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September 05, 2009

Address me properly please...

On our walk to work, FH and I were talking and I posed the question... "If our guests are two lawyers who are married, do we address it to Mr. and Mrs. XYZ, Esq?" To which he said "no". So i asked "Well if our guests are two doctors, do we address it to Mr. & Mrs? Dr. & Dr? Dr's? He said "don't ask me, I don't know ... talk to Kelly!!!" (Kelly is FSIL's Bestest friend and has so kindly offered to address our envelopes... you can find her at Calligraphy by KellyAnn")

So here I am today to explore the "proper" way that our guests' invitations should be addressed!

Through the lovely usage of internet, i've been able to google and find out some information!

According to JB Pink, the chart is the guideline for how to address the inner and outer envelope:

Married Couple
Children under 13
Mr. and Mrs. Michael Smith Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Rachel and Alex
Married Couple
Children over 13
Mr. and Mrs. Michael Smith
(Children over 18 may receive a separate invitation)
Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Miss or Ms. Rachel Smith
Mr. Alex Smith

Brothers or Sisters
at same address
Messrs. Alex and Stuart Smith
Misses Rachel and Nancy Smith
Ms. Rachel Smith and Ms. Nancy Smith
The Messrs. Smith
The Misses Smith
Ms. Smith and Ms. Smith

Divorced Woman
Ms. Audrey Miller
Mrs. Audrey Miller
Ms. Audrey Smith (maiden name restored)
Ms. Miller
Mrs. Audrey Miller
Ms. Smith

Widow or separated
Mrs. John Miller
Mrs. Audrey Miller
Ms. Audrey Miller
Mrs. Miller
Mrs. Miller
Ms. Miller
Jr. or junior Mr. Steven Smith, Jr.
or Mr. Steven Smith junior
Mr. Smith
II, III Mr. Steven Smith III Mr. Smith

Married couple
both Doctors
The Doctors Smith
Drs. Sherri and Steven Smith
Dr. Sherri Davis
and Dr. Steven Smith
The Doctors Smith
Dr. Davis and Dr. Smith
Wife only
has title
Dr. Sherri Smith
and Mr. Steven Smith (1,2)
Dr. Smith and Mr. Smith
Wife uses
maiden name
Ms. Sherri Davis
and Mr. Steven Smith (1)
Ms. Davis and Mr. Smith

Two unmarrieds
living together
as a couple
Ms. Sherri Davis
Mr. Steven Smith
Mr. Michael Davis
Mr. Steven Smith
Ms. Davis
Mr. Smith
Mr. Davis
Mr. Smith
Single person
and Guest
Ms. Jamie Smith Ms. Smith and Guest

According to Hudson Valley Weddings, the following is helpful:

These guidelines should help you cover all your addressing bases.

  • Your envelopes should always should be written in black ink, with names and addresses written out completely (no abbreviations).
  • The return address should be included on the outer envelope.
  • The inner envelope, which contains the invitation and enclosures, is left unsealed and addressed simply to "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," with no address.
  • One invitation is sent a married couple.
  • For a couple living together, but not married, put her full name on one line, then his full name on the next line. Alternatively, and more PC, you may list the full names, on one line and then another line, in alphabetical order.
  • Children under the age of sixteen that you invite to your wedding may be included (using their first names) on their parents' invitation. Their names should be written in a line below that of their parents on the inner envelope only.
  • Teens and preteens especially are at an "easy-to-be-embarrassed" stage of their lives. It's quite possible that they are being coerced into attending, so, in addressing your invitations to them, it is wise to make every effort to demonstrate their separateness from their parents and, therefore, children older than sixteen(alternatively, over 18) should receive their own invitations.
  • For two sisters, older than sixteen (alternatively, over 18), address the envelope to "The Misses (or Misses) Jane and Helen Jones, both on one line.
  • For two brothers, older than sixteen(alternatively, over 18), address the envelope to "The Messrs. John and Michael Smith," on one line.
  • Attendants and clergy should each get their own invitation (even though it's assumed they will attend).
  • A brother and sister, children older than sixteen(alternatively, over 18), "Mr. John and Ms. Jane Smith," on one line.
  • Use "Ms." or "Miss" for single women.
  • Use "Mrs." for a widowed women, followed by her decreased husband's first and last name, ("Mrs. John Smith").
  • For a divorced woman use "Mrs." or "Ms." followed by her first and her ex-husband's last name, ("Mrs. Jane Smith,").
  • For a married woman using her own name, on one line, use "Mr. John Smith and Ms. Jane Jones.
  • No words are capitalized except proper nouns, such as place names, people's names and titles, and names of the day and month.
  • "Doctor" is usually written in full unless the name following it is quite long.
  • For two doctors (medical or PhD.) married to one another, use "The Doctors Sally and Jim Smith."
According to Emily Post (borrowed from here), the queen of etiquette, wrote the following in her 1922 book, Etiquette:
"It is hard to say why the word "etiquette" is so inevitably considered merely a synonym of the word "correct," as though it were no more than the fixed answer to a sum in arithmetic. In fact, it might be well to pull the word "correct" out by the roots and substitute "common sense" instead. In short, I wish that those whose minds are focused on precise obedience to every precept would ask themselves instead, "What is the purpose of this rule? Does it help to make life pleasanter? Does it make the social machinery run more smoothly? Does it add to beauty? Is it essential to the code of good taste or to ethics? If it serves any of these purposes, it is a rule to be cherished; but if it serves no essential purpose, it is certainly not worth taking very seriously."
When reading through all of the wedding invitation etiquette advice, remember what Emily Post said, "...if it serves any of these purposes, it is a rule to be cherished; but if it serves no essential purpose, it is certainly not worth taking very seriously..."

