Miss Manners

Some Changes in Addressing Invitations Make Good Sense

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Almost all of the examples I now see on how to address invitations are totally different from what I was taught in school many years ago. Have the rules changed, or are young people these days making up their own etiquette rules?

I was taught that for a married couple, the correct address would be " Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Jones" and "Mr. and Mrs. Patrick White," not "Mr. Ben and Mrs. Elizabeth Jones" and "Mr. Patrick and Mrs. Taylor White." I was also taught that the male's name came first on the envelope.

Please set the record straight before too many young brides commit a faux pas and look uneducated.

GENTLE READER: Yes, some rules have legitimately changed, and yes, unauthorized people who make up their own rules are often unintentionally offensive. But come to think of it, the old standard that you cite also sends some people into a tizzy.

Miss Manners wishes everyone would just calm down.

There are couples who use the Mr. and Mrs. form you learned (the only one in which the gentleman's title comes first) and they should be so addressed. But there are others who prefer to be addressed more as individuals for various reasons, some of which are eminently sensible, although society used not to recognize them.

All that takes now is one extra line on the envelope:

Dr. Angelina Breakfront

Mr. Rock Moonley

or:

Mr. Oliver Trenchant

Mr. Liam Lotherington

or:

Ms. Norina Hartfort

Mr. Rufus Hartfort

Is that too much effort to ask?

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