How to Write Names on Invitations

* * *
BLOG: Robert Hickey
Answers Questions
From On-Line Users
* * *
VIDEO of Robert Hickey
* * *
About the book:

    Christian Orthodox       
    Christian Orthodox        
Acting Official       
Adjutant General     

Admiral, Texas Navy   
Adventist Minister       

Archbishop, Catholic        
   Christian Orthodox        
Archdeacon, Episcopal        
Ambassador, Goodwill
Ambassador of one country
   to another country      
Ambassador of the U.S.
   to another country
   by a U.S. citizen       
Ambassador of the U.S.
   to the U.K.  
American Indian Chief        
   U.S., State / or           

Assistant Secretary
Associate Justice,
   U.S. Supreme Court          
Associate Justice of a
   State Supreme Court
Attorney General           
Attorney General,
Attorney, U.S.         
Australian Officials    
Awards, Name on an

Baron, Baroness           
British Officials,
   Royalty, Nobility     
Brother, Catholic
   Christian Orthodox          
Bishop, Catholic            
   Christian Orthodox         
Bishop, Episcopal        
Board Member     
Brigadier General       
Business Cards      

Canadian Officials    
   USA, USAF, USMC     
Certificate, Name on a 
    Federal Reserve      
Chaplain in the
    Armed Services        
Chaplain of Congress          

Chargé d’Affaires         
Chief Executive Officer 
Chief Judge          
Chief Justice,
      U.S. Supreme Court 
Chief Justice, of a State
      Supreme Court             

Chief of Police          
Chief of Staff     

Chief Operating
City Manager
Clergy & Religious
Club Official          
Colonel, Kentucky      
Colonel, USA, USAF,
    or USMC     
Commissioner, Court     
Commodore of a         
      Yacht Club         
Congressman, U.S.               
Congresswoman, U.S.   
Consul and or
   Consul General   
Corporate Executive         
Counselor (Diplomat)      
County Officials       
    U.S. Military
    U.S. Officials
    Private Citizens    
    Same Sex

Dalai Lama          
Dean, academic            
Dean, clergy            
Deceased Persons        
Degree, honorary      
Delegate, U.S., State

Deputy Chief of Mission
Deputy Marshal

Deputy Secretary      
    Pro Tempore      
Diploma, Name on a   

District Attorney
Doctor, Chiropractor     
Doctor of Dentistry
Doctor of Medicine              
Doctor, Military           
Doctor of
   Veterinary Medicine          
Doctor, Optometrist   
Doctor of Osteopathy            
Doctor, Other Disciplines     
Doctorate, honorary      

Elect, Designate
Pro Tempore      
Esquire, Esq.       

First Names, Use of
   Formal / Informal     
First, Second,
   Third , etc .        
First Lady, Spouse
   of the President of
   the United States 
First Lady, Member
    of Her   
    White House Staff      
First Lady, Spouse
   of a U.S. Governor
   or Lt. Gov.    
First Lady, Spouse
   of a U.S. Mayor    

First Lady
   of a Church      

First Lieuten
Former Officials    

Gay Couple      


Goodwill Ambassador      
Governor General         
Governor, Lieuten
Governor, Lt., Spouse   

Governor, Tribal Council          
Governor, U.S. State       
Governor, Former    
    Spouse of     
Governor's Staff,
    Member of
Governors, Board of 

High Commissioner    
Honorable, The
Honorary Ambassador       
Honorary degrees
Honorary doctorate
Honourable, The

Indian Chief         
Inspector General    
Interim Official   
   Writing &  
    Writing &

Judge, former     
Judge of US City

     County or State     
Judge, US Federal            
Junior, Senior,
    I, II, III, etc

Justice, Associate

     Supreme Court

Justice, Associate

     Supreme Court


Late, The
   (deceased persons)
Lesbian Couple    
Lieutenant Colonel,     
   USA, USAF, USMC      
Lieutenant General,
   USA, USAF, USMC      

Lieutenant Governor    

Major General,
Man, business
Man, social
Marquess / Marchioness
Married Women       
Marshal for a
   Judicial District, U.S. 
Mayor, U.S. City   
Mayor, Canadian City    
Mayor Pro Tempore
Mayor, Vice    
   Protestant Clergy       
   Christian Orthodox     
Most Reverend, The        
Mother Superior
Mr. (Social)      
Mr. (Business)      
Mrs., Ms. (Use, Social Forms)      
Mrs. vs. Ms.     
Mr. & Mrs. / Couples   

Name Badges or Tags     
Nobility, UK/British
Nobility, Other & Former     
Nun, Catholic
Nun, Orthodox

Officer, Police     

Pastor, Christian Clergy  
   Christian Orthodox  
   Ecumenical Patriarch
   of Constantinople  
People with Two Titles      
Petty Officer
Place Cards            
Plaque, Name on a    
Police Chief
Police Officer                     
Pope, Catholic
Pope, Coptic
Postmaster General         
Presbyter, Orthodox
President, corporate
President of
    College or
President of a
President of a
    US State Assembly 
President (current)
   of the U.S.A.          
President (former)
   of the U.S.A.     
President of the
    U.S.A., spouse of  
    of the U.S.   
Priest, Catholic          
    Christian Orthodox 
Priest, Episcopal        
Prime Minister
   & Academics         
Pro Tempore,
   Elect, Designate    


Ranger, Texas        
   U.S., Federal           
   U.S., State            
Reservist, Military      
Retired Military
   1. Formula For
       How to Address     
   2. Use of Rank by
       Retired Military    

   3. Q&A on
       How to Address
       Retired Military   
Reverend, The
Right Reverend, The         

Same Sex Couple      
Salvation Army    
School Board Member
   U.S. Department,
   Member of the Cabinet
   of Defense, U.S.       
Secretary, Assistant       
Secretary General
   of the U.N.            
Senator, U.S., Federal       
Senator, U.S., State         
Senator, Canadian       
Senior, Junior,
     I, II, III, etc.         
Senior Judge 
Sergeant at Arms
Seventh Day
     Adventist Minister       
Sister, Catholic       

Solicitor General      
Speaker of the U.S.
   House of
Spouse of the
    President of the U.S.       
Spouse of the
    Vice President
    of the U.S.           
Spouse of an
    Elected Official            
State Attorney     
Surgeon General          

Texas Ranger        
Titles & Forms of
    Address, Useless?        
Tombstones, Names on
Town Justice
Town Manager       
The Honorable     
Tribal Officials     
Two Titles,
    Person With

Under Secretary       
US Attorney
US Federal Officials
US State Officials     
US Municipal Officials

Venerable, The        
Veteran (not Retired)         
Very Reverend, The         
VFW Officer/Official    
Vice Mayor       
Vice President
    of the U.S.
Spouse of the
    Vice President
of the U.S.
Vice President-elect
    of the U.S.      
Viscount and/or

Warrant Officer       
White House Staff    
Woman, business        
Woman, social        

Yacht Club Officer      


How to Write Names on Invitations
Questions & Answers, Frequently Asked Questions, and Blog

Site updated by Robert Hickey on 14 May 2020

How to List a Deceased Hostess on an Invitation?
How to List a Deceased Father of the Groom on an Invitation?     

