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Guide to Addressing Wedding Invitations
Don't think the hard part is done when your wedding invitations are written! Addressing invitation envelopes can also be a minefield. Etiquette master, Martha Stewart, offers the following rules for addressing your guests correctly:
- Your guests' names should be written in full on outer envelopes - no nicknames or initials.
- Use the appropriate social titles as well, such as addressing married couples as "Mr. and Mrs."
- If a man's name has a suffix, write "Mr. Joseph Morales, Jr.," or "Mr. Joseph Morales IV"; "Junior" can be spelled out on a more formal invitation.
- If the husband is a doctor, for example, the titles will appear as "Doctor and Mrs."; if the wife is a doctor, her full name would come first, as in "Doctor Sally Carter and Mr. John Carter." If both are doctors, write "The Doctors Carter."
- If they have different professional titles, list the wife first: "The Honourable Pamela Patel and Lieutenant Jonathan Patel, U.S. Navy."
- If a wife has kept her maiden name, her name should appear first and be joined with her husband's using "and."
Written or printed?
Handwriting the envelope is acceptable if your writing is neat, though you might prefer to hire a calligrapher to write the envelope for a professional look. They should be addressed in ink that suits the invitations.
Check your spelling!
If you feel overwhelmed, remember that most of your guests won't know how to address themselves correctly either. But they will notice if their names are misspelt - so be meticulous about your spelling. You may not think it matters too much if you address the envelope "Jonathan and Sarah" rather than "Jonathon and Sara", but it will matter to your guests! Take the time to telephone if you are in doubt - this personal touch shows you really care.
When to send?
Six weeks before is the most common time frame, while eight weeks is ideal. Too much earlier and your guests may not be able to commit to a date, too much later and they may be unavailable. Remember, if you have some guests travelling from overseas, if you've chosen a holiday (such as New Year's Day) or a destination wedding, you may need to provide extra notice. A nice alternative is to send a ‘save-the-date' card in advance, so your guests know to expect your invitation.
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