What, Jane Doe doesn't get her own mention?
August 19, 2011 11:55 AM   Subscribe

We're currently addressing wedding invitations. For reasons both personal and political, I really really hate the practice of addressing things to Dr. and Mrs. John Doe. Will it be stupid or scandalous or silly if we go with Dr. and Mrs. John and Jane Doe? Or just John and Jane Doe?

Yes, this is stemming from own anxiety regarding what we'll be doing with our surnames (more on that question next week!). And I think we'll use the traditional form for people who are my parents' age or older. But it just feels stupid to address things to only John Doe, especially when I'm better friends with Jane. Am I overreacting? If not, what are my alternatives?
posted by Hwaet to Society & Culture (36 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
John and Jane doe. This isn't a business conference, you ostensibly are already on a first-name basis with these people.
posted by Jon_Evil at 11:57 AM on August 19, 2011 [9 favorites]

I address things like this:

Jane Doe
John Doe
City, State Zip

and I feel just fine about it.
posted by padraigin at 11:58 AM on August 19, 2011

But it just feels stupid to address things to only John Doe...
If you're looking for a novel method of address just to avoid feeling stupid, then, yes, you're overreacting. "Mr. and Mrs. John Doe" is standard.
posted by BurntHombre at 11:59 AM on August 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

It's your wedding. By all means mention Jane Doe.
posted by pappy at 11:59 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

No one but you will care, I assure you, as long as you sent the invitations to the right people

But I'd do John and Jane Doe.
posted by inturnaround at 12:00 PM on August 19, 2011 [4 favorites]

You can't help if people are scandalized by something as minor as addressing them by their name.

"Dr. and Mrs. John and Jane Doe" is not novel. Neither is "John and Jane Doe" or just "The Doe Family,"
posted by muddgirl at 12:02 PM on August 19, 2011

Address things however you want, really, particularly the younger set. My grandmother, apparently, still signs things Mrs. Eugene_nomad, although Grandpa Eugene has been dead over thirty years, and might be slightly scandalized to receive an invitation addressed differently, but I'd personally roll my eyes as hard as I could if I was invited to something as Mrs. Spouse.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:03 PM on August 19, 2011 [7 favorites]

You are not overreacting. We addressed ours Jane Doe and John Brown for our peers, and in the traditional manner for my husband's conservative relatives. Don't count on equal courtesy from your elders, however. My husband's extended family still refer to me as Mrs. Husandsname, despite knowing that I did not change my name. I just find it childish and roll my eyes. Luckily, my immediate in-laws are all kinds of super awesome. In short, do what you want, but try to not deliberately hurt someone's feelings, if you know some silly title is important to them.
posted by Malla at 12:03 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Send them to John & Jane Doe. 99% of people will not care. If you reasonably suspect a specific Mrs Doe would prefer the very old fashioned "Dr and Mrs John Doe" and get in a tizzy because you did it wrong, email her and ask her how she would like her invitation addressed.
posted by K.P. at 12:03 PM on August 19, 2011

Most wedding invitations I receive have been addressed in the following manner:


The other way I have seen them addressed has been as:
Ms. Zizzle
Mr. Dr. E

No "and" of any kind.

I don't know why my name comes first, if it was just a thing they decided to do, or what.

But I can tell you, it my case, it irks me to end to be addressed as "Mr. and Mrs. Dr.Enormous" 'cause I don't share Dr. E's last name. As long as our names are correct, the rest is fine by me.
posted by zizzle at 12:04 PM on August 19, 2011

That's how we did our wedding invitations lo these 13 years ago (with the exception of a few elderly folks who would have been scandalized -- my great aunt still insists on being addressed as Mrs. Herman Steady even though her husband has been dead for 20 years) and no one even remarked on it.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:04 PM on August 19, 2011

The day someone refers to me as Mrs. FutureSpouse is the day I throw a fit and break something.

