Wedding Etiquette - Names on Invitations

We hear from brides and grooms who rely on TheVeil.Co for services from wedding professionals as well as etiquette advice. Wedding invitation etiquette, as you can imagine, is a hot topic. From wording and selecting guests to addressing and processing replies, we offer wedding invite-friendly Q&As for solutions and advice.

Below are questions dealing specifically with the wording of names on wedding invitations. Guests come in all shapes, sizes and... monikers! There is always an appropriate way to address even the most complicated of situations in the world of wedding invitations.

Q. How do I properly invite a widow?

A. A widow is traditionally addressed as "Mrs. Michael Milligan," but she may have a different preference. You can ask her how she wants to be addressed.

Q. How do I propertly invite a divorced woman who has retained her married name?

A. A divorced woman who has kept her married name should be addressed as "Ms. Andrea Johnson."

Q. What about those who are bringing a significant other who does not live with them? Can I send just one invitation or do I have to send one to each of them?

A.If two people are a couple but do not live together, technically you should send each their own invitation. More and more, however, invitations are being sent to just one of them (perhaps the person with whom you are closest) -- with both names listed alphabetically (each on its own line) on the outer envelope.

Q. How do you address an invitation to a married couple of doctors?

A. Easy! If a wife and husband are both doctors, the outer and inner envelopes should be addressed to: "The Doctors Rosenthal." If they are married, but have different last names, alphabetize on separate lines): "Dr. Rosenthal" and on the next line, "Dr. Schwartz."

Q. What about a female doctor who is married to a non-doctor? Does the woman's name come first because of her title?

A. The spouse with the professional title is listed first. Outer envelope: "Dr. Amanda Plato and Mr. Augustin Smith." Or, "Dr. Amanda Plato and Mr. Augustin Smith" (if it fits on one line). The inner envelope would read: "Dr. Plato and Mr. Smith" or "Dr. and Mr.Plato" if they share the same name.

Q. We're having a small wedding. Do we have to invite Mr. Smith "and Guest"? If my friend is not seriously dating someone, can I just address the invite to Mr. Smith? Will he know he's not supposed to invite someone else? What do I do if he replies for two?

A. Most guests will understand that without "and Guest" or another name on the invitation, it's meant for them alone. Especially if you are having a small wedding, you probably aren't going to invite everyone to bring an escort except in the event of a fiance(e) and/or a serious significant other. Technically, you're never supposed to write "and Guest"; instead, you should find out the name of the significant other. What to do if someone replies for two? Call them up and explain you're having an intimate wedding and, unfortunately, are not able to invite everyone's guest. They should understand.

Q. I want to invite a couple who live together (unmarried) and wonder if I should send one invitation or separate invitations?

A. Etiquette mandates that unmarried couples who live together receive a single invitation. They are treated as a couple and not as individuals. Address it the same way you'd address the invitation of a married couple with different last names -- alphabetically, on separate lines on the outer envelope:
Ms. Samira Gold
Mr. Charles Mazza
The inner envelope would read:
Ms. Gold and Mr. Mazza
Samira & Charles

Q. We are paying for and hosting our own wedding. Fortunately, our parents are giving us some money to help. How do we indicate that both sets of parents are hosting the wedding with us? Is there a way to word this?

A. There are clever yet proper ways to word anything, and this is no exception. Try:
Ambir Shelby Dalton
Peter Andrew Cutlass
together with their parents
Nelda and Sean Dalton
Harvey and Karen Cutlass
request the honor of your presence

This wording suggests that the bridal couple are hosting in conjunction with their parents, who may be official or honorary hosts.

Q. My fiance and I are sponsoring our own wedding and want to honor our parents. My future wife’s mother is deceased, yet she would like her mother's name to appear on the invitation. Is this proper?

A. The invitation is sent by hosts of the wedding, and although this doesn’t include the deceased mother there are other ways to honor her. Consider writing a tribute in the ceremony program, playing a cherished song, lighting a candle or reading a scripture. The deceased mother can be toasted at the reception. Another idea: Consider wording the invitation this way:
Danielle Atkinson
Colby Conner
together with their parents

This way, all parents are honored and include the spirit of the mother without getting into the specifics.


Do you have additional questions about the wording on guest invitations? Let us know!

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