6 Tips for Addressing Wedding Envelopes

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6 Tips for Addressing Wedding Envelopes

ONE: DON'T OFFEND ANYONE.

"Surprise, you think I am inconsiderate now!" It's not worth keeping the surprise of the invitation if you are just going to offend someone with the way you address it to them. A divorced woman might prefer her maiden name or her ex-husband's name. And what if she is separated but not divorced yet? You might not know a person’s preference until you ask.

Another thing to avoid: assuming people's gender pronouns. Just ask. And, keep note so that you remember forever and stop calling your friend or relative by the wrong pronoun. Yikes!

TWO: YOU CAN LET TRADITION GUIDE YOU

I would prefer Mr. Dakota and Mrs. Evelyn Cunningham. to Mr. and Mrs. Dakota Cunningham. I am not going to get up in arms about this, but it might be something to ask as. Also, that way of addressing is perfect for ALL types of married couples with the same last name:

Mr. John and Mr. Robert Fullerton

Mrs. Rosa and Mrs. Clarice Garcia

Some etiquette guides tell you to use Ms. and Ms. for female same-sex marriages. Some want names on separate lines. To me, this seems to delegitimize their matrimony. But, I would love to hear some other opinions. Maybe just use Ms. for every woman since she is not defined by her marital status? What do you think?

Bottom line: ask before you send. There is no harm in asking someone how they would prefer the address.

THREE: REMEMBER THE TITLE

Are you inviting a doctor, military service member, reverend, judge, or mayor to your wedding? There are a lot of different titles for different officials and jobs, we call them honorifics. Omitting someone's  honorific can be perceived as rude. The list is long, especially when you start to get into military honorifics and clergy members. So, I won't go into them here. But, keep in mind that these people worked hard to earn these titles. They might want them on that envelope.

FOUR: IGNORE THE RULES

You can go casual, if you are having a more casual, intimate wedding. First names only, for example, might add an air of casual cool. Just make sure that it matches the feel of your wedding so your guests know what to expect.

FIVE: YOU DO NOT NEED AN OUTER AND INNER ENVELOPE

I do not care what everyone else says, you do not need an inner and outer envelope. Sure, they are helpful. But, they’re not necessary. If you consider your event “black tie,” you should probably have them. Otherwise, it is personal preference.

How it Helps:

Inner envelopes help clarify exactly who is invited.

Outer Envelope:
Mr. Jason Fordham
Inner Envelope:
Mr. Fordham and Guest

Outer Envelope:
Mr. Jason Fordham and Mrs. Leigh Fordham
Inner Envelope:
Mr. and Mrs. Fordham
Lisa, Trent and Beck

The Alternative

Just include that information on the regular envelope:

Outer Envelope
Mr. Jason Fordham and Mrs. Leigh Fordham
Lisa, Trent and Beck

It gives a little opportunity for some personality, too.

Outer Envelope:
Mr. Christopher and Mrs. Julianne York
Inner Envelope:
Uncle Chris and Aunt Julie

SIX: IT HAS TO GET THERE

So, the envelope might look beautiful. It might fit the wonderful aesthetic of your event. But, if the postal worker can’t read it, it is just getting returned. If they can’t read the return address, it is just getting thrown away. If there isn’t enough postage, it’s not getting to the destination.

My most important tip is to make sure your envelope is going to get there:

The writing for the address must be legible enough.

Make sure there is high enough contrast between the ink color and the color of the invitation.

Put enough postage on it, each additional ounce is +21 cents here in the USA.

And, make sure you have the right address. Again, it’s not worth keeping the surprise.

More questions?

Reach out to me in the comments, or on the contact page if you have more questions. I would be so happy to help!

Thanks for reading!
Evelyn Cunningham, Owner and artist of Letterlyn

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Toying with the end, and deciding against it.

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Toying with the end, and deciding against it.

Bored and frustrated with my job, I sat at my apartment counter and thought "this would be a fun way to make an income." Calligraphy started as my get out of jail card, an end to my unhappy tenure at an underpaying, mediocre job. I practiced until I got enough skill to be paid for the work. Most of the time, I have enjoyed it.

But, often, I felt bogged down and stressed by owning a wedding business. The taxes and business filings, the social media, the last minute deadlines and changes, the wedding vendor relationships and the client relationships. I started dreading my projects, and my quality of work suffered. I didn't make enough in my calligraphy endeavors to quit my other work. And, when I changed positions within my department, I felt more satisfied at my "day job."

I've toyed a lot with quitting. But, I do so enjoy making things for other people. But, reconciling that with the other things I want for my life is a challenge. I love my career in informal, museum education. I also love spending time with my family. I took a long break from calligraphy. It felt so good to come home and relax. But, it also felt a little empty. So, I am still working on calligraphy, taking weddings and some styled shoots. But, I do have to change the way I run my business so that I can still enjoy it:

I won't solely be working on weddings, but they are still a big part of my business.

I will be changing some of my policies in regards to charging for edits, last minute requests, and delayed payments.

I will be declining jobs for which I am not a good fit. I had been doing this already, but making too many exceptions for last minute requests and for friends.

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When is a place too scarred to move on?

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When is a place too scarred to move on?

It's a warmer February day, I am walking with Dakota and Pacho on the footbridge toward Belle Isle, a little piece of Richmond that pokes up from the tumbling waters of the James River. Richmond, is an old, American City. Sometimes, when you're surrounded by busy, city murals and bars, it is easy to forget that the city was founded in 1737; that it's history is both as beautiful and dark as the poetry and writings of Edgar Allen Poe, who considered Richmond home for much of his life. But, for once, I am not thinking of poetry as I walk the windy bridge to the little island. I am thinking instead, of war.

