How to Address a Couple
Private CitizensJoint Forms of Address

Here Are the 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
—-—-(Address)

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

—-#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
—-—-(Address)

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
—-—-(Address)

—-#5) If you know her preference is Mrs.+(Her Full Name) use it.  See the NOTE below. —-
——–Mr. William Smith
—-—-and Mrs. Linda Smith
—-—-(Address)

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

— Robert Hickey

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 … 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
——–(Address)

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

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 and “Dr.” like Drs. Adam and 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 the Mother’s Given Name on the Host Line?

The bride’s parents have different last names. Both have PhD’s. I am going to list them ‘ladies first, men second’.  The groom’s parents have 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 names look consistent with 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 Minton 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.,
There is a reason why this is a problem: People want a ‘traditional’ invitation, but don’t want to follow traditional rules. The ‘traditional rules’ got to be the standard because they delivered an elegant solution in the vast majority of cases. When we cherry pick which rules to follow – this is what happens! And today it is not unusual.  Here would be my process: Put the names in the “Mr. and Mrs. Order”  Men first, ladies second:
——–Dr. David Dexter and Dr. Jean Wennick
——–Dr. John Minton and Mrs. Suzanne Minton

I’d ask the grooms mother if she want’s Ms. Suzanne Minton or Mrs. Suzanne Minton.   Mrs. (Woman’s given name)(Surname) is the traditional form for a divorced woman – but some women don’t care.  Follow the link in the list at right to Mrs. vs Ms. for more on this.

—-So this is what it looks like:
——–Dr. David Dexter and Dr. Jean Wennick
——–Dr. John Minton and Mrs. Suzanne Minton
——–request the pleasure of your company
——–at the wedding of their children

—-FYI, a more elegant, less formal solution is not to use any honorifics. When you don’t have honorifics then you do follow the ladies first order:
——–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

Related Forms of Address: --------Boy --------Couples: Military --------Couples: Private Citizens --------Couples: U.S. Officials --------Couple, Same Sex --------Family --------First Names --------Girl --------Man or Woman, Social --------Woman, Married --------Miss --------Mrs. vs. Ms. --------Mx. --------Retiree --------Spouse of an Official --------Widow

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.

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"