Post # 1
I need help!! I have to address an envelope to a married couple who are both doctors, and have different last names! Does her name go first? Do I address it:
Doctors Peter Smith and Mary Brown? (not their real names)
I dont know, but I dont want to do it wrong haha
Post # 3
If they don’t share the same last name, I believe it’s proper to write:
Doctor Jane Smith and Doctor John Doe
Her name is supposed to go first in this case… also both of them should receive their own title because they don’t share the same last name so “Doctors” doesn’t really apply here!
Man this etiquette stuff is tough sometimes 🙂
Post # 4
It’s actually even harder than that! It’s different for the outer envelope than for the write-in line (or inner envelope if you have one); it’s different for formal and informal terms of address; and it’s different in Canada, Australia, Britain and New Zealand from the U.S.
You use both first name and last name only when there is some possibility of ambiguity: on the outer envelope for example, since there may be several “Doctor Smith”s in the entire city, or if you have two different guests with the same first name, or with the same last name.
So, on the outside envelope you write “Dr. Peter Smith and Dr. Mary Brown” (in the U.S.) or “Dr. Mary Brown” (in the other English-speaking countries, where for etiquette purposes the lady of the house is presumed to function as the social convenor). The “ladies first” rule does NOT apply, because in formal public situations gentlemen go first in order to be able to protect their ladies. If they have the same surname then, in the U.S., you write “Dr. Peter Smith and Dr. Mary Smith” so that they each get their proper title.
On the invitation itself (or belly-band or inner envelope) assuming the invitation is formal, you write “Dr Smith and Dr Brown”, or “The Doctors Smith” if they have the same surname. If the invitation is informal, then you write “Mary and Peter” — Mary’s name going first because an informal situation implies she will be among friends and not need protecting. Though a proper informal invitation would actually take the form of a naturally-worded handwritten note.
Of course, there are all sorts of different ways of doing it and all sorts of different opinions: the rules I list above haven’t been well-known since the advent of “Ms” in the 1970’s. They still show up in official protocol manuals, although some countries are modnernizing. Popular alternatives for the “which order do they go in” question are to use alphabetical order, or put your closer friend first. That at least has the benefit of being non-sexist.