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Old 02-12-2016, 08:08 AM   #1
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Default Address Etiquette

How do you address a married couple on an envelope? How about a married woman on an envelope? a cohabiting couple or a same sex or...

I stopped myself in my tracks yesterday when I was mailing a card to my SIL... as I thought 'ah &^* I have put the wrong name on the card' as I was also mailing a card to my MIL.


I would never want to offend anyone, so I want to make sure I get it right!


And the more I thought about it, the more questions I had lol!


I am old school so let me explain how I was taught


Married Couples


Mr & Mrs (Husbands Initial) Surname
Mr X & Mr X Surname
Mrs X & Mrs X Surname



if the card is for a married woman (not a widow)


Mrs (Husbands Initial) Surname


Widow or separated


Mrs (Her initial) Surname


Female not married


If the card is for a female not married over 18 it is Ms. if the female is under 18 it is Miss.


Male not married

if the card is for a male over 18 it is Mr. if the male is under 18 it is Master (but I normally only do this for fun!)


Cohabiting


Mr X Surname & Mr X Surname


Ms X Surname & Ms X Surname


Mr X Surname $ Ms X Surname




Did I miss any? is the list above how you do it, or do you do something else? I realize I am old school!


I could resolve it all I guess by not using initials and use their names lol!
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Old 02-12-2016, 08:18 AM   #2
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If you go by age, I guess I am considered of the old school but I have always been one who dislikes labels so I never use Mr., Mrs., or Ms. I use their names and always have. Just my mindset but I guess it can make it easier all around..........D
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Old 02-12-2016, 09:02 AM   #3
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Just checked Emily Post and boys are Master until age 7. Then no title is used until they reach 18 and then it's Mr. Who knew??? Looks like all the others are proper etiquette.

Personally, I'm a rebel who 29 years ago kept my maiden name when I got married....much to hubby's dismay. I prefer people put both our full names on the envelope. I like to acknowledge the woman so I write Jane & John Doe if the wife has changed her last name when they married. My mother said, "Ladies before gentlemen."
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Old 02-12-2016, 09:08 AM   #4
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I'm like rockybeta, I use their name(s)
Ie I sent a baby gift to my nephew and his wife I address it (not their real name):
Thomas & Jessica Smith

These days many women do not take their husbands last name, or hyphenate. I have even come across a couple where the husband took his wife's last name. So I'm inclined to not address anything as Mr. & Mrs. John Smith.
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Old 02-12-2016, 09:35 AM   #5
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If I were formally addressing envelopes, I'd do them exactly as you have done. It should not offend anyone except maybe a hard-core feminist.

Personally, if I was sending a card to a militant married feminist (and I have one among my circle of friends) and she was upset that I referred to her as Mrs. instead of Ms., she would not get a second card.

In days of old, Miss was the proper term for any unmarried female, regardless of age. And Ms. originated as a designation for any adult woman, regardless of marital status. It was meant to be ambiguous about the woman's attachment to a man, or lack of one. It's a term that became popular during the 1960's women's liberation movement and quickly caught for business use as people did not have to know if a woman was married or detached to properly address a business letter.

Curious, about the origins of Ms, I looked it up on the Internet (which we all know is an infallible source of information ) and learned that it actually began in the 17th Century, hundreds of years before the Suffragette movement at the turn of the 20th century. According to the article, the term fell out of use but was picked up again during the 1960s.

And yes, I'm a bit of a research nerd.
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Old 02-12-2016, 09:44 AM   #6
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Thank you! I remember filling out some forms back in the 80's I guess and I had to designate my self as a Spinster as I was unmarried, I was horrified! My mother just laughed...I keep telling myself I am only 43 why do I feel ancient lol!
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Old 02-12-2016, 09:57 AM   #7
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If I am sending something "formal" to a couple I do what you listed (Mr. & Mrs. John Doe.) Less formal, I will use their actual names. I have one sister in law is always a tough one for me because she uses her married last name as her middle name, and kept her last name from her first marriage. I can never remember to get that right!

