After busting some of the myths in my previous post, around the unnecessary formalities in addressing wedding invitation envelopes, there are some scenarios where a guide may be handy.
I have pulled together 12 different scenarios to help you address your wedding envelopes and guide you through some of the potential pit falls.
1. Married Couples – there are two options for addressing a married couple with the same surname:
Mr James and Mrs Emma Owen
Mr and Mrs James Owen.
Personally I prefer the former as it gives both people equality in the relationship, but some older relatives may be more familiar with the latter.
2. Married Couples with Different Surnames – both names should be written in full, the order is up to you; you may want to have the person in the couple closest to you first, e.g. a sibling, or you may go for alphabetical order:
Mr James Owen and Mrs Emma Lane
3. Unmarried Couples Living Together – at one time the two names would have been written on separate lines and the “and” of the first line indicated marriage. In general this rule is now ignored and the couple are addressed as a married couple with different surnames, although you may wish to ask whether the woman prefers Miss or Ms.
4. Hyphenated Surname – If the woman has added her married surname to her maiden name envelope would be addressed:
Mr James Owen and Ms/Mrs Emma Lane-Owen
5. Same Sex Couples – the rules for same sex couples are the same as for heterosexual couples. If they are married with the same name address them as:
Mr David and Mr Gary Brook
If they are married with different names or living together and unmarried it would be:
Ms Leanne Oliver and Ms Sarah Hyde.
Once again, try to find out the title preference (Ms., Miss, or Mrs) for any female guests.
6. Married when there is a Doctor in the house. When one of the couple is a doctor, that title “outranks” that of the other partner. Thus, if the female was the doctor but uses her married name you would address the envelope:
Dr Emma and Mr James Owen.
If she uses her maiden name both professionally and socially it would be addresses:
Dr Emma Lane and Mr James Owen
If they are both doctors you would address it:
Drs James and Emma Owen.
7. Other Titles – the same rules apply as above to judges, clergy and military commissioned officers. The person in the couple with the highest rank comes first, so you could have:
The Hon. Mrs Emma Owen and Dr James Owen
8. Single People – always use their title, check with any women how they prefer to be addresses (Ms or Miss). Don’t put “plus guest” on the envelope. If you know the name of their girlfriend/boyfriend, include that on the invitation inside. Otherwise you can put “plus guest” on the invitation or write an informal note on the bottom suggesting they invite a guest.
9. Divorced Women – If the divorced women has kept her married name you would address the envelope:
Ms or Mrs Emma Owen
If she has reverted to her maiden name you would address the envelope:
Ms or Mrs Emma Lane
Check which title she prefers.
10. Widowed Women – traditionally a widow retains her married name until she marries again. The envelope would either be addressed:
Mrs Emma Owen
Mrs James Owen.
Again this is a matter of preference (and probably age), I would hate to lose my identity even after my husband had died.
11. Children – if you are inviting children under 18 to the wedding you do not need to include their names on the envelope, but do make sure they are named on the invitation. If the children are over 18 they should get a separate invitation, regardless of whether they live at home or not. Daughters should be addressed as Miss and sons as Mr.
12. Siblings Living together – there are some instances of siblings living together; I had two very dear maiden aunts. The invitation to sisters living together would be:
Misses Eleanor and Sylvia Cliff
For brothers it would be:
Messrs Michael and Paul Cliff
For a brother and sister it would be:
Mr Michael and Miss Eleanor Cliff.
I hope this rough guide has outlined most of the pit falls of addressing envelopes. As with all things wedding, know your guests, if you don’t know their preferences your Mum probably will. Stick to a level of formality you feel happy with and don’t let it worry you.