you should never print addresses with a computer, but always handwrite them. Remember, a wedding is an extremely intimate and personal event, and your invitations should reflect that. If it’s a matter of time — or you’ve got 500 invitations to address — enlist the help of your mom, your sisters, your bridesmaids, and anyone else who’s got nice handwriting to plow through them. It’s just one of those polite, personal, I’m-a-great-hostess touches that isn’t totally obvious — unless such touches are absent, in which case they’re glaringly obvious.

Look for more tips and techniques from our Seasoned Event Planner Karen Pecora!