While you may be familiar with the formal way of addressing letters to married couples, many of today’s relationships are far from traditional, which can easily cause confusion as to how to address the letter.
Of course, the Mr. and Mrs. approach doesn’t apply to live-in partners.
Additionally, there are several ways of addressing letters to married couples, so you may wonder which way is correct or most appropriate, especially if you’re sending letters or invites to clients or business associates.
Fortunately, it’s far easier to figure out how to address a letter than it is to, say, choose the perfect outfit.
The traditional way of addressing letters to married couples is to use the titles of Mr. and Mrs. followed by the husband’s first and last name.
When addressing a letter to an unmarried couple, then, you can just use both names joined by “and”.
Addressing letters to couples isn’t nearly as complicated as it seems.
Although there are some good rules of thumb to follow, the correct way often depends on the desired level of formality.
If you want to stray from the formal approach and add a creative touch, there are alternative ways of addressing letters to couples.
While marriage is less common than it once was, the traditional ways of addressing letters to couples were usually geared towards sending letters, bills, and invites to married couples.
There are a few ways to properly address a letter that’s being sent to a married couple.
Traditionally, this is the most formal way of addressing a letter to a couple, but it’s begun to go out of style since women now have an equal status in relationships.
Although married women still often take their husband’s last name when they walk down the aisle, they usually prefer to be identified by their own first name.
But if you’re addressing a letter to a married couple with traditional beliefs and values, it may be fine to use this old-fashioned technique.
This really isn’t the most traditional way, but it’s still considered to be a proper and formal way of addressing a letter to a couple.
It’s also the most commonly used way of addressing letters to married couples.
If you’re sending a letter or invite for professional reasons or the recipients are older than you are, this is usually the most appropriate way of addressing a letter to a married couple.
Newlyweds may also like the idea of seeing their spouse’s name joined with theirs on a letter. In most cases, you can’t go wrong with this method.
If you’re sending a letter to a couple who you’re friends with, or the communication is casual in nature, you can always omit the Mr. and Mrs. part and just use both of their first names followed by the common last name.
For instance, if you’re inviting a couple that you’ve been friends with for several years to a get-together or reunion, they’ll probably find it to be odd if you refer to them as Mr. and Mrs. – unless you are just trying to recognize a recent marriage.
After all, they’re your buddies, not your high school teachers.
If you’re sending an invite to your BFF who’s in a relationship that’s not serious or long-term, you may just want to address it only to them and specify that they are welcome to bring a guest.
But if you want to include both of them in your letter or invite, there’s really only one way to do so unless they aren’t cohabitating and you’re delivering the letter via mail. Then you will write two separate letters.
When addressing the envelope, you will write both of their full names joined by the word “and” if you intend on mailing the letter.
But if it’s being hand-delivered, you can use first names only if you have a close relationship with them.
You’d also use both of their first names at the top of the actual letter.
While you could use the same rules as unmarried and married couples depending on their marital status, it can be trickier to address a letter to a same-sex couple simply due to the Mr. and Mrs. issue. But this can easily be resolved.
If the same-sex couple is unmarried but cohabitating, you would use both of their full names – especially if you’re mailing the letter and want to make sure that it’s delivered.
But you can also use first names only and hand-deliver the letter.
Most same-sex couples would like to see their partner’s name included and joined with theirs in a letter provided that they’re open about their sexual orientation.
If a same-sex couple is married and one has taken their partner’s last name, then you will use both first names followed by their common last name when addressing the letter.
You shouldn’t even try to figure out the Mr. and Mrs. part as that could be considered offensive as it assumes that relationships require both a male and female role.
If both partners in a same-sex marriage have chosen to keep their birth names, then you would still address the letter using both full names.
Actually, the same applies to any married couple who chooses not to change their last names.
If a same-sex couple is open about their relationship and sexual orientation, then you should include both of them in a single letter to show that you recognize and support their relationship.
But if they’re still in the closet and publicly present themselves as roommates, then you should send two separate letters to protect their privacy.
If you’re sending out greeting cards or invitations to couples with children, and the kids are also invited to the event, or you simply have too many people on your holiday list to send out separate cards to each of their five children, you can easily simplify your letter writing by adding a single phrase.
You would still address the couple as usual but simply add the words “and family” to include their children.
While you probably wouldn’t want to include the children in a handwritten personal letter, billing statement, or invoice, this is the best way to address families on invites and greeting cards.
If they only have one child, you could just include “and Billy” for instance.
Or if you’re hand-delivering greeting cards and want to give a more age-appropriate greeting to the children, you can just write out all the kids’ first names on the envelope.
Alternatively, you can always address each partner by their official titles if one or both is a doctor or lieutenant, for example.
In this case, you should address the letter to Lieutenant and Mrs. or Mr. and Dr. if you are addressing the letter to a married couple.
You can also address letters in this manner to unmarried couples by writing Dr. followed by their last name and their partner’s first and last name.
This formality shows respect and acknowledgment of the recipient’s professional status.
While there are several ways that you can address a letter to a couple, the best way depends on the nature of your relationship with the recipients and their relationship with each other.