Funny story along these lines... one of my brothers sent me a gift basket for Christmas and addressed it to my husband's first name and my maiden last name. We got a good laugh out of that one!

Personally, I never get offended by however someone addresses an envelope/package. I am just happy they sent it
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Old 02-12-2016, 11:00 AM   #8
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When I send mail, I usually do an informal name (Jane and John Doe); the exception is when something is formal (e.g. wedding invitation, birth announcements, graduation). Receiving mail is always a delight. I'm married, but for professional reasons kept my family name (in a publish or perish world, hyphens don't work). My family name has 2 capital letters but is all one word (Ellis Island). Some people know me by my family name, some know me just through my husband, and some don't know me, so I get:

Susan Smith (Smith & Jones are pseudonyms!)
Susan Jones
Susan Smithjones
Susan SmithJones (correct)
Susan Carpenter

And then there are all of the variations involving the title (Dr, Ms, Mrs, Miss).

So, everyday is an adventure mail-wise.
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Old 02-12-2016, 11:10 AM   #9
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Ah..the lost art of letter writing (and therefore addressing) ....

For formal events/invitations, like a wedding I would do as you have it-formally.

For every day, holidays, etc. ...

Single
Just the name, no title-James Bond

A couple
The Xs. -The Bonds

If they have kids,
The X family- The Bond Family

For two last names (gay or she kept hers, etc)
I write the names with no title, ladies first. Gays, the person I am connected to more goes first with the exception of holidays.

Ie: I have gay cousins. My cousin is Jewish, his husband is Irish Christian. They get all kinds of cards therefore.

The Jewish holidays my cousin's name goes first on the envelope and card. The Christian, his husband's name goes first. St Pats-the husband's name goes first. It's basically whose it for most. Both equally, my cousin will go first as the stronger tie to me.

The other exception would be for people I dont know well/work associates-if they are single, I will use Mr or Ms. Otherwise it's what I said above.

It might avoid pain for recently divorced/widowed...although the last name could still sting, or even the taken back maiden could. It's a touchy thing and you can only do the best you can.

Here's the thing of it imho. If you only address to one person in a house, in theory no one else should be opening it. So if it is meant for everyone, then I have to do it in an inclusive manner.

The only time I might do that is for someone who has a long term other who is not living there. aka I know the other for years, but he/she isnt a resident in the house. So I wont put the name on the envelope but will on the card.

My Q is for work stuff:
If you send a card to a boss....and you know the spouses name but have never met them....for the INSIDE of the card...

Do you write to Mary and Bob or to Mary and family or what? You want to be inclusive but not overly familiar.

Oy. No wonder I gave up titles. It's still complicated! LOL
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Old 02-12-2016, 12:49 PM   #10
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I am personally opposed to titles myself, and will explain why below. I use first and last names for everyone, and if it's a couple and I know the other one, I use their first name, too.

For holiday cards like Christmas, Halloween, etc. for a family, I sometimes use the last name in plural, i.e. The Smiths, or sometimes The Smith Family.

Years ago I had to deal with a lot of doctors when my mother was ill with cancer. I really got tired of some of them having such a condescending attitude when I talked to them. Some felt very free to use my first name, and my sick mother's first name, but we were somehow supposed to call them "Doctor So and So.

I decided on a radical approach - I started speaking to doctors by using their first name. I got some pretty strange looks, but I felt very empowered and not like the little sheep some doctors like you to be.

I have kept it up since then. I am respectful, kind and considerate, but I don't use titles.
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Old 02-12-2016, 01:02 PM   #11
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These days a lot of people keep their maiden names, especially if they are in a career where they are publicly known by that name. Many of my journalism friends kept their maiden names.

I'm probably an odd ball in that, after 13 years with my husband, we divorced and I kept my married name. Now, 17 years post-divorce and I still very much identify with the name, which I've had longer than my maiden name. If someone were to call out my maiden name I might think they were talking to someone else!

Edited to add that I think I broke the record for using the word "name" the most times in such few sentences. My former editors would be terribly disappointed! LOL
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Old 02-12-2016, 03:18 PM   #12
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Doesn't anyone think that calling someone Mrs. John Smith in this day and age is anachronistic?

