Modern Invitation Etiquette
Before I completely drop the invitation coverage—seriously, too many posts!—I wanted to address the issue of addressing.
Addressing our invited guests on the envelopes, that is.
But first, a disclaimer: Invitation etiquette rules exist for a reason, and I do not want to minimize them. But I do believe every couple must decide how strictly to follow those rules. We went with our own approach, but I understand why others might decide to stick with tradition. It’s your wedding; do what you feel is best based on your personal beliefs and regional traditions.
Now back to the Puffer wedding. I am a feminist, and proud of it. While I’m taking Mr. Puffer’s name, I never assume other women made the same choice. In fact, a number of my friends have kept their maiden names. I also don’t feel comfortable with using the “Mrs.” title after the wedding ends, and I never refer to a married woman of my generation as anything other than “Ms.”
But…wedding invitation etiquette. What a pain in the proverbial buttocks it is. Is it Dr. or Doctor? Mrs. or Ms.? Married woman’s first name, or just the husband’s name?
Ugh. My research about proper titles and naming conventions left a bad taste in my mouth. I struggled with replacing my best friend’s name with her husband’s. Why would I do that? I’ve known her for over 15 years. Her husband came into the picture a scant seven years ago. Yet, I worried about the older generations taking exception to my using a more modern approach to titling the invitations. Would they be upset if I referred to them as Ms., or if I used their first names?
Image from someecards via The Pittsburgh PhotoBooth
(And don’t get me started on the whole Doctor versus Dr. thing. We invited a few dozen medical doctors and PhDs, and I have no idea who has which.)
In the end, it was my future MIL who helped end this invitation etiquette dilemma. After I spent several hours researching etiquette, assigning traditional titles to the older generation, and assigning modern titles to the younger generation, she came back to me and asked, “Why don’t we just skip the titles and list the women first?”
“Can we do that?” I asked, incredulous (and slightly scandalized, after reading far too many Emily Post articles).
“Why can’t we?”
Why can’t we, indeed. The fact is, it’s 2015. While I understand why invitation etiquette rules persist, our guests are individuals. In casual conversation, we do not refer to GM A as “Doctor,” even though he has a PhD. We call him by his first name. Our parents use first names only when introducing us to their friends. The only time I call someone “Mr. Last Name” or “Mrs. Last Name” is when it’s someone I knew as a child, and only then because using that formal name is a tough habit to break after nearly 40 years.
We invited our friends and family—people we know well—to our wedding, and we addressed our invitations to reflect that familiarity*:
- Jane and John Doe
- Jane Doe and John Smith
- Jane Doe and Jill Smith
- The Doe Family
You get the point.
I sincerely hope we didn’t offend anyone by forgoing titles. Only one guest wrote “Mr. and Mrs. John Doe” on the RSVP, and I wonder if that is just out of habit rather than an objection to our lack-of-title, women-first addressing style. Otherwise, I don’t think they were upset by our approach—if they even noticed it to begin with.
*With one exception: We used formal titling for the Obamas. Yes, we invited them. Hey, it’s only an hour drive from D.C.!
Where do you stand on wedding invitation etiquette? Are you going old school formal or bringing it into the 21st century?