Miss, Ms., Mrs. etc

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Agape14 Posts : 201 Registered: 12/31/08
Miss, Ms., Mrs. etc
Posted: Jun 9, 2010 11:37 AM

For what is seemingly an easy task, I'm having the hardest time staying consistent on my use of titles for my guests. So I'm looking for advice, or better yet some hard and fast rules!

1) If a woman is divorced and still carries her married name, is her title Mrs. or Ms.?

2) Is there a general age cut-off for a never-married woman on the use of Miss vs. Ms.?

3) Would you tend to use Ms. (rather than Miss) when addressing the female half of an unmarried couple, regardless of age?

4) I think the title 'Master' for my young male guests is super cute, but again, is there an age cut-off. (e.g. is it cute for my 3yr old cousin but silly for his 15yr old brother?)

Help!


~~Life's tough, wear a cup~~

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Miss, Ms., Mrs. etc
Posted: Jun 9, 2010 6:34 PM Go to message in response to: Agape14

Ladies,

Let's review the basics. This subject some up occasionally.

Old traditional and sexist method of addressing women:

A lady's first name is used only before her first marriage. Thus, before marriage she is

Miss Marge Bouvier.

After marriage, her first name is never used in public. Marge is now Mrs Homer Simpson, with "Mrs" meaning "wife of" Homer Simpson.

If Marge gets divorced, we avoid the (shudder) horror of "Mrs" with a woman's first name by combining the maiden name with her married last name: Mrs Bouvier Simpson. Marge, post-divorce, cannot be "Mrs Homer Simpson" as she would get confused with Homer's second, third, fourth, etc., wives.

(Note: In my entire life, I have known exactly one, repeat, one divorced woman to use the Mrs Bouvier Simpson form. My grandmother.)

If Homer drops dead, the widowed Marge continues to be Mrs Homer Simpson, since there is no possibility of confusion with subsequent wives. Dead men don't remarry. If the Simpsons had a son named Homer Simpson, Jr, the widowed Marge might be called Mrs Homer Simpson Sr, and her son and DIL would drop the Jr and be just plain Mr and Mrs Homer Simpson.

I'll add another historic tidbit. Amoung unmarried daughters of a family, the eldest daughter had the distinction of being addressed as just Miss Bouvier, again avoiding the (shudder) horror of her first name being bandied about in public. Younger daughters would be addressed with first and last name. If the older sister got married, the next younger unmarried sister got the honor of being called Miss Bouvier, and so forth.

****

You can see, of course, the problems with this. First of all, why do we recoil in horror at the idea of a woman's first name in public? If the lady works in business, how do we expect business associates to (1) guess she is married, which is none of their business, and (2) divine her husband's first name, again, none of their business?

Thus, the title Ms was brought back from ancient history (ummm.... medieval history actually) to be used in front of a woman's first name, regardless of her marital status. Single, married, divorced, widowed, "It's Complicated", whatever, "Ms Marge Bouvier" or "Ms Marge Simpson" is proper etiquette.

***

OK, so what do you do in addressing invitations?

No matter what, you are bound to offend someone. Face it.

"I saw Ms before my name. I hate that feminazi title. Oh, Lordy, I'm SO offended."

"I saw Mrs before my name. I hate that sexist title Oh, Lordy, I'm SO offended."

"I saw Miss before my name. Don't you respect my PhD in physics? Oh, Lordy, I'm SO offended."

Here is my best suggestion, and believe me, it's not perfect. (See above about offending someone.)

--->>Do the best you can.<<---

Talk to various "important" people and ask them what they prefer. "Grandma, when I address your invitation, should I use Mrs or Ms with you?".

After you have figured out the preferred titles of people that are close to you (grandmothers, aunts, mom's best friend, etc), then just do the best you can with the rest. Make your best educated guess based on what you know about the person. Is she traditional? Is she a feminist?

Forget the "Mrs Bouvier Simpson" system. No one except my grandmother, has ever used that in my lifetime, and my grandmother died in 1977.

If the woman has a Dr, Rev or similar title, put her name with her title on a separate line:

Mr Homer Simpson and
Dr Marge Simpson

If people are living together, then write their names on separate lines, without the "and":

Mr Homer Simpson
Ms Marge Bouvier

If the couple are married, but the woman has her maiden name (my situation), write names on separate lines with the "and":

Mr Homer Simpson and
Ms Marge Bouvier

If you are inviting children, you can write their names on the inner envelope. No need for titles.

"Bart, Lisa and Maggie"

Avoid like the plague stupid stuff like "Mr and Dr Homer Simpson". I saw that just last week at my uncle's house. His wife is a doctor. She should have her own line, with her own title and own name.

