Addressing Wedding Invitations

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

As much as I love beautifully calligraphed invitations, I always feel a bit sad to receive mail addressed to someone that's not actually me, but rather Mrs. Husband. This is never, I am certain, done out of malice or thoughtlessness, simply custom and old-school etiquette. But, as APW CEO & Editor-in-Chief Meg Keene writes, etiquette is all about treating people with respect, and it’s not very polite to address people by things that are not their names. When I read her (edited) post below on A Practical Wedding this afternoon, I felt like I'd finally found some great modern guidelines for greeting your guests.

Addressing Wedding Invitations

Mrs., Ms., and Mx.

Figuring out the right way to use honorifics in our wonderfully progressive time can be a real pain. So feel free to skip them altogether, except for the older folks on your list who use them religiously. But if you do use honorifics, please put in the legwork required to use the right ones for the right people.

“Miss” and (the adorable) “Master” are appropriate terms of address for children.

Once a woman is grown, address her as “Ms.” if unmarried (just like you would address a man as “Mr.”).

Married women who don’t share their husbands’ last names have the honorific of “Ms.,” not “Mrs.”

Many married women who do share their husband’s last name also use the honorific “Ms."

“Dr.” is a term that some people use socially, and some don’t. You can use it or not, but if you use it, please use it for everyone who is a doctor.

Widows should be addressed in the same form that they preferred when their partners were living, unless they’ve decided to change their form of address. If that’s “Mrs. His-First His-Last,” that remains the same.

If you’re looking for a gender-neutral term for your gender queer friends, use Mx. Mx. is typically the gender-neutral title for anyone who is non-binary and/or does not wish to reveal their gender. The best way to Internet-stalk the right answer to this new-ish question is to check a person’s pronoun on Facebook. If they use “they”, go with Mx.

Include the Kids

If children are invited, list them on the envelope. (Or on the inner envelope if you have one.)

Handling Different Last Names

Traditionally people with different last names are listed on different lines, and women’s names go first. I’m kind of down with that, because while women make $0.79 on the man’s dollar, I’m scooping up any extra prizes you throw at me. But if that doesn’t work for you, skip it.

The Golden Rule of Envelopes

This one is the golden rule of wedding invitations. Maybe you’re not using honorifics, but you know that your grandmother likes to get her mail addressed to “Mrs. His-First His-Last,” even though her husband died years ago. She’s earned it, so address her invite that way. Once you’re married, you’re going to be dealing with trying to get people to address you in the form you prefer, so earn some points with the universe now.

Forgive Yourself in Advance

This is particularly true if you have a slew of friends who just got married and you can’t remember what names they’re now using. Try your best to figure out their current form of address (editor's note: Facebook and/or a quick text is particularly useful here), apologize when you make a mistake, and then let it go.

  Original post excerpted from A Practical Wedding Planner.

Image by Mandy Busby, stationery, artwork and calligraphy by Signora e Mare,
envelopes by Script Merchant Calligraphy.


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