How to Address Wedding Invitations: The Return Address

 
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In today’s post, I’m tackling little-known etiquette rules for the return address.

The topic of how to address wedding invitations is widely covered. (I’ve covered it many times too! It’s one of my favorite topics, and something I get questions about all the time.) But, there are also a few rules to keep in mind for your return address.

You're probably knee deep in wedding planning at this point, and maybe a little overwhelmed. But this is a really quick and easy post (promise!) on how to formally address the back flap of your invitation and the front of your rsvp card. (Spoiler alert: It’s different for both.)

So if you’re a grammar nerd, if you love tradition and all things proper, or if you just want your invitations in tip-top shape, then let’s get started.

Orrrrrr skip the nitty gritty details, and get instant access to a full guide on How to Address Wedding Invitation Envelopes like a pro–including guest and return address examples you can make your own. The full guide is unlocked when you sign up to join the Wedding Stationery Library.

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Why is any of this important?

The return address tells guests two things: where gifts are to be mailed and where the response is supposed to be mailed.

If someone is unable to attend your wedding or if they would like to send their gift to you in advance (instead of lugging it to the ceremony), they should send their gift to the address used on the back flap of your invitation envelope.

Likewise, when a guest mails back the RSVP, they will use the address that is already written or printed on the front side of your response envelopes.

Where do you put your return address?

The return address goes on the back flap of your invitation envelope and the front side of your response envelopes.

If you are using double envelopes–inner and outer–for your invitations, the return address only goes on the back flap of the outermost envelope. There is no need for a return address on the inner envelope.

Formally, the return address should be handwritten, but it is acceptable today for this to be printed, to use a mailing label, or a return address stamp. Traditional, modern, casual–the choice is yours.

Whose return address do you use?

In most cases, you will use the same address for both the back flap of your invitation envelope and front of your RSVP envelope.

Traditionally, the hosts of the event will collect both gifts and RSVPs for the couple.

However, there are situations where you would like gifts mailed to the bride’s parents address (especially if they arrive while you’re on your honeymoon!), and replies sent the bride’s address, if she’s in charge of the guest list.

Keep in mind that if an invitation is returned to sender by the mail, it will go to the return address on the back flap of your invitation envelope. So, essentially, this residence will be in charge of receiving gifts and undeliverable invitations.

 
 
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Whose names should be on the return address?

Formally, only the physical address (no names) is listed on the back flap of the invitation envelope. However, you can choose to include names if you wish. I’ve seen clients do it many ways, but if you want to keep it traditional, no names here.

The return address on your response envelope should include names, since the post office will deliver this back to you.

Below, I’ve listed some helpful samples for return address etiquette.

Invitation Envelope (or Outer Envelope):

Remember, formally, no names are included on the outer envelope. However, it is okay to stray away from this option. If you decide to add names, use the RSVP Envelope suggestions below.

Otherwise, if you love grammar or if you’re having a super formal affair, stick with this format for the return address on your invitation envelope:

12 Park Lane
Mobile, Alabama 36695

rsvp envelope: bride’s parents return address

Since the bride’s parents usually host (i.e. pay for) the wedding, they most likely will collect all of your RSVPs as well. If that’s the case, there names should be listed as such:

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Johnson
12 Park Lane
Mobile, Alabama 36695

rsvp envelope: bride and groom return address (formal)

Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to see the bride and groom pay for their own wedding or to host the event together with their families. Formally, the bride and groom’s names are not supposed to appear together in print before marriage.

If the bride and groom prefer their names listed on the response envelope, here are two formal suggestions for doing so:

Ms. Kari Johnson
Mr. Bradley Shaw
23848 Dunmore Loop
Mobile, Alabama 36695

OR

The Johnson-Shaw Wedding
23848 Dunmore Loop
Mobile, Alabama 36695

rsvp envelope: bride and groom return address (casual)

If you’re keeping it casual, here’s the less formal approach. This option is ideal for return stamps or mailing labels, too.

Kari and Bradley
23848 Dunmore Loop
Mobile, Alabama 36695

Now that you know all the details, get instant access to a full guide on How to Address Wedding Invitation Envelopes like a pro. Join the Wedding Stationery Library below, where you’ll gain access to this guide and so many other amazing resources. Did I mention it’s totally free?