How to List the Hosts, Who Are Children of the Honorees?        
How to List Host Who is "The Honorable"?
How to Write an Invitation for an Event In Honor of Someone?
How to List Guests of Honor on an Invitation?      

How to Use Dr. or PhD on an Invitation?        

How to Use "Dr. and Dr." by PhD Parents on an Invitation?         
How to Write Parents Names on The Host Line?          

How to Write the Host Line on a Corporate Invitation?

How to List an Honorable Groom on an Invitation?     
How to List a Judge Who Officiates on an Invitation? 

How to List a Former Official as an Honoree on an Invitation?        

How to List an Official Hostess and her Husband Co-host on an Invitation?          
Is the Spouse of an Official Get Included
     On an Official Invitation if the Company is Paying for the Event?      
How to Write the Spouse's Name
      When She alone is THE Hostess at an Official Event?
How to Include the Wife's Given Name On a Invitation
      Issued Jointly with Her Husband?         

Whose Name is First on a Royal Invitation: Bride or Groom?        
Can I Abbreviate Names on an Invitation?        
Can I Abbreviate Anything on an Invitation?        
Which Do I Write: 3rd, Third, or III?        
Should I Use Honor or Honour on an Invitation?       
How to Write the Year on an Invitation?     
How to Write House Numbers on an Invitation?        
How to List the Time on an Invitation?

How to Write the City on an Invitation?     

Does an Adult Child Get Their Own Invitation?      

How to Address an Invitation to a Mr. & Mrs. (Name)?      
     Or Should I Use Their First Names?    
How to Include a Fiancee on an Invitation?      

How to Address an Invitation to a Bridesmaid?

How to Address an Invitation to a Family?        
How to Address an Invitation to a Flowergirl?        
How to Address an Invitation to a Widow?         

How to Write Names of Hosts & Hostesses

How to List an Honoree's Name When
He/She Is
The Honorable (Full Name)?
How do I write the name of an honoree who was our mayor. Is he Mr. (Full Name), Former Mayor (Full Name) or The Honorable (Full Name)?
        -- Ken

Dear Ken,
Former US elected officials continue to be officially listed as The Honorable for life. Since there's a new mayor he's not the mayor anymore and former mayor identifies him, but is not a form of address
      The Honorable
(a courtesy title) is used by others addressing the person. So, while it is never used by the host on his/her own invitation, it is used when listing a honoree
              The Honorable (Full Name)

     If you feel you need to note what his job was for some reason, you can include his office, or former office on the next line:
              The Honorable (
Full Name)
              Mayor of River City, 1990-2000

    -- Robert Hickey

How to Write the Names of a University President
and Spouse on an Wedding Invitation?

     I love your book! I am working on a wedding invitation where the father of the bride is the president of a university.  When invitations go out from the university we use "President and Mrs. John Jones request the pleasure . . ."
     Should the wedding invitation be worded as "President and Mrs." , "Dr. and Mrs." or "President Dr. and Mrs."? 
     Do you write out "Doctor" on formal invitations or do you use "Dr."?
        -- Evelyn Cotton

Dear Ms. Cotton,
      Definitely not President Dr. Two honorifics are not traditionally combined in the United States.
      Formally it would be either:
               Dr. John Alexander Jones and Mrs. Jones
               Dr. and Mrs. John Alexander Jones
     The latter is also O.K., it is just less formal than the first form, but is useful when the name is long and space is an issue.
     Regarding the abbreviation of doctor, Dr. -- the abbreviation -- is correct even on formal invitations. Dr., Mr., Mrs. are abbreviations all used on invitations.
     University presidents are not typically addressed as President (Surname) outside their official duties and someone wants to emphasize his/her role.  University presidents are normally addressed by whatever honorific they are entitled to, typically Dr. and then identified by their office as in:
              Dr. John Jones, President of the University of Delaware

       -- Robert Hickey

How to Include the Mother's Given Name on the Host Line?
       The bride's parents are married but have always maintained different last names. Both have PhD's. So I think we just list us both with Dr. and list the woman (me) first. That's the social rule.
          That's the easy part. The part I am struggling with is with the groom's parents. They are married with same last name: the father has a Ph.D., groom's mother does not.  The groom's mother wants her first name mentioned. So Dr. & Mrs. John Minton doesn't work.
         How do I make the program's two sets of names look consistent as they will be right next to each other?
          Parents of the Bride:
                    Dr. Jean Wennick and Dr. David Dexter
          Parents of the Groom:
                    Mrs. Suzanne and Dr. John Minton
                    Mrs. Suzanne Boss and Dr. John Minton

          Dr. & Mrs. John and Suzanne Minton
          Or just list us all, one name at a time:
                    Dr. Jean Wennick
                    Dr. David Dexter
                    Mrs. Suzanne Minton
                 Dr. John Minton
          Or what? Thank you for your help!!!
          -- Jean W. 

Dear Jeane W.,
          You are right, what would be traditionally correct is:
                    Dr. Jean Wennick and Dr. David Dexter
                    Dr. and Mrs. John Minton
                    request the pleasure of your company
                    at the wedding of their children

          There is a reason why this is a problem without an elegant solution: Some names in your proposed invitation are formal and presented in the traditional way:
                    Dr. Jean Wennick and Dr. David Dexter
          But the groom's parents names are sort of free style:
                    Mrs. Suzanne Minton and Dr. John Minton
          If the groom's mother wants her name listed as Mrs. Suzanne Minton  (Mrs. (Woman's given name)(Surname) is the traditional form for a divorced woman) … then you are stuck with it.
          Good news is that using "and" between the names indicates they are a couple. When the names of parents on an invitation are presented without an "and" between them, it indicates they are divorced.
          You are stuck with something that is a combination of formal and informal … but if everyone is accepting it … that's probably more important than following the rules?  Right?
          FYI, a more elegant, less formal solution is not to use any honorifics:
                    Jean Wennick and David Dexter
                    Suzanne and John Minton
                    request the pleasure of your company
                    at the wedding of their children

          But, I realize, this may not be acceptable to all the doctors!
          -- Robert Hickey

How to Write The Names of Hosts
Who Have Post-nominal Abbreviations

      How should I write our names as the hosts on an invitation to our CPA's Association event? We are both CPA’s and the majority of the guests will be CPA’s.  I use my maiden name professionally.  Will they know we are married?

            -- Roland Rodgers and Linda Fernandez

Dear Mr. Roland and Ms. Fernandez:
    Several rules apply.
    #1 rule is – if you and your spouse use different surnames ... you each use your (given name)+(surname).

rule is – you get an honorific or a post-nominal abbreviation ... never both.  Your husband is either Mr. Roland Rodgers or Roland Rodgers, CPA ... never Mr. Roland Rodgers, CPA
    #3 rule is that the "and" between the names of the hosts on a wedding invitation would indicate you are married, however on business occasions (not at a private social event) the concept is that your marital status is actually not pertinent.

Traditionally post-nominal abbreviations like CPA are not used on social correspondence. I wish you could include your relationship to the CPA Association in another way. Such as:
                    Roland Rodgers and Linda Fernandez, Chairs
                    and the Board of Directors of the CPA Association
                    request the pleasure of your company.

