Envelope Addressing – How to make it clear who is, and who is not invited to your wedding!



Last week I asked all of you what some of your biggest struggles were with your wedding invitations, and one of the pain points that came up frequently was how to make it clear who is, and who is not invited to your wedding!

Weddings are expensive, and anyone who has planned or is planning a wedding knows that your guest list is the biggest influence on the cost of your wedding. It’s simple, the more guests, the more invitations, centerpieces, tables, silverware, meals, and space you need for your wedding! Couples are often put in the uncomfortable position of having to keep a strict hold on their guest list, so that things don’t go over budget.

When you send your wedding invitations, you want to be very clear who is, and who is not invited to your wedding. That means sometimes difficult decisions have to be made about who to include. Sometimes couples will invite the parents, but not be able to extend an invitation to their children. Or sometimes you want to invite someone special to your wedding, but you aren’t able to accommodate extending an invitation for a “plus one” for that guest.

Whatever the reason, you don’t want to surprise and awkward situation of sending out an invitation to someone, and receiving an RSVP back with more guests attending than you intended. So here are some of my favorite tips and tricks for how to make it very clear who is, and who is not invited to your wedding!

1) Outer and Inner Envelopes

A lot of times inner envelopes get a bad rap for being excessive, but they are the best way to make it clear who you are extending an invitation to. Plus in my mind, the extra $ that you spend on inner envelopes is well worth it to save the awkward conversations and extra plates, centerpieces and meals you’d be spending on guests who weren’t intended to be invited. On the outer envelope, you would address it as usual, to Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Smith along with their address. Then on the inner envelope, you would include only the names of those invited (no address necessary, since it won’t ever be seen by USPS). This is your opportunity to put Mr. Jonathan Smith and Mrs. Susan Smith, or Mr. Jonathan Smith, Mrs. Susan Smith, Miss Sally Smith and Mr. Jacob Smith. It would work the same way for a “plus one”. The outer envelope might say Mr. Stephen Gibson, and the inner envelope would either say Mr. Stephen Gibson again, to indicate just Stephen is invited, or Mr. Stephen Gibson and guest to indicate that Stephen is welcome to also bring a guest. It’s a subtle way to reiterate exactly who is, and who is not invited to your wedding.


photo by Sarah Street Photography, see more of this invitation suite here

2) RSVP Cards

Another subtle way of letting guests know who is, and is not invited is by including “___ seats have been reserved in your honor” or something of the like on your RSVP card. This blank can be filled in by you, or your stationer as a way of clarifying the number of seats reserved as part of that invitation. An invitation to Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Smith with “_2_ seats have been reserved in your honor” on the RSVP card would indicate to them that only the two of them were invited, and an invitation was not extended to their children.

3) Clear Addresses

One of the most common points of confusion when addressing to a couple can be how to word the address. For example, let’s say Ms. Kathryn Blake is dating Mr. Chris Albert. If you address the invitation to Ms. Kathryn Blake and Mr. Chris Albert, that means that you are inviting Kathryn, as well as Chris by name. That means if Kathryn and Chris break up, Kathryn should not bring someone else. The invitation was addressed specifically to two named guests, and those are not transferable to another guest. However, had you addressed the invitation to Ms. Kathryn Blake and guest, she would be permitted to bring a different guest if Chris was either unavailable or the two were no longer together. Make sure when addressing your envelopes you are clear on which option you are giving!

photo by Sarah Street Photography, see more of this invitation suite here

4) Adults Only

In the past a lot of couples have asked me to include “adults only” on their invitation. While I personally feel this is a bit uncouth, it can be used as an absolute last resort if there are still concerns. I would recommend sharing that the wedding is adults only with your bridal party or family members, and let word of mouth communicate for that for you, in conjunction with using the first three tips that I shared above. If you must include “adults only” on your invitation suite, ensure that it is on your details card or response card (never on your invitation card) and try to come up with more playful phrasing. Some couples have used a basic, straightforward “because of restrictions from our venue, an adult reception will follow” while others have come up with a fun poem like “reception to follow, sweet dreams to children under 16”. I always prefer to stay away from words like “only” or “no”. “No kids” or “Adults Only” sounds a lot harsher than “Adult Reception to Follow”. As a side note – if you include this it would be a kind gesture to indicate that you are happy to help arrange childcare for your guests (especially if children were invited to the ceremony) if you are able!

Whatever the reason may be for you to be unable to accommodate additional guests at your wedding, as long as you are clear, kind and polite in your addressing you will avoid uncomfortable or awkward conversations down the line, as well as a growing guest list!


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