Nowadays, people rarely use the post for formal letters, and many couples are confused about how to address wedding invitations to a family.
Wedding invitation addressing involves numerous rules regarding the wording, name order, and titles.
The things get even trickier when you need to invite children – or politely explain to the parents that you don’t expect to see their kids at your wedding.
How to address guests on wedding invitations depends on a scope of factors, including the couple’s marital status, last name, professional titles, and wedding formality.
Most importantly, be respectful and don’t make assumptions. Keep the invitations clear, polite, and avoid vague phrasing.
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How to Address Invitations with Inner Envelope
A traditional wedding invitation comes in two envelopes. The outer envelope contains information dedicated to the mailperson and must be formal.
Write the adult recipients’ full names with titles and last names in the envelope center. Don’t mention the kids’ names. Then, write their house number and street on the following line.
The following lines are dedicated to the town, state, country (optional), and ZIP code. Write the return address in the same format in the upper left corner, on the same side as the recipients’ address.
Some couples ditch the return address to keep the envelopes minimalistic. However, risking losing the invitations for the sake of looks isn’t wise.
The post workers should know where to send the invitations if they can’t reach the recipient.
Ensure that the information on the outer envelope is readable. Use sans-serif fonts without small lines on the letters, e.g., Aerial, preferably printed. Keep the information concise and don’t include anything personal.
The inner envelope is addressed to the recipient rather than the mailperson, so you can be less formal. You may list the recipients’ short names and refrain from using titles and last names.
However, addressing guests by their full names is a good tone. Consider how close are your relationship with the family and your wedding style to determine the best suitable format.
You should mention the names of everyone you’d like to see at the wedding on the inner envelope, including the kids.
How to Address Invitations without Inner Envelope
Many couples consider using two envelopes for a single invitation wasteful and expensive. The lack of an inner envelope usually doesn’t cause problems with single people or unmarried couples.
But how to address a wedding invitation without an inner envelope to a family? Where do you mention the kids’ names in this scenario?
Same as in the case of two envelopes, the outer envelope is limited to parents’ names. You can list the kids’ names directly on the invitation card.
Thus, you will need to use an invitation design with a blank space for the recipients’ names and write in the names by hand or edit them on a computer and print every version individually.
Alternatively, you may address the family as “The Smith Family,” “Mr. Tom Smith and Family,” or “Mr. Tom Smith, Mrs. Sara Jones, and the Family” on the outer envelope, depending on whether the parents have the same last name. Don’t mention the kids’ names explicitly.
How to Invite the Entire Family
How to address your wedding invitations to a family largely depends on whether you’d like to invite the entire family with kids or only the parents. You should only list the parents’ names on the outer envelope in the former case.
Firstly, the parents are responsible for handling and answering the invitation. Secondly, some parents consider their children’s names sensitive data and wouldn’t like them to be disclosed on the outer envelope.
The first step is to understand how to address wedding invitations to a married couple. You have multiple options depending on the partners’ last names.
Write the full parents’ names with titles and last names. If they have the same last name, you may address them as “Mr. Tom and Mrs. Sara Smith” or “Mr. and Mrs. Tom Smith.”
However, if the parents have different last names, you should respect their decision. In this case, address both parents with their full names and last names, e.g., “Mr. Tom Smith and Mrs. Sara Jones.”
You may list the parents’ names alphabetically if you’re equally close with both partners. If you’re closer with one of the partners, list their name first regardless of gender.
Note that if one or both parents are doctors, layers, or military personnel, you will need to address them with their distinguished professional titles. The name of the partner with a distinguished title always goes first.
List the names of everyone invited on the inner envelope. Here, you have multiple options. The most common choice is to list the parents’ names followed by the kids’ names in alphabetical order or start with the oldest.
For example, you may write “Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Anne, Bella, and Jake” if the parents have the same last name. You can ditch the parents’ names for conciseness.
If the parents have different last names, address the family as “Mr. Smith, Mrs. Jones, Anne, Bella, and Jake.”
Alternatively, you may address the entire family shorty as “The Smith Family” if everyone has the same last name. If the mom decided to keep her maiden name, you could write “Mr. Smith, Mrs. Jones, and the Kids.”
Remember to use correct titles. Not every couple with kids is married. If you aren’t sure whether the couple is officially married, consider refraining from titles entirely.
You can be less formal on the inner envelope than on the outer envelope as long as it aligns with the wedding tone.
For example, if you have a casual wedding, you can address everyone by their names, e.g., “Tom, Sara, Anne, Bella, and Jake.”
There’s no need to use titles for children under 16. You can address boys over 16 as “Mr.” and girls as “Miss,” but this isn’t mandatory.
How to Invite Only the Parents
Many couples are confused about how to invite only the parents without kids to a wedding. After all, writing “kids aren’t welcome” is rude. But how do you explain that a wedding is adults-only politely?
The wedding invitation etiquette states that only people listed on the envelope are invited. Therefore, indicating that you only invite the parents is simple – don’t mention the kids’ names on the inner envelope.
For example, instead of listing the kids’ names or adding “And Family” after the parents’ names, stick with “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” or “Tom and Sara.”
The problem is that not everyone is aware of wedding invitations addressing etiquette. Some people may assume that their children are welcome at the wedding automatically, even if the invitation doesn’t mention their names.
You have a few solutions to the issue. The first option is to ask your friends or family to spread the word that the wedding is for adults only.
However, this isn’t the most reliable solution because you can’t be sure the information will reach the family. Furthermore, you move the problem to someone else’s shoulders and avoid direct communication, which can be seen as rude.
A much better solution is to mention that the wedding is for adults only on the invitation or reception card. The fine print will do the job; there’s no need to write that kids aren’t welcome explicitly.
You may write something along the lines of “We regret that we cannot invite children to our wedding because the venue cannot accommodate them.”
Alternative options include “The bride and groom kindly request that this is an adults-only reception,” “Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate children – thank you for your understanding,” and “Although we love your little ones, this is an adult-only affair.”
Another option to say that you only invite the adults is to write something like “2 spots have been reserved for you” on the RSVP card.
A simple way to ensure that the parents get your message is to request RSVPs with the names of everyone planning to attend.
If you receive RSVPs with the entire family’s names, you may call the parents and explain to them kindly that you didn’t plan for kids. Be polite but clear.
How Not to Address Invitations to a Family
Wedding invitation addressing don’ts aren’t set in stone – they’re merely general etiquette recommendations for traditional, formal invitations.
Don’t address the parents or kids by their nicknames. Be respectful, even if you’re very close with the family. However, you can address the guests casually on the inner envelope if you have an informal wedding.
Don’t address the partners using one last name if one of them has decided to keep their maiden name. Don’t make assumptions about who’s the head of the family and only address the father or the mother on the outer envelope.
Don’t use blunt wording to inform the parents that you don’t welcome kids at the wedding. There’s no need to write “We expect only adults, no kids are allowed!” or “No children please” in all-caps.
The chances that your guests will get the hint if you don’t mention the kids’ names on the envelope are high.
Lastly, don’t be vague about who’s invited. Telling that the children aren’t invited can be uncomfortable, but you should be clear to avoid confusion.
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