Envelope Etiquette: Addressing mail to same-sex couples

by epi on November 5, 2013

Q: I have an etiquette questions concerning the addressing of graduation announcements for homosexual couples who are legally married and homosexual couples who live together. I am a high school senior class advisor and have had this question posed to me in regard to to how to address the envelope. Do you address the envelope as Mr. and Mr. (or Mrs. and Mrs.)?

A: Your question is a good one and illustrates the ever changing nature of etiquette. Any unmarried couple living together is addressed by whatever title is appropriate but with the names placed on different lines. Two married men may be addressed as Mr. and Mr. Two married women may be addressed as Ms. and Ms. Two married women could also be addressed as Mrs. and Mrs.

If you are certain that one member of a same sex couple identifies as a certain gender and prefers the form of address that is usual for that gender you would be welcome to use the appropriate form. That is something that would be a known preference to friends and family and you could inquire politely which one someone prefers. Otherwise, you would err on the side of biological conservatism and stick with a gender description that matches the known sex of an individual.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen November 5, 2013 at 5:59 pm

Why wouldn’t their first and last names be sufficient?


Winifred Rosenburg November 6, 2013 at 11:12 am

Titles can only be ommitted in informal correspondence. Otherwise, they are necessary as a sign of respect.


Danielle November 6, 2013 at 2:15 pm

The and is reserved for married couples only. So if they’re married, it would be:
“Mr and Mr Harris”

But if they’re not married, you would do the same thing as a hetero couple living together, each on their own line:
“Mr David Burtka
Mr Neil Patrick Harris”

My question is what order do you put them in? I’d be inclined to do alphabetically, but I also heard that in same-sex couples you should put the older person first… but I think that’s a touchy situation because it’s rude to ask if they’re close in age.


Alicia November 6, 2013 at 3:20 pm

I met Miss Manners the same week I found out that two friends were engaged. As this was the first time I needed to send a congrats card to a same sex couples I asked her how to address it and she said that Mr Older and Mr Younger and if no idea who is older do Mr Closer Friend and Mr Less Close Friend.


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