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Invitation Etiquette

People still want to get married during a pandemic, but large gatherings are prohibited. Plan Like A Pro gives them the tools and the knowledge they’re lacking so that they can create a wedding that includes as many people as they want. As we shelter-in-place, I'm getting ready to publish an e-book for couples who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, are recently or currently engaged and need professional resources to navigate this unprecedented challenge. Keep your eyes peeled for the e-book, Poise Over Panic, expected to publish within the next week.

One of the first tasks to complete as a couple is setting up your invitations suite. The first impression that your guests will have is your wedding website and your wedding stationery, including save-the-dates and your invitation suite. This impression sets the formal or casual tone, style and/or theme of your wedding. Whether you’re considering electronic or mailed invitations, there are a few components that you should always include:

- Wedding date - Ceremony start time - Location (or link to virtual wedding events) - RSVP due date - RSVP contact information - RSVP card instructions (includes Family name, Number of guests, Dietary restrictions and/or food allergies) - Song requests for the DJ (optional) - Dress code (optional) - Pre-wedding events (i.e. engagement party) and corresponding links (optional) - Additional virtual spaces for wedding day events (i.e. ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, dance floor, etc.) - Wedding website It’s proper etiquette to omit your wedding registry from your wedding invitations; however, because weddings during a pandemic are primarily virtual, it’s actually helpful for guests to learn about all your wedding-related links, including your registry or honeymoon fund. Wedding invitations are traditionally sent by mail, but in a pandemic, you may find local stationers who offer electronic invitations as an alternative. Remember, as we shelter-in-place, most guests will have a home address and be home to receive your invitation. Most stationers are able to ship your personalized invitations and envelopes designed by their in-house or preferred calligrapher. You can use as a resource to get the postage you’ll need for standard mail. Keep in mind that if your invitations are printed on heavier paper or are a different shape and/or size from standard envelopes, you may require additional postage. If you have a weight at home, this is the time to use it to confirm what postage each invitation requires. Otherwise, stop by your local postal office to use the scale available. The second component of invitations is tracking your RSVPs. Sites like The Knot, Wedding Wire and Aisle Planner have RSVP-tracking features that you can use and easily see how many of your guests have yet to RSVP. If you’ve hired a wedding planner, then inquire about whether or not your planning package includes RSVP tracking. If not, it can typically be tacked on for an additional fee.

Last, but not least, here are some wording samples to consider as you address your guests:

1. Unmarried Couples Living Separately

The person you know best appears on the outer envelope. For example:

Outer envelope:

Mr. Jolly Roger or Ms. Carmen Sandiego

Inner envelope:

Include both names of the couple, beginning with the name of the guest you know best. Give each name its own line. For example:

Mr. Roger

Ms. Sandiego

Mail the invitation to the person you know best.

2. Unmarried Couples Living Together

Give each name its own line in alphabetical order of last name. For example:

Outer envelope:

Ms. Christina Columbus

Mr. Tim Turner

Inner Envelope:

Tim and Christina or Ms. Christina Columbus and Mr. Tim Turner

Married Couples:

3. Couple with the Same Last Name:

Inscribe Mr. and Mrs. on one line with the husband’s full first and last name. If you include the middle names, do not abbreviate. For example:

Outer envelope:

Mr. and Mrs. Ryan Linden Davis or Mr. Ryan Davis and Mrs. Sarah Davis

Inner Envelope:

Mr. Ryan Davis and Mrs. Sarah Davis or Ryan and Sarah

4. Couple with Different Last Names

Write our both names on one line with the wife’s name appearing first. If the names are too long for one line, give each name its own line. For example:

Outer envelope:

Mrs. Tyra Holt and Mr. Charles Matthews

Inner envelope:

Ms. Holt and Mr. Matthews or Tyra and Charles

5. Couple with one hyphenated last name

In one line, write out each guest’s full name, including the maiden name, then hyphenated last name:

Outer envelope:

Mr. Riley Carol and Mrs. Mindy Sprague-Carol

Inner envelope:

Mr. Riley Carol and Mrs. Mindy Sprague-Carol or Riley and Mindy

6. Same Sex Couple

Begin with the name of the guest you know best, or keep the names in alphabetical order by last name. For example:

Outer envelope:

Ms. Ronda Adams and Ms. Brooke Winsley

Inner envelope:

Ms. Adams and Ms. Winsley or Ronda and Brooke

7. Couple where one spouse is a doctor

Write out the doctor's title and full name, and abbreviate the title on the inner envelope. If both names are too long to appear on one line, give each guest’s name its own line.

Outer envelope:

Doctor Sasha Sachs and Mr. Randal Jacobs

Inner envelope:

Dr. Sasha Sachs and Mr. Randal Jacobs or Sasha and Randal

8. Couple where both partners are doctors

Write the plural form of the title, followed by each guest’s name. For example:

Outer envelope:

The Doctors Craig or Drs. Linda and Donald Craig

Inner envelope:

The Doctors Craig or Linda and Donald

9. Couples with distinguished titles

For guests who are military personnel, judges, reverends, etc., apply the same rules prescribed for doctors’ invitations. Begin with the highest ranking title, regardless of gender. If both titles don’t fit onto one line, indent the second line. For example:

Outer envelope:

The Honourable Edith Rascal and Captain Larry Lidl

Inner envelope:

Judge Rascal and Mr. Lidl or The Captains Lidl

10. Addressing a Widow

Be delicate whenever possible, and confirm whether or not she wishes to still be addressed by her late husband’s name. For example:

Outer envelope:

Mrs. Faith or Mrs. Faith Daniels

Inner envelope: Mrs. Daniels or Faith

11. Divorced Female

Adhering to rules for the widow, determine whether or not your guest still uses her ex-husband’s name, or if she prefers her maiden name. You can also use Ms. or Mrs.

Outer envelope: Ms. Sheila Sandowski

Inner envelope: Mrs. Sheila Sandowski or Ms. Sandowski or Sheila

12. Family, Including the Children

Keep your envelope clear and concise. Include only the parents’ names, and/ or family name on the outer envelope. On the inner envelope, include each guest’s name. Girls under 18 years of age are referred to as “Miss.”

Outer envelope:

The Lumpkin Family or Mr. and Mrs. Seth Lumpkin or Mr. Seth Lumpkin and Mrs. Rana Lumpkin

Inner envelope:

Seth, Rana, Saira, Miss Annette, Miss Marie-Pierre

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