Etiquette

Married Sister's Name First on Envelope?

My fiancee has two married sisters. When addressing the outer envelopes to them and their husbands, is it appropriate to forego the traditional "Mr. and Mrs. John Doe" and put her name first (e.g. Jane and John Doe), or do you still follow tradition in this case and put the husband's name first, even though he is not directly related to the groom? None of the etiquette websites I have checked deal with this specific question. Thank you in advance for your help!
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Re: Married Sister's Name First on Envelope?

  • flantasticflantastic The Midwest member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers






    Her relation to the couple doesn't have anything to do with etiquette here. 

    Etiquette means addressing people how they prefer to be addressed. My mom took my dad's last name when they got married, but she despised the Mr and Mrs John Doe addressing tradition. Some people prefer it. Just ask her what she prefers. That's the best way to ensure you treat her properly. 




    I've asked H to make sure everyone in his family knows I will murder them in their sleep if they ever call me Mrs. H's Firstname Lastname. (But to tell them politely). Mrs. H'sLastname is totally fine, but I have my own first name thankyouverymuch.

    Yes, just ask them how they prefer to be addressed. I did that with a few cousins when I wasn't sure if they changed their name or not, and just said something like "I want to make sure I'm addressing your invite how you prefer." Neither of them cared, but said they appreciated being asked.


    I try not to get too concerned over this, but DH noticed I got twitchy over one of the various holiday cards (Valentine's Day? St. Patrick's?) MIL sent relatively recently. It was addressed to "Mr. & Mrs. DH first last and DD first". DD was just tacked on the end of the line, with no last name or Miss title or anything. It wasn't exactly a formal address. I was like, "Oh, everyone in this family gets a first name except me?"

    Anniversary

    InLoveInQueenscharlotte989875
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited May 17






    jshelt23 said:






    My fiancee has two married sisters. When addressing the outer envelopes to them and their husbands, is it appropriate to forego the traditional "Mr. and Mrs. John Doe" and put her name first (e.g. Jane and John Doe), or do you still follow tradition in this case and put the husband's name first, even though he is not directly related to the groom? None of the etiquette websites I have checked deal with this specific question. Thank you in advance for your help!












    You have two options. 

    Mr. and Mrs. John Doe (traditional)
    Ms. Jane Doe and Mr. John Doe  (ladies first unless John is a doctor, judge, pastor, or congressional representative)

    These are the two correct ways to address mail to a married couple.  It is good if you know the couple's preference on how they like to be addressed.  While many people prefer traditional addresses for social mail, others don't like it.  This can make things difficult for the person who is addressing the invitations.  Most older people tend to prefer the traditional style.
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  • jshelt23jshelt23 member
    First Comment
    Thank you, everyone! I appreciate the information. :)
  • CMGragain I didn't realise that women went first. I've just sent out all our invites and I put the person that we know and or 'connected' to us first. 
    But on lots, I put men first. 
    I never put Mr. and Mrs. John Doe because even if it is traditional I hate the idea of women not having a name.

    Knottie737c32aade6d0ff7
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Tenth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its


    CMGragain I didn't realise that women went first. I've just sent out all our invites and I put the person that we know and or 'connected' to us first. 
    But on lots, I put men first. 
    I never put Mr. and Mrs. John Doe because even if it is traditional I hate the idea of women not having a name.



    I addressed a widow Mrs Herfirst Hislastname.    It came back to me as Mrs Hisfirstname Hislastname.   She had been a widow for some 20 years.  From then on I always addressed envelope to her as Mrs Hisfirst Hislast.  Not my cup of tea, but I'm not going to argue with someone over how they want to be addressed.

    I actually don't give a fuck if my first name is not on an envelope addressed to the both of us. i.e Mr and Mrs Hisfirst his last.    I just really don't care. And I even have a different last time.  It would get pretty wordy on an envelope in my case to add my name.

     I get why some women feel slighted.  I'm just not one of them.  Besides it only seems to happen with wedding invitations, which are few a far between now that I'm older.  Or once a year on my yearly xmas card from from my own mom.  Which is funny because as I said, we have different last names, but whatever mom.

    I do care it's addressed only to  me.  As in don't ever address something as Mrs Hisfirst hislast.     Thankfully I've never had anything addressed to me in that fashion.  






