One of the most complex and, yes, ANNOYING topics of discussion with brides these days involves titles. Social mores and formality has changed so much over the last two decades, that a simple “Mr. and Mrs.” doesn’t cut it anymore! Women have titles and they want to be identifiable as an independent entity, unbound, and yet oftentimes part of a couple.
Frequently I am told, while writing up a classic wedding invitation order:
“I want my mother’s name on my wedding invitation.” The first few times I broke tradition and either dropped all titles, or did some weird version of half of the names with titles…and others without, I was a bit uneasy. As time went by, I became more and more comfortable with the new etiquette. I do feel it is my obligation to educate my wedding customers on what was deemed proper in the past, but now with an open mind, acknowledging that the invitation needs to reflect the personality of the specific couple.
When addressing wedding envelopes, the same conundrum surfaces. While a “traditional” bride might still send out an ecru invitation engraved with black ink, she questions the usage of “Mr. and Mrs.” on the front of each envelope. Guest names and their titles run the gamut.
Consistency is no longer a true concern. It is more important to capture the essence of the wedding guest, and how they would like to be referred to. A classic example of this would be an envelope addressed to a widow. Traditionally, a widow would be referred to and “Mrs. Walter Lipton” on a handwritten envelope. Currently most women would like to have their own first name used, either with “Mrs.” or “Ms”.
The use of “Ms.” Is now universally accepted and preferred for single and married women receiving an invitation for themselves alone. The feeling is that is it less offensive to suggest that a woman’s marital status determines her worth.
Single sex couples much prefer having their names stacked on one envelope. It is insulting them to receive separate invitations if they live at the same address.
Gone is the use of the title “Master” for young boys. The association of the word “Master” is too unpleasant and outdated. “Miss” for some young girls, still sounds socially acceptable, but it is optional.
When addressing wedding invitation envelopes, I think the best rule of thumb is to consider the feelings of your guests, while remaining comfortable with the tenor of the situation. Common sense and courtesy have replaced “the rules” and paved the way for the new age wedding. I am over it!