(Closed) Addressing Envelopes with Hyphenated Last Name?

posted 6 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 4
102 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

I’m not at all into traditional etiquette when it comes to invitations, so I’m not sure how much weight my advice would have, but wouldn’t “Mr. Michael Jones and Mrs/Ms Mary Smith-Jones” work?

Post # 6
131 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: January 2016

The standard etiquette way is Ms. Mary Smith-Jones and Mr. Michael Jones (woman’s name first).  “Mrs.” is not technically correct if a woman hyphenates so if you don’t know her personal preference I would stick with Ms.

Post # 8
262 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2013


Ms. is always correct when in doubt!

Miss was originally unmarried, Mrs. means married. It didn’t really take off, but Ms. is technically not supposed to give any indication of marital status.

Post # 9
1186 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: April 2012

Yep.  “Mr. Michael Jones and Ms. Mary Smith-Jones”!

Post # 10
1699 posts
Bumble bee

Any time two members of a married* couple have different names, you list each one separately, joined by “and”. Contrary to over-simplified popular assumption, the “ladies first” rule does NOT apply in all situations. People’s “business name”, “formal name” and “informal name” are all different. Each one is supposed to be used in the right situation.

An envelope being sent through the public mails is a business document. Business names comprise title, given name or names and/or initial or initials. On an outside envelope mailed in the Engish-speaking world, outside the United States you would therefore use:

“Ms Mary Smith-Jones”

The names of the actual invitees will be clarified on the invitation write-in line or inner envelope. In the overtly egalitarian United States where husbands presumably are considered equally likely as wives to manage the family social calendar, the outer envelope would use:

“Mr. Michael Jones and Ms. Mary Smith-Jones”

 — mote the periods after the titles consistent with U.S. usage. The gentleman’s name goes first so that he can “protect” his lady and “make way” for her in this dangerous public business environment (snort — I am at least as competent to make my own way as most gentlemen I know, but it’s nice to leave the gentlemen their illusions).

Formal names consist of the title and the surname only. On an inner envelope or formal invitation write-in line, you would use:

” Mr Jones and Ms Smith-Jones”

As above, formal situations are considered public, so the gentleman “takes point” just in case there are social snipers or etiquette landmines to be overcome.

Informal names consist of the primary given name or names, only. On an informal invitation you would use:

“Mary  and Michael”

Informal situations are considered private and intimate, and therefore safe, so the gentleman steps back and lets the lady go first.

“Mr and Mrs Michael Jones” is correct only when the gentleman’s business name is “Mr Michael Jones” and the lady’s business name is “Mrs Michael Jones”. Very few modern ladies style themselves in that way, but it is perfecty correct, and used to be the norm. My mother signed letters “Mrs Nestor Phipps” even though her given name was not — thank goodness! — “Nestor”. In fact, traditional etiquette allows the title “Mrs” to be used only before a man’s name: either the husband’s surname, or the husband’s given name followed by his surname, or the father’s surname followed by the ex-husband’s surname. All other usages require either “Ms” or “Miss” if you are choosing to follow traditional proper form.

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