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
    eileenrobPrettyGirlLost
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited May 18










    CMGragain I didn't realise that women went first. I've just sent out all our invites and I put the person that we know and or 'connected' to us first. 
    But on lots, I put men first. 
    I never put Mr. and Mrs. John Doe because even if it is traditional I hate the idea of women not having a name.











    A woman name is Jane Doe.  Her social TITLE is Mrs. John Doe.  Traditionally, people are addressed by their titles.  Their name was kept for family and intimate friends.  This is why you could address a letter to Mrs. John Doe, but inside the envelope, you would start your letter with "Dear Jane."

    I addressed an invitation to a friend of mine who has been widowed for more than 20 years.  She is a very strong feminist, so I took a guess and addressed the invitation to "Ms. Jane Doe".  She was insulted, and returned the invitation with the name corrected to "Mrs. John Doe".  You never know.

    My sister-in-law is a prominent doctor.  When receiving business mail, she is "Dr. Mary Jones", her business title.  She prefers that her social mail is addressed to "Mrs. John Jones", her social title.  Her friends and family call her "Mary", which is her name.  Does that explain it?
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
  • flantasticflantastic The Midwest member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    edited May 18


    CMGragain said:
















    CMGragain I didn't realise that women went first. I've just sent out all our invites and I put the person that we know and or 'connected' to us first. 
    But on lots, I put men first. 
    I never put Mr. and Mrs. John Doe because even if it is traditional I hate the idea of women not having a name.















    A woman name is Jane Doe.  Her social TITLE is Mrs. John Doe.  Traditionally, people are addressed by their titles.  Their name was kept for family and intimate friends.  This is why you could address a letter to Mrs. John Doe, but inside the envelope, you would start your letter with "Dear Jane."

    I addressed an invitation to a friend of mine who has been widowed for more than 20 years.  She is a very strong feminist, so I took a guess and addressed the invitation to "Ms. Jane Doe".  She was insulted, and returned the invitation with the name corrected to "Mrs. John Doe".  You never know.

    My sister-in-law is a prominent doctor.  When receiving business mail, she is "Dr. Mary Jones", her business title.  She prefers that her social mail is addressed to "Mrs. John Jones", her social title.  Her friends and family call her "Mary", which is her name.  Does that explain it?




    I've heard this explanation before, but thank you for providing it again. I think the same gut reaction applies, though. People don't like the idea of a person's "name" - form of address, title, however you think of it - being defined by their relationship to their husband. The husband's first name isn't solely reserved for their close friends, so why is the woman's?

    I think it just boils down to knowing those preferences.

    Anniversary

    SP29
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited May 18












    **RANT**
    I want the "Mrs. John Doe" social title to die. 

    The tradition of addressing women socially by Mrs. (husband first) (husband last) is to say: "Wife of John Doe" Literally that is what you're saying. Mrs. = "wife of" The tradition of a woman taking her husband's last name is from when women were property, bought and paid for by their grooms (via a dowry), then "given away" by their fathers (who previously controlled them) to their new patriarch. Hence being socially known as "Mrs. John Doe" (i.e. "Wife of John Doe"). Her name is not important socially. Her social identity is that 1) she's married and 2) she's married to John Doe, who is apparently socially relevant since his name IS recognized.

    The tradition is, of course, just for women who are married to men. Adult men simply go by "Mr." because their social worth is carried with them, whether they're married or unmarried and no matter who they're married to. 

    If a married woman who took her husband's last name simply wants the same social treatment as a man (to have her name actually recognized rather than being "wife of..."), there have to be adjustments made to "not separate a man from his last name". #masculinitysofragile 

    If a married woman keeps her last name, Mrs (wife of) is off the table all together. She remains socially ambiguous all because she didn't take her husband's last name.

    All this ranting and raving doesn't even address the fact that this tradition completely ignores same sex couples. It assumes that marriages are between women and men only. Special adjustments and considerations have to be made for same sex couples.

    Some people don't care either way. Cool. And if someone prefers "Mrs. John Doe" for whatever reason, I'll address them that way. Because etiquette is all about making people comfortable and catering to their preferences as much as possible. But it won't keep me from wanting the outdated, sexist, patriarchal tradition of "Mrs. John Doe" to go the way of the dowry. 












