How to Address a Couple
Private CitizensJoint Forms of Address

When Your Want to Use Mr. & Mrs./Ms.
Here Are Some Formulas 1-2-3-4-5

—-#1) If a couple uses the same family name traditionally her given name does not appear.  Putting his name on a line by itself is the most formal.
—-—-Mr. William Stanton
—-—-and Mrs. Stanton

—-#2) Combining their names is less formal, This form is used socially more often than officially:
—-—-Mr. and Mrs. William Stanton

—-#3) If they use different family names – and neither has a special honorific – typically men are listed first.  It’s called the ‘Mr. & Mrs. Order’. Her full name appears when they use different surnames:
—-—-Mr. William Smith
—-—-and Ms. Linda Blake


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

—-#4) If she is a doctor (or has a special honorific) (1) her full name appears and (2) precedence dictates that people with titles are listed before people without titles. This example follows the rule.
——–Dr. Linda Smith
—-—-and Mr. William Smith

—-#5) If you know her preference is Mrs.+(Her Full Name) use it.  When both use the same surname, including the woman’s given name is the contemporary practice.  See the NOTE below and follow the link on Mrs. vs. Ms. for more on this topic. —-
——–Mr. William Smith
—-—-and Mrs. Linda Smith

——–NOTE: For more on Mrs.+(Her Full Name), follow the link to Mrs. vs. Ms.

— Robert Hickey

Related Posts:
Couples: Private Citizens
Couples: Christian Clergy
Couples: Rabbis
Couples: Military
Couples: U.S. Officials
Couples: Same Sex


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

How to Address a Two Doctors?

I attended a dinner given in the home of a plastic surgeon (him) and a dentist (her). Both are doctors with their own practice. When I was introduced it was first names. How do I address the envelope of the thank you note?
——————-– Cecilia Bonnington

Dear Ms. Bonnington:
When couples have the same rank (all else being equal) … which they do in this case since the are both Dr. … on the mailing envelope they would be listed in the order established in the order in Mr. & Mrs.
——–Dr. Adam Wilson
——–and Dr. Cynthia Wilson

or if they use different last names
——–Dr. Adam Wilson
——–and Dr. Cynthia Smithson

Then on the salutation, since you are on a first-name basis address them as:
——–Dear Adam and Cynthia,

FYI, if you were not ona first-name basis, then just use the conversational forms:
——–Dear Drs. Wilson  (If they use the same surname you can combine them.)
——–Dear Dr. Wilson and Dr. Wilson,
——–Dear Dr. Wilson and Dr. Smithson,

Note that I’m intentionally avoiding — and suggest you do too — any form that combines their names such as Drs. Adam and Cynthia Wilson -or- Dr. Adam and Dr. Cynthia Wilson.

— Robert Hickey

Forms of Address: How a conversation begins can have a huge impact on how the conversation - even the entire relationship - develops.

How to Include a Woman’s Given Name?

When a couple uses the same last name, traditional sources drop the woman’s given name:
——-Mr. & Mrs. John Minton
——-Dr. & Mrs. John Minton

I don’t want  to do that.
—–——–— Jeane A.

Dear Jeane W.,
Just write each name fully.  Put the full names in the “Mr. and Mrs. Order”  Men first, ladies second:
——–Mr. John Minton and Mrs. Jeane Minton
——–Dr. John Minton and Mrs. Jeane Minton

An elegant, less formal solution is not to use any honorifics. When using this form, traditionalists say you keep the man’s name together. When you don’t have honorifics then you use the ladies first order:
——–Jeane and John Minton

And, I realize, this is form is not going acceptable to doctors, ambassadors, military officers and judges, etc. who will want their rank included with their name. I have pages on writing military couples and official couples too. So see those.

— Robert Hickey

See the photo below. Notice most use this order: ladies first.  But as you can se others prefer other forms: Man first and the traditional Mr. & Mrs.  So I recommend the first form, but realize that some couples will have a different preference.  It’s their name, so they should get it the way they like.


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

Related Forms of Address:
—-Couples: Military
—-Couples: Private Citizens
—-Couples: U.S. Officials
—-Couple, Same Sex
—-First Names
—-Gender-Neutral Honorifics
Man or Woman, Social
—-Woman, Married
Mrs. vs. Ms.
Spouse of an Official


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

When Should You Use the Forms on this Page?

You can use these forms of address for any mode of communication: addressing a letter, invitation, card or Email. (If there are differences between the official and social forms of address, I will have mentioned the different forms.)  The form noted in the salutation is the same form you say when you say their name in conversation or when you greet them.
___What I don’t cover on this site are many things I do cover in my book: all the rules of forms of address, about names, international titles, precedence, complimentary closes, details on invitations, place cards, all sorts of introductions, etc. I hope you’ll get a copy of the book if you’d like the further detail.

Not Finding Your Answer?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  If you don’t see the official you seek included or your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, Sometimes I post the question  – but always change all the specifics.

— Robert Hickey 


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”