I'd address it as either Jane and John Doe, or Jane Doe and John Doe, or Mrs. Jane Doe and Dr. John Doe.
posted by lydhre at 12:05 PM on August 19, 2011 [4 favorites]

The thing about weddings is that some people eagerly anticipate the super-awesome opportunity to show everyone else how fancy and well-bred they are. These people will be offended by anything and everything, yet never grievously offended enough to not show up. There's one or two in every family. So do whatever you want. Everyone knows they're a drag.

That being said, I went with Mr. and Mrs. (or Mr. and Mr. or Dr. and Mr. or Mr. and Ms. Quelle horreur!) John Doe and Jane Smith/John and Jane Doe.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 12:06 PM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh, and we did "John Buck and Jane Doe" for couples with differing names.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:06 PM on August 19, 2011

Wow, some people feel really strongly about this. Best bet might be to touch base with all your guests and make sure you're addressing them in a way that won't offend.
posted by BurntHombre at 12:12 PM on August 19, 2011

Well if Jane took her husband's name upon marriage, then you are using Jane's name: her name is Mrs John Doe, as opposed to Mrs Doe, her mother-in-law (Mrs [John's father] Doe). "John Doe" is her new last name until John's parents both die, or until John's father dies and John's mother remarries and takes a new last name. Well, unless John has an older brother with a wife who took his last name, in which case the sister-in-law will become the new Mrs Doe when the parents-in-law die, and Jane will still be Mrs John Doe.

If Jane took her husband's last name, I don't think she'll be upset about being referred to that way.
posted by thebazilist at 12:22 PM on August 19, 2011

Notes from the tradition-to-a-fault archives: Someone once addressed an invitation to us as: Mrs. and Mrs. Partnerlastname. Despite us being a) unmarried, b) having different last names, and c) One of us is a Dr. (and they know she is a doctor!)

It's 2011. Be the change you wish to see in the world. You're not changing tradition for attention or just to be quirky, you are inviting particular people to join you for an event. Invite the two people as two people.

If they share the same name: Mr. and Mrs. ______ or John and Jane Doe.

If they don't share the same name: John Doe and Jane Buck ---- or Jane Buck and John Doe! (Whoo! Living on the edge!)

If you know you'll have to deal with snickers from elderly or more formal invitees, and you care: Mr. and Mrs. Persnickety.
posted by barnone at 12:25 PM on August 19, 2011 [6 favorites]

Address them how you want. If you get comments about it, it'll give you insight into those relatives who make a fuss over it. The same sorts of people who obsess over this are those who won't take modern medical advice about SIDS and lead-painted toys seriously when you have kids and want them to babysit.
posted by davextreme at 12:26 PM on August 19, 2011

We did exactly what you are describing and garnered no complaints.
posted by KathrynT at 12:31 PM on August 19, 2011

That archaic and sexist format is worthy of being excised from modern address. I like John and Jane Doe. This is a personal invitation to a social event, titles are unnecessary, and anyway Dr. and Mr. Jane and John Doe (see what I did there) seems stilted and overlong to me.
posted by nanojath at 12:33 PM on August 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

generally there is an option between "convention I do not wish to follow" and "weird and awkward."

Dr and Mrs John Doe is fine.

John and Jane Doe is fine.

Dr. John Doe
Dr. Jane Doe

...on seperate lines is fine.

Mr. John Doe & Ms. Jane Doe is fine.

Jane Doe and John Doe is also fine.

Mr. John Doe and Miss Jane Deer is fine.

However, Mr. John Doe and Mrs Jane Doe is not fine. Or rather it is fine for 99% of the people who will get these in 2011, but will make snobs like me raise an eyebrow and wonder why Jane is being invited to bring her dead husband.

