How to Address a Mr. & Mrs. on an Invitation – Or Can I Use Her First Name Too?
I’m addressing invitations and wondering what the best way is to include the first names of both spouses.
—-Which way is more correct:
—-—-Mr. John and Mrs. Jane Doe
—-—-Mr. and Mrs. John and Jane Doe?
Or is there a better way than this?
I think those forms end up being awkward. The two forms that make the most sense to me are:
—-—-Mr. and Mrs. (His Full Name) is traditional/formal.
—-—-(First Name) + (First Name) + (Surname) is casual/informal.
—-If you like the traditional form, use it.
—-If you don’t, the second form is elegant and includes both first names. There is no reason everything has to be traditional/formal. Who says formal better? No me. What’s better is what’s right for the occasion and the participants.
—-The form (First Name) + (First Name) + (Surname) is most often written:
—-—-(Her Given Name) + (His Given Name) + (Surname)
— Robert Hickey
Dear Mr. Hickey
I’m realize that traditionally, a formal invitation should be addressed to Mr. and Mrs. John Doe. However, I find it offensive to omit the female’s name and wish to find a formal way of including it.
—-This is actually a HUGE topic right now amongst women. Many are of the mindset that when etiquette becomes offensive, then its no longer proper etiquette. So, this debate has blossomed to figure out the best way to include both people’s names and to perhaps give up the “don’t separate a man from his name” tradition or to start putting the wife’s name first even if she’s not using Ms. and so forth. Consequently, people are just making up their own way to do it and there isn’t continuity. However, It seems they are yearning for continuity but can’t decide on the appropriate alternative.
—-To be honest, I don’t think either Mr. John and Mrs. Jane Doe or Mr. and Mrs. John and Jane Doe sound good. Perhaps it’s just awkward because it’s new? I suppose other options could be Mr. John Doe and Mrs. Jane Doe, or Mrs. Jane and Mr. John Doe.
Thanks for your thoughtful note.
—-Etiquette is something that
—-—-#1) changes over time
—-—-#2) is specific to a situation, and
—-—-#3) is specific to a group.
—-So it’s not etiquette that is offensive … it’s that rules that worked in one place, won’t necessarily work everyplace.
—-What I suggest in my book is always the formal option — a way that can be done consistently for a wide variety of guests. And yes, the forms I present may be too formal for every situation.
—-The people who use my book are usually people working for high officials … perhaps in their office …. or organizing events where the guests include some high officials … military officers, elected officials, ambassadors, clergy, academics, and international visitors.
—-In those places you need to have a single style for all the types of names you write. What works best when addressing people from many different places ends up being the most formal. The White House, The U.S. Supreme Court, and many Governors’ offices use my book.
—-But when my niece, Kathleen, got married she didn’t follow what’s in my book for all of her guests. But, for certain people who would be accustomed to formality … she did.
—-So since you asked … why not address the invitations as you think the guest would like their name to appear when they get the envelope?
—-—-#1) Casual for people you know would perhaps think casual will right:
—-—-—-—-Jane and John Doe
—-—-#2) Formal for people who will prefer the formal way:
—-—-—-—-Mr. and Mrs. John Doe
—-—-#3) And formal for people you don’t know very well … when in doubt going formal is always safe. It’s easier to explain being over dressed at a party than being under dressed … so being more formal is easier to explain than being too informal.
NOTE; for more discussion on use of the form Mrs./Ms. (Her Given Name)(Surname) = Mrs. Jane Doe see the post Mrs. vs. Ms.