    Check out the posting I have on my page on Invitations.
    If you encounter this sort of thing often, my book has a complete chapter on joint forms of address.

             -- Robert Hickey

How to Include a Wife's Name the Host Line on an Invitation?
          A physician and his wife are co-chairing a hospital event.  How do I recognize them on the invitation?
          Are these the only two options?
                    Dr. and Mrs. John Doe
John and Mary Doe
          Anyway to include the wife's first name and also mention husband is a MD??
~ FLT in Lynn, MA

Dear FLT:
          When you want to include the wife's given name, and they are just Mr. and Mrs. a good option is to present their names informally and to drop the honorifics entirely:
                    John and Mary Doe
          Post-nominal abbreviations are not used on social correspondence and invitations, but one could say this is an official function and he is there hosting in an official activity. So you could also argue that using the M.D. might solve the problem:
                    John Doe, M.D. and Mary Doe

Have you asked them their preference? That might solve things quickly.  But, that said, traditionally and formally it would be either:
                    Dr. John Doe and Mrs. Doe
                    Dr. and Mrs. John Doe

          The issue for many people writing an invitation for their event is – for them it is a formal event – but it is actually not that formal (compared to a State Dinner at The White House.)  I'd suggest they create their dream 'formal looking invitation' but use casual wording that reflects their more informal/casual style. The invitation should reflect the event, and not every event or invitation has to be formal.
         If it is to be a formal invitation, then the traditions for how names are presented with honorifics and titles on formal invitations work well.

           -- Robert Hickey

How To List Hosts, Who are the Children of the Honorees?
      I am writing to obtain your help in answering a question for my husband’s parent’s 50th Wedding Anniversary invitation.  My husband, Tom, and I will host the event. What is the proper way to list our names? His parent's names?
     The children of …
     Dick and Jeane Merrill
Mr. and Mrs. Richard Merrill
              - Barbara Merrill

Dear Ms. Merrill:
     I am not so sure you need to identify yourselves as children. List the hosts as the hosts -- and people will either know ... or figure it out!
     Use whatever level of formality you want ... as long as you do it consistently.
     So ... to honor first

To honor
Dick and Jeane Merrill
on their
fiftieth wedding anniversary
Tom and Barbara Merrill
invite you to a
cocktail buffet
Saturday, the twenty first of June
at seven o'clock
The Century Club
Athens, Georgia

Or list the hosts first and the honorees second

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Merrill
request the pleasure of your company
at a dinner dance
In honor of the
fiftieth wedding anniversary
Mr. and Mrs. Richard Merrill
Saturday, the twenty first of June
at seven o'clock
The Century Club
Athens, Georgia
-- Robert Hickey

Does a Host/Hostess Use The Honorable on an Invitation?
    I am writing with regard the use of the Honorable on invitations. Our president, Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and is the Honorable.
      How should we write the name of Dr. Jackson on invitations? What is correct for listing titles and degrees (both earned and honorary) with Honorables? 
     Is it proper to say:
          The Honorable Shirley Ann Jackson, PhD
          President of XYZ Institute

          invites you to join her and ...
      Please advise.
         -- DP

Dear DP:
    On invitations the host/hostess is actually writing his/her own name, and one does not identify oneself as "The Honorable": Others address the person as "The Honorable" it is never used reflexively.
     Also, post-nominal abbreviations -- like "PhD" -- are not used on social correspondence. Invitations, even official ones like this, are considered social.
YES to:
        Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson
nt of XYZ Institute
        invites you to join her and ....

               -- Robert Hickey

Use of "Dr. and Dr." by PhD Parents on an Invitation?
    My husband and I have PhD degrees and are often addressed as Dr. (name) in social and academic circles.   We are parents of the bride-to-be and are confused about what titles we should use on the wedding invitation.  Should we use Mr. and Mrs. or Dr. and Dr.?

           -- VM

Dear VM:
    On a wedding invitation use your social form of address ... so if you are known socially as "Dr. and Dr." ... then use "Dr. and Dr." 
    When each person has a special honorific ... in this case "Dr." ... each gets their full name.
    If you both use the same last name and use Dr. socially the correct way would be

            Dr. Anthony Montana
            and Dr. Mazie Montana
  request the honor of your presence

    The "and' indicates you are married.
    Note: I have another Q&A on the topic of a couple ... both doctors.
               -- Robert Hickey

Dear Mr. Hickey
   Thank you very much for your prompt response.  It helps a lot. I can't understand why some wedding etiquette books advise against PhD's using the title of doctor.

           -- VM

Dear VM:
    I edited the new edition of Crane's Blue Book of Stationery ... and it has what I suggest above.
    I think using "Dr." really depends on the source of the information: 
    Sometimes medical doctors often don't think anyone else should use "Dr." One physician wrote to me (in care of this blog) saying that "PhDs want to be "Dr." except when the person next to them has a heart attack or when it comes time to write the check for malpractice insurance."  
    But those in academia and scientific research have a different point of view!
             -- Robert Hickey

How to Word an Invitation
from an Official Hostess & Her Husband?

     Our annual holiday party invitations have always read:

On behalf of the
Alabama Automobile Dealers Association
Chairman of the Board and First Lady
Avery and April McLean
Cordially invite you and yours to attend the

     This year we have a married female Chairman of the Board and I’m struggling on how to word the invitation.  Would the wording below be acceptable?

On behalf of the
Alabama Automobile Dealers Association
Chairman of the Board
Cindy Haygood and her husband Daniel,
Cordially invite you and yours to attend the ...

     This is a semi-formal event held at the Governor’s Mansion.
Debbie at the Alabama Automobile Dealers Association

Dear Debbie,
     What you've been doing isn't strictly casual ... or strictly formal  ... and it's sort of backed you in to a corner!
    There are no rules for casual and informal forms of address  ... everyone does whatever they want to do.
    On my site I am just showing formal forms ... which can be done consistently ... hence their benefit.
    But that said ... how about:

On behalf of the
Alabama Automobile Dealers Association
Chairman of the Board Cindy Haygood and Mr. Daniel Haygood
Cordially invite you to attend the ...
On behalf of the
Alabama Automobile Dealers Association
Ms. Cindy Haygood,
Chairman of the Board, and Mr. Daniel Haygood
Cordially invite you to attend the ...


    What do you think?
       -- Robert Hickey

Mr. Hickey,
     That is much better – just needed a professional opinion!  Thank you very much!
        -- Debbie

How to Write the Host Line
on a Corporate/Organization's Invitation?

I have a question regarding invitations, specifically corporate invitations.  Why is it incorrect for an invitation to be issued by a corporation or an organization?  Our company has always issued invitations with a host line reading, “XYZ Corporation invites you to ”,
     I now have read that the host must be a person. I plan to say we need to have an executive to issue the invitation instead but why?
       --MW in Savannah

Dear MW,
      Such rules always have a practical origin
      One of the obligations of a guest to to reply to the host and tell him or her that the guest is coming, Then the guest must find the host at the event and thank them for an invitation. And finally the guest find their host again to thank them as they depart.
     It can be an office, a name, or an office + name.
     Either of these provide the guest with what he or she needs to know to be a good guest.

The President of XYZ Corporation

Mark L. Henderson
President of XYZ Corporation

       -- Robert Hickey

Is The Spouse of an Official Listed as Hostess
On the Host Line on an Official Invitation?

