Dear Ms. Cards Etiquette,
My boyfriend and I are having a party next month, and we really appreciated your rules for addressing envelopes, but we’re wondering how to write the return address as an unmarried couple. Can you help?
Ms. Not-Smith and Mr. Never-Smith
I hope it’s a formal party, Ms. Not-Smith, because otherwise there’s really no need to worry so much … but I’m sure you’re not the only person out there wondering, so I’ll do a quick list you can all paste to the inside of your stationery box (you do have a stationery box, don’t
If you’re an unmarried couple living together, write your names on separate lines, in alphabetical order, regardless of gender:
Mr. John Never-Smith
Miss/Ms. Jane Not-Smith
If one of you has a professional title such as Dr. or Rev., use that instead of Mr. or Miss or Ms.
If you’re in the military together, put the name of the person with the higher rank first, regardless of alphabetical order or gender.
If you’re an unmarried couple not living together, simply address the envelopes from whoever is sending them out. If you both sit down and do the invites together (bravo!), use whomever’s return address will be hosting the party. If you’re not having the party in one of your homes, flip a coin for who’s address gets to be on envelopes.
(Or, if you like things complicated, you can have him address the envelopes to his friends, from him, you can address the envelopes to your friends, from you, and follow the rules outlined above for any couples on the list.)
Finally, if it’s not a formal party, and the guests are all your friends, just write “John and Jane” (or “Jane and John”) and forget about the last names.