    I always respect that people can choose how to be addressed.  However, that does not give someone the right to determine how I wish to be addressed. 
    I remember the women's liberation movement of the 1960s.  It was about giving women CHOICES, not about replacing old, rigid etiquette rules with new rigid ones.
    I prefer that my personal mail be addressed to my title, Mrs. John Doe, and I am proud to use my title.  This makes me traditional, but it does not mean that I am in any way not a modern liberated woman.  My son brags to his friends that he was raised by a total feminist.

    As for dowries, they still exist in wealthy families.  Their legacy for most people is called a pre-nuptial contract, or "pre-nup".

    Now that same sec couples have full social recognition (Yay!), etiquette is evolving to fully include them.
    Ms. Jane Doe and Ms. Mary Doe is a married couple.  If they are not married, their names appear on separate lines.

    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg




  • CMGragain said:


















    **RANT**
    I want the "Mrs. John Doe" social title to die. 

    The tradition of addressing women socially by Mrs. (husband first) (husband last) is to say: "Wife of John Doe" Literally that is what you're saying. Mrs. = "wife of" The tradition of a woman taking her husband's last name is from when women were property, bought and paid for by their grooms (via a dowry), then "given away" by their fathers (who previously controlled them) to their new patriarch. Hence being socially known as "Mrs. John Doe" (i.e. "Wife of John Doe"). Her name is not important socially. Her social identity is that 1) she's married and 2) she's married to John Doe, who is apparently socially relevant since his name IS recognized.

    The tradition is, of course, just for women who are married to men. Adult men simply go by "Mr." because their social worth is carried with them, whether they're married or unmarried and no matter who they're married to. 

    If a married woman who took her husband's last name simply wants the same social treatment as a man (to have her name actually recognized rather than being "wife of..."), there have to be adjustments made to "not separate a man from his last name". #masculinitysofragile 

    If a married woman keeps her last name, Mrs (wife of) is off the table all together. She remains socially ambiguous all because she didn't take her husband's last name.

    All this ranting and raving doesn't even address the fact that this tradition completely ignores same sex couples. It assumes that marriages are between women and men only. Special adjustments and considerations have to be made for same sex couples.

    Some people don't care either way. Cool. And if someone prefers "Mrs. John Doe" for whatever reason, I'll address them that way. Because etiquette is all about making people comfortable and catering to their preferences as much as possible. But it won't keep me from wanting the outdated, sexist, patriarchal tradition of "Mrs. John Doe" to go the way of the dowry. 
















    I always respect that people can choose how to be addressed.  However, that does not give someone the right to determine how I wish to be addressed. 
    I remember the women's liberation movement of the 1960s.  It was about giving women CHOICES, not about replacing old, rigid etiquette rules with new rigid ones.
    I prefer that my personal mail be addressed to my title, Mrs. John Doe, and I am proud to use my title.  This makes me traditional, but it does not mean that I am in any way not a modern liberated woman.  My son brags to his friends that he was raised by a total feminist.

    As for dowries, they still exist in wealthy families.  Their legacy for most people is called a pre-nuptial contract, or "pre-nup".

    Now that same sec couples have full social recognition (Yay!), etiquette is evolving to fully include them.
    Ms. Jane Doe and Ms. Mary Doe is a married couple.  If they are not married, their names appear on separate lines.





    What's the problem with new etiquette rules if they are more inclusive of everyone? And how is it "rigid" to be MORE inclusive?

    It seems odd to maintain traditional, patriarchal rules that are exclusive to traditional, heterosexual, gender-conforming relationships - where anyone outside those rules needs an exception/adjustment. If etiquette (not tradition) is about making people comfortable, then the default should be gender neutral and inclusive of all types of relationships/choices. Then, if someone wants to be "wife of John Doe", that would be the exception. Respected, of course, but the exception.


    I agree with southernbelle. She's not saying you can't CHOOSE to go by Mrs. John Doe, just that shouldn't be the assumed norm. As we progress as society, why can't the assumed norm be more inclusive? While I personally do not want to be called that, I respect anyone who does and address them as such. 
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Tenth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its


    This might be an UO.  As a general rule, as long as no malice is intended, I think people need to take it easy and not get mad as to how they are addressed on an envelope.  Politely correct the person with the preferred form of address and move on.  Now, if it is addressed incorrectly a second time or the person should have already known the preference, than I understand being upset.