     In your book you show all the options of how to list a husband and wife as host and hostess of an event.
     What if a husband is president of a company and invites his direct reports with spouses to a dinner party off site (but not at the president's house)?  Should the invitation state the president
as the host and his wife as the hostess? Or just the president as the host?
       -- Rhonda

Dear Rhonda,
     There could be a company policy in a particular company stating a policy to the contrary, but it's typical when a corporate exec hosts employees and their spouses ... and the exec's spouse assumes the duties and responsibilities of a co-host (hostess) ... for the exec's spouse to be listed on the invitation.  I asked some graduates of The Protocol School of Washington® to comment on what they do in their environment:
    From Protocol Officers at Military Bases:
  It would be common for social events (dinner's etc.) but not for ceremonies. On the invitation we always list both names if spouses were invited to the event. i.e.:

The Commanding General, 2d Marine Division
and Mrs. Smith
request the pleasure of your company

    From a Protocol Officer at a Museum:
  If the Chairman of our Board and his wife are serving as hosts, we include the wife on the invitation to telegraph that spouses are welcome. We would do this even if the event is not in their residence.  We also include the spouse if the event is for families, again to signal that the event is open to families.
    From Protocol Officers at Universities:
  Yes, we include the spouse of the official on the invitation if they will act as host/hostess of the event even if the University is paying. For us, it is more a question if she (or he) is actually going to participate.
    From, of course from political situations show below.
        -- Robert Hickey

How to Write The Name of a Spouse
When She is the Official Hostess?

        The Commanding General's wife is hosting a luncheon for the spouses of a group of foreign students.  Does the invitation read:
                Mrs. John Buchanan
        requests the pleasure of your company
                Mrs. Brooke Buchanan
             requests the pleasure of your company
        Thanks for your help!
        -- D.R.

Dear D.R.,
        The final answer will depend on Mrs. Buchanan.
        If it is the government which is paying for the invitation and event, then she's doing so as the "Mrs." of "John Buchanan" … So Mrs. John Buchanan is correct.
        [Spouses, e.g., a First Lady, traditionally issue official invitations as Mrs. (surname).  So following that style, Mrs. Buchanan would also be correct. See the invitations (see below) from Mrs. Roosevelt and Mrs. Clinton.]
        However, spouses have also issued official invitations in which their given names appear.  E.g., the White House issued invitations from Mrs. Laura Bush (see below). In the case of Mrs. Bush #43, was this done to define for historians the invitation was not issued by another First Lady, Mrs. Bush #41 -- Barbara Bush? Was it for clarity? Was it changing styles? Who knows?
        Whatever Mrs. Bush #43's reason, Mrs. Obama has issued invitations as Mrs. Michelle Obama (see below).
        So, if your Mrs. Buchanan wants Mrs. Brooke Buchanan, there are precedents for a spouse issuing an invitation to an event for which she is not personally paying.
        -- Robert Hickey

How to Address an Envelope to TRH William and Kate?
       How should I address a letter to the Their Royal Highnesses Prince William and his bride, Catherine?  I want to send a note which is jointly addressed.  
        From what I read there could technically be several correct joint forms, but the best one would be a matter of style:  I don't know which one would be the most preferred:
            HRH The Prince William
                        and HRH The Princess William

            TRH The Prince and Princess William
                        (but, normally the most formal form is to write a name by itself, not combined)
            HRH The Prince William
                        and HRH The Duchess of Cambridge

            TRH The Duke and Duchess of  Cambridge
                        (but, this might lower him!)

        -- Royal Watcher 

Dear R.W.:

        Before I could figure this out, I got this reply from Chris Young, President of Protocol Diplomacy International - Protocol Officers Association, and truthfully, I could not improve on his explanation.
        He writes:
         I would choose
                TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
        Simple reasoning – this is the style the Palace uses with almost complete exclusivity.  It is the style on their website, on the Prince of Wales’ website, in the official diaries, in press releases and other correspondence.  If it is good enough for Buckingham Palace, then it is good enough for me.
         You make a good point that a “duke” is technically lower than a “prince.”  However, this is ameliorated by the HRH style.  In British royal protocol, the HRH designation is reserved for the Royal Family – and, in specific, these three groups:

        ** The sons and daughters of the Sovereign
        ** The grandchildren legitimately born by male offspring.  This explains why Beatrice and Eugenie, the children of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, are princesses, but Peter and Zara Phillips, the children of Princess Anne, The Princess Royal, are not.  A modern exception to this rule is that the children of TRH The Earl and Countess of Wessex (Edward and Sophie) are not styled HRH at the choice of their parents and with consent of the Palace.
        ** The children of heirs presumptive, i.e., the children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales – in this case, any children born to Prince William. (This presents a curious situation, because, technically, any children born to Prince Harry if his father were on the throne would be styled HRH but not if his grandmother were still reigning.  The Queen, though, can rectify that by a stroke of her pen.)
        Letters patent (an open document issued by a monarch or government conferring a patent or other right) issued by the Queen are often used to grant the title of prince or princess and the style of HRH.  (She used this device to create her husband, then Duke Edinburgh, as The Prince Philip in 1957.  She likewise created her aunt, Alice, as The Princess Alice in the 1970s.)  One such document contemplated your conundrum and described the use of HRH in this way:  “This [using HRH] is especially important when a prince holds another title such as duke (or a princess, the title of duchess) by which he or she would normally be addressed.  Using the style His (or Her) Royal Highness is directly associated with being a Prince of Princess of the United Kingdom.”
         And we see this playing out all the time. Technically Philip is HRH The Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh, but he is often referred to, even formally, as HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. In Scotland, Charles is HRH The Duke of Rothesay – not the Prince of Wales.  Andrew is always HRH The Duke of York. And Edward is always HRH The Earl of Wessex.
        In sum, royal peers (those who hold dukedoms or earldoms) remain princes.  However, their peerage is in addition in – never in lieu of – their princely style
         Thank you, Chris!

        -- Robert Hickey

Whose Name First on a Royal Wedding Invitation:
Prince William's or Catherine Middleton's?

      I have been engaged by our local military as a consultant for an event. They want to hold a black-tie dinner to celebrate the marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. I am responsible for most of the arrangements and will provide a dining etiquette presentation to the guests. I am just putting together the invitations and have written Prince William's name before Catherine's. Would you agree? I have been in contact with the office of the private secretary to Prince William on other matters and they have been very helpful but I am to embarrassed to ask them, I should really know these things. I thought I would ask the expert!
           -- Jan C. in Ontario

Dear Jan C. in  Ontario:
    Interesting question!
    Among commoners typically the bride's name is first: The parent's of the bride invite you to the marriage of their daughter to this man, etc. But in this case his name is first since he is royalty.
    See the three invitations below. All list the royal person first:
        1. The recently married Crown Princess of Sweden to Daniel Westling, a commoner.
        2. The Prince of Wales to Diana, who was noble ... but not royal like the H.R.H.
        3. Prince William to Catherine Middleton.
    FYI when I was Belgium and I read a story in Point de Vue, a magazine that focuses on nobility, about the maker of china souvenirs (mugs, plates, etc.) who had already made items with William & Cate's initials intertwined ... his "W" first .... her "C" second ... then destroyed them all.  Reason being that WC had the wrong connotation and they redid them with the "C" on top sitting in the open "W" -- deemed to be more suitable.
               -- Robert Hickey

Should An Adult Child Get their Own Invitation?
       I received an invitation to the wedding of a first cousin's child addressed to us as The Wright Family. My daughter Jessica, now 20 and in college in Florida, was not listed by name, but is, I believe, invited.  I think a proper invitation should have been mailed to her in Florida as she is an adult and not living at home. 
    I am trying to remember the rule about all grown children over 16 should receive their own invitation at their proper address: not Mommy and Daddy's if they don't live there. I want to explain the rules to my cousins!

