Post # 1
I am planning to write my escort /place cards in a formal manner, i.e.
Mr. and Mrs. John Smith
I have several married women coming to the wedding without their husbands. On the escort card is it proper to list them as Mrs. Mary Smith or should it be Mrs. John Smith?
I’ve read Mrs. Mary Smith signifies a divorcee and Mrs. John Smith signifies a widdow so I don’t know what to do. Any help would be much appreciated. Thank you!
Post # 3
I would put Mrs. Mary Smith. Personally I hate it when people send me emails as Mrs. my husband’s name. I still have a freaking name people!
Post # 4
if he’s not there, i would just go with Mrs. Mary Smith. but i don’t know what’s proper, it’s just what i’d prefer to be listed as.
Post # 5
The notion that Mrs Mary Smith implies a divorcee, and Mrs John Smith implies a widow, is made up etiquette. In fact Mrs Mary Smith implies a woman who goes by her own name (even though the “Smith” part may have become hers when she adopted it as a legal alias at marriage) ; Mrs John Smith implies a woman who goes by her husband’s name. During the Victorian era it came to be considered “immodest” for a married lady to go around flaunting her Christian name, so the “Mrs Mary Smith form dropped out of use. At that time, if a woman lost the right to use her husband’s name (through being at fault in a divorce) she compromised by combining her father’s and husband’s surnames: “Mrs Jones Smith”.
Ladies routinely used “Mrs John Smith” in all of their business, whether they were acting as a member of a couple or not. My mother used to sign notes to the school nurse “Mrs Hector Phipps” and that is what she used on the return address engraving for her personal stationery. If a lady became divorced through no fault of her own, she carried on using “Mrs John Smith” as a sign of her claim of innocence — as of course did a widow unless she was confessing to having done away her old man herself!
Nowadays, when ladies not only use their own names without a trace of shame but even emblazen them across election posters and sign them to multi-million dollar business contracts, I think we can drop the Victorian prudery about being shy to use them. But we don’t get to decide what other people should call themselves. You should address your guests by the name — and title — they themselves use on those rare occasions when they have their formal name engraved on their personal social stationery or write letters to the school nurse. If a lady goes by “Ms. John Smith” then that is what you should call her, even if it does make you go “gak”.
It may help though, that in social address the proper formal form is “Mr and Mrs Smith” — leaving out the Christian name altogether (and the proper form if there are TWO “Smith” families actually gets wierd and complex). So those unescorted ladies can be addressed simply as “Mrs Smith” and the problem goes away.