Earlier that week, after a cursory bit of research about the Island, I found that it had roots far darker than my friends had ever told me. Most of the people I knew in Richmond raved about the island. They talked of swimming and sunbathing on the rocks, sneaking a flask between them if there weren't too many people around. They talked a little of ghost stories. But, to be honest, you can find ghost stories all over Virginia. With it's colonial history so old and violent, its native-american history stretching far beyond that, it isn't difficult to stumble onto tales of ghosts and spirits, benevolent or violent.

But, walking to the island, that research is fresh on my mind. And, suddenly, I find myself standing on the site of a Civil War POW camp. I am standing on the site where, one winter, 1,000 Union Soldiers died because there wasn't adequate food or shelter for them. And, if you don't take the time to read the signs (which, as I know from working at a museum, most people don't read signs) you would never know about this horrible history. Sure, someone made a bike rack that slightly resembles a tent to "draw attention" to the conditions of the camp. But, honestly, it falls short of its goal and just appears to be a weird bike rack if you don't know better.

On that day, I stand before an open field where so many men died, mountain bikes and parents tugging children in wagons whizzing past me, wondering if a land ever heals from such scars. I ask myself that question a lot. You see, my whole life, I've walked and lived on scarred ground - everything from my parent's' neighborhood, which was the site of a colonial plantation that undoubtedly had slaves or indentured servants, to the city I live in, which has been burned by wars and racked with disease and turmoil at various times.

I grew up near the site of the Battle of Yorktown, where on October 19th, 1781, British Lieutenant General Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington, prompting negotiations to end the American Revolutionary War. There, hundreds of men died, hundreds were injured, and thousands were captured as prisoners. There, too, hundreds of people gather every year to celebrate Independence Day. There, we celebrate joyously on a field of battle and death.
(Learn more about the Battle of Yorktown from the National Parks Service)

The site of the Siege of Yorktown, and Manassas Battlefield park in Northern Virginia, which commemorates the site of the First and the Second Battles of Bull Run during the American Revolutionary War, are also popular destinations for another reason: taking engagement photos. Thousands of people died during the Battles at Bull Run. And, thousands of joyous couples jump off of cannons and laugh lovingly at each other lovingly to the click of a camera. My friend, Sarah, who works at a historic battlefield site, brought the Manassas example to my attention. (Thanks, Sarah!) Is it really appropriate to take our lovey-dovey engagement photos there?

While we're on the topic of weddings, venue picks can be even worse. This article, from Salon goes into the disturbing trend of being married on a plantation. Even stating that the websites of some of these plantations, including Tuckahoe Plantation here in Virginia, do not mention the word slavery at all. I remember planning my own Virginia wedding, and being horrified at the thought of saying my wedding vows at such a place. The beautiful grounds can't mask the horror of colonial history.

So, is it appropriate to laugh and hike and play at Belle Isle, is it appropriate to laugh and play on a battlefield, is it okay to get married on a plantation? The joy and the horror are so incongruous, I feel paralyzed at sites like the POW camp at Belle Isle and the site of the Siege of Yorktown. Maybe, we shouldn't celebrate love at these places. The answer for the plantation is definitely, concretely NO, it is not okay to glamorize that history. I just don't think those deep wounds heal. It is disrespectful to glamorize it at all.

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Wedding Pros Need to Show up, Stand up, Speak up against cultural appropriation.

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Wedding Pros Need to Show up, Stand up, Speak up against cultural appropriation.

The cultural appropriation has got to stop. People who "borrow" ideas for ceremonies from other cultures that aren't a part of that culture have got to stop.

Today, I came across an Instagram post from Barcelona Bridal Week. The designer paraded svelt, white, female models wearing white bridal looks. Some looks were completed with big, white warbonnets (feather headdresses that are a tradition of some Plains Indian tribes).

I almost dropped my phone. WHAT!? You take a piece of war tradition from Native Americans, plop it on a white woman's head and call it cool? I knew this was common in festival circles, but now it's breaching European Bridal fashion? How about some respect?

I called them out, and they responded that they were trying to "share" culture and that they admire diversity.  Friends, colonialism is alive and well. I told them that cultural practices are not props for their boho brand. They haven't sent me a reply.

Let's stop this. It makes us wedding pros look like ignorant, mindless people out for the next big trend - no matter that we're trampling other people in the process. 

#ResistRacism and cultural appropriation in the wedding industry. Show up, stand up, speak up when you see something wrong!

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In case you're wondering what I wanted for Valentine's Day.

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In case you're wondering what I wanted for Valentine's Day.

Dakota and I happen to pass the jeweler today. So, we go get my ring cleaned and inspected. While I head to the bathroom, the salesman asks Dakota what he's going to pick out to surprise me with.

Dakota says, "nothing."

The salesman is probably surprised. It is Valentine's Day, after all.

I return from the bathroom, silently remarking at the fact that they actually have free tampons and pads in there; wondering if it is partly to make sure women don't leave prematurely as a result of surprise menstruation. Dakota asks, "So, what do you want from here?"

I answer honestly, "nothing."

He asks, "what do I want from here?"

I answer, "some really expensive watch."

He grins and turns to the salesman, "see?"

We walk out of the store, with no new purchases.

Little did I know, Dakota would buy me a ring for Valentine's Day: a big, cheesy, saucy ring from heaven called pizza. And that was way better than jewelry. Pizza, my friends, is perfection.

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