How to Address an Envelope

Updated: Sep 29, 2019

Envelope Calligraphy - Centered Layout

Example of Centered Layout with Dropped Zip Code.

If you are planning a wedding or a formal affair, it's important to make sure your address etiquette makes the proper statement! Your invitation design, calligraphy, and etiquette will communicate the type of event, style, and formality. This is the first thing your guests will see, so it's important to set the right tone. Below, I have outlined the formal etiquette, and I also show you how to break some rules!

I always recommend understanding the ‘formal’ address etiquette before you try to get creative and break rules.

Formal / Traditional:

  • Titles can be abbreviated (Mr. & Mrs.), but Doctor should be written in full.

  • Words such as Street, Drive, Avenue, Boulevard, Apartment, and cities and states should all be written in full.

  • All numbers under 10 should be written in full.

  • Children and guests should only be mentioned on an inner envelope unless you are not using an inner envelope.

  • If you know your invitee’s guest, include that name on the invitation’s inner envelope.

  • Avoid using all initials of any kind. If you know someone who strictly goes by a middle name, use only the middle name.

  • Avoid using symbols, and always spell out the word “and.”

One more thing: Each line should be indented a little bit. Line 1 will start furthest left. Line 2 (street) should be indented a bit. Lines 3 and 4 will also follow suit.

A Formal / Traditional example:

Mr. Emmett Brown

1640 Riverside Drive

Hill Valley, California 95420

Envelope Calligraphy - Traditional Layout

Example of a Traditional Layout with a Dropped Zip Code. Dropped Zip Codes are discussed in detail below.


However, if you’re planning an engagement with less formality, you can break some rules! (Note the centered-aligned envelope at the top of this post!)

Informal / Casual:

I recommend breaking rules where it works for your personal style. For instance, if you’re not using an inner envelope, you can address everyone on your outer envelope. If this includes a family with three children, you could address this as “Mr. and Mrs. Hepburn and Family.” Another option is “Mr. and Mrs. Hepburn” on one line, followed by “Susie, Jason, and Mark” on a second line. You may also use the ampersand for a more informal affair (Mr. & Mrs.).

Additionally, most people abbreviate the word "apartment" to keep it on the same line with the street address. This is aesthetically more pleasing, and as a result, it is becoming the new normal.

Unmarried Couples

If you are inviting an unmarried couple (or roommates), and they live together, it is proper etiquette to list each name individually on its own line.

Outer Envelope Formal Example:

Ms. Monica Geller

Ms. Rachel Green

90 Bedford Street

Apartment 20

New York, New York 11237

Outer Envelope Standard Example:

Ms. Monica Geller

Ms. Rachel Green

90 Bedford Street, Apt 20

New York, New York 11237

Dropped Zip Code

I adore a dropped zip code. As you can see in both photographed samples above, I have "dropped" the zip code, breaking a very traditional rule, though this is trending and becoming the new normal. A dropped zip code is simply a zip code that goes underneath the city and state. It doesn't matter whether you're following a traditional or centered layout. A dropped zip looks great with both.


Mr. Emmett Brown (or just "Emmett Brown" if you want to be informal)

1640 Riverside Drive

Hill Valley, California


Here are two more examples for reference.

Outer Envelope Formal / Traditional Example: Mr. and Mrs. Elwood Blues 1060 West Addison Street Chicago, Illinois 60613

Outer Envelope Informal Example:

Elwood and Carrie Blues 1060 West Addison Street

Chicago, Illinois 60613

Here are some great examples of a centered address with a dropped zip code, the most common layout used today.

Style: Midnight in Paris

Style: La La Land

Style: Gone with the Wind

I hope this information has helped! Let me know if you have any questions, or let me know what trends you'd like to see take shape! Leave a comment below.


#envelopecalligraphy #howtoaddressanenvelope #weddingenvelopes #weddingcalligraphy #traditionaladdresslayout #centeredaddresslayout #addressetiquette #etiquette

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