Your Trickiest Wedding Invitation Questions, Answered

Etiquette advisor Patricia Napier-FitzpatrIck is best known for dispensing protocol and manners-training services at The Etiquette School of New York. So when it comes to wedding etiquette? We think it's safe to put your trust in her, starting with these seven simple stationery tips.

Photo: Phillip FicksPhoto: Phillip Ficks1. You Can Never Give Too Much Notice
Save-the-dates typically go out three to four months prior to the wedding, but if guests are spread far and wide-or you're throwing a destination wedding-more time is better. No one will complain about having extra leeway to plan. Send invitations six to eight weeks beforehand, with an R.S.V.P. request of two to three weeks prior to the event so you can get a final head count.
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2. Be Creative (But Clear)
From telegrams to invisible ink, couples are doing fun things with their save-the-dates and invitations. If you're getting innovative, just make sure that all pertinent information is included. For save-the-dates, the names of the couple getting married and the date should be most prominent, along with a note that invitations will follow. You don't have to name the venue, but if you have a website, save-the-dates are a great place to share the URL.

3. Keep it Simple
Wedding invitations should include the full names of the couple marrying and those of the hosts (if they're different), the place and time, and that's it. "No children" isn't included on the invite; it's implied by the names on the envelope. Nor should you list registry information on the invitation-family and attendants can spread the word when asked about it, or you can provide it on your website.
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4. Spell it Out
"Street," "Post Office Box," and "Apartment" should all be written in full. The same is true for city and state names and house numbers smaller than 20. "Mr. and Mrs." generally are abbreviated.

5. Play the Name Game
Your guests' entire names should be written on the outer envelopes. Address married couples as "Mr. and Mrs.," followed by the husband's first and last name. It's also fine to list both full names. When a woman keeps her maiden name, the names are written in alphabetical order: Ms. Susan Jones and Mr. John Smith. For an unmarried couple who live together, write the names on two lines.

6. Titles Do Matter
If the wife is a doctor, her full name comes first, as in "Doctor Aharon and Mr. Gary Lawrence." When the husband is a doctor, the titles appear as "Doctor and Mrs." and if both husband and wife are doctors, the envelope should say "Drs. Sharon and Gary Lawrence." A single woman (unless she's a doctor) should be addressed as "Ms." If she's under 21, use "Miss."

7. Be Gracious-in a Timely Fashion
Thank-you notes should be treated with a sense of urgency. Send them within two weeks of receiving the present to express your true appreciation.

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