    I kept my maiden name legally and use my H's last name socially.  Like many of you, my preference for social correspondence is Ms. (My first name) (H's last name).  My least favorite would be Mrs. (H's full name).  But, because I realize that is the proper way to address a married woman if her preference is not known, I'm not offended in the least.  And, in all honesty, I don't care enough about it to even bother correcting someone.

    Before TK, it would never have occurred to me to call someone ahead of time and ask for their name/title preference, but its posts like these that show its worth the effort.  Because, while I may not care that much, many people do.




    Before the knot I wouldn't have thought much about it.   Because of the knot I did contact my cousin who didn't take her husband's name and wanted the bible to be changed to he/she everywhere.      

    Imagine my surprise when she told me she doesn't mind Mr and Mrs Hisfirst his last?         She said it's not a big deal to her.  She went on to say they have many envelopes addressed Mr and Mr Hisfirst Herlast or her husband is called Mr herlastname.     Which her husband doesn't mind either.  They just go with the flow and realize there is no malice.   






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
    ahoyweddingshort+sassyeileenrobPrettyGirlLost
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 25 Answers
    I wouldn't be insulted if someone addressed me Ms. Jane Doe.  I don't understand people who are insulted and angry by having mail addressed to them as Mrs. John Doe.  It isn't like someone is intentionally messing with you.  Having choices means it is easier to make mistakes.  When a bride is addressing 100 invitations, she might not have time to call her guests and ask them their preference.
    I do not understand being upset by a simple written address.  As long as it doesn't say "Occupant".... ;)
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
    charlotte989875ILoveBeachMusicshort+sassy
  • I don't see how, in the age of texting/Facebook messaging/email/etc it's sooooo complicated to ask your guests how they prefer to be addressed. It takes 30 seconds to shoot a quick text to the guest "Hey, we're writing out wedding invites...how do you prefer to be addressed?"

    I don't get upset about generic mail addressed incorrectly, but anyone who knows me personally should know enough to assume I don't want to be Mrs. John Doe, especially if we are close enough that we're invited to their wedding. It takes next to no time to confirm that with someone, and don't we always say etiquette is in place to ensure guests' comfort?
    charlotte989875STARMOON44InLoveInQueensKnottie737c32aade6d0ff7


  • I get annoyed with patriarchy in general, so yes, I do roll my eyes when I get addressed as "Mrs. (H first) (H last)" - even when no malice is intended.

    And I get especially annoyed when friends/family KNOW I kept my last name and they address me as Mrs. Hfirst Hlast anyway....because they think I should have changed it or they think that's the "polite way" to address people. 

    And therein lies the problem. The "polite way" is "wife of John Doe". IMO, the "polite way" should be "Ms. herfirst herlast", which would include all women (married/unmarried, changed name/kept name, married to a woman/married to a man, etc.) and ensure the use of her actual name. It's inclusive and gender equal.

    It's ridiculous that a woman's traditional social title's sole purpose is to indicate  marital status and who you're married to, but not your name. In other words, whether a woman is married and her husband are what's important. Whereas for a man, his social title doesn't indicate marital status at all or who he's married to. In other words, HE is what's important regardless of marital status.

    Some people don't care. That's fine. But for me, this is just another glaring example of every day sexism that's baked into something so basic as one's identity. 


    My suspicion (and hope) is that, with time, this is changing and the etiquette will evolve to the "standard" being a woman's own first name is always used.  I apologize to make this an "age" thing, but the gist I am getting from the posts and my own experience is women around my age (40s) and younger prefer to be addressed with their own first name or don't have a preference.  I've never "met" anyone, online or otherwise, in those age brackets who prefers the Mrs. His First Name/Last Name.  I'm sure there may be a few out there, but I suspect it is a small minority.

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  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Seventh Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer


    CMGragain said:










    CMGragain I didn't realise that women went first. I've just sent out all our invites and I put the person that we know and or 'connected' to us first. 
    But on lots, I put men first. 
    I never put Mr. and Mrs. John Doe because even if it is traditional I hate the idea of women not having a name.