Finally, forget "Master" for boys. The last time I saw that was in the 1960s when my grandmother sent birthday cards to my brother.

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CatStandish Posts : 2,766 Registered: 6/20/08
Re: Miss, Ms., Mrs. etc
Posted: Jun 9, 2010 8:12 PM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

Love the breakdown AOTB

Of course... I also once voted against a female politician because she had herself listed as Mrs Homer Simpson (can't recall her name...but she used Mrs and her husband's name). I figured if the woman had no identity of her own, then why should I bother voting for her.... of course, she might also have been just so old fashioned that we'd have been out of touch.

I learned everything I needed to know about her by the name she chose to run for office under.

And yeah...she lost.

Can you imagine Hillary running as "Mrs. Bill Clinton"? Or Sarah as "Mrs. Todd Palin"?

I just have to say that I'm rather glad I live in an era where I am a person of value and worth...rather than just an appendage (and probably considered a useless one) of some man.

Misty

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cyndi33 Posts : 2,585 Registered: 1/3/07
Re: Miss, Ms., Mrs. etc
Posted: Jun 9, 2010 8:25 PM Go to message in response to: CatStandish

You know, I think it's fine for people to go by the name they choose. In my professional life I do use my own first name. But, I in no way believe that using my husband's first name in personal business(socially and in all other aspects beyond my profession) makes me either out of touch or an appendage. I love using his name, and wouldn't change it at all. And if people love not using their husband's names, more power to them also. I just prefer to use his whenever I can. In my professional life, I can't so I don't.

I know that people disagree on this issue, however, I believe either choice is right (and it's up to the woman/couple involved). I would be surprised to see a woman use her husband's first name professionally, but if she chose to it wouldn't affect my opinion of her although I'd find it a bit odd.

I think, really, it comes down to your own personal connotation associated with using or not using your husband's name. For me, it's the right choice and I can't imagine doing it differently. However, he in no way treats me or considers me as an appendage. In fact, he probably does a better job respecting me professionally and independently than I sometimes do him.

That said, I like aotb's rundown also, but as feminist as I am in many ways, taking my husband's name does not, imo, eliminate that part of me nor make me an appendage. THe opposite is true for women who choose not to take their husband's names, I don't see that as making them femi nazis or as valuing their husband any less. It is simply the name they chose, and for me, his name is simply the name I chose. I hope people judge me on who I am rather than on my choice to use my husband's name as my name. And, I definitely would do the same for any woman who chooses not to use her husbands name, or vice versa. Name choice aside, I'm pretty independent and would never be comfortable being less than that, personally and professionally. I'd vote for Billary if she ran for something, and palin could use any name, same result. no vote from me, for anything.

OP, I think aotb gave you great advice for your invitations.


Proud Member of P.O.O.P., People Offended by Offended People

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Agape14 Posts : 201 Registered: 12/31/08
Re: Miss, Ms., Mrs. etc
Posted: Jun 10, 2010 9:19 AM Go to message in response to: cyndi33

Thanks for all of the responses!

I think I'll use a combination of advice =) It is a formal wedding FutureMrs (black tie optional) and I definitely want people to get that impression from the way I address the invites. So, I'm going to go with Miss for all never married women, and Ms. for divorced (but not widowed) women.

I really like the "Master" though AOTB. That's how all of my brother's birthday cards were addressed until he was 18 and I really think it's cute =)

Just to clarify, if I"m not using an inner envelope and I intend for all the children in a household to be invited, do I put "Mr. and Mrs. Smith and family" on the outer envelop. I've read on some sites that it's acceptable, but I wasn't sure if it would be more proper/formal to list everyone's names.

 

 

~~Life's tough, wear a cup~~

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Miss, Ms., Mrs. etc
Posted: Jun 10, 2010 9:48 AM Go to message in response to: Agape14

Dear Agape,

" do I put "Mr. and Mrs. Smith and family" on the outer envelop"

You are on thin ice if you put "and family" because that could be intrepreted to mean someone's visiting cousin or sister that you've never met. People are really bad about bringing along people you never intended to invite.

I really think it best to be very specific on who exactly is invited. That means including each person by name. No "and family" nor "and guest".

If it's a formal wedding, you might want to think the inner envelope decision.

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cyndi33 Posts : 2,585 Registered: 1/3/07
Re: Miss, Ms., Mrs. etc
Posted: Jun 10, 2010 10:01 AM Go to message in response to: Agape14

You can put and family or and guest. If you list specific names instead of just "and family" you are less likely to get unintended "family" such as whatever "family" invited guest wants to add to bring. In our case, this was 3 adult kids plus their BF/GF and a baby/toddler.

