Times may have changed, but courtesy never goes out of style. In today's world sometimes it's complicated to figure out how to do the right thing. Local etiquette expert Karen Hickman answers your questions or helps solve your dilemmas on Fridays in The News-Sentinel and at news-sentinel.com.
Q. Karen, How do you address a wedding invitation to two people who live together but are not married?
A. There are many new situations to consider when addressing envelopes in our contemporary times. It is not uncommon for two people to live together without being married.
And along with that, many professional women choose to keep their maiden names instead of taking their spouse's surname.
Here are some common ways to address invitations:
•When addressing an invitation to two people who live together but are not married, you would send one invitation with their names on separate lines:
Ms. Jane Miller
Mr. Thomas Young
(Unmarried couples living together are listed in alphabetical order without the word “and” joining their names. The “and” linking two names is reserved for married couples.)
•To a married couple when the woman has kept her maiden name:
Ms. Jane Smith and Mr. Richard Parker (on one line)
•To two physicians with the same name:
The Doctors Lee or
Dr. Thomas Lee and Dr. Janet Lee
•Some female physicians may choose to use Mrs. instead of Dr. in a social setting. If this is the case their envelope would be addressed:
Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Winthrop
•When a woman has a higher rank than the man, her name comes first on the envelope:
Judge Theresa Albert and Mr. William Albert
•If both have military rank, the highest ranked person is listed first:
Major Gregory Smith and Lieutenant Deborah Smith
Some other tips: Addressing the envelope for a wedding invitation should be done in a formal fashion; no abbreviations except for Mr., Mrs., Ms. and Dr. Along with the style of the invitation, the way it is addressed sets the tone for the event. So, it is important to be attentive to detail by checking the spelling of names, addresses and using current ZIP codes.
Be sure to write clearly and neatly. If your handwriting is not very legible it may be worth having someone else address them — a person who has beautiful handwriting or can do calligraphy. No labels, please.
Weigh the envelope with all of the inserts before you put a stamp on it. You don't want your invitation to arrive with postage due.
If a response card is used, the return envelope should be stamped so all your guest has to do is fill it out with the number of “invited” guests attending.