Wedding Invitation Etiquette | How To Address Envelopes When Inviting Guests and Children

Q: We are having an “adult” wedding. How do we let our guests know who is invited to our wedding?

A: Including an inner envelope is the best way to let guests know who is invited to your wedding. Guests lists are the hardest part of planning a wedding. Not inviting children is perfectly acceptable, but can be a touchy subject. Use the outer envelope to address the formal invitation and the inner envelope to let the household know who is invited. For example, your outer envelope would be addressed like this, using the formal names of the head of the household:

Andy and Jennifer have two young children, Coco and William. If you are not including children in your guest list, then your inside envelope does not include their names.

The omission of the names of their children is the indication that only Andy and Jennifer are invited. If children are invited, include their names only on the inner envelope and on the second line. Another subtle way is to include on your response card, “___ number of adults attending”.

Q. Due to budget restrictions, we are unable to allow our singe guests to bring a date. How do we indicate this on our wedding invitation envelopes?

A. Allowing unmarried guests to bring a significant other is always a nice offer, especially if they don’t know anyone else at the wedding. Although, if you have a lot of unmarried friends, allowing all of them to bring a guest can make your budget skyrocket. If you are concerned about your budget, and want to make sure everyone is included on your big day, it is acceptable to not include “and guest” on your invitations. This way, you don’t have to feel like you are excluding people who you want as a part of your day, just so someone can bring a complete stranger to your wedding. If you have unmarried guests, you can address their outer envelope like this:
The inner envelope should include, either “and guest” or their partner’s name, if you know it (and you know they will be together at the wedding!). Please note, that “guest” is not capitalized.

Use your family and wedding party to help spread the word when asked about children or the +1’s. If guests respond that they are bringing their children or a date, then it is best to give them a call and let them know that children and extra’s are not included in the wedding. Your guests should understand and realize that all adult weddings can be uncomfortable for children and adding +1’s who are strangers, can add costs across the board. It’s also include the option for child care during the wedding on your wedding website.
Sometimes, your wedding invitation budget does not allow for inner and outer envelopes, or it is a less formal affair. You can still apply these rules to a single envelope like so:

Obviously, there are different traditions and expectations for everyone around the country. It is best to do what you are comfortable with doing. Etiquette can be very overwhelming – especially for weddings. Use these rules and guidelines to make your own decisions. Often, you will end up making the right decision for you and your guests.