Q&A: Wedding Stationery Etiquette

Custom Wedding Stationery by Jenn Heller Design Co | See more at www.jennhellerdesign.com

Wedding Stationery Etiquette

Thanks so much for stopping by!  Whether you’re here as part of my Stationery 101 series with Emily Alyssa Photography, or just popping in for a refresh on wedding stationery etiquette, today I’m sharing some guiding principles and wisdom learned the hard way after 6 years as a wedding stationer. To be honest, some of these are just rules for life in general – after all, etiquette is really about being polite.  Which leads me to guideline #1 – 

Custom Wedding Stationery by Jenn Heller Design Co | See more at www.jennhellerdesign.com

1) Remember why we have these “rules” in the first place.

Etiquette was not invented to torment you, contrary to how it may feel today.  Unless you’re a member of the aristocracy (in which case there a lot of extra rules,) etiquette is primarily a way to be socially respectful. It can also be a way to politely communicate information without spelling it out, which is the case for listing divorced couples on two lines, for example.

Within that context you have a lot of room to chose to do things as you and your families feel most comfortable.  If following the letter of the guidelines from Emily Post is important to you (and you’d better believe I have that book for reference) then you should absolutely follow it.  That means things like leaving the g of and “guest” in the lowercase, formatting the time of your wedding to half five (omitting evening, or past, or o’clock,) using honour of your presence to indicate you will be married in a church, etc – this post is not going to cover all that.  If that doesn’t sound too important to you, then let’s move on to guideline #2.

Custom Wedding Stationery by Jenn Heller Design Co | See more at www.jennhellerdesign.com

2) In general, address people as they wish to be addressed.

I think the place that etiquette guidelines stress people out the most is in titles, and envelope addressing. There are lots of “rules” on how to do this, but the most simple and important one is to address your guests with respect, however they want to be called.

Formal addressing might tell you to use someone’s first name instead of their middle name they have gone by since childhood, but definitely consider which name might make them feel more loved and respected by you.

Titles, such as military rank and professional titles such as Doctor, Esquire (in the US), Honorable, and ecclesiastical designations are all signs of respect and therefore should be used. The one exception in this case would be if you know your guest prefers to not use their title in social situations.

Extra consideration: I personally felt that it was really important to include the names of both members of a married party, so I went for the extra long “Mr. and Mrs. John and Jane Smith.” This breaks one of the traditional rules, that one should not separate a man’s first name from his surname, but for me it was important that both first names be included (and I decided Mrs. and Mr. sounded too weird to use.)

Sometimes using the name someone prefers might involve doing a little digging. If you aren’t sure what name someone prefers to be called, check guideline #3 –

Custom Wedding Stationery by Jenn Heller Design Co | See more at www.jennhellerdesign.com

3) Don’t make assumptions.

When you’re planning a wedding, you do have a thousand things on your mind and time is precious, but it is always worth it to investigate rather than make an assumption.  Did your friend change her last name after she got married recently?  Is Vicky actually short for Victoria, or not? (I made this specific mistake myself.  Vicky was not short for Victoria, and I looked like an idiot.)

The reason that this is worth your extra time is that it shows your guests that you care about them (and by extension, their presence at your wedding is important to you and worth their time.)  It also goes back to respect!  So when in doubt, ask.

4) Keep people comfortable with a consistent level of formality.

One of the ideas I come back to a lot in my client consultations is setting a consistent level of expectations for your guests with regard to formality.  There is nothing worse as a wedding guest than having to guess how formal a wedding will be (and being incorrect) so giving them consistent hints can be even more useful than a note about the dress code.

How does this tie into etiquette? Typically, your guests would expect a very formal or traditionally worded suite to correlate to a more traditional or formal suite.  Similarly, outer envelopes addressed to “John and Jane” with no titles or surnames might suggest to your guests that they will be attending a more familiar, casual event.


Hope you found today’s post to be a helpful one!  Next week I’ll have more information for you on Papers and Printing, along with a bonus look at how I digitize my watercolors.

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