How to Address Wedding Invitations for Unmarried Couples

Learn the etiquette for including your loved ones' significant others on the envelope.

It is here where you will have the trickiest waters to navigate in terms of etiquette: who to invite, the question to include a plus one or not, and more. Get tips in this post!

Photo: The Hickenloopers

Inviting people to your wedding can be lots of fun – after the stress of choosing your guest list, as it shows the big day is quickly approaching and may make the whole celebration feel more real. However, it is at this moment during the wedding-planning process when you will have the trickiest waters to navigate in terms of what to do: who to invite, the question to include a plus one or not, and so much more. Now that many couples choose to stay together for several years before tying the knot themselves, your mother’s old wedding etiquette guide may not have sufficient advice when it comes to your list of attendees and how to address wedding invitations.

Offering a plus one for single wedding guests is always a nice gesture, but it's important to keep in mind that established couples are considered a social unit – whether they've been together for months or years. While it is not your place to judge how serious a relationship is – after all, some people get engaged after only a few weeks – it's best to have a consistent policy when it comes to choosing the duos who will be invited to your wedding and therefore both listed on your wedding invitation. As much as you may want to keep the guest list from growing, including all sweethearts is the easiest way to keep from upsetting or offending any of your friends and family.

Whether you have inner envelope and outer envelope or just an outer envelope, the envelope etiquette remains almost entirely the same for couples who live together, yet are not married yet. Discover tips for addressing wedding invitation envelopes for all of your friends and family members who have a partner but are not a married couple.

How to Address Wedding Invitations If the Couple Lives Together:

When addressing your wedding invitation envelopes for couples who are living together, you must put both guests' names – first and last name – on the invitation, even if you have never met the significant other. In this case, it should not be difficult to learn the name of the partner before you send out the wedding invitation. Consider checking social media, asking a friend, or even asking the guest themselves.

If you know both of the people in the relationship, there is no excuse for not including both of their names, despite the fact that you would have only invited one of them if they were not a couple. For example, your brother's girlfriend probably knows not to go to the wedding if they break up, but that doesn't mean she wouldn't be hurt to be called "and guest" on the outer envelope after spending Thanksgiving with your family.

How to Address the Wedding Invitation If the Couple Lives Separately:

When an unmarried couple does not live together, you should ideally send a wedding invitation to each person; however, it has become more acceptable to send one invitation to the primary invited guest. In the case of only sending the wedding invitation to the primary guest with their name on the outer envelope, you should still include the significant other’s name on the inner envelope of the wedding invitation.

Another instance to consider is if you are friends with both partners of the couple and you would invite them each to the wedding – even if they were not a couple or broke up tomorrow. If this is the case for you, then it's probably best to send them each an invitation to their respective homes. While of course you don't want to assume they will break up, it's best to send wedding invitations to both of them to make it very clear that you want both of them to attend the wedding.

Additional Tips on How to Address Your Wedding Invitations

In the event that you find yourself unable to learn the other guest’s name before sending out the wedding invitations – perhaps because your invited guest does not know who they will bring – only then may you write “and guest” on the invitation. Oftentimes your wedding guests will just want the benefit of having a friend, family member, or love interest to attend the celebration with, so if this is the case, you don't need to ask them to decide right away for the benefit of knowing how to address wedding invitations.

We encourage you to do your due diligence, and make sure your invitee knows to supply you with the name before the big day, so you can have a place card for that person. If you're worried about an unmarried couple breaking up before the wedding, well, unfortunately the same possibility could happen with a married couple – but you wouldn't only invite one half of a married couple, right?

There is also an additional benefit – besides having good manners – to writing the significant other’s name on your wedding invitations: If the couple does sadly break up, your invited guest is less likely to turn their plus one into bringing an unvetted rebound date to your wedding – or at least they would share the news with you beforehand and ask for permission to do so. If they were offered a guest and then broke up, it's a kind gesture to allow them to bring someone else to the wedding – family member, friend, etc. – so keep that in mind! It would be hard to attend a wedding after a breakup, so be kind and thoughtful as you're making your decision.

For more advice related to wedding invitations and wedding guests, get tips for finalizing your guest list, find out when to send out your save the dates, and learn what information goes on a save the date. Once it's time to send your invitations, find out which celebrities to send wedding invites to!