I am asked all the time about the right way to properly address my client's wedding guests. And I'm not talking about their physical address. 307 Maple Street? Thats the easy part! I'm talking about how to address their names. Their titles. While there are some hard and fast rules, just like most things in life there are some shades of grey, or leeway if you will.
Like all other things with your wedding, the formality of the event will dictate how much you need to "follow the rules". If you are having a Black Tie affair, your guests will expect that you to stick to the rules. If you are having an intimate backyard union, then you are able to be more lax and familiar with the way you address your invitations.
Here are a few examples of the most commonly asked questions and their answers.
Who uses a title other than your standard Mr., Mrs., Ms., and Miss?
Physicians, Veterinarians, and Denists
Government officials such as Mayors, Senators, The Queen (if you are that lucky!)
All of the above titles should be spelled out in full, such as Doctor, The Reverend, Colonel. However, (here come those shades of grey!) you can abbreviate any of these except Military titles if you would like, or if there is not enough room on the envelope.
What about someone with a PhD?
Generally speaking, those with a PhD are addressed as Mr. or Mrs./Ms., but if they are are known by "Doctor", then it is fine to use address them as Doctor John Smith.
What about a household with two Doctors?
If both members of the house are doctors, there are a few options, but the woman is always listed first. Examples: The Doctors Mary and John Smith, The Doctors Smith, or Drs. Mary and John Smith
Okay this one can be a bit tricky depending on the way in which you choose names to be written. I'll give you a few examples to help clarify.
If the names are being written with the titles in front of the names, the man's name should be written first. Example: Mr. and Mrs. John Smith
If only their first names are being used (while not the most popular with etiquette sticklers, it is becoming more common), the woman's name should be written first. Example: Mary and John
Man or woman, the person with the title is always written first. Example: Doctor Mary and Mr. John Smith
I just gave you a lot of rules, and some with some wiggle room to reach into those shades of grey. If you ever have questions or want to to talk about the rules, just give me a shout!