Correct Correspondence – Reader Q&A

Q. I wanted to see if you would be willing to give a little clarification on how to address people on an envelope. Specifically, with titles and without titles. Also, what about women who don’t change their last name after marriage? I appreciate your help!

A. Thank you for reading! I am more than happy to help. Let’s start with the basics. If John Smith and Jane Smith are married and are of equal ranks, it would Mr. and Mrs. John Smith. If you choose a more informal approach it would be Jane and John Smith. The old adage is, “you never separate a man from his name.” Yes, it’s a little dated, but it’s a decent way to remember which name goes first. If Jane had kept her maiden name of Johnson, it would be Mr. John Smith and Ms. Jane Johnson. She would never be addressed as Mrs. Smith, as she didn’t take that name. She would be Ms. Johnson. Now, let’s say she did take his last name of Smith. Traditionally, she would always be referred to as Mrs. John Smith and not Mrs. Jane Smith. Nowadays, it is completely acceptable to list Mrs. Jane Smith, if that is her preference.

If Jane is a doctor, and her husband is not, on the envelope it would be Dr. Jane Smith and Mr. John Smith. If they are both doctors, it may read Drs. Jane and John Smith.

If children are included on the envelope, they are addressed on a separate line below their parents’ names. For a boy, traditionally under the age of 10, the title of Master is to be used. He drops having a title after 10 until he turns 18, at which time he becomes a Mister and warrants his own invitation, even if he lives with his parents.

Girls traditionally did not have a title until age 10. It’s very common now, though, to refer to a female as Miss from birth on. At 18, she, too, receives her own invitation, even if she resides with her parents. I hope this helps!

 

 

Announcment: Invitations Coming Soon

Y’all. My son is turning four years old. I can barely believe it. As I was looking through Etsy to find an invitation I liked, I kept stumbling across absolutely beautiful bridal and baby shower invitations. However, I noticed a common theme. The registry was written on each and every one of them. I do know that it’s simple and easy. However, I also know that it can look cheap and as though that’s the only reason you’re having a shower.

So, instead of lamenting this problem forever, I decided to take matters into my own hands! Coming soon will be etiquette-approved invitations for all occasions! Bridal, baby, graduation, birthday…you name it! Also, in case you’re wondering, I will have a way to let people know that you are registered without it being the primary focus of the invitation. I’m so excited to bring this to you!

As always, thank you for reading!

 

RSVP Explained

I’ve talked about RSVP, the translation and what it means before, but since then I’ve received questions from people regarding it a little more. More commonly the question is, “When can I back out of an RSVP?” To be honest, only in the event of an emergency. If you receive a “better” invitation, that’s not the appropropriate time to back out of an RSVP’d event.

Backing out after accepting an invitation is telling your would-have-been hosts that something more appealing came up. By sending a positive RSVP, you are, in truth, forgoing any other options that may be presented to you later. Acceptable cirumstances you would be able to later decline would include becoming sick or having a child or a dependent become sick. It would not include having a friend decide to come to visit last minute or that you received a party invite that seemed more fun.

I know this may all sound harsh, but the truth is, when someone extends you an invitation, they aren’t just trying to fill a seat. They want you there. And it is, to be blunt, rude when you initially accept and then back out once something “better” has come along.

All of that being said, the people who are asking the question are not people I consider rude. I think this is just a case of people living busy lives and time being limited. This is not a generational thing either. It’s a cultural  and societal problem.We glorify busyness for the sake of being busy and think that if you can survive without caffeine, you’re not doing enough. We live in a time where store are open 24/7 so that we are never without. We don’t have to wait for anything, adding to the instant gratification issue. Heaven forbid anyone who has a cell phone not answer a call or text. We are held hostage in our lives.

I say we all deserve better. We deserve months that aren’t so packed with activities that we don’t know what to do with an evening off. Consideration of other people’s time starts with consideration of our own. Do not feel pressured to accept every invitaiton you receive. You don’t need to give a reason. Simply let them know you will not be able to attend. That being said, have respect for any invitation you do accept and make sure to attend.

So, how far out do you need to send your reply? Unless a date is stated, two weeks prior to an event is a solid amount of time to give the hosts time to prepare. Let’s all do our part to send our reply from this point forward. Thank you for reading!

Nicest of Them All….Weddings Decoded

Alright, so earlier this week I asked the question of which type of wedding would be considered the most formal – morning church, evening church, at-home or venue. The answer? It’s actually an at-home wedding. Let’s jump into the “why” that y’all know I’m so eager to always explain?

Now, remember, this is for the USA, and this is actually the traditional etiquette answer, per Amy Vanderbilt and Emily Post. Weddings, by definition, are formal events. This does not equate to formal attire, though. While weddings have been held in churches for centuries, in the USA, it was more common until about the 1950s for weddings to be held at home, provided the bride’s family was wealthy enough to do so. It was considered a very formal affair. Full meals would be provided by servants for hundreds of people. After about the 1820s, families who could afford it went all out for weddings. A minister would still perform the ceremonial part of the wedding, and the reception would commonly follow.

In the 1950s, the USA experienced a religious resurgence with a big push to hold wedding ceremonies in a church building, such as a sanctuary. Still, even then it was popular for the bride’s family to host a full meal and reception at their home or at a family home. As peoples’ homes have decreased in size, the idea of having a receptions at a venue has increased in popularity. In Amy Vanderbilt’s 1954 etiquette book, she declares home weddings “nicest of them all,” showing a preference for tradition over trend. Think plantation home size.

Going by this etiquette precedence, the “nicest” type of wedding and reception a couple would most likely have today would be to have a church wedding and an at-home reception, provided the home is large enough to accommodate a large number of people. It would include a full meal with people serving the meal. An alternative that would be considered just slightly less formal would be a church wedding with a reception at a venue.

Now, if you choose to have a venue wedding, does any of this mean it’s not ok or “nice?” Not even in the least. It is, however, stating that there are certain expectations for choosing a more formal wedding type. That may rub some people the wrong way, but in all areas of life, there are expectations. I have a certain level of expectations when I come to work. Never feel obligated to host any event, including a wedding, that you can’t afford.

Now, going off of the comments, someone mentioned the Royal Wedding between the Duke and Duchess. That, in my opinion, was a perfect combination of old and new. It was a morning church wedding, followed by a luncheon reception. Finally there was an evening “home” reception. The duchess also changed dresses between the events. It was elaborate, but it had an element of youth to it that I loved. She also kept in mind appropriate dress for both venues. As we’ve talked about, the later in the day it gets, the more formal your attire would be. You’d never wear an evening gown to a church, regardless of time, so she kept it before 7 (well before, as it was morning). Prior to the evening event, many of the guests had also changed clothes into more formal threads.

Etiquette helps us to better understand others’ expectations. I hope you enjoyed this post! As always, thank you for reading.

 

It’s Wedding Season!

It’s wedding season! Check out my top picks from Amazon. My kitchen aid mixer is something I use nearly daily, so, even though it’s pricy, we’ve gotten our money’s worth with it.


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