    A woman name is Jane Doe.  Her social TITLE is Mrs. John Doe.  Traditionally, people are addressed by their titles.  Their name was kept for family and intimate friends.  This is why you could address a letter to Mrs. John Doe, but inside the envelope, you would start your letter with "Dear Jane."

    I addressed an invitation to a friend of mine who has been widowed for more than 20 years.  She is a very strong feminist, so I took a guess and addressed the invitation to "Ms. Jane Doe".  She was insulted, and returned the invitation with the name corrected to "Mrs. John Doe".  You never know.

    My sister-in-law is a prominent doctor.  When receiving business mail, she is "Dr. Mary Jones", her business title.  She prefers that her social mail is addressed to "Mrs. John Jones", her social title.  Her friends and family call her "Mary", which is her name.  Does that explain it?
    CMGragain said:

    I wouldn't be insulted if someone addressed me Ms. Jane Doe.  I don't understand people who are insulted and angry by having mail addressed to them as Mrs. John Doe.  It isn't like someone is intentionally messing with you.  Having choices means it is easier to make mistakes.  When a bride is addressing 100 invitations, she might not have time to call her guests and ask them their preference.
    I do not understand being upset by a simple written address.  As long as it doesn't say "Occupant".... ;)


    You just talked about a woman being insulted at being addressed as Ms. Jane Doe, and don't think a thing about it, but you can't fathom how someone would be insulted by Mrs. John Doe? Considering the former is progressive and inclusive, while the latter is full of sexist undertones, it seems that your surprise is a big biased toward your own preferences. 

    It's time to change the default to the progressive option, and reserve Mrs. John Doe for those traditionalists that prefer it. 

    InLoveInQueensSP29Knottie737c32aade6d0ff7
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 25 Answers





    CMGragain said:










    CMGragain I didn't realise that women went first. I've just sent out all our invites and I put the person that we know and or 'connected' to us first. 
    But on lots, I put men first. 
    I never put Mr. and Mrs. John Doe because even if it is traditional I hate the idea of women not having a name.











    A woman name is Jane Doe.  Her social TITLE is Mrs. John Doe.  Traditionally, people are addressed by their titles.  Their name was kept for family and intimate friends.  This is why you could address a letter to Mrs. John Doe, but inside the envelope, you would start your letter with "Dear Jane."

    I addressed an invitation to a friend of mine who has been widowed for more than 20 years.  She is a very strong feminist, so I took a guess and addressed the invitation to "Ms. Jane Doe".  She was insulted, and returned the invitation with the name corrected to "Mrs. John Doe".  You never know.

    My sister-in-law is a prominent doctor.  When receiving business mail, she is "Dr. Mary Jones", her business title.  She prefers that her social mail is addressed to "Mrs. John Jones", her social title.  Her friends and family call her "Mary", which is her name.  Does that explain it?
    CMGragain said:


    I wouldn't be insulted if someone addressed me Ms. Jane Doe.  I don't understand people who are insulted and angry by having mail addressed to them as Mrs. John Doe.  It isn't like someone is intentionally messing with you.  Having choices means it is easier to make mistakes.  When a bride is addressing 100 invitations, she might not have time to call her guests and ask them their preference.
    I do not understand being upset by a simple written address.  As long as it doesn't say "Occupant".... ;)




    You just talked about a woman being insulted at being addressed as Ms. Jane Doe, and don't think a thing about it, but you can't fathom how someone would be insulted by Mrs. John Doe? Considering the former is progressive and inclusive, while the latter is full of sexist undertones, it seems that your surprise is a big biased toward your own preferences. 

    It's time to change the default to the progressive option, and reserve Mrs. John Doe for those traditionalists that prefer it. 



    Since neither you nor I have the power to do this, the argument is pointless.  When the etiquette experts start saying that Ms. Jane Doe is the preferred form of address for married women, I will happily comply.  This has not yet happened.  There are many, many traditional women in this world that honor the old traditions.  Their preference to how their mail is addressed has nothing to do with their modern thinking.  It is their personal preference.  Instead of arguing here, why don't you write to the Emily Post Institute, and Miss Manners?  That would be taking action on the subject.
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  • I occasionally get a "Mrs. John Doe" piece of mail - almost exclusively from those in an older generation. I roll my eyes and laugh at it. But I agree that I don't understand the anger some have. I just don't have time in my life for that kind of stress. 
    short+sassyJediElizabeth
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