(Closed) Including wife’s first name on Invitation

posted 11 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 32
1079 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

We skipped the Mr. and Mrs. I have to say I would be pissed to be addressed as Mrs. John Smith. Granted, I’m not changing my name, and I’m Dr. anyway, but seriously, I am a person, not just someone’s wife.

To answer your question I’d do Mrs. Jane and Mr. John Smith.

Post # 33
1692 posts
Bumble bee

The most basic rule of etiquette since biblical times — it’s summarized in the Book of Esther — is “As in the King’s house, so in the country”. What that means is, the “last word” on matters of etiquette is the etiquette followed by the head of state. Most countries have some sort of handbook or guide published by the appropriate government office — which might be the Lord Chamberlain, or the Secretary of State or the Chief of Protocol. State dinners, ambassadorial functions, senior governmental or business functions, and high society, will all follow that guide whatever it is. In the U.S. it’s “Protocol” (PROTOCOL: 25th Anniversary Edition
The Complete Handbook of Diplomatic, Official and Social Usage
Written by Mary Jane McCaffree, Pauline Innis and Richard M. Sand, Esquire — http://www.usaprotocol.com/purchase.html). If you want to be technically correct you would far better follow this than to try to resolve the conflicting advice of Peggy Post and Miss Manners — although to be honest, Judith Martin seems to have expended the paltry $24 to get herself a copy, and even seems to understand it.

What you need to note in following correct protocol for writing names on invitations, is that one’s formal social name is NOT the same as one’s proper legal name. A proper legal name uses ONLY the title (Mr or Mrs) and the surname (Mr and Mrs Smith). That makes it completely non-sexist, since you don’t use the first name of neither husband or wife. If you have two people with the same surname, then the senior one is Mr Smith and the junior one is — I kid you not — “Mr Thomas” (or whatever his first name is) This *is* sexist because the correct form for his wife is — again, no joking — “Mrs Thomas”. Nowadays even I would break with tradition and use “Mrs Jane” for the wife of a junior son.

The only time you would use both the first and last name together in a formal social situation is if you have more than one Mr Smith and more than one “Thomas”. The correct protocol gets increasingly complicated from there.

Correct form regarding women’s names has changed since the 1970’s, and I don’t know what the 25th edition says. It used to be that a woman who kept her own name was “Miss Smith” regardless of whether she was married or not, and if there was more than one “Miss Smith” present then the junior one was “Miss Mary”. I do know what the Canadian style guide says, and that says to a) use the title and form of the name that the individual prefers, but if you don’t know her preference then b) assume she uses “Ms” for her title and her own first name, and list each person’s title beside their name:

Mr Smith and Ms Smith (if you are not using first names)

Mr Smith and Ms Jones (if you are not using first names and she has kept her own surname)

Mr Thomas and Ms Mary (for a cadet branch of a family when you are otherwise not using first names)

Mr Thomas Smith and Ms Mary Smith (for circumstances that call for both first and last names both), or

Mr Thomas Smith and Ms Mary Jones (for circumstances that call for both first and last names botha and she has kept her own surname)


… and yes: Mrs John Smith, if that is how the lady refers to herself. My mother styled herself that way for her entire life, whether she was standing beside my dad or acting entirely on her own.

Post # 34
522 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2010

I didn’t even bother with Mr. and Mrs. and just went with “Jane and John Smith.” (That made my calligraphy easier, too!)

I never thought “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith” was a big deal until our officiant asked if he should pronounce us Mr. and Mrs. Husband’s Full Name. My first thought was hellll no! It felt really bizarre to think of myself as Mrs. Husband’s Full Name.

I think I like “Mr. John Smith & Ms. Jane Smith” best.

Post # 35
523 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 2009

Totally agree with this:  I’m hardcore about aesthetics, but I see nothing wrong with the flow of “Mr. and Mrs. John and Jane Smith.” The alternative is appallingly demeaning. That’s how our envelopes went out, and some guests even filled out their RSVPs that way.

This is what I did.  I never ran out of room and was always able to fit it on one line of the envelope.  Call yourselves what you want, but I have a name, and somebody is going to get a nasty email back if he or she addresses me as Mrs. John Smith.  Thankfully keeping my last name should nip that in the bud.

Also, wow.  I can’t believe some of you didn’t bother to even find out your guests’ first names.