I read through 12 invitation addressing guides online and this is the first one I found that seemed accurate to me. Since you are asking about what constitutes proper etiquette and not what you can get away with or what is increasingly done, I would follow that guide.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:36 PM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Mr. crankylex and I are married but each kept our respective names. It's a known thing, I have never, ever used his last name, etc. It's not new for people. We were invited to several weddings in the past 18 months and and all invitations except for one were addressed Mr. and Mrs. HisFirstName HisLastName. He laughed when we received each one and kept saying, "Who is Mrs. HisFirstName HisLastName? Do we know her??" Even if I had taken his last name, I would still have been annoyed to have been addressed like. I have my own damn first name, thank you.

So I vote for never, ever referring to a woman as Mrs. John Doe. I think addressing it to Dr. and Mrs. Doe (if they both use Doe as a last name) is fine.
posted by crankylex at 12:37 PM on August 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

When I got married, I was among the first in my peer group to do so, and I stressed and stressed about stuff like this. My friends couldn't help, my parents' ideas seemed hopelessly outdated, and believe it or not it was before the internet. Since then I've realized something important: Nobody looks at the envelopes. They're just a tool to get your invitation where it needs to go.

Do what you want, enjoy the process, and mazel tov on your wedding.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:42 PM on August 19, 2011 [7 favorites]

As someone married to a Dr. (phd, not md), and being the female, I appreciate the effort here. I would just address it as John and Jane Doe. My mother-in-law always addresses things to Dr. and Mrs. John Doe. I cannot tell you how frustrating I find this. But, that's because she is my mother in law and I've told her how I feel about it.

That being said, my husband's grandmother would have been superbly offended if we did not address her invitation as Mrs. John D. Doe. I say use the proper names for those you know will be offended, otherwise, do what you want.

Or decide they should all just be thankful for being invited to your wedding and do what you want. I'm not brave enough to do that.
posted by fyrebelley at 12:57 PM on August 19, 2011

Thanks, everyone. I am personally horrified at the prospect of ever being addressed as Mrs. HusbandFirstName HusbandLastName, but I didn't know if I was being naive or sensitive or melodramatic. What a weird tradition, though! As if I'm first and foremost my husband's wife, to the extent that I am identified by his given name. I'm 28 ferchrissakes, I have my own damn name.

But wedding invitations are not necessarily my battleground of choice for feminist politics, we've opted to do Mr. and Mrs. John Doe for the older demographic and John and Jane Doe for people born in a time when women had jobs and sex before marriage.

Thanks for setting me straight!
posted by Hwaet at 1:09 PM on August 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

DarlingBri's link is to Miss Manners and I tend to believe Miss Manners knows best about these things.

However, I really dislike referring to women as Mrs. Husband's Name because a) feels quaintly sexist, and b)who do you pick if they're lesbians/gay men? The one whose name got selected if they both changed their names? What if they both changed their names to the same name that is totally unrelated? She is still Mrs. Husband'sName SharedName because he's the guy? What if they're both gay and they did that? MISS MANNERS, I NEED CLARIFICATION.

So I would use the advice of Miss Manners for "Married, Name Differences" for everybody. And I would ignore that she wants me to use honorifics, because of all the preferences and PhDs, completed or ABD, etc., and Esquires and Chiropractors and Honorary Doctorates and whatever. I would list everybody's name, honorific-free, on a separate line (including children, if they're invited), then the address, then you're done.

posted by aabbbiee at 1:12 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Don't write "The Family Doe" if they have kids, because the way it works is that the names on the envelope=the people invited and that would leave it ambigious as to whether you were inviting the kids.
posted by Jahaza at 1:30 PM on August 19, 2011

Good point - I used "The Smith Family" specifically when kids were invited and I didn't want to write "John, Jane, Julie, Jack, and Jordan Smith"
posted by muddgirl at 1:33 PM on August 19, 2011

I have recently gone on rants about receiving a wedding invitation that addressed me as Mrs. Husband's Firstname Lastname. I am not simply an extension of my husband's person, I have my own name, I am not property. Most of my friends (and my mother) feel the same way. I hate that people say "it's tradition" as an excuse for what is essentially a throw back to women being property of their husbands. And I've never seen anyone offended by not being called by their husband's name, so I don't think it necessarily is a battleground for feminism, more as a subtle point.

