How to Address Couples
Private CitizensJoint Forms of Address

How to Address a Couple?

How does one address a formal wedding invitation to a couple?
—-– Liz Tidwell

Dear Liz,
Here are the formulas.

—-#1) Couple that use 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 – but not incorrect:
—-—-Mr. and Mrs. William Stanton
—-—-(Address)

—-#3) If they use a different family names – her full name appears:
—-—-Mr. William Smith
—-—-and Ms. Linda Blake
—-—-(Address)

—-#4) If she is a doctor (or has a special honorific) – her full name appears. Precedence dictates that people with titles are listed before people without titles. I show the example following that 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 form #5,  follow the link in the list at right for Mrs. vs. Ms.

— Robert Hickey

—-See These Related Posts:
—-—-Couples: Private Citizens
—-—-Couples: Military
—-—-Couples: U.S. Officials
—-—-Couples: Same Sex

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: Everyone wants a ‘traditional looking’ invitation, but we don’t want to rigidly 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

–_-Social Forms of Address:
—-—-Boy, Girl, Child
—-—-Couples: Military
——–Couples: Private Citizens

——–Couples: U.S. Officials
——–
Couple, Same Sex
——–Family
—-—-First Names
—-—-Man or Woman, Social
——–Woman, Married
—-
—-Miss
—-—-Mrs. vs. Ms.
—-—-Retiree
—-—-Spouse of an Official
—-—-Widow

Not Finding Your Question Answered?

—-#1)  At right is a list of offices/officials/topics covered. I include many, many more in my book, but these are the offices people have E-mailed in asking ‘how do I address a (fill in the blank)?’

—-#2)  After checking the list and reading the posts, 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 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, I will post the question & answer – always changing the names and specifics.

— Robert Hickey

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