Wedding Etiquette for Name Order

by Lynn Klein

From compiling guest lists to writing thank-you notes, planning weddings are great tests of etiquette savvy. Some of the trickiest questions arise when it comes to properly writing names on invitations and announcements. Learning established rules can help a bride and groom navigate all those Mr., Ms. and Mrs. dilemmas.

Formal Invitations

Traditional wedding invitations begin with the hosts names, such as the bride or groom's parents, written in full, like "Mr. and Mrs. David John Allen." If the bride and the groom's parents are both hosts, the names of the bride's parents are listed first, followed by the groom's parents. The next name listed in the invitation is the bride's name, followed by the groom's name, both which should be written in full. For a wedding where the bride's parents are the only hosts, an invitation could read: "Mr. and Mrs. David John Allen request the honor of your presence at the marriage of their daughter Alexandra May Allen to Mr. Howard John Montgomery."

Informal Invitations

In non-traditional wedding invitations, listing the hosts' names and writing names in full is not as important as it is for traditional ones. However, the bride's name is still typically listed before the groom's name. An example invitation could read: "Emily Hill and Benjamin Kraus invite you to attend their wedding."

Married Guests

When addressing invitations to married couples who share the same last name, etiquette dictates using the husband's name first such as "Mr. and Mrs. Michael Jones." Include the middle name if you have it. A more progressive way to address married couples' invitations is to write the woman's name first: "Mrs. Michelle and Mr. Michael Jones." The man's first and last name should never be separated.

Unmarried Guests

To address an invitation to an unmarried couple, list the woman's name in full first, followed by the man's name such as "Mrs. Barbara Nixon and Mr. Daniel White." If it is a same-sex couple, write them alphabetically. This same rule applies to married couples in which the woman uses her maiden name.

Professional Guests

If guests have professional titles, list the person with the most impressive title first on the invitation if addressing it to a couple. If the woman is the doctor, the invitation would read "Dr. Katherine Wright and Mr. Joseph Wright." If the man is the doctor, write "Dr. and Mrs. Wright," according to Brides.com. If both members of the couple are doctors, the invitation would read "The Drs. Wright" or "The Doctors Wright."

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About the Author

Based in Budapest, Lynn Klein began writing professionally in 2007. Her first job was as a business and culture reporter at a midsized daily newspaper in Colorado and her freelance articles have appeared in "The Marquee," "American Cowboy" and "Denver Life." She holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Colorado.