Wedding Invitations: First and last names for a married couple question

I read a post on this website (which I love this website by the way – thank you), to which I was surprised to read that it was not considered acceptable by the expert that answered to use both first and last names for a married couple on the invitation. As in Mr. and Mrs. John and Jane Smith. I will be doing this and spoke to three other women in my office who’ve used this new modern way and it was met with rave reviews from their female guests.

I feel that just because in the 1900’s it was decided that a “formal” way of addressing was using the man’s name and not the woman’s that we’ve kept it that way all these years. I mean really, can’t we update this? I guess the question with regards to this is…..just because we have been doing it this way does that mean we have to continue doing it this way? Can’t we update it to include the wife? It’s just something that’s been done for years but maybe we should think about changing that, as the times have changed.
I supposed that a person either feels it’s acceptable or they don’t, but I’m just wondering if an expert out there would agree with me? Or no?
Thank you,

Donna, Wedding Queen

There was an old etiquette rule that stated you never separate a man from his name, thus the Mr. and Mrs. John Smith. However, I thought Peggy Post said that addressing Mr. and Mrs. Jane and John Smith was appropriate, though I cannot find an evidence of it. In her newest book, Etiquette, copyright 2004, she lists only use of the man’s first name on formal invitations, outer envelope.

Although I understand your complaint, if you want to be perfectly correct, you’d probably want to follow Peggy. Unless the woman has decided to keep her own name (and in that case you could list the names separately), I’m not sure what times have changed with regard to the names and I’m not sure how we go about making these changes, other than doing as we please and hope it catches on. If that’s what you’d like to do, there are no etiquette police to stop you. Only you can decide how closely you’ll follow tradition and etiquette. And, as you can see from the responses you received from co-workers, many people don’t know, or don’t follow etiquette so they may never notice. Again, it’s up to you. We’re just here to tell you what’s most widely accepted.

I’ll let Rebecca answer you more fully since she is more well versed in traditional addressing etiquette than I.

Enjoy the wedding,

See Also

Reader Response

Thank you for your response. Really what I meant when I said that times have changed I meant not so much about how letters are addressed, but more how woman are addressed by society.

I agree that it’s just a matter of seeing if this new way catches on, and perhaps also the etiquette websites listing it as an option would be appropriate, as we look to them to see what is acceptable.

I was able to find a few websites that advised that writing:
Mrs. Jane and Mr. John Doe, is an acceptable form of addressing both first names.

Or perhaps we can all just starting addressing it as
Mrs. and Mr. Jane Doe, and give the women the respect for a while. Ha,ha,ha.

Thanks again,

Donna, Wedding Queen

You know, anyone can make a website and post what they deem acceptable. There are many websites where they have the “your day, you way, theme which basically says do whatever you want, etiquette (care for your guests) be damned. So, I’d be careful to simply say, “Well, I saw it online and, therefore, it’s a fact”. Everything we say here can be backed up in most contemporary wedding etiquette books and from respected professionals in the etiquette and wedding worlds.

I don’t worry too much about names since I chose to take my husband’s name who is now deceased. I still go by his name (BTW – I’m not 100 years old either!) and I really don’t care to change it, nor do I care if I am called Mrs John Smith instead of Mrs. Mary Smith, Mary Smith or Ms. Mary Smith. I’m pretty secure with who I am, so maybe I’m not the best person to chat with about the subject of names. [crazy]

Mr and Mrs Jane and John Doe or Mrs Jane and Mr. John Doe both make sense to me, but again, I’m not an expert on addressing invitations, I simply m reporting to you what contemporary, respected experts seem to say.

I hope Rebecca comes on soon to let you know what she thinks, sine I respect her etiquette knowledge, which is extensive. She is a good hearted soul, and as such, has a pretty good handle on how to make others feel comfortable, which is what etiquette is really all about.
Best Regards,

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Well, you two have done a great job with this subject so far, but thought I’d chime in.

The Wedding Queen is absolutely correct with her advice. Thank you. And, JBELMONTE, you have a great point and I couldn’t agree more. It’s just that these traditions tend to change slowly. Just consider the tradition of the bride’s parent’s names still being listed at the top of a wedding invitation even though they are not financially responsible for their daughter’s wedding and many times don’t host. So, we do have some updating to do. I believe that we hold on to some traditions out of comfort and respect. That’s not the worst thing in the world. But, it is a changing world and we do need to readdress our “rules” and traditions as we (hopefully) progress.

As for how women are addressed these days, it is becoming more and more appropriate and common for women to use “Ms.” instead of “Mrs.” no matter their marital status. So, we are gaining some autonomy–not judged by our martial status. But on wedding invitations, for now anyway, the most formal is the old fashion: Mr. and Mrs. Man’s first name and last name. Mr. and Mrs. Jane and John Smith and Mrs. Jane and Mr. John Smith is fine as well, just a bit awkward though. Jane and John Smith is fine for informal weddings.

We will probably lose the old “rule” about a man not separated from his last name soon, though, and we won’t have to worry about that anymore. I see much of it already, so that tradition’s days are numbered [:)]

Reader Response

Thank you both so much for your words of wisdom. I really don’t know why this is throwing me for such a loop. Ha,ha.

I’ve been going back and forth with my Matron of Honor about this as well. I just sent her an email with my final decision…….
I will be sending the invitations out as Mr. and Mrs. John Doe, with a big lovely font JANE in invisible ink. Ha,ha.

Donna, Wedding Queen

Thank you for the thought provoking topic.