Addressing envelopes can be a confusing set of conflicting advice. Luckily, we have Courtney Khail joining us on Rue Daily today to help sort it all out. Courtney is a watercolor artist and stationery designer living in Denver, Colorado. You can see more of her work, read her blog, or purchase her artwork here.

For formal occasions, such as wedding invitations, it is common to write out full names, abbreviating titles only when necessary for space requirements. When writing to a couple, there are several ways to determine who should be listed first. When the couple is married and shares a last name, the woman is typically listed first. A person with a formal title such as doctor or honorable judge is given listing priority. If both share the title, it may be written once in the plural form. For same sex partners, unmarried couples, or married couples with different last names you may either list the person closest to you first or list in alphabetical order. If you are including young children, their first name can be listed on the second line. Remember with wedding invitations that you may also have an inner envelope and, being more informal, can employ use of knicknames there.

Courtney suggests saving the formal etiquette for the most fancy of affairs, and on less formal occasions let your own judgment make decisions. More often you will not be sending such a formal letter, you are merely sending an invite to a housewarming party or a thank you for a holiday gift. In this case, the formal rules can apply if you’d like, but consider breaking a bit from formality. For example, if you never call your friend Liz “Elizabeth,” do you need to on her birthday card? Whatever you decide, don’t forget to have fun with a cute font (we’re currently loving Bombshell Pro) or pretty calligraphy, like Courtney’s seen here.