Q: How do I address invitations to children, couples who live together but are not married, and widows? A: When addressing an envelope to...
Q: How do I address invitations to children, couples who live together but are not married, and widows?
A: When addressing an envelope to a couple living together but not married, place each name on a separate line, flush left, alphabetically, with no “and” in between. The “and” on an envelope signifies marriage. When you don’t know the full name of one person, track down the person you do know and get the information.
Girls are “Miss” from birth to 21, but in practice, envelopes are generally addressed without the “Miss” until they become teenagers. At that point, a young woman might wish to be addressed as “Ms.,” although technically it’s not correct to do that until age 21.
“Mrs.” is the title for a married woman who goes by her husband’s name. Her name is addressed on an envelope along with that of her husband, such as “Mr. and Mrs. Paul Michaels.” If, however, Mr. and Mrs. Michaels get divorced, Mrs. Michaels becomes “Mrs. Marie Michaels” and no longer “Mrs. Paul Michaels”. Should Mrs. Michaels become a widow, she would retain use of her deceased husband’s name unless she remarried or chose to use the “Ms.” title.
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Boys are correctly, but not necessarily, addressed as “Master” until age 8, when the title is dropped. He becomes “Mr.” at age 18.
This all is a bit too formal if you are sending invitations by e-mail (e-vites). Given the casualness of the medium, it makes sense to use first names when you are on a first-name basis.
Make sure you get the e-mail address right, though, and don’t send an e-vite to someone who is not cyber-savvy. When in doubt, follow it up with a phone call.
In any interaction, there are three options: what’s absolutely correct, what’s absolutely incorrect and what’s appropriate. That’s a judgment call that can be made only by the people involved.
Mary Mitchell is a Seattle-based corporate trainer and author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Etiquette.” E-mail questions to Mary@themitchell.org. Sorry, no personal replies.