Post # 1
When writing wedding programs, what is the proper ettiquette when addressing someone who goes by a nickname instead of first name, i.e.: John “Henry” Doe? And is it necessary to address parents as “Mr & Mrs John Doe” – both sets of parents were against that in the invitations so should it just be “John & Jane Doe” instead?
Post # 3
And is it necessary to identify who everyone is, like “James Doe, brother of bride”?
Post # 4
@KarenA: Technically, proper etiquette says to address all parties by their full names (first, middle, and last, with NO initials.) Although I addressed my invitations in this manner (Mr. and Mrs. John William Doe), when I identified “Bill” in our wedding programs, I did refer to him as J. William Doe, since NO ONE knows him as “John.” Two of DHs groomsmen were in this category, as each goes by his middle name.
I initially planned to use honorifics throughout my wedding program; however, I VERY quickly ran into a major problem with that. That approach worked fabulously for my single bridesmaids (Miss Jane Emily Smith), but I ran into a brick wall when trying to use the honorific for my married bridesmaids (Mrs. Albert Phillip Miller — since a woman cannot technically be Mrs. Herownfirstname.) So, after consulting with the etiquette experts, I opted to dispense with the honorifcs entirely except for our parents, whom we identified in the format of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Edward Smith. Thus, most of the members of our bridal party were listed by their full, legal, first middle and last names. This is the approach you could take in making reference to your parents.
ETA: I did choose to indicate who each person is in terms of his or her relationship to us (friend of the groom, brother of the bride, sister-in-law of the bride, son of the groom, etc.) I do not believe it is required. However, because this is information I ALWAYS look for in programs when I attend weddings, I wanted to provide that information for my guests.
Post # 5
What etiquette actually says is, address any person, and refer to any person, by the name and title that they prefer. If you do not know what they prefer, use the name you know them by in its full unabbreviated form, with the default social title: “Mr” for gentlemen and “Ms” for women. In the twenty-first century, assuming you do not know the preferences of a couple, give them both their own full name: Mr John Doe and Ms Jane Doe — joined, if they are living together, by the word “and” to show that they are a couple. Despite what you may have read, it is vulgar to speculate about a couple’s marital status. Etiquette assumes that they are “secretly” married if they happen to be sharing an address, and would not stoop to making distinctions between those who have a legal piece of paper, and those who don’t.
If you don’t happen to live in the twenty-first century, then you assume married women go by their husband’s name whether they are being referred to as a couple or not. Thus my mother was “Mrs Nestor Phipps” when she chaired her local social club, as much as when she entertained as the principal half of “Mr and Mrs Nestor Phipps”. Regardless of what century you live in, if a lady chooses to be known by her husband’s name, she has every right to do so and you must abide by her choice if you know it.
Wedding programmes are an optional extra at weddings, so etiquette does not have any firm rulings on what must be included. If you are having a liturgical ceremony with guests from a non-liturgical tradition, it is useful to include hints about how to follow the service. If you choose to include names, please include everyone who meets whatever criteria you set for including names — and their spouses if you are listing relatives: no using the programme to snub inlaws or step-relatives; and treat them all to equal respect. Other than that, exercise your personal sensibilities and judgement.
Post # 6
@KarenA: The formality of the program will be partly dependent on the formality of the wedding. If it will be a fairly casual affair, then you can be more casual in the wording. As for identifying the person, such as “sister of the bride,” that is a courtesy for your guests, but not required. It helps guests identify people they may not have seen for years and it also provides a conversation starter – “So you were Joe’s college roommate……”