Modern Invitation Etiquette Issues

You have your guest list together, your invitations ordered, and now its time to address them.  All is going well until you come to your first hiccup- a couple that is living together, but not married. How do you address that? Then you come to your co-worker who is in a same sex marriage. How do you address that? These are common modern invitation addressing questions and the answers cannot be found in vintage Emily Post.

I'm lucky to have Caren Milman, of Caren Milman Calligraphy, answer all of these questions once and for all (till things inevitably change again)!


Photo Credit

Etiquette for addressing wedding envelopes has evolved from what was considered correct and proper years ago when the majority of invitations went to “Mr. and Mrs.” whoever. Today there are many different situations that affect how the invitations are addressed. Some of the more common ones are discussed below.

When the

guests are a couple living together but not married

, the guests should be listed on two lines without the word “and” (“and” indicates the people are married.) There are three ways to handle this type of 

invitation: list the name of the guest you know better on the first line, list the woman’s name on the first line followed with the man’s name on the second line, alphabetize the names on two lines regardless of sex or 

who you know better. My personal preference is to write person you are closer with on the top line.

Invitations to

gay couples

present a different challenge. You must determine whether they would prefer to be invited as a married couple. If so, then follow the suggestions above, but use the word “and” on the 

top line next to the first name. Otherwise, address the envelope to them as though they are an unmarried couple living together.

If your invitation has an

inner envelope, the outer envelope

is used only for the people who live at that address. If you are inviting someone with a guest you do not know, or who does not live with the main invitee, the words “and Guest” should be added to the inner envelope. If the invitation has only a single envelope, then “and Guest” must be added on the first line next to your invitee.

Children over 18

should receive their own invitations. However, nowadays it in not uncommon to include them on the invitation with their parents. They can appear on the outer envelope beneath their parents names. Children under 18 should be listed only on the inner envelope on a double envelope invitation. However, if there is only one envelope then the young children must be listed under their parents.

Depending on the woman’s preference,


may be addressed as “Ms.” or “Mrs.” Women who are divorced should be addressed as “Ms.”

Please visit

 to learn more about Caren.