       -- Val Wright, Severna Park, MD

Dear Val,
    O.K. … there are a couple of parts to your question!

    Everyone who is invited should be listed on the envelope for clarity. So for your family the best, in this case, a very formal example would be:
        Mr. and Mrs. William Wright
        Miss Jessica Wright
        445 St. Elmo Avenue
        Severna Park, MD 21146

    If there is an inside envelope, the invited guests are listed again:
        Mr. and Mrs. Wright
        Miss Wright

    On the inside envelope the tradition is to use the ‘conversational’ form of their name. The above form is a formal ‘conversational’ example. Certainly your cousins could write Uncle Bill, Aunt Val, and Jessica on the inside envelope if they wanted to be less formal.

    Yes, family members living at another address are sent their own invitations.
    But, to me it's defendable to believe Jessica in college is still "a minor the nest" and your address is still her best mailing address.  So either sending Jessica her own invitation or listing Jessica by name on the invitation with you is better. 
    Whether the cut is 16 years of age ... sending an invitation to a young adult is always considerate and appreciated.
    And, whether she is Miss Wright or Ms. Wright: Either is correct. “Miss” is a more traditional (maybe old fashioned?) since every young woman older than 12 might choose to be “Ms.” nowadays.
     As for taking it upon yourself to inform your cousins of the correct rules: be careful. Dorothea Johnson, founder of The Protocol School of Washington® always followed the rule that she did not provide guidance on etiquette ... unless the person paid her to do so.

     -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Mr. & Mrs. on an Invitation
Or How 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 or
               Mr. and Mrs. John and Jane Doe?
     Or is there a better way than this?
       -- Lynna

Dear Lynna,
      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.

       -- Lynna

Dear Lynna,
    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 work in one place, won't necessarily work everyplace.
    What I suggest in my book is always the most formal option -- one 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 ... since 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.
       -- Robert

How Do I List a Deceased Hostess on an Invitation?
Dear Mr. Hickey:
    I have a quick question that I am hoping you might be able to answer. A baby shower was to be hosted by two individuals. Regretfully, one of the individuals passed away about a week ago. The family asks that the deceased still be listed as hostess on the invitation. How would that be worded?
             Posthumously Caroline Giles
            The Late Caroline Giles
     Please advise
         --- Helen Carley

Dear Ms. Carley:
   Invitations are issued by host who will attend an event. What you should do is decide who will host the event now. THEN the host would open the event with a welcome toast and loving remembrance ... such as ... I cannot welcome you today without saying that as
we gather to celebrate of the joyous start of a new life -- we also celebrate a another life well lived -- that of Caroline Giles. Caroline an I were to jointly host this event and nothing would have brought her more joy than to see this wonderful gathering of friends and family ..... etc.
          -- Robert Hickey

How to List a Deceased Father on an Invitation?
       I am in a dilemma. 
       I thought it might be nice to include my fiance's parents -- not in the hosting line, but after his name, such as Mr. & Mrs. John L. Foster request the pleasure of your company at the marriage of their daughter Susan Renee to Donald Joseph Smith, son of Mr. & Mrs. Harold B. Smith.  However,  his father is deceased. 
      Since I am using Mr. & Mrs. John Doe for my parents on the hosting line, then it should be congruent when I mention his parents son of Mr. & Mrs. Harold Smith but with his father being deceased, every etiquette guide I found said they'd be written such as son of the late Mr. & Mrs. Harold Smith -- BUT that makes it sound as if BOTH his parents are deceased.
       How should I do this?

            -- Natalie Foster

Dear Ms. Foster:
If you want to include his parents use:
            son of Mrs. Harold B. Smith
      This makes it clear that he is deceased ... since she is still using "Mrs." and his name.
      If your fiance thinks this is unacceptable, another option -- which I think is bit awkward -- but it is certainly clear is:
            son of Mrs. Harold B. Smith and the late Mr. Smith
      My niece Katie, got married last year and was in a similar situation:  
            Katie's fiance was Ian Dexter. His father, Kevin Dexter, died several years ago.
            His mother subsequently married John G. Graham.
            Ian wanted his father remembered on the invitation.
            Their invitation read:
                  son of Mrs. John G. Graham and the late Mr. Kevin Dexter
       -- Robert Hickey

How to Include a Fiancee on an Invitation?
       I am in a dilemma: I need to send an invitation to an gentleman and his fiancee, can you help me please?

            -- Jocelyn J

Dear Jocelyn J:
      To directly answer your question here are some options, but be sure to read the
NOTE that follows, too! 
      The normal form to use on the envelope is:
            Mr. Henry Smith
            Ms. Nancy Wilson
      Or, if you know she uses "MISS"
            Mr. Henry Smith
            Miss Nancy Wilson
            1) Etiquette books put an "and" between names if they are married .... no "and" if they are not.
            2) I've encountered people using 'fiancee' to describe someone with whom they are already living. If they do not live together ... it would be more correct to send each their own invitation to their individual home addresses.
            3) If the gentleman is actually the guest ... and the fiancee a date being included as a courtesy .... It would also be correct to address the invitation just to the gentleman .... and communicate you are looking forward to seeing them both at the event.  You can do this by listing them both on an inside envelope if the invitation has one ... or including a note extending the invitation to his guest.
            -- Robert Hickey

How to List an Honorable Groom on an Invitation?
       On a formal engraved wedding invitation, how do you list the groom's name on the invitation when he is a judge on the state court of appeals?
       The Honorable Micheal James Wilson or Mr. Michael James Wilson
       Many thanks..... I am going to purchase your book today!

            -- Jill in Fort Worth

Dear Jill:
      Interesting question. It's not a question I've seen answered in the wedding etiquette books. I up
dated the Cranes' Blue Book and even I didn't include this situation ... maybe I should have.
      He would be:
            The Honorable Michael James Wilson
      On invitations grooms DO get their honorific, rank or courtesy title:
            Lieutenant Michael James Wilson
            Dr. Michael James Wilson
            The Reverend Michael James Wilson

      -- Robert Hickey

How to Write Hosts Name's on an Invitation When The
Hosts are a Governor and His Wife ... Who is a Judge

      I am doing an invite for a luncheon and the hosts are the Governor and Judge (wife).  How do I properly list them as hosts on the invite?  Do I put Governor Dave and Judge Nancy Frendenthal or do I use The Honorable Nancy Freudenthal for the spouse?

