We get loads of questions about envelope addressing. And with good cause – after you’ve invested in some gorgeous letterpress invitations, who wants to make a glaring faux pas when it comes to the envelope? It’s the very first thing your guests will see when they receive your wedding invitations in the mail, after all.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a little crash course of frequently asked addressing questions (or FAAQ) and ran them by calligrapher Debi Zeinert for some answers. Because who’s going to know more about addressing invitation envelopes than someone who does it for a living? Meet Debi in the video below!
Q: Are there any things you find your clients are consistently confused about concerning addressing etiquette?
A: The biggest confusion comes when the wife is a doctor. Mr. and Dr. John Smith is incorrect. When a woman has a title her first name should be noted, and she should be listed first. For example: Dr. Susan and Mr. John Smith. Or, if they are both doctors with the same last name, Doctors Susan and John Smith.
Q: What’s the best way to organize guests names and addresses before someone sends them to their calligrapher?
A: I prefer to get guest lists in the form of an Excel spread sheet – this way I can mail merge it to my liking for addressing. Though i will accept any sort of typed list. When using Excel its best to organize it in columns as follows: Outer envelope name, Name 2, Address, Address 2, City, State, Zip, Country, Inner envelope.
Q: When is it appropriate to use colored ink?
A: I believe that if the return address is printed in color it’s okay to use colored ink. In fact, if the return address is a dark color such as blue or brown you SHOULD used colored ink. If the address is a ‘fun’ color or a pastel you may want to keep the addressing in black to hold on to formality. For a Bar/Bat Mitzvah or non-wedding calligraphy you always want the calligraphy to match the return address.
Q: Is your preference to spell out the name of the state, or to abbreviate it?
A: It’s not just my preference, but I believe it is only proper to spell out the state. If it does not fit on the same line as the city, use the next line.
Q: Do you have any other tips you’d like to share with clients planning to work with a calligrapher?
A: A referred calligrapher is the best calligrapher. If you find someone who does not come with a recommendation make sure you get actual samples addressed to you. Seeing work on someone’s website may not be a good representation of their usual work.
Make sure you schedule your job as soon as you know you want to use them. Don’t wait till you have your envelopes in hand. Most calligraphers book up weeks out. And be sure to pick a realistic date – remember, you are blocking out days of time on a schedule and if you are not ready you may not be able to get rescheduled.
Make sure you have extra envelopes – dip pens and ink are unpredictable! And make sure your guest list is complete as possible. There are always stragglers, bit to add a name everyday for a week is difficult on a calligrapher’s schedule. It’s not as easy as just writing another envelope – each job has set up time, drying time and packing and shipping time.
Q: Any good stories of really tricky addressing etiquette situations?
A: I’ve been doing this so long I’ve seen everything and pretty much can handle any thing. One thing that is annoying to all calligraphers is the extra long first lines – for example: Mr. George and Mrs. Martha Washington or Mr. and Mrs. George and Martha Washington. Way too much to make it pretty. Or when the numbers of an address are all written out – for example: Seventeen South One Hundred and Forty Third Street. That must really annoy the post office! Numbers under 20 can be written out, but the rest should be numerals. I love it when people go ‘informal’ on the inner envelopes – it’s fun to write ‘Nana and Papa’ or nicknames. One time I even had to write ‘Anna and Shithead’ on an inner!!!!
Q: Are any other common questions you get a lot?
A: One question I do get is if there is a discount for quantity. The answer is no – if one envelope takes 3 minutes, 10 take 30 minutes and 100 take 300 minutes – it does not speed up with quantity. And personally, I do not copy computer fonts, nor do I copy other calligrapher’s styles.
Well that’s about it for this little crash course, but naturally there are other questions we’ve not yet addressed here. Have any unique addressing quandaries or concerns of your own? Post them below in the comments section below and we’ll do some homework and get back to you. Class dismissed.