Abigail Hancock

Etiquette

There are many books devoted to describing formal envelope etiquette, and while I’m taking the time to detail formal etiquette for addressing your envelopes, please don’t let it rule your life. 

  • According to formal standards there should be no abbreviations except for Mr., Mrs., Ms., Jr., Sr., and c/o.  Numbered streets should appear as “First Street,” not “1st Street.”
  • “and Guest” or “and Escort” is always appropriate but not required.  It’s ok to exclude this extra person if it is out of your budget.
  • “and Family” is not appropriate for a formal invitation.  Before resorting to this informality an effort should be made to find out the names of the children you are inviting.
  • Generally the inner envelope states who exactly is invited while the outer envelope states delivery information.  However, if you decide to not use an inner envelope the outer envelope should include any additional guests that you are inviting. Feel free to be informal on the inner envelopes of close friends (Mom & Dad, Uncle Tom, etc.)
  • In a formal font like Copperplate, it is fine to substitute the ‘and’ for an '&' if you prefer.
  • Formal envelopes should be addressed as follows:
    • Married Couple
      Mr. and Mrs. John Smith
      Mr. and Mrs. Smith (Inner Envelope)
    • Married Couple – Children at Same Address
      Mr. and Mrs. John Smith
      Mr. and Mrs. John Smith, Elizabeth and Henry (oldest to youngest) (Inner Envelope)
    • Married Couple – Woman Kept Maiden Name
      Ms. Lucy Williams and Mr. John Smith
      Ms. Williams and Mr. Smith (Inner Envelope)
    • Married Couple – Man is a Doctor
      Dr. and Mrs. John Smith
      Doctor and Mrs. Smith (Inner Envelope)
    • Married Couple – Woman is a Doctor
      Mr. and Mrs. John Smith or Doctor Lucy Smith and Mr. John Smith
      Mr. and Mrs. Smith or Doctor Smith and Mr. Smith (Inner Envelope)
    • Married Couple – Man and Woman are Doctors
      Mr. and Mrs. John Smith or The Doctors Smith or Doctor Lucy Smith and Doctor John Smith
      Doctor and Mrs. Smith or The Doctors Smith (Inner Envelope)
    • Married Couple – Man is a Judge
      The Honorable and Mrs. John Smith
      Judge and Mrs. Smith (Inner Envelope)
    • Married Couple – Woman is a Judge
      Mr. and Mrs. John Smith or The Honorable Lucy Smith and Mr. John Smith
      Mr. and Mrs. John Smith or Judge Smith and Mr. Smith (Inner Envelope)
    • Married Couple – One or Both are Lawyers
      Mr. and Mrs. John Smith
      Mr. and Mrs. Smith (Inner Envelope)
    • Divorced Woman – Kept Married Name
      Mrs. Lucy Williams Smith or Mrs. Lucy Smith
      Mrs. Smith (and Guest or Escort) (Inner Envelope)
    • Divorced Woman – Resumed Using Maiden Name
      Mrs. Lucy Smith
      Mrs. Smith (and Guest or Escort) (Inner Envelope)
    • Unmarried Couple – Living Together
      Miss Lucy Williams and Mr. John Smith
      Miss Williams and Mr. Smith (Inner Envelope)
    • Unmarried Couple – Not Living Together
      Miss Lucy Williams (only use the name of the person who lives at the address)
      Miss Williams and Mr. Smith (Inner Envelope)
    • Widow
      Mrs. John Smith or Mrs. Lucy Smith
      Mrs. Smith (and Guest or Escort) (Inner Envelope)
    • Single Woman
      Miss Lucy Williams
      Miss Williams (and Guest or Escort) (Inner Envelope)
    • Single Man
      Mr. John Smith
      Mr. John Smith (and Guest) (Inner Envelope)
    • Same Sex Couples
      Mr. John Smith and Mr. Harry Williams (alphabetically by last name)
      Mr. Smith and Mr. Williams (Inner Envelope)
    • Miscellaneous - Clergy
      Reverend and Mrs. John Smith

      Reverend and Mrs. Smith (Inner Envelope)
    • Miscellaneous – Political Figures
      Mayor and Mrs. John Smith
      Mayor and Mrs. Smith (Inner Envelope)
    • Miscellaneous – Military
      Lieutenant Lucy Smith and Mr. John Smith
      Mr. and Mrs. Smith or Lieutenant Smith and Mr. Smith (Inner Envelope)