             -- C. B. Frazier

Dear C. B. Frazier:
     One of the most frequent questions I get when I speak is "how do I address Hillary and Bill" .... so this is similar.
    1) One does not refer to oneself in writing as "The Honorable" ... others address you in that way ... so she is not "The Honorable" when she's the hostess.
    2) Very high officials .... governors, presidents, chief justices, speakers of houses .... are referred to 'by office' ... e.g. The Governor of Wyoming ... not by name.
    3) Why go so formal? An invitation is a keepsake for guests, and while they will be delighted with the host and hostess are informal in their greeting, granting the formal dignity
to the office on the invitation honors the office and all of the citizens who elected the current office holder. At The White House the invitations are formal ... the conversation less formal!  It's a good model.
    So ... all that said .... depending on space you would write
           The Governor of Wyoming and Judge Nancy Freudenthal
    or    The Governor of Wyoming
            and Judge Nancy Freudenthal

    or less formally ... but it might fit on one line:
           The Governor of Wyoming and Judge Freudenthal
    or even less formally ... using his name is less formal, though not incorrect technically:
           Governor David D. Freudenthal
           and Judge Nancy Freudenthal

     -- Robert Hickey

How To List Guests on Invitations
Our city has an annual “Holiday Reception”, which provides an opportunity for city officials and community leaders to mingle. On the day of the reception we will have very high-level Canadian visitors. How do we to appropriately show Canadian visitors on the invitation? There is a total of nine Canadians, so I am assuming because of the length, we would list the highest ranking official such as,... “The Right Honourable, full name, Deputy Premier and Minister International & Intergovernmental Relations first. Is it appropriate to say after that, “and his entourage”, or “and honored Canadian guests”?
            --- Thank you, KD

Dear KD:
    Guests are frequently listed on invitations -- but usually it's when the event is in their honor. It sounds as if this event is not in their honor and they will simply be guests.  If that's correct ... then their names would not be on the invitation. If your boss/host or of the event were to recognize their presence and welcome them in his or her remarks at the event -- that would be very appropriate.
    If the event IS in their honor ... then use their name(s), but not their job/office. Typical wording would be:

In Honour of
The Right Honourable (Full Name)

The Mayor of Idaho Falls
requests the pleasure of you company
at a reception
Wednesday, the second of December
at seven o'clock
2525 North Water Avenue
Idaho Falls, Idaho

In Honour of
The Right Honourable (Full Name)
and distinguished guests from
The Ministry of International and Government Relations
of the Commonwealth of Canada

The Mayor of Idaho Falls
requests the pleasure of you company
at a reception
Wednesday, the second of December
at seven o'clock
2525 North Water Avenue
Idaho Falls, Idaho

       In the US we use the US spelling "honor" -- But I'd use "Honour" in this case because it is correct to use "The Right Honourable" for this official since that's the way he is accustomed to seeing his name written at home ... and I think it would be weird to use one with a U and one without a U in this close proximity.
                      -- Robert Hickey

How to List Honored Guests on an Invitation?
      We are having Sheriff Joe Ortega speak at an event we are holding in October.  How should I list his name on the formal invitation?
            Featuring Special Guests
            The Honorable Joe Ortega, Sheriff of Maricopa County
James Ross, Red Rock Financial Services
      Thank you!
              -- Carol Kim, Rossner & Green, Scottsdale, Arizona

Dear Ms. Kim:
    The form of the sheriff's name is good.
    Since Sheriff Ortega is an Honorable ... I would give James Ross a Mr. just for parity.
    I've not seen featuring special guests used in writing on a truly formal invitation.  Designating Orgeta and Ross as "special" and sending the invitation to a recipient who is a guest too ... means that the invitation's recipient is not a special guest. Right?  All your guests are special!
    More typically it's worded ...

To Honor
The Honorable Joe Ortega, Sheriff of Maricopa County
Mr. James Ross, Red Rock Financial Services
Rossner and Green
invite you to attend
a reception
Tuesday, the fourth of October ... etc.

Rossner and Green
invite you to attend
a panel discussion and reception
The Honorable Joe Ortega, Sheriff of Maricopa County
Mr. James Ross, Red Rock Financial Services
Tuesday, the fourth of October ... etc.

               -- Robert Hickey

      Thank you so much for your response!  I really appreciate it. With your suggestion, we are wording the invitation as follows (centered on the page):

You are cordially invited to attend
Rossner & Green's
Board Member Appreciation Dinner
October 6, 2010
6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Phoenix Art Museum
1625 North Central Avenue
Phoenix, Arizona  85004
Free Pre-Event Museum Viewing 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.
Hors D'oeuvres 6:00 to 6:45 p.m.
Dinner and Presentation 6:45 to 9:00 p.m.
The Honorable Joe Ortega, Sheriff of Maricopa County
Mr. James Ross, Red Rock Financial Services
Mr. Robert Feldman, Rossner & Green Client Advisory Board
Mr. Jason Proulx, Community Association Accounting Initiatives
Please RSVP to Carol Kim by September 29
at (480) XXX-XXXX or

Due to limited seating, reservations will be taken on a first come basis. 
Board members only please.

     Thanks again for your assistance!  :-)
              -- Carol

Dear Carol:
    I like it. You are using some less formal styles, but in business invitations the less formal styles you use are typical.  I would leave off the Museum ZIP code and lower case some words as noted below.
    However ... regarding the order of the information ... the following would be a more traditional order for the information on a formal invitation  
        Who ... What ... When ... Where.  
    If you want the scheudule on the invitation, I'd put the schedule last because that's where the phrase Reception immediately following would go.  Good form for phone or e-mail responses. Even The White House does it by e-mail today.

Rossner & Green's
Board Member Appreciation Dinner

The Honorable Joe Ortega, Sheriff of Maricopa County
Mr. James Ross, Red Rock Financial Services
Mr. Robert Feldman, Rossner & Green Client Advisory Board
Mr. Jason Proulx, Community Association Accounting Initiatives

October 6, 2010
6:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Phoenix Art Museum
1625 North Central Avenue
Phoenix, Arizona

Free pre-event museum Viewing 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.
Hors D'oeuvres 6:00 to 6:45 p.m.
Dinner and presentation 6:45 to 9:00 p.m.

Please RSVP to Carol Kim by September 29 at
(480) XXX-XXXX or
Due to limited seating, reservations will be taken on a first come basis. 
Board members only please.

