Samara O'Shea

Writing the White House

I received a very thoughtful response to my post last Friday—regarding the couple who sent their wedding invitation to the White House. The commenter, who wishes to remain anonymous, has offered a wealth of information on the White House Greetings Office. Thank you very much nameless muse.

In light of the news she sent, I’m going to make sure my sister sends a wedding invite to the Obamas, and I’m going to attempt to have a congratulations card sent to my aunt who just adopted. What a wonderful service the Greetings Office provides!! Details:

“I volunteer in the Greetings Office, answering the President’s mail, and he most definitely receives hundreds of invitations a week. He has yet to attend one, but I am betting on him showing up one of these days to one in the DC area; he’s known for deciding to go places on a whim. But the real reason people invite him is to receive the very nice letter on White House stationery in return, congratulating them on their marriage. (And thankfully, the Obama administration sends congratulatory notes to all couples regardless of the mix of their genders.) Each envelope is hand addressed by a staff member or volunteer, and we put a lot of care into them. We know people save letters on White House stationery for years and so we take the job very seriously.

People can also get letters from the White House to acknowledge anniversaries (every 5 years after the 50th), birth or adoption announcements, retirement from public service, Boy Scout Eagle Awards and Girl Scout Gold Awards, and birthdays for those 80 years and older (70 years or older if the recipient is a veteran). There are many other categories, but those are the most common.

Americans can request such an acknowledgement letter for a loved one by writing to:
The White House
Attention: Greetings Office
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

The “Greetings Office” part is important because it will get your request routed faster than if they have to sort it along with the tousands of policy letters he gets every day. Requests for acknowledgements of anniversaries, retirements, awards, and birthdays should be sent at least 6 weeks in advance of the occasion, and should include the honoree’s name, preferred form of address (Dr., Mrs., Col., etc.), and the address to which the requestor wishes to have the greeting sent. If requesting a letter for a married couple, the writer should include their married names and their current address. For a baby, the parents’ names and the baby’s name should be included.”