In the South, good manners are passed down like a treasured family recipe for pecan pie. However, unlike the formula for a favorite after-dinner treat, guidelines to being well-mannered are changing with the times. With the abundance of social gatherings the holidays bring, many of our etiquette conundrums surface, and we are left feeling confused about how to be a gracious host or guest. Each week during the holiday season, Erika Preval of Charm Etiquette school in Atlanta, will answer a question that helps us navigate the grey area of modern etiquette.
The guest list was difficult, but I’ve heard that addressing invitations is also a challenge. We’re placing our stationery order soon. What should we consider before we address the envelopes?
Wedding invitations set the tone for the event and act as a directive. To ensure a great presentation and further clarify guests, think about these:
SIGNED – Envelopes of wedding invitations should be handwritten. If your handwriting isn’t impeccable hire a calligrapher. They will require at least two weeks for lettering, so request envelopes ahead of invitations from your stationer. Invest in calligraphy software that can print directly onto the envelopes, if time or budget don’t allow for a professional calligrapher.
SEALED – Avoid confusion of who is (and isn’t) invited by carefully addressing your inner envelope. Spouses of guests are always invited. Deciding to include a guest for single friends is at your discretion. If they’ve been a couple for over 6 months, consider a plus-one who should either receive a separate invitation, have their name appear on a separate line on the inner envelope, or have the notation of recipient’s name “and Guest”.
Names of children should appear beneath their parents. Boys carry the honorific “Master” through age 16, and girls “Miss” until age 18. Children over the age of 18 should receive their own invitation, even if living within the same household.
DELIVERED – Traditionally the inner envelope ensured that a wedding invitation, having travelled via horse and carriage, arrived in pristine condition to its recipients. Though the mode of transportation has been updated, invitations can still be damaged en route to your guests.
Canceling your stamps by hand in lieu of sending invitations through a machine is one way to prevent bent envelopes, and the like. The USPS officially ceased hand-canceling, but there are still post offices that allow it. Choose a post office that is less busy and try dropping the invitations off in small batches or pay a non-machinable fee for greater success.
Tip: You’ve likely spent a good bit of time gathering addresses of guests. Keep this list handy for upcoming showers, thank you notes and holiday cards.