So here we are... I think I've found the general rules, but what i don't find is how to address attorneys... this being important as a good portion of our friends are attorneys. I mean, after all the hard work, debt and alcohol we've consumed - I think that we should get some special fun way of being addressed... Well, this is what i found:

According to Top Wedding Questions: An attorney and his wife can be addressed in the same manner as any other couple. In the past the term Esquire had been used but most often, when doing business, and not for wording and addressing invitations. Peggy Post's most recent book of etiquette states that lawyers may be entitled to use the term Esquire following their names, but since most Americans aren't familiar with that word, it's best not to use it.

According to Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee: "Yes, write Esquire or abbreviate it Esq. and leave off the Mr. or Ms. For example, for a female attorney: Jane Doe, Esq."

And since I'm just a lawyer and not a great lawyer
(the saying goes "a good lawyer knows the law, a great lawyer know the judge"), I probably won't run into this quandary - but if you are a great lawyer and know a lot of judges - then according to Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee, this is how you should address a judge: There are several ways to properly address an envelope for a judge or other elected official. If you want to use his title, Judge, on the invitation, it is fine to write "Judge John Doe and Mrs. Doe". It is also okay to write "Judge and Mrs. John Doe. In addition, you can use the term, "The Honorable". Then, you would write either "The Honorable and Mrs. John Doe" or "The Honorable John Doe and Mrs. Doe". When addressing the envelope for a female judge and her husband, then write "Judge Jane Doe and Mr. John Doe" or "The Honorable Jane Doe and Mr. John Doe".
"The Honorable" can also be used when addressing invitations for elected officials such as city council, mayor, Attorney General of a State, State Representatives, Governor, members of Congress, Ambassadors, and Cabinet Members.

Do you have any invitation addressing dilemmas? What rules/guidelines did you follow? What was the biggest issue you faced on addressing your guests?


  1. I can't think of one situation in particular that we ran into (we just sent out save the dates) but I did realize what a pain in the arse it is! There are so many people who live together happily unmarried and those who didn't change their last name and widows who I am told go by their husbands name. Jeez LOUISE! And don't think people were shy about how they should have been addressed when I got it wrong! (Uh oh, you opened up a rant.) Do you know that FMIL called to tell me that her friends got their Save the Dates and I spelled their last names wrong? UM- WTF? Where do you think I got their names from? I have never met them, I didn't make it up myself! No, "loved the cards," "everyone received them!" Just- Mr. and Mrs XXX called and let me know their names were spelled wrong. AHHH! OK, too much coffee! LOL, I'll stop now.

  2. hmmm I say when it doubt just use Mr and Mrs. :)

  3. I don't know... lol.. sorry, your probably like then why did you comment. I'm commenting to say hello.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I had many variations. Two married lawyers, one PhD(wife) the husband I have no idea, a few where the wife a lawyer, the husband I have no idea what his education is (though I'd guess a B.A. or a M.A. so no title). Too much of a headache. For some of my Korean friends from college, I don't even know the last names of their husbands (sometimes I don't even know the first name of the husband or wife nor have I even met them!).

    If my friend is the girl and her name is Julie Smith (maiden name) and I don't know whether she changed her last name, and if I don't know the last name of her husband, do I write Mr.and Mrs.Julie Smith??? I wasn't sure, and I didn't bother to research this. It gave me a headache so I went super informal and even omitted all the Mr. and Mrs. part, just put the name.

  6. I will laugh right out loud if you put Esq. on my invitation. I think to include it on a wedding (meaning - "non-legal") invitation would be unnecessary. Look at it this way, we get formal invites from IU Law all the time (often politely asking for money,) and they don't bother to mention our hard-earned degree on the envelope. I think most of us don't take ourselves that seriously. Save the ink. Your post will be quite helpful as I address our at-home reception invites next week - so thanks! ;)

    Miss BBQ, Esq.

  7. LOL! The Candyman is a lawyer and he wants the minister to announce us as Esquire! I think it's hysterical. He earned the title, I say go for it. :)

  8. this is great! the only problem I had..was when my husbands..parents are divorced..and his father remaried... his mom kept her married name... so, i wasn't sure what we called his mom... Mrs.. or Ms.. so I just asked her how she would like her name...went right to the source!

  9. Thank you so much for the info on the addressing the invitations!


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