Christmas-card season brings out one of my long-running pet peeves: envelopes addressed to non-existent people. These are typically sent by my husband’s distant cousins, although we just got one from my grandmother and she really should know better.
Who are these non-existent people? Mr. and Mrs. HusbandsFirstName LastName. Or, because typing that is long and unwieldy, imagine that my name is Jane Smith and my husband’s name is Joe Smith, and we’re getting cards addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Joe Smith.
Mrs. Joe Smith is not a person. That is nobody’s legal name, and it’s not 1925, so nobody uses that name socially.
(To add insult to injury, Mr. Joe Smith is not a person either—my husband worked damn hard for that PhD and if you insist on using a title, use the right one.)
I’ve pushed back on this a little with past wedding invitations, only to be told that it remains “correct etiquette” to address couples using only the man’s full name. OK, well:
1. Doing something because “that’s the way it’s always been done” is one of the most foolish reasons for doing something. Especially when the reason it’s always been done that way is sexism.
2. Does anyone in the year 2016 actually care if your invitations are addressed in the official, Emily-Post-approved* fashion? For our wedding, I adapted the “correct” form into something that used everyone’s full names (think “Dr. Joe and Mrs. Jane Smith”) and zero relatives complained.
*(Side note: My parents owned a copy of The New Emily Post’s Etiquette, publication date 1975, and I read the entire thing—all 978 pages—in my teens, over the course of a month of 40-minute bus rides to school. It was… interesting.)
Obviously, in the grand scheme of things, this is Not a Big Deal, but it remains highly irritating. Especially when it’s such an easy fix! There are a multitude of non-obnoxious ways to address cards to me and my husband:
Joe and Jane Smith
Jane and Joe Smith
Dr. and Mrs. Smith
Dr. Joe and Mrs. Jane Smith
So simple! You can even use fewer words! And next year, when I’ve (fingers-crossed) finished my PhD, you can use “The Doctors Smith,” which is, let’s face it, the coolest-sounding option of all.