Post # 36
180 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

There are alot of technical responses above (and i’ll admit that I did not read them all), but I addressed my invitations as Mrs. Jane and Mr. John Smith, if I know teh wife better and then I flipped the order when I know the husband better. I understand that this is not technically correct, but I refused to be acknowledged as property of my (future) husband. And my labeling my invitations this why I feel as though I am able to stay “somewhat” formal and acknowledge all invited parties. That’s my two cents.

Post # 37
1309 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: December 2011

 I am addressing my envelopes the traditional way and I MUCH prefer to get mail addressed to Mrs. John Smith. I happen to LIKE the mister’s name πŸ™‚

But really, who is going to get insulted by being addressed either way? The point of the address is to make sure the invite gets to the right people. If your wording accomplishes that, then you’re good. πŸ™‚ So do it the way you want!! Do you really want people at your wedding who will be super-duper upset about being called Mrs. John Smith OR Mr and Mrs. John and Jane Smith? Uptight feminists or panties-in-a-wad traditionalists? I have to admit I have some of each category in my family and I can’t avoid inviting them. Ironically the feminists in the group are the epitome of privileged white women. So if they choose to feel oppressed by my envelopes… oh well can’t help them!



Post # 38
33 posts
  • Wedding: August 2007

Don’t overthink it, at the end of the day no one is going to remember how you addressed the invitations, they’ll rip open the envelope and throw it out right away anyways. I would just concentrate on making sure you spell all the names correctly! πŸ˜‰  Do it however you think looks/sounds best!

Post # 39
37 posts

Okay, I have to weigh in here.  I understand wanting to use both the man’s and woman’s name on the invitataion, but can I make a plea not to use “Mr. and Mrs. John and Jane Smith” or “Mrs. Jane and Mr. John Smith?”  It has nothing to do with etiquette, I just hate seeing a hanging first name with no last name immediately following it.  As in, it’s very awkward to say Mrs. Jane and then a few more words before you say Smith.  “Mrs. Jane” is usually how pre-school children refer to their teachers.  It looks silly on a formal invitation addressed to adults.


I think, unles you’re having a super-fancy black tie wedding, it’s perfectly fine to write “John and Jane Smith.”  Alternatively, I like Ribbons’s suggestion of

Mr. and Mrs.

John and Jane Smith

on separate lines, or, if you have the space, Mr. John Smith and Mrs. Jane Smith.

Post # 40
447 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2010

We did Mr. and Mrs. John and Jane Smith.  There was no way in HELL I was going to use the stupid, sexist, out-of-date, dehumanizing Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.  If our wedding was going to reflect us in the SLIGHTEST, that was simply not going to happen.

That said, I think whatever you do is fine πŸ™‚  I just feel strongly on this issue.

Post # 41
2857 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2011 - Bartram's Garden

We’ll be doing Mr. and Mrs. John and Jane Smith as well. I don’t want to call anyone Mrs. John Smith.

Post # 42
2 posts
  • Wedding: June 2011

Well, I researched this subject a lot and decided to do the following:
Mrs/Miss/Ms. Jane Smith
Mr. John Smith
address line 1
address line 2

Looks good on the labels, keeps it formal, lists everyone’s name and no one that I know of has been offended. Also this way is really easy to change Mrs. or Mr. to Dr. or to list unmarried people and keep the same format!

Post # 43
122 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

well, 2 years later, i’m researching the same thing now…and martha stewart says it’s ok to write the wife’s first name. AMEN! πŸ™‚ i’m all about the proper etiquette, but not on this one. just makes me cringe!  I consulted with my mom and she doesn’t care much either way. We’re doing Mr. John and Mrs. Jane Smith





Post # 44
478 posts
Helper bee

View original reply
@fourpeass:  That’s how I address things to couples, too.  I use their first and last names.  Either John and Jane Smith or John Smith and Jane Doe.  I skip the mr. and mrs. all together.  i don’t like referring to women as mrs. herhusband’sfirstname.

Post # 45
814 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2012

I’m offended when I get an invitation for me and my husband addressed to Mr and Mrs John Smith. I’m sorry, when did my name become John? No thanks… it’s ONE extra name, it’s not like you have to write all this stuff on a grain of rice. I’d go with Mr John and Mrs Jane Smith.

Post # 46
2457 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

I did both names. 

Mr. and Mrs. Jack and Jill Smith. πŸ™‚

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