How do you refer to a divorced couple attending a formal function together?
July 26, 2006 2:05 PM   Subscribe

What is the formal etiquette on how to address an invitation to a divorced couple who are attending a wedding together?

A close relative of mine is getting married, and I'm bringing my ex-husband to the wedding. My family got into a discussion on how Emily Post would address the invitation and place setting, and it got us to wondering.

While I am single, it just doesn't seem right that it would be "Jane Smith & Guest" since I was married to this man for 8 years and have a child together. Yet, of course we wouldn't be "Mr. & Mrs." I can't imagine this is a unique situation and somewhere there has to be an etiquette guideline, but I certainly can't find it.

(If it's important, we were married for 8 years and have been apart for 4 years. He has been in a serious relationship for over 2 years. Obviously, we have managed to maintain a close relationship.)
posted by TTNoelle to Writing & Language (14 answers total)
I dont understand how this would come up. You should be getting separate invitations.
posted by vacapinta at 2:08 PM on July 26, 2006

That's what I was going to say too, vacapinta. Are you at different addresses? One invitation for each of you in whatever name you go by. No reason to make it any more complicated than that.
posted by contessa at 2:10 PM on July 26, 2006

Like the others said, is there something we are missing here? Why would the invitation be addressed to both of you? Saving a stamp? Two invitations, no question about it.
posted by meerkatty at 2:12 PM on July 26, 2006

Unless you live at the same address, each of you should receive a single invitation.

The place setting (place cards?) can be:

Ms. Jane Smith

Mr. Hector Guest

Or, if you're using your married name still, it would be

Ms. Jane Guest

Mr. Hector Guest
posted by La Cieca at 2:12 PM on July 26, 2006

Response by poster: Oh dear - I was all caught up in explaining the situation I used the wrong word - it's the place setting we were curious about, not the invitation. He's going as my "guest."
posted by TTNoelle at 2:17 PM on July 26, 2006

Either he's your guest in which case despite your past relationship he becomes your +1 (it would be presumptuous to assume who someone's guest would be).

Or he's invited on his own and gets his own separate invite.
posted by bitdamaged at 2:17 PM on July 26, 2006

whoops missed that one. Either way it seems he should be treated the same as any other guest.
posted by bitdamaged at 2:20 PM on July 26, 2006

Best answer: Place setting? Use each of your names.

Joe Jones
Sally Sooth

What else would it be? (another damn good reason to just use people's names and not goofy titles).
posted by raedyn at 2:24 PM on July 26, 2006

Response by poster: That's the common sense, raedyn, but we're wondering what the formal etiquette would be. It seems weird that a family tie would be broken (having a kid) and you'd be reduced to a +1 after a divorce, but I suppose it does fall in line with everything else.
posted by TTNoelle at 2:28 PM on July 26, 2006

Best answer: My lovely wife, who writes professionally about wedding etiquette, notes that "and guest" is almost always considered bad form. If the Bride and Groom know your ex's name, his place card should have his name on it. Here's one of her recent answers on the topic.
posted by The Bellman at 2:29 PM on July 26, 2006

Best answer: Actually, "perfect" wedding ettiquette is that "guest" doesn't appear. His full name and your full name -- on seating charts and whatever. Only if you are still together do you get Mr & Mrs. HisName LastName.

(Yes, I know fully formal etiquette is dead and I for one welcome it's death knoll, but you asked.)

On standard usage: If you're invited and you're choosing to bring him as your date, the fact that you were married for 8 years shouldn't factor into it.

In fact, the fact that you're bringing him as your date points to a friendly relationship that I'm not sure actually poses a problem for wedding invitationists and seaters often, at least if every divorced couple I've ever met is an indication.

If you're both separately invited, you get your own invites, seating cards, etc. even if you're seated next to one another.
posted by Gucky at 2:29 PM on July 26, 2006

Seconding TB/Gucky, but what I really wanted to say was to congratulate you (both) for maintaining such good ties that this question would arise!
posted by rob511 at 2:48 PM on July 26, 2006

I don't understand why the past relationship makes any difference. If you are looking at true formal etiquette no placecard should read "guest". Everyone should have a placecard with their name on it.
posted by illek at 2:54 PM on July 26, 2006

Best answer: There was an honor roll listing in the paper the other day that seemingly took this into account: one student was the daughter of Edward and Sherry Jones (presumably still married), and another was the daughter of David Jones and Rebecca Jones (divorced without name change).
posted by xo at 6:02 PM on July 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

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