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How do I refer to two married women on an invitation?
More specifically, listing our deceased mothers on our wedding invitation in a modern style. Is the following acceptable?

Mr. Joseph Grant and
Mr. and Mrs. Edward and Betsy Smith
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of
Michael Andrew Grant
and
Dale Edward Smith
sons of the late Mmes. Kathleen Grant and Blanche Smith

Combining our mothers with Mmes seems to work best as it reduces the dwelling on death that would result from the late Mrs. Kathleen Grant and the late Mrs. Blanche Smith. 
In invitation etiquette, Mmes is rarely ever mentioned as married women are linked with their husbands.  And Mssrs. and Misses are always spoken of in relation to siblings (either young, bachelor, or spinsters) who cohabitate (most likely to address the envelopes.  However, by extension I have seen these titles used the way in other contexts: “My lawyers are Mssrs. Brown and Johnson” or by logical extension “My favorite authors are the Mmes. Bronte and Austen.”
— Michael Grant

Dear Mr. Grant:
       1) RE: MMES.: Plural honorifics are not used on invitations. The style is to give everyone their own name as a unit.  Rather than Mmes. Grant and Smith, we writeMrs. Grant and Mrs. Smith … each gets their name a a unit.
 2) RE: Mr. and Mrs. Eddie and Betsy Smith is really awkward because it is an attempt to mix [formal] honorifics with a [casual] forms for the names.
        ** Formal has rules that enable us to be consistent across a wide variety of names from all sorts of hierarchies and cultures
        ** Casual is more of a freestyle, everyone does however they want to
        ** Mixing them creates a mess.
 3) The Best Option is to dispense with the honorifics if you want to include both parent’s names. Without the mixture of styles it become rather elegant:

Joseph Grant and
Edward and Betsy Smith
request the pleasure of your company 
at the marriage of
Michael Andrew Grant 
and 
Dale Edward Smith
sons of the late Kathleen Grant and Blanche Smith

  4) RE: A modern style     
In my book (used everywhere from The White House to Canadian Parliament) I show forms for addressing only two types of couples:
  Couples using the same surname
Couples using different surnames

Rather than different forms for married couples, unmarried couples, gay couples etc., invitations are issued to couples or individuals.  If two individuals don’t present themselves as a couple — they are issued individual invitations. It’s really simple.
                – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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How do you address a business letter to two people at the same company when they have different titles? The people are David McGraw, Supply Manager, and Wayne Kammerer, Maintenance Manager.
      – Linda Whedbee

I am acknowledging a donation from a mother and her adult daughter.  How do I address them, and what salutation would I use?
      – Harold Towle
 
Dear Ms. Whedbee and Mr. Towle:
Most often adults receive individual communications. In business the letter is directed to one and the other is copied on the correspondence. Socially only young children are included on their parents invitations.
But … if you want to write one letter, list them individually, with the name of the person with the higher precedence first. That would be the senior person first in business or if you are not aware of any hierarchical order, list their names in alphabetical order. For the family members list the mother first following the social convention of deferring to age. The word “and” appears between names in a couple …. so there’s no ‘and’ between them on these envelopes.
On an envelope or address block on a letter:
Mr./Mrs./Ms./etc. (Full Name)
          Mr./Mrs./Ms./etc. (Full Name)
         (Address)
   As the salutation:
          Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms./etc. (Surname) and Mr./Mrs./Ms./etc. (Surname):

                – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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On a formal engraved wedding invitation, how do you list the groom’s name on the invitation when he is a judge on the state court of appeals?
The Honorable Micheal James Wilson or Mr. Michael James Wilson 
Many thanks….. I am going to purchase your book today!
— Jill in Fort Worth

Dear Jill:
Interesting question. It’s not a question I’ve seen answered in the wedding etiquette books. I updated the Cranes’ Blue Book and even I didn’t include this situation … maybe I should have.
He would be:
The Honorable Michael James Wilson
On invitations grooms DO get their honorific, rank or courtesy title:
 Lieutenant Michael James Wilson
Dr. Michael James Wilson
The Reverend Michael James Wilson

– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I am in a dilemma: I need to send an invitation to an gentleman and his fiancee, can you help me please?
— Jocelyn J

Dear Jocelyn J:
To directly answer your question here are some options, but be sure to read theNOTE that follows, too!
The normal form to use on the envelope is:
Mr. Henry Smith
            Ms. Nancy Wilson
            (Address)
Or, if you know she uses “MISS”
Mr. Henry Smith
            Miss Nancy Wilson
            (Address)
      NOTE:
1) Etiquette books put an “and” between names if they are married …. no “and” if they are not.
2) I’ve encountered people using ‘fiancee’ to describe someone with whom they are already living. If they do not live together … it would be more correct to send each their own invitation to their individual home addresses.
3) If the gentleman is actually the guest … and the fiancee a date being included as a courtesy …. It would also be correct to address the invitation just to the gentleman …. and communicate you are looking forward to seeing them both at the event.  You can do this by listing them both on an inside envelope if the invitation has one … or including a note extending the invitation to his guest.

– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I am in a dilemma.
I thought it might be nice to include my fiance’s parents — not in the hosting line, but after his name, such as Mr. & Mrs. John L. Foster request the pleasure of your company at the marriage of their daughter Susan Renee to Donald Joseph Smith, son of Mr. & Mrs. Harold B. Smith.  However,  his father is deceased.
Since I am using Mr. & Mrs. John Doe for my parents on the hosting line, then it should be congruent when I mention his parents son of Mr. & Mrs. Harold Smith but with his father being deceased, every etiquette guide I found said they’d be written such as son of the late Mr. & Mrs. Harold Smith — BUT that makes it sound as if BOTHhis parents are deceased.
How should I do this?
— Natalie Foster

Dear Ms. Foster:
      If you want to include his parents use:
            son of Mrs. Harold B. Smith
      This makes it clear that he is deceased … since she is still using “Mrs.” and his name.
      If your fiance thinks this is unacceptable, another option — which I think is bit awkward — but it is certainly clear is:
            son of Mrs. Harold B. Smith and the late Mr. Smith
      My niece Katie, got married last year and was in a similar situation:
            Katie’s fiance was Ian Dexter. His father, Kevin Dexter, died several years ago.
His mother subsequently married John G. Graham.
            Ian wanted his father remembered on the invitation.
            Their invitation read:
                  son of Mrs. John G. Graham and the late Mr. Kevin Dexter
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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A physician and his wife are co-chairing a hospital event.  How do I recognize them on the invitation and signage.
Are these the only 2 options?
Dr. and Mrs. John Doe
John and Mary Doe
Anyway to include the wife’s first name and also mention husband is a MD??
~ Fluharty in Lynn, MA

Dear Fluharty:
Most formally would be:
Dr. John Doe and Mrs. Doe
Dr. and Mrs. John Doe
… but if you wanted to include her name you could consider:
          John Doe, MD, and Nancy Doe
It is not as formal, and includes his academic post-nominal (usually used just on official correspondence sent to his office) but does allow for you to include her given name.
      – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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How would you address an envelope to a retired pastor and his fiancee? They do not live together. He is a very dear friend, I have not yet met her.
             — DM Keller

Dear DM Keller:
In this case since he’s a pastor his name would be first. So, if they present themselves as a couple:
 His full name on the first line
Her full name on a second line

In other cases her name might be first if she had higher precedence.
If you put an and in front of her name it implies they are married, so in this case just list the names without an and.
  NOTE: If they don’t present themselves as a couple … e.g., not living together … consider this: Most formally it may be better to address the letter to him since he’s your friend, and include greetings to her in the letter itself.
These are some rules for issuing formal invitations which present the traditional logic:
        1) Unmarried person are each issued an individual invitation, not a joint invitation
        2) An invitation is issued to one person and that person is invited to bring a guest
        3) If they present themselves as an established couple … they are issued a joint invitation.

You mention the situations of ‘social’ and ‘official’ uses of ranks. What exactly is the difference?
– F. Wilson

Dear F. Wilson:
I mention it frequently because I get lots of questions on use of rank by retired personnel.
An example of an official situation would be (1) a letter to an active-duty officer from a retired officer regarding his or her service. Another example of an official situation would be (2) a letter from a high school to the retired officer asking him to be their guest … and to attend in uniform … their Memorial Day event.
In both cases service history and rank are pertinent. In the first instance the officer is identifying himself as retired in a situation where both active and retired persons are participants. In the second instance he or she is being asked to attend because of his or her rank … to represent the Armed Services at an event. Thus he or she is addressed as an officer, and the active/retired status is relevant.
An example of a social situation would be you (3) sending a holiday card to a neighbor who is a retired officer or enlisted person and that person preferring to be addressed on the envelope as (Rank) + (Name) … or (4) that person issuing a wedding invitation for his daughter’s wedding and using his or her rank on the invitation …. Major Robert Wilson and Mrs. Wilson cordially invite you … etc.
In both 3 & 4 it is clear that the force and prestige of the US Armed Services are not related to the activity.
Any retired armed service person, at his or her preference, can use their rank socially.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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