For our wedding, we went with just Mr. & Mrs. Lastname only (if they shared a last name) or Mr. Lastname1 and Ms. Lastname2 if they didn't. With of course, the appropriate Dr.'s spread in there. That way it could be shorter than writing out the whole names of everyone, but no one was property of anyone else. First name Last name, no titles seems fine too though.
posted by katers890 at 3:34 PM on August 19, 2011

I know you've already marked several best answers, but just wanted to say that for our wedding, I asked our parents how we should address their guests. My parents friends are all pretty traditional, so we the Mr. and Mrs. John Doe for that generation. My husband's mom gave us a list where she specifically wrote out what we should address all of our friends at - some were traditional, many were not and I really appreciated that b/c I didn't want to offend any of my in-laws friends!

For our friends and cousins our age-ish, we addressed them as John and Jane Doe if a married couple with the same last name, John Smith and Jane Doe or Jane Doe and John Smith if a married couple with different last names and for unmarried couples we had their names on separate lines without an "and" - this is because they were all couples where we knew one of them much better than the other and they didn't live together, so we sent the invite to half that we knew the best and put their name at the top so as not to confuse the postal service.

Complicated, I know, but no one seemed offended. :)
posted by echo0720 at 3:39 PM on August 19, 2011

...for people born in a time when women had jobs and sex before marriage.

While I both understand that this has become an issue adopted by feminism, and while I myself am a raging feminist, it may help you to understand how this convention was adopted. While I 100% get that it erases a woman's identity, the convention is not about signifying women as property. Etiquette is about smoothing over social awkwardness. Mr. and Mrs. John Doe indicates a married couple. Mrs. Jane Doe indicates that Jane is a widow.

Personally, I don't like erasing people's identities, so I too opted for "John and Jane Doe" without titles. I personally found this my comfortable middle ground between taking a stand for feminism and an egregious breech of etiquette. YMMV.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:41 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think this has been pretty well talked over by now, so I'll just add something you probably already know: whatever you write, after the wedding, half of these people are going to address their little 'Congratulations!' cards to Mr and Mrs YourHusband'sFirstName YourHusband'sLastName.

It's really galling.

On the subject of "Mr & Mrs John Doe is standard"--women getting paid 30% less for the same work is standard. Doesn't mean it's right.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 4:20 PM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

I just skipped the honorifics and went with firstname lastname.

I was more galled when people wrote out gift cheques to me using my husband's last name, since I had to go explain to the bank why the name was wrong. I was not very happy that people assumed I had changed my name. I hadn't!
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 6:59 PM on August 19, 2011

Er, I just re-read what I wrote, and what I intended to say was that "my husband's mom wrote out what we should address all of HER friends AS". Not our friends. Sorry, I didn't preview.
posted by echo0720 at 7:37 PM on August 19, 2011

After I divorced my first husband, I kept his last name (since I liked it better than my maiden name). One of my bosses at the time ran into me at a restaurant while I was with my parents. He addressed my parents as Mr. and Mrs. [husband's name]. He was heading out the door, and I never corrected him on the error. My parents didn't care at all, even though they weren't too fond of my first husband.

Why? Because he was trying to be polite. So try to call people what they want to be called. And if you are called what you don't want to be called, take a step back and see what they are trying to accomplish. If they call you Mrs. [husband's name], they remembered that you got married, and that they are happy for you. They are trying to engage you on some level. If it is your in-laws, and they know that you didn't take his name, it could be their way of accepting you; it could be a way of saying you are in the family.
posted by Monday at 10:06 PM on August 19, 2011

From long experience in receiving wedding invitations: Ours come addressed to
Dr. and Mrs. John and Jane Doe."
posted by ragtimepiano at 9:41 AM on August 21, 2011

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