               -- Robert Hickey

How to List a Former Elected Official on an Invitation?
       My group wants to honor and thank a former California State Senator who served our district with distinction in both the State Assembly and State Senate.  She served in the legislature until December 2008.  She was recently appointed to a paid position on a State Board, but that board is being dismantled by Legislature and Governor due to California's budget crisis.
      We are wondering how to list her on the invitations.  We do not want to affront the current State Senator, who will receive an invitation and likely attend.  They are are good friends of each other, and both are good friends of some of the leaders of our organization.  In casual conversation many of us just use first names.  Invitations will also be sent to many who haven't been that close to the the former Senator, but almost everyone in our area considers the former senator as the best to have ever served in the position.  Here's the text:
        You are cordially invited to
         Celebrate the 10th Anniversary of
         (group's name)
   and to Honor
Here is where we need help. Please tell us what won't work, what will do, and what you condsider best:
          Tina Jonas
          Senator Tina Jonas
          Former Senator Tina Jonas
          Senator Tina Jonas, retired
          Honorable Senator Tina Jonas
          Our Senator Tina Jonas
          Our Dear Former Senator Tina Jonas
or ........................................
     We are putting the invitation to bed next week.
     Thanks in advance for your help.
        -- Mike Mitchell in Los Angeles

Dear Mr. Mitchell:
    Refer to your guest of honor on the invitation as:
        The Honorable Tina Jonas
    Once an 'Honorable' always an 'Honorable'.
    A guest of honor may or may not be identified as to who they are ... but it sounds like people getting this invitation will know who Tina Johnas is.  But, If you feel obliged to identify her you would write something like:
        Former State Senator from California's 41st District
        State Senator from California's 41st District, 1996-2008
    In conversation (orally) she can be addressed as Senator Jonas if that's her preference, which is not inconsiderate of the current State Senator. Positions of which there is only one at a time DON'T continue to use their honorific (governor, speaker, mayor) but positions where many have the same title at the same time (admiral, senator, professor) DO continue.
    Only oddity about State Senators is that they are not addressed as Senator in the presence of a United States Senator because it is thought to be confusing. So in a room with a current U.S. Senator, she would be State Senator Jonas or even Ms. Jonas.

                    -- Robert Hickey

How to List a University President on an Invitation?
      I am hosting a cocktail reception in my home honoring the athletic director of a university. The university president and his wife will be attending and I want to list them on the invitation with a few other university officials. Please advise as to how I should list the couple:
            Mr. and Mrs. Jim Clements, President, West Virginia University
            Mr. Jim Clements, President, West Virginia University and Ms. Beth Clements
West Virginia University President Jim Clements and Beth Clements
      Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
           -- Sally H.

Dear Sally:
      High officials may not need to be identified on invitations since the invitees know / should know the ranks of the notable guests.
      And, every University president I have ever encountered is a "Dr." not a "Mr."
      So, most formally it would simply be:
            Dr. and Mrs. James P. Clements
      If you need to (want to) include his position then it would be
            Dr. James P. Clements, President, West Virginia University
                  and Mrs. Clements

     Some people will want to list them as James and Beth Clements, but I'd use the first + last name format for a neighborhood party, but not for one honoring university officials. 
      -- Robert Hickey

Do I Use Military Time on a Military Invitation?
     My family is hosting a commissioning of my brother who is becoming a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army. Since he's entering the world of military time and 'twenty-four hundred hours" should we use military time on the invitation?
Jessica W., Athens, Georgia

Dear Jessica,
      In the US Army's Protocol Guide they don't use
               1400 hours
     They use
               at two o'clock
      See below.:

      -- Robert Hickey

How to Write the Year on An Invitation?
     On a wedding invitation, which is correct:  “two thousand nine” OR” two thousand and nine” ?  Thank you!  I prefer “two thousand nine”, but almost all of the wedding samples I’ve looked at use “two thousand and nine”.
         --- Paula Koloski

Dear Ms. Koloski:
    Traditional wording would be:
            Two thousand and nine
    The first word in is capitalized.
    If you don't want to include the year ... that's completely acceptable. Most invitations are sent out 4-6 weeks in advance, so it's not confusing not to specify the year. For party invitations it fairly routine to leave off the year.
    But since wedding invitations are kept as "keepsakes" people like to include the year for future reference.
          -- Robert Hickey

How to Write the City on an Invitation?
        Everybody I'm inviting knows in which state my ceremony will be. On an invitation should I write “Nashville” or  “City of Nashville?
       -- Vicki Cantrell

Dear Ms. Cantrell,
    Write (city), (state):  Nashville, Tennessee
    You would write “city” if “city” is part of the city's name: New York City
    Some cities don’t have to have a state … like Washington, DC. But for the others, use (city), (state).
    Our events are so special to us -- sometimes there’s an urge to fancy them up. Maybe “City of Nashville” sounds grand? Resist the urge to embellish. Keep it simple.
              -- Robert Hickey

How Do I List a Judge on an Invitation?
Dear Mr. Hickey:
On a wedding announcement, how should I write the name of the judge who officiates at the wedding ceremony?  Should he be referred to as The Honorable So-and-So or Judge So-and-So?
    --- Elizabeth Levinson

Dear Ms. Levinson:
    Refer to the judge as The Honorable (full name) in writing.
    Call him or her Judge (name) in conversation, on a place card, and in an introduction to other guests.
          -- Robert Hickey

Can I Abbreviate Names on an Invitation?
Dear Mr. Hickey.
     The names on my invitation are too wide for the page! What can I abbreviate?
                   ~ Barbara Montgomery

Dear Ms. Montgomery:
    The most formal form is to write out everything on an invitation. That means names in full, including middle names. Rather than use a middle initial, omit a middle name.

                  -- Robert Hickey

Can I Abbreviate Anything on an Invitation?
Dear Mr. Hickey.
     Can I abbreviate anything on my invitation?
                   ~ Barbara Montgomery

Dear Ms. Montgomery:
    In names or addresses that are always abbreviated ... e.g.,  Saint is always abbreviated in St. Louis.

    Double compass direction in addresses NW, SW, NE, and SW are always abbreviated.
                  -- Robert Hickey

Should I Use Honor or Honour on My Invitation?
Dear Mr. Hickey.
     Should I use Honor or Honour on my invitation?
                   ~ Helen Krell

Dear Ms. Krell:
    Honour with a U is the British spelling so if you are British or Canadian, its perfectly normal. I think it's a bit fancy for an American to use the British spelling unless you also use favour, harbour, colour, vigour, ardour,
and humour, too.  But Crane's Stationers report that on well over 1/3 of the invitations they produce -- US customers use the British spelling honour.
                  -- Robert Hickey

How Do You Write “The Third” on an Invitation?
Mr. Hickey,
On my wedding invitation should I write my father’s name with a 3rd. or III.
    -- Claire Wagner

Dear Ms. Wagner
On the invitation use Roman numerals ... "III" ... rather “the third” or “3rd.”
   -- Robert HIckey

Should I Use Dr. or Ph.D. on an Invitation?
      If a person holds a Ph.D., should his or her name be Dr. (name) a wedding invitation? Or (Name), Ph.D.? 
      Is this true for the father of the bride?
      The groom?
      Is the rule for names on wedding invitations and wedding envelopes different that the guidelines for social correspondence?
     -- Beverly Russell, Winchester, Virginia

Dear Ms. Russell:
     Wedding invitations and their envelopes are social correspondence. Post-nominal abbreviations (Ph.D. is a post nominal abbreviation) aren't used on social correspondence:
                DON'T use Ph.D.
                DO use Dr. (Name).

