There is a surprising formality in wedding invitation design. It isn't your basic party invitation, after all. There are clear etiquette dos and don'ts. For instance, knowing how to address someone is always a bit confusing. What is proper these days? Ms., Miss, Dr., Captain, first names, middle initials -- t... read more

There is a surprising formality in wedding invitation design. It isn’t your basic party invitation, after all. There are clear etiquette dos and don’ts. For instance, knowing how to address someone is always a bit confusing. What is proper these days? Ms., Miss, Dr., Captain, first names, middle initials — there are many pieces to the social title puzzle. Consider some of the more common scenarios that will come up as you address your wedding invitations.

What’s a Social Title?
Social titles are the prefixes that go before people’s names(i.e. Mr., Mrs., Ms., Miss).
It offers the addressee the social respect he or she deserves. Social titles on wedding invitations are protocol whether you are having a black tie affair or a barn wedding.

The Married Couple
The most common guest scenario will be a married couple. The nomenclature is simple enough:
Mr. and Mrs. John Doe
You may even add the husband’s middle name if you wish, but not as an initial.
Mr. and Mrs. John Quincy Doe
Notice this includes the husband’s first name, but not the wife’s. That changes if the wife hyphenates her maiden and married names.
Mr. John Doe and Mrs. Jane Smith-Doe

Single Guests
Single guests are just as basic — title and name.
Mr. John Doe
For single females, use Ms. if the guest is over the age of 16 and Miss if younger.
Ms. Jane Smith
What if your guests are technically single but a couple just the same? This would include people living together or a serious couple.
Mr. John Doe and Ms. Jane Smith

That Tricky Divorce
Divorces make everything more complicated — even addressing wedding invitations. For men, use the standard single format. For the ladies, however, it depends on whether she kept her married name or not. Women who revert to their maiden names become Ms. again.
Ms. Jane Smith
If she held onto her married name, the social title acknowledges that fact.
Mrs. Jane Doe
This would be the correct format for a widowed woman, as well.

Same Sex Couples
Same sex couples use the proper gender title for both parties.
Mr. John Doe and Mr. Paul Smith
If the couple consists of two ladies, use “Ms.” for both.
Ms. Jane Smith and Ms. Barbara Doe
Feel free to list them in any order.

Professional Titles
When it comes to social titles, rank matters. The professional title always trumps the social one, regardless of gender.
If the male has a professional title:
Doctor and Mrs. John Doe
If the female has a professional title:
Doctor Linda Doe and Mr. John Doe
As exhibited in the examples above, make sure to spell out the professional title.
Use this singular statement if both parties have the same last name and professional title.
The Doctors Smith
It gets more complex if they both are doctors but the wife uses a different last name. In that case, put her first in line.
Doctor Linda Smith and Doctor John Doe
This is the basic format no matter what the professional title. For example, military titles fit this same pattern.
Captain and Mrs. Jon Doe

Still confused? It’s quite understandable! So ask your most burning, social title etiquette questions! We’d love to hear from you.

{Top Image via Nicole Paulson Photography}

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