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Etiquette Q&A: Addressing Unmarried Women

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Q:  We have several unmarried women on our wedding guest list.   Some are single, some are divorced, some of the divorced women use their married names, and others have gone back to their maiden names!   What is the most appropriate way to address their invitations?

A: Few things in life are as mind-boggling as the wedding guest list!   And you’ve just listed several potentially sticky etiquette situations that have mired many a bride in the proverbial muck.   I’ve outlined the traditional etiquette guidelines for you below, but remember it’s always best to defer to the golden rule in social situations: do whatever will make your guests most comfortable.  If you know your friend Suzy prefers “Ms.” over “Miss,” by all means indulge her preference!

Wedding Invitation Addressing Guidelines for Single / Unmarried Women

Unmarried woman: You can choose to use either “Miss” or “Ms.” here, though as a general guideline we like to reserve “Miss” for women under the age of 30.

  • Miss Eleanor Jane Boushie
  • Ms. Georgia Ann Ledbetter

Divorced woman, uses her married name: Even though she is divorced, since she’s using her married name she’s technically considered “Mrs.” to indicate that name’s status.  In practice however, today most divorced women prefer the use of “Ms.” and we’re happy to oblige their preference.

  • Mrs. Donna Belue Archer
  • Ms. Celia Banks Granger

Divorced woman, uses her maiden name: Etiquette allows for a choice between “Miss” or “Ms.” but we prefer the use of “Ms.” in this instance, unless the woman is quite young.

  • Ms. Janice Fresnotti
  • Miss Carolyn Thrasher

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