(Closed) 2 tricky addressing questions

posted 5 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
3277 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

Dr. Susan and Mr. Allen Smith


Ms. Katie Doe and Mr. John Smith


that’s how I would do it, you could probably reverse them too if you wanted, not sure who goes first


Post # 4
3121 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

@MrsN14:  I second this.

Post # 6
2854 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2015

@FutureMrsT1221:  You can also address the unmarried couple like this:

Ms. Katie Doe

Mr. John Smith


That’s how formal invitations for Fiance and I have been addressed. No “and” because we aren’t married yet (I assume). It works just fine for us!

Post # 7
10453 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: February 2014

@MrsN14:  Why even use titles at all? I’d just do first and last names. That’s what I did! 

1) John and Katie Smith

2) John Smith and Katie Johnson 

Post # 8
346 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2014

@FutureMrsT1221:  I used this guide, and I really liked it– It is a more modern twist on the ettiquite in order to respect weird situations like the ones you posed.  

One of the things is to treat married and unmarried couples the same– so you would put the couple living togerher on one line, like you would with a married couple with different last names. 


Also, the titles depends on how formal your event is.  If it’s a formal event, you should use the titles (in which case you would spell out Doctor), if informal, I’d leave them off.

Post # 9
1699 posts
Bumble bee


Standard etiquette requires that you address each guest as he or she prefers to be addressed. Only if you do not know their preference, do you resort to standard forms. Using standard forms is a guessing game because many people either do not know the standard forms, or choose to flout them on ideological grounds. The basic rules are:

A public servant uses the title that goes with his or her service, and is listed first of a couple.

A medical doctor is considered a public servant; an academic PhD is considered a business title and is expected to go by the ordinary title “Mr”/”Ms”/”Mrs”/”Miss” in social circumstances.

If neither member of the couple is a public servant, then the man goes first.

A man’s given name is kept adjacent to his surname.

A lady uses “Miss” with her own given name and her father’s surname, or “Mrs” with her husband’s given name and surname: for other combinations of names she uses “Ms”

A couple living together may well be married for all anyone else knows. Etiquette does not allow for private details about their legal state or lack thereof to be advertised on envelopes. Therefore they should be treated in exactly the same way as a married couple with different names.

Use given names with titles and  surnames on business documents or where needed to disambiguate the name; for social purposes use only the titlle and surname (or title and given name, for younger siblings)

So, on the outer envelope (a business document) in the United States only:

  1. Doctor Susan Smith and Mr. John Smith
  2. Mr. Thomas Jones and Ms. Mary Doe

On the outer envelope in the rest of the English-speaking world (social envelopes are addressed to the lady of the couple only):

  1. Doctor Susan Smith
  2. Ms Mary Doe

In the inner envelope or onn the invitation proper:

  1. Doctor and Mr. Smith
  2. Mr Jones and Ms Doe

================= WARNINGS==================

“Mrs”, “Ms” and “Miss” are fraught with political connotations and mean different things to different age demographics:

For the over-sixty crowd, use “Miss” for a woman who goes by her birth name (both first and last), use “Mrs” for a woman who uses her husband’s name (both first and last) and “Ms” for a known feminist or a woman who insists on her own given name with her husband’s surname.

For the forty-to-sixty crowd, use “Miss” with her birth names for a woman who has never been married, “Mrs” with her own given name and her husband’s surname for a married woman, and “Ms” for a woman whose marital status you don’t know or who has married and kept her own name.

For the under-forty crowd, use “Miss” for girls who are not yet adults, “Ms” for unmarried women or women whose marital status you do not know, and “Mrs” for married women.

The rule that academic PhDs, not being public servants, do not use their titles is also contentious. Many PhDs are of the opinion that having worked just as hard for their doctorate as a medical doctor has, that they are just as entitled to use the title Dr socially. Presumably they can be trusted to say “sorry, my degree is in medeaval literature” if someone at their table has a heart attack and the other diners shout “Doctor — save him!”

Obviously  it is far, far better to find out individual preferences.

Post # 10
346 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2014

@aspasia475:  I was going to comment on your MD being public servant but PhD being business, because that seems INSANE to me.  I’m a grad student in biological sciences so most of the people I work with as biological PhDs could have gone to medical school just as easily (as opposed to a PhD in medieval literature).  Just the public servant versus business point is interesting there because most PhDs work in academica doing research paid for by government grants and make little compared to MDs who may often have a private practice where they are businessmen and are well paid for it rather than serving the public.  

Your latter claification explained better why that distinction might be made.  

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