Some rules are meant to be followed, some broken. But before sprinting to the post office, be sure to read our etiquette guidelines (plus our modern suggestions!) when addressing your invites.
- For an opposite-sex couple, traditionally the man's name goes first. Examples: Mr. John and Mrs. Sarah Smith or Mr. and Mrs. John and Sarah Smith
- If you're aiming for extra formal, the wife's name is dropped. Example: Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.
- For a same-sex couple, list the names alphabetically. Examples: Mr. Adam and Mr. Bradley Jones or Mr. and Mr. Adam and Bradley Jones
- If a couple has different last names, list one above the other and use Ms. for the female(s).
- If one has hyphenated their last name, use the hyphenated name for the individual. Example: Mr. John Smith and Mrs. Sarah Kennedy-Smith
- List on two lines. For straight couples, the woman goes first; for same-sex, alphabetize by last name. Example:
Ms. Scarlett Sager
Ms. Marie Turner
- The professional titles of doctor (medical only), a commissioned military officer and judge outrank social titles, thus always appear first. Example: Captain Jessica Forsyth and Mr. Jason Forsyth
- The only acceptable abbreviations are Dr. and military ranks; however, extra formality calls for them to be spelled out. Oftentimes, the length of the name ends up being the deciding factor.
- If both individuals of a married couple are doctors, you can use The Doctors or Drs., followed by their names. Examples: The Doctors Jason and Brandon Weiss or Drs. Jason and Brandon Weiss
- For married couples with different last names who are both doctors, use each of their full names, female first or alphabetically if same-sex. Example: Doctor Katherine Herman and Doctor Gary Shepherd
- For couples who are both in the military, list by highest rank first. If they are of the same rank, list female first or alphabetically if same-sex. If they have different last names, include the last name with each individual. Example: Lieut. Francis DeBois and Capt. Jacob Faulk
- It can get tricky if the couple has two different professional titles. If you have some seriously impressive friends, generally the female goes first or list alphabetically if they are same-sex with a shared last name (if not, alphabetically by their last name).
- Kids over the age of 18 but who still live in their parents' house should receive their own invitation.
- Children under the age of 18 are listed with the parents but only on the inner envelope. Tradition calls for boys under 8 to be listed as Master and over the age of 8 as Mr. while girls under the age of 18 are referred to as Miss. However, if the child does not identify with their birth-assigned gender, your use of abbreviation for them should respect them for who they are. If you're unsure, ask their parents or simply list their name!
Widows and Divorcees
- Widows are Mrs.
- If a divorced woman kept her married name, you can use Ms. or Mrs. but be sure to spell out her first name. Tip: It's best to find out her preference beforehand!
When a Man Is a Junior
- For a more formal route, write out “junior” and always use a comma and lowercase. If abbreviated (which is also acceptable), use an uppercase. Examples: Mr. Gregory Carter, junior or Mr. Gregory Carter, Jr.
- Distinctions such as II and III do not involve a comma. Example: Mr. Charles Hancock III
We understand that not every wedding (or couple) has the same level of formality. While etiquette is important, the invite should still reflect your personalities, relationship and wedding day.
- Not at all close with your friend's husband? We love the idea of listing the person you're actually friends with first as a less conservative option!
- If you've never uttered the name “Thomas” in reference to your buddy Tom (and you're not throwing a black tie soiree), don't feel pressured to use his formal name.
Identity Trumps Tradition
If your masculine-of-center friend doesn't identify with the gender-driven abbreviations of Mr. or Ms., simply list their name. Respect is key!
**This article originally appeared in Love Inc.'s V3 issue
Photos: Photo 1 by Jenny Storment Photography from Kari and Eamon's Creative Cooking School Wedding | Photo 2 by Camera Famosa Photography from Katie and Julie's Green Mountain Wedding | Photo 3 by Scott Clark Photo from Abe and Frank's Urban Garden Party Wedding
Brittny Drye is the founder and editor-in-chief of Love Inc. magazine. A fierce cheerleader for marriage equality, she launched loveincmag.com in 2013 as a way to to celebrate both straight and same-sex love, equally. She lives in New York City with her husband and their cat, Scout.