     Another question that typically comes up is whether to use Doctor or Dr. (spelled out or abbreviated) on the invitation or on the mailing envelope? The rule is to spell out everything and not to use abbreviations.
Mr., Mrs., Dr., and Ms. (for which there is no spelled-out version) are typically used on invitations and when addressing invitations in even the most formal circles. I think Doctor (Name) looks oh-so-highly precious, but I know some wedding planners who would wrestle me to the mat on that one.
            -- Robert Hickey

Use of "Dr." by a "PhD" on an Invitation?
    My daughter is marrying a man who works for a federal agency approving research devices.  He insists that on the wedding invitation his PhD should be recognized by listing him as "Dr. John Mark Smith"  We are from the South and think this is incorrect as it will leave the impression (with those who don't know him and what he does) that he is a medical doctor. I don't want to raise an issue over something inconsequential but am finding it difficult to accept some of the new and more "modern" wedding etiquette as really appropriate. Is it appropriate to list the groom as "Dr. John Mark Smith"  when has a PhD?
     -- Just Paying for the Wedding

Dear Just Paying,
     How a person is addressed ... is their domain. To me it is the first rule of names. If he's says he is "Dr. John Mark Smith" ... that's his name. You should put it on the invitation.
    But, this is not a new and modern etiquette. Those holding non-medical doctorates working outside of academic or research usually don't use "Dr." as an honorific. Maybe he considers his work to be scientific and approves the devises in a laboratory setting?
    I have a friend who says that the PhD's want to be "Dr." professionally and socially except when someone has a heart attack next to them at dinner or when it comes time to write the check for malpractice insurance. She’s an MD … and it’s just her opinion!

                    -- Robert Hickey

How to Address an Invitation to a Family?
How to Address
an Invitation to a Bridesmaid?
How to Address an Invitation to a Flower Girl?
    Dear Mr. Hickey,
    I would be very grateful if you could give me advice on how to best address the following wedding invitations. In case it makes a difference, these are being sent to English guests.
    1. How should we include children on the invitation? Is it
               Dr. John Smith,
          Mrs. Mary Smith
             and their children
               Dr. John Smith,
         Mrs. Mary Smith,
                Miss Helen Smith
            and Master Peter Smith
    or something else?
    2. Does it make a difference when the children have a role in the wedding (e.g. as a flower girl) but the parents are regular guests?
    3. One of the bridesmaids is already married. . Should the invitation to that couple be addressed to
             Mrs. Jane Doe
              and Mr. Benjamin Doe
    Or the other way around?  Thank you in advance for your help.

Dear Party Planner:
     I am not sure if there is a single correct way ... but here are some options for your English guests.
       1) Most formally when a couple uses the same last name they would use “Mr. and Mrs. (Husband’s full name)”. So your guest would be:
                   Dr. and Mrs. John Smith
    If for some reason you know she dislikes "Mrs. John Smith" and prefers "Mrs. Mary Smith" ... then do it her way. In England many women use "Mrs. (woman's first and surname)."
              Dr. John Smith,
                  Mrs. Mary Smith
         2) I would use "Miss" for a very little girl but nowadays when girls get to be teenagers they generally prefer "Ms."
         3) "Master" is hardly ever used except in conservative circles and there only for very little boys.  If he’s not a little boy, consider using "Mr."
        4) If your invitation has an inside envelope you can address the outside (mailing) envelope with just the parent's names ... and add the children's names to the inside envelope.  That way the invitation is delivered to the right address ... but the inside envelope makes clear who is invited.
    If your invitation only had one envelope ... then list all on the outside.
       5) Everyone invited should be listed by name. So YES to individual names, NO to "their children".
        6) Regarding the flower girl: Individual invitations are sent to adult children living at home with their parents, but young children are included on their parent's invitation. If you want to send the flower girl her own invitation it would certainly be O.K. Obviously a participant already knows the details of the event, but sending an invitation to a participant can be considered providing them a keepsake.
        7) Regarding the bridesmaid ... same answer as #1 above.
                    -- Robert Hickey

How to Address an Invitation to a Widow?
    How should I address an invitation to my aunt -- Nell Darwish. My Uncle George (her husband) has been dead for 20 years.

           -- RND, Nashville

Dear RND:
    Here's the most formal, traditional answer:
    Outside envelope (most formal form for a widow):
        Mrs. George Darwish

    Inside envelope (using whatever call Nell in conversation ... for example):
        Aunt Nell
    Many etiquette books give the form for the inside envelope as ... Mrs. Darwish. The tradition is -- the outside envelope was for the post office -- and as it likely was soiled in route, it was removed by the household staff and only the inside envelope would have been presented to the recipient ... probably on a silver tray. So I say what the tradition really is that you write what you would write on a birthday card you hand carry to a party -- what you call them in conversation.
    So while
Mrs. Darwish is not incorrect ... she's a member of the family and I'd use the more intimate form, Aunt Nell, which expresses the warmth that's intended with the invitation.
             -- Robert Hickey

How to Write House Numbers in An Address?
      I was hoping you could tell me how to write out a house number on an invitation.  Would I use “1” or “One?”  If “One” is the correct form, at what number do I begin using the numeric version?  I seem to remember something about writing out “One” through “Ten,” and to use the numeric form after “11.”
              - Amy S.

Dear Amy S:
        Yes ... house numbers are spelled out One through Ten ... then you use the Arabic numerals .... 11, 12, 13   etc. ... thereafter.
        FYI ... I cover all that in my book's chapter Names ... in a section called Names with Numbers on page 87.

                     -- Robert Hickey

Not Finding Your Question Answered?
(1) At left is a list offices/officials covered and (2) below are other topics covered in my blog. Between the two I probably have what you are looking for.
     But after checking both lists if you don't see your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day (unless I am traveling.)
      If I think your question is of interest to others, I will post the question & answer – but I always change the names and specifics.
      -- Robert Hickey

Mr., Miss, Jr., III, & Names        
Married Women       
Deceased Persons         
People with Two Titles
Post-Nominal Abbreviations and Initials         
Sequence Post-Nominal Abbreviations: Sr., Jr., etc.    
Couples: Private Citizens / Joint Forms of Address 
Couples: U.S. Military / Joint Forms of Address     
Couples: U.S. Officials / Joint Forms of Address      

Former Officials            
Professionals and Academics        

United States Federal Officials, Currently In Office             
United States State Officials, Currently In Office              
United States Municipal Officials, Currently In Office             
       All About The Honorable with U.S. Officials         
       Former United States Officials of all types             
United States Armed Services
       Addressing Active Duty Personnel              
       Addressing Retired Personnel      
       Use of Rank by Retired Personnel      
       Use of Rank by Veterans      

Tribal Officials 
Clergy and Religious Officials           
Canadian Officials         
Australian Officials          
British Officials, Royalty, and Nobility        
Diplomats and International Representatives
Foreign National Officials and Nobility        

Author's Name on His/Her Book       
Business Cards, Names on
Introductions, Names in
Invitations: Names on
Invitations: Names of Armed Service Personnel on        
Name Badges & Tags            
Names on Programs, Signs, & Lists            
Naming a Building or Road            
Place Cards            

Plaques, Awards, Diplomas, Certificates, Names on    
Precedence: Ordering Officials 
Tombstones, Names on      

Site updated by Robert Hickey on 14 May 2020


     Back to Main Page of the Robert Hickey's BLOG 

Robert Hickey is the author of Honor & Respect:
The Official Guide to Names, Titles, and Forms of Address
Published by The Protocol School of Washington®
Foreword by Pamela Eyring

Available in   Hardcover   /  Kindle   /  Apple Book

Copyright © 2020 Robert Hickey.     All Rights Reserved.
Book Photo: Marc Goodman.