I was married, though no longer. I got married in 1975 and, even back then, woe betide anyone who addressed me as if I were an appendage of my husband. !
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Old 02-12-2016, 03:48 PM   #13
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Address me by my name, please. I am a fourth generation suffragette. We have the photo of GGM wearing her sash and holding her protest sign to prove it!
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Old 02-12-2016, 04:54 PM   #14
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Well I would prefer to be Mrs my first name and married name. That's true. Not Mrs His Name.
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Old 02-13-2016, 04:47 AM   #15
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Mrs. His Name is not my name. If you want to address something to me I would hope you would use my name.
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Old 02-13-2016, 07:51 AM   #16
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If I actually get around to mailing anything to anyone, the recipient is sufficiently taken aback to not care what format the names are in the address! Which is good, because I only pay attention to that sort of thing for business, not personal...

The reverse is true, as well - if you thought of me and sent me something via snail mail, you could call me a four-letter word in the address and I would just be glad that you thought enough of me to send something...
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Old 02-13-2016, 07:58 AM   #17
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To a couple I do....Jane and Harvey Smith.. Jane Jones & Harvey Smith or Jane Jones and Carol Smith no Mr or Mrs. The rest end up being Mr/Mrs/Ms Jane Jones..or Ms Jane Jones-Smith. It gets a little complicated after a while and these days I don't think anyone really cares how you address it as long as you remember them by sending a card. LOL
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Old 02-13-2016, 12:00 PM   #18
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Who would have thought life would make addressing mail so complicated
I'm just happy to get mail So little that comes in the mailbox is personally addressed anymore. If someone gets their knickers in a knot over Miss vs Ms vs who knows what needs to take a deep breath and chill!
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Old 02-13-2016, 04:29 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregzgurl View Post
If I actually get around to mailing anything to anyone, the recipient is sufficiently taken aback to not care what format the names are in the address! Which is good, because I only pay attention to that sort of thing for business, not personal...

The reverse is true, as well - if you thought of me and sent me something via snail mail, you could call me a four-letter word in the address and I would just be glad that you thought enough of me to send something...
LOL Sue!
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Old 02-13-2016, 04:48 PM   #20
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My dad always said call me anything you want, just don't call me late for dinner! LOL
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Old 02-14-2016, 12:22 AM   #21
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I would not like being addressed as Mrs John Doe, I am not him. I would be Mrs Jane Doe.
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Old 02-14-2016, 01:43 PM   #22
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I've loved this discussion!

So I'll throw in my $0.02 just for the record.
I have friends of all ages, from twenty-somethings to those well into their nineties. And I handle the different age groups differently.

Those who are younger than me where I would call them by their first name, then I address an envelope by "Lisa Jones". Or Brian and Lisa Jones.

If I don't know them well, or if they are a business associate, or a boss, then I would lean toward the "Mr and Mrs Brian Jones" or similar, staying within the bounds of what is generally considered proper etiquette.

And for my more elderly friends, well, most of them care deeply about proper etiquette. I really and truly do not want to offend them. I will address my envelopes according to their conventions. One of them I would address "Mrs Eloise Victor". Her middle name is Eloise and she jumps all over anyone who calls her "Phoebe" (Her first name). She IS Eloise! And her hubby has been gone for a long time. One couple where the wife has alzheimers and doesn't know what is going on at all, I wouldn't consider anything other than "Mr and Mrs John Smith" because that is what was proper in their day, and if you leave a wife out because you don't think they care...whoa...you better be ready to be chewed out. For the recent widow or widower, I will address the envelope to Mr Jacob Brown or Mrs Peter Long (or Mrs Vickie Long), and I will acknowledge inside that I remember their spouse.

All that to say, I will address with respect according to what the recipient considers proper.

