How to Address a Wedding Invitation to a Same-Sex Couple
It’s not only gay and lesbian couples who struggle with the etiquette surrounding weddings. Engagement is increasingly confusing to straight couples with LGBT loved ones. Every couple has to confront the newness of the environment of acceptance that is growing around us. One common question asked by all types of folks is “how do I properly address an invitation to a same-sex couple?
Adhering to Strict Etiquette and “Tradition”
Sometimes we sound like a broken record, but once again, the etiquette on this is still being written. The big names in propriety are weighing in, though, and that helps bring some clarification to the issue (or, in some cases, just creates more rules for us to follow!). Miss Manners, in a popularly-cited response to a “Dear Miss Manners” question, concluded that the only appropriate solution that neither invoked thoughts of widowhood and divorce, nor affronted tradition junkies who might freak out at the sound of “Mrs.” connected to a first name (evidently a major no-no in etiquette circles”) is to use the plural forms of Mrs. and Mr. like so: The Mesdames Betty and Sally Jones The Mssrs. Bob and John Smith
A Common Compromise
Of course, if you can stomach some, rather unlikely, criticism for not being quite so dedicated to tradition, you can do what many others have chosen of late: “Mrs. Betty Jones and Mrs. Sally Jones” or “Mr. Bob Smith and Mr. John Smith”
Accounting for Status
If your friends are in a relationship, but perhaps have not elevated their status to serious, legally married, or permanently committed, you can apply the “unmarried couple” solution of writing the names on separate lines. Mrs. Betty Jones Mrs. Sally Smith However, if you have LGBT friends who, legally married or not, consider themselves in a permanently committed relationship, you should definitely choose a form that lists their names on the same line.
Additional Options and The Best of Intentions
Choosing a more casual or less etiquette-bound wedding approach? Feel free to use “Betty and Sally Jones”, “Betty Jones and Sally Smith”, “Bob and John Smith” or “Bob Jones and John Smith.” Whichever form you choose, you will want to determine the order of the names alphabetically (i.e. Betty before Sally, and Bob before John). The truth is that your invited guests will respect and appreciate any effort you make to recognize the sanctity of their relationship. While you may completely affront those who ascribe to the strictest of all etiquette rules, if the choices you make acknowledge that your loved ones are in a relationship as special and legitimate as your own, you will have embraced the essence of etiquette. Act with best intentions and utmost respect – you can’t truly go wrong.
Photo Courtesy of GingerSnap Photography
Sources: Miss Manners Reader Response in the Houston Chronicle, September 8, 2005: http://www.chron.com/life/article/Miss-Manners-Addressing-invitations-to-married-1643353.php WeddingWire.com Member Forum Discussion: http://www.weddingwire.com/wedding-forums/addressing-same-sex-couple-invitations/cb01e8d7d5edecbe.html
S. Walker is a freelance writer for GayWeddings.com.