Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sign of the Times, Part II

Daughter number one, she of the neatest handwriting, and I spent a couple of evenings sending out wedding invitations for daughter number three, who was busy with a project on content analysis or some such. I had done this twice before, so I was familiar with the intricacies of outer and lined inner envelopes—our lining was a lovely midnight blue.

As far as the invitations, we followed american etiquette which lapses into Brit-spell. The invitation requests the "honour " of the guest's presence along with the "favour" of a reply. The invitations had all been printed nicely. Blue on white.

I thought I needed to refresh my memory about titles, so I did refer to a few sources. My, how things have changed. If a married same-sex couple is invited, apply the alphabetical rule for listing different last names, along with titles (i.e. Ms. Joan Fox and Ms. Mary Keenan or Mr. James Ace and Mr. Mac Black). If the couple shares the same last name, then refer to them in the plural as "Messrs" or "Madames," followed by the double first name and common last. (i.e. Messrs. Bob and Gary Gilbert or Madames Jane and Kathy Ames). Er, OK. Since we hang around academics, I was prepared for Drs. Smith, or in one case, Drs. Smith and Jones. But one source said you can only do that with medical doctors and common or garden PhDs remain Mr., Mrs., etc. That doesn't seem right. In the case of an un-married couple living together "Both names should be included on the envelopes, but each name gets its own line."  The groom's brother is married to a medical doctor, and although he is a hot-shot lawyer, he has to give way to her and their invitation should read, "Dr. Ann and Mr. John Groom'slastname." Thank heavens we didn't have to deal with Captain, Lieutenant, Rabbi or Imam.

Actually, we decided to follow the advice we saw somewhere, loosen up and just use names and no fancy titles at all. But it got me thinking about the problems of the poor Lord Chamberlain last year.

He probably didn't have too many PhDs, but he must have had a Serene Highness or two. And what about all those annoying Pretenders? Pretender and Mrs. Pretender? Actually, I think this fill in the blank invitation looks a bit tacky for the Royal Family. Surely they had enough printing presses or at least Macs to insert printed names instead of lines.

But they probably had a palace calligrapher. I hope they didn't put labels on the envelopes. That's definitely a no-no and I thank daughter number one for her work (in blue ink.)


Z said...

I think you were very wise, seems like a minefield and I suspect that few invitees would care! And as for the same-sex couples, one doesn't always know if they are married or not.

If you do ever write formally to a pair of married women, it's Mesdames, by the way!

Beryl Ament said...

You are of course correct. I cut and pasted that entry, so it just goes to show how little they know. Madames sounds like the Board of Governors (hee hee) of a brothel.