I did get a kick out of Melissa saying that if they were offended by the way I addressed the card then they wouldn't get another one! That would be my thought if they expressed their offended-ness to me!
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Old 02-14-2016, 04:39 PM   #23
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Diane, I love how you approach so thoughtfully. You're right, their conventions are the important aspect to take into consideration. My Mother in law was quite proper in these things and always addressed a letter to Mrs Husband Name and even signed her own name in that way unless it was to her sister or someone close to her. After he had been gone for years, she began the Mrs Wife Name instead.
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Old 02-14-2016, 06:36 PM   #24
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I rarely get anything with a title on it addressed to me. Normally it's just my first and last name. I was an English major, so I used to try to stick to what was appropriate, but now, I see more informal addresses. There seems to be more things to get bothered by, than how my envelop is addressed, so it doesn't really impact me.

I mainly address informal cards, as my friends and family do to me, so I find myself going with the first and last name approach as well. It seems more personal too!
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Old 02-14-2016, 07:14 PM   #25
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I enjoyed reading this post and am amused by some of the outrage that apparently exists when all the sender wants to do is send a greeting or an invitation, but puts the wrong (which might actually be the correct way according to Emily Post) name on the envelope. I address envelopes as many of you do...depends on the recipient. However, let me assure you that many years ago, I took great pleasure in practicing writing, "Mrs. John Doe" on any available scrap of paper. I am still thrilled to be Mrs. John Doe and would never be offended by being addressed as such. Names are just a form of identification, not a definition of the person themselves. I think I will get in the boat with the group that thinks you should be happy to get an individualized, handwritten message in the mail regardless of how it is addressed!
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Old 02-14-2016, 07:46 PM   #26
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As kind of a side note to this thread/topic: My sisters and I were going through some old family papers a few months ago, and I snagged a couple of my grandmother's drivers licenses. The first one (1940) has her name listed as "Mrs. J.O. Chlarson", and that's how it's signed. A few years later it listed her as "Dora Alice Chlarson", but she still signed it "Mrs. J.O. Chlarson". We've come a long way, baby!
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Old 02-14-2016, 10:27 PM   #27
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I use Mr. and Mrs. Surname, or Mr.,Mrs.for individuals. EXCEPT single, living alone females, I use initial and surname, no title. I started doing this at the request of my sister, she wanted that for security reasons, no one could tell from the envelope that she was female. She lives in a large city in a condo building. I extend the habit to all single women now.
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Old 02-15-2016, 12:44 AM   #28
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Diane expressed my feelings perfectly and eloquently. Depending upon the age of the recipient, I will address mail differently. In my experience, many mature adults stand on etiquette, and to address mail to Ms. Jane Doe would be insulting. So I would use Mrs. John Doe, even if the female was a widow for long period of time. For her, that would be proper. For a younger female, it would be Ms. Jane Doe. My goal is to try to address the person as they wish. Most people have a preference in how they wish to be addressed. Conventions and people have changed over the years, but most people will gladly share how they wish to be addressed. If in doubt, just ask for their preference.
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Old 02-15-2016, 06:35 PM   #29
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Not sure if anyone addressed this or not because I just skimmed over the responses. Personally, I wouldn't use initials at all. But besides that, all of the original answers looked quite "proper" to me.

Names are all crazy - and here's my funny story about my own name and the junk mail that I sometimes receive.

When I got divorced the first time, I kept my husband's name (Doe) because I had the same name as our son. Well, the second time around when I got divorced again, I took back my original maiden name (Jones). My son was grown up and out of high school by that time and I didn't have any kids with my second husband (Smith). Well, as the telemarketers and junk mail senders aren't always the brightest..... I now get some junk mail under all three last names even though I never had the first married name at this address. But the funniest mail I get totally leaves off my first name - and I get mail addressed to: Jones Smith - using my two most recent last names but even then getting them out of order....
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Old 02-17-2016, 02:08 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BathBelle View Post
I would not like being addressed as Mrs John Doe, I am not him. I would be Mrs Jane Doe.
Technically, and the way it was taught years ago, if something is addressed Mrs. Jane Doe, it's assumed your husband is dead.
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Old 02-17-2016, 03:40 AM   #31
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I kept my maiden name as my middle name when I got married as a sentimental thing. I do not expect to see it in an address as I would not include a more traditional middle name in an address (Jane Louise Doe). The exception would be if the middle name is typically used by the recipient, I.e. Peggy Sue, Mary Ann.
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Old 02-17-2016, 08:51 AM   #32
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Back in 1961 when I got married, I was Mrs Eugene Hobel on everything! (Hey, we dated for three years)
As time passed I realized I was a person, not just a wife, so used Kathy Hobel on most things, Gene thought it was funny!