What AOTB said. She's right, people are VERY bad about that. So, if it doesn't matter to you if there are extra guests then you don't need to specify but if it does, then I would be specific. Even then, people sometimes try to push in additional guests.

Proud Member of P.O.O.P., People Offended by Offended People

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Agape14 Posts : 201 Registered: 12/31/08
Re: Miss, Ms., Mrs. etc
Posted: Jun 10, 2010 11:01 AM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

Good point! What I think of as someone's family might differ from their definition. All names will be listed!

The inviations I have are the DIY kind and are pocket-fold, so they don't come with an inner envelope.
http://www.gartnerstudios.com/content/chocolate-pocket-invite-kit

Do you think I should purchase separate envelopes to make it more formal?

 

 

~~Life's tough, wear a cup~~

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Miss, Ms., Mrs. etc
Posted: Jun 10, 2010 11:44 AM Go to message in response to: Agape14

Dear Agape,

The problem is that your invitations appear, to me, to be rather informal. People look at the invitation for their first clue as to the formality of the wedding.

A truly formal wedding has formal invitations: Engraved cream-colored stock, inner and outer envelope, formal verbiage.

If I received the invitation you indicated in your message, I would think to myself "Not so formal. I could wear a skirt and blouse, and husband could wear khaki pants and a dress shirt."

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Agape14 Posts : 201 Registered: 12/31/08
Re: Miss, Ms., Mrs. etc
Posted: Jun 14, 2010 9:37 AM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

Hmmm...well that's unfortunate, but I don't think I'll do new invites. I'll just hope instead that the guests will follow the dress code info!

Thanks for the advice re: title etiquette!

 

 

~~Life's tough, wear a cup~~

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greenandgold Posts : 2 Registered: 2/17/10
Re: Miss, Ms., Mrs. etc
Posted: Jun 14, 2010 1:43 PM Go to message in response to: Agape14

Newbie with a question.

Hello Ladies, I have been lurking and have learned a lot so far, for which I am grateful to you all. I have an invitation question regarding married women.

We are inviting a number of long-married couples in their 50s. All of the women are very independent. Although I understand it's traditional, I worry that it would seem antiquated/sexist to them to receive invitations addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Homer Simpson, but would Mr. Homer Simpson and Mrs. Marge Simpson be more awkward? When we receive correspondence from them, the address label says Mrs. Marge Simpson or Homer and Marge Simpson (no title).

These couples socialize for business quite a bit, so I'm sure they're used to whatever is 'typical' (which may be different from what is traditional), but FI and I do not, so I'm not sure what to do. Advice much appreciated!

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Miss, Ms., Mrs. etc
Posted: Jun 14, 2010 4:14 PM Go to message in response to: greenandgold

Dear GG

"but would Mr. Homer Simpson and Mrs. Marge Simpson be more awkward?"

Why is that awkward? You are inviting two people, why not have two names?

Besides, what would you do if Homer and Marge were living together? Or if Marge uses her maiden name. You'd have to write

Mr Homer Simpson
Ms Marge Bouvier

So, what's the big deal about writing

Mr Homer Simpson and
Mrs (or Ms) Marge Simpson

?

Bear in mind, I am in my 50 and I am one of those "independent" woman you mentioned. I have used my own last name throughout my entire 33 year marriage.

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cyndi33 Posts : 2,585 Registered: 1/3/07
Re: Miss, Ms., Mrs. etc
Posted: Jun 14, 2010 4:25 PM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

For the other perspective, I'd be irritated if someone felt so strongly about not using my name choice that they wrote it out separately. I'd want to see mr and mrs DH. I am independent, professional, and all those things also, but could not wait to be mrs DH. I am only mrs my first name, DH last name, profesionally. that's it. So I absolutely don't think my name choice is antiquated or sexist.

For those you aren't sure of, then there are bound to be those who don't like the chosen title no matter what you do. I'm probably in the minority, and and although these women have their husband's last names, maybe they wouldn't care if you wrote the names separately regardless, or maybe they would think like AOTB. Honestly, there is no fool proof way to tell and one rule most definitely won't fit all of them.

Proud Member of P.O.O.P., People Offended by Offended People

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greenandgold Posts : 2 Registered: 2/17/10
Re: Miss, Ms., Mrs. etc
Posted: Jun 14, 2010 7:43 PM Go to message in response to: cyndi33

Thanks very much Ladies!

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cyndi33 Posts : 2,585 Registered: 1/3/07
Re: Miss, Ms., Mrs. etc
Posted: Jun 14, 2010 7:58 PM Go to message in response to: greenandgold

So, greenandgold, you are from WA, thus your name probably doesn't stand for green bay, but just thought I'd check. I can always hope!

 Proud Member of P.O.O.P.,  People Offended by Offended People

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