When mailing to a family I use Mr & Mrs X Smith and Kids most of the time, sometimes will write out the names of the kids.

I think in most cases, not formal, any address works, you're mailing, not emailing, texting or IM someone!
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Old 02-17-2016, 10:49 AM   #33
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I once got a card/letter in the mail from a sister in law that didn't like me much addressed to Mr. John Doe and Family and Sylvia. Talk about a dig!.Lol!
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Old 02-17-2016, 10:58 AM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sylviad View Post
I once got a card/letter in the mail from a sister in law that didn't like me much addressed to Mr. John Doe and Family and Sylvia. Talk about a dig!.Lol!
Now that is funny!
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Old 02-17-2016, 11:26 AM   #35
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I should say that on most correspondence, I do use first and last name without a corresponding honorific. Normally, Christmas and anniversary cards, and formal invitations get a title as well as name. But this year I added titles only for family. Not sure why. Laziness? I do hope I don't succumb to the trend to cast aside tradition and proper etiquette.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sylviad View Post
I once got a card/letter in the mail from a sister in law that didn't like me much addressed to Mr. John Doe and Family and Sylvia. Talk about a dig!.Lol!
You should have responded with a birthday card addressed to: What's Her Name
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Old 02-17-2016, 02:25 PM   #36
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I'd say you are correct technically but like many other 'correct' thibgs, they are no longer in style. If you were addressing wedding invites or invites for another formal occasion like a fundraiser or xmas cards sent by a company, I'd stick with the guidelines you've listed. Except I believe master is only to age 8 or 10.

But nowadays, this is pretty formal for any old card. I'm more used to mr & Mrs x or first name (his) & first name (hers) X. And I'd drop the miss or ms. Unless she's a little girl and would appreciate the miss. And for a woman who is married I'd just go with first and last names! JMHO.
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Old 02-17-2016, 02:44 PM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lynkim View Post
EXCEPT single, living alone females, I use initial and surname, no title. I started doing this at the request of my sister, she wanted that for security reasons, no one could tell from the envelope that she was female. She lives in a large city in a condo building. I extend the habit to all single women now.
I used to do initial and surname also, for my sister who for many years lived alone in a big apartment building in New York City. Basically it's an attempt to increase security.
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Old 02-17-2016, 04:01 PM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sylviad View Post
I once got a card/letter in the mail from a sister in law that didn't like me much addressed to Mr. John Doe and Family and Sylvia. Talk about a dig!.Lol!
Woah! That's harsh!
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Old 02-17-2016, 04:01 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by Rachelrose View Post
Doesn't anyone think that calling someone Mrs. John Smith in this day and age is anachronistic?
For me, that sounds really odd, as well as "Mr. and Mrs. John Smith", but I thought it could be an US-thing. I would never ever write this, even if it was a very old-fashioned old man. Especially not then.

But recently I came across a strange return address, too: Mr. Dr. John Smith and Mrs. That's at least 50 years too late (and in my opinion was even then false), if not even more.

I would always write "Mrs. and Mr. Smith" or "Jane & John Smith" (woman first!).
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Old 02-17-2016, 05:44 PM   #40
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I tend not to use full names to not help those intent on identity theft. if it is a woman living alone then I don't put Mrs/Miss so no-one notices that all post is only going to woman.
I would use the lady's initial - not their husband's if the card is for them - some personal identity should be maintained I think.
if it's for a married couple, then I put Mr & Mrs - husband's initial - surname.
I only use Ms if that person has chosen to do so - I perceive that to be an adopted title rather than a given one, at least here in the UK it tends to be.

those are my little quirks!
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