Saturday, November 29, 2008

Etiquette on Addressing Women

Ms. is the correct form of address in the business arena, and it is widely accepted in the social arena as well. Its use, however, is sometimes confused. A divorced woman who goes by her married name would use Ms. because Miss is reserved for a woman who has never married. Thus, when Mary Mitchell marries Dan Fleischmann, she becomes Ms. Mary Mitchell (which is also fine if she is single) or Mrs. Daniel Fleischmann. She does not use Mrs. Mary Fleischmann.
Other rules for addressing women include
  • Married. A married woman who keeps her maiden name may be known professionally as, for example, Mary Mitchell and socially as Mrs. Daniel Fleischmann. When a married woman hyphenates her name, a practice that appears to be waning in popularity, the maiden name comes before the hyphen and the married name after.
  • Widows. A woman using her husband’s name does not change her name when her husband dies.
  • Divorced. When a woman does not drop her married name entirely, she uses her given name in place of her former husband’s given name. If she is known professionally by her former husband’s name, she can continue to use it even if she remarries. When a woman resumes her maiden name, she becomes Ms. Mary Mitchell, dropping her former Mrs. and never using Miss, which denotes a woman who has never been married.
  • Separated. A woman who is legally separated continues to use her husband’s name—given and surname—until she is divorced. A separated woman may use her given name if she chooses.
  • Single mothers. Using Ms. makes more sense than using Miss (although it is technically correct) or Mrs., which designates someone who is legally married. Ms. can refer to either married or single women.

Etiquette on Addressing People

Before dealing with addressing envelopes, let’s talk about addressing people. The name game can be confusing—who’s a Ms., how to hyphenate, Misses, Messrs., and so forth.
Remember that information about forms of address and titles is merely what has been the custom and what most people have accepted. These titles and forms of address, however, are no more correct than any you may decide upon for yourself. You can use this information as a starting point, but you will ultimately make up your own mind about what titles and forms of address are most appropriate for you and for those with whom you’re corresponding.

Informal Invitations Etiquette

Written on personal notepaper or on an informal or correspondence card, informal invitations are nonetheless written in the third person but are less structured in form than truly formal invitations.
Informal invitations come in various forms. For instance, you can send a fill-in invitation that you buy in a card shop. You can write on informal notepaper or on a folded note with a monogram. On a note with a monogram, start writing on the front if the monogram is placed to one side; start inside, under the fold if the monogram is in the middle.
You can reply by phone if the invitation includes a telephone number. Otherwise, respond on your own stationery—either plain, informals, or correspondence cards. If the invitation says “Regrets Only,” you need not respond if you can attend.
However, it’s still a good idea to let the host know you’re planning to attend.

Regrets Etiquette

When you decline an invitation, briefly state the reason for the refusal in your reply. Two standard reasons to refuse an invitation are a previous engagement and absence from town. Don’t give illness as the reason because that is a signal to the host to inquire about your health. If you know the host, call to explain your regrets more fully. Otherwise, a detailed explanation is unnecessary and “regrets she is unable to accept” will suffice.

Invitation Replying Etiquette

First, let’s have a look at some suggestions that apply to the entire invitation scene. My mother would rather a rattlesnake bite her than include a reply card in an invitation, but that’s another generation. These days, the RSVP card is a fixture in most social situations. It evolved because so many people stopped replying formally and in writing to invitations without them.
The practical host must decide whether or not to use the reply cards, and either decision is acceptable. However, experience shows that it is far less stressful to use them than to mount a telephone campaign before the event to find out how many people are coming.
Reply cards follow the same style as the invitation and are made of the same stock. If you do not enclose a reply card with your invitation and you need to know who’s coming, be sure to mark the invitation RSVP and provide an address or a telephone number.
When responding to a formal invitation that does not contain a reply card, follow the same general form as the invitation. Write by hand and in the third person. Use conservative stationery or engraved personal stationery. You can use a personal letter sheet, a half sheet, or an informal. Couples responding should use a Mr. and Mrs. informal.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Coat of Arms Etiquette

It all started with knights wearing special colors and insignia into battle and in tournaments so that they would be recognized and would get full credit for their heroic deeds. These devices were called coats of arms because they were embroidered on sleeveless jackets worn over their armor. Heralds organized the tournaments and kept records of the various colors and insignia of the participants—thus the term heraldry. Direct male descendants who bear the family name inherit the family coat of arms. In the case of no sons, daughters inherit the coat of arms and become heiresses or coheiresses with their sisters until they marry. When a woman whose family has inherited a coat of arms marries a man who has none, she does not use her coat of arms after her marriage.
By the fifteenth century, so many social climbers had assumed a coat of arms for their families—even though many of them were not entitled—that the College of Arms was legally chartered in 1484 to regulate heraldry, and it continues to do so today. In America the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston will rule on a family’s claim to “bear arms.” However, the society does not grant the right to bear arms. You inherit your coat of arms on an individual basis. You can’t buy it, no matter how pretty it is.
Following are several uses of the crest and the coat of arms. The crest is a part of the full coat of arms.
  • The crest can be engraved or embossed on invitations and announcements if the father’s family has the coat of arms and if his name appears on the invitation. ➤ The crest can be embossed or engraved on place cards and menu cards for a formal dinner.
  • The full coat of arms or just the crest and motto can be engraved on large pieces of silver and embossed or engraved on stationery.
  • The coat of arms can be painted (blazoned) and framed and hung on the wall for decoration.
  • A woman may use her father’s or husband’s coat of arms in a diamond-shaped lozenge, the feminine version of the shield. She may use a crest on personal possessions, such as writing paper, linens, and dressing-table accessories.
Again, when a woman whose family has a coat of arms marries a man who has none, she does not use the coat of arms after her marriage. As you consider which style, color, and types of stationery to invest in, remember the factors that transcend these details. The stationery you choose is part of the message you will be sending and should reflect your personality.

Calling Cards for Couples

When a couple uses a joint calling card, the home address is optional. The card is written as Mr. and Mrs. with the husband’s full name. Abbreviations are used only when necessitated by constrictions of length. In this case options include leaving out a middle name, using an initial, or abbreviating a title such as Rev. for The Reverend. If both are doctors, you can use The Doctors Peterson, Doctors Judith Peterson and Michael Peterson, or Dr. Judith Holmes and Dr. Michael Peterson. In the last instance, Dr. is used because of length. If only the husband is a doctor, it’s Doctor and Mrs. Michael Peterson. If only the wife is a doctor, it’s Doctor Judith Peterson (or Holmes) and Mr. Michael Peterson.

Calling Cards for Women

Here are some important details concerning women’s calling cards:
  • A married woman’s name appears exactly as her husband’s except for the honorific. Example: Mrs. John Montgomery Silcox or Mrs. John Silcox.
  • A female doctor who uses her maiden name would use Doctor Lillian Mitchell. If she uses her husband’s name, the card should read Doctor Lillian Gates, Doctor Lillian Mitchell Gates, or Mrs. Theodore Gates. ➤ Divorced women use either Mrs. Marie Webb, Mrs. Marie Mitchell Webb, or Marie Mitchell Webb. Divorced women with children keep their former husband’s name to be consistent with their children’s.
  • A divorced woman without children can resume her maiden name. In that case her card would read Marie Mitchell. No honorifics here. She is no longer a Mrs., and Miss is only for women who have never been married. Ms. is not used on a calling card: The term has not been in use long enough to be considered traditional by old-line engravers, particularly because the term itself came into existence as a designation for a woman in business.
  • Widows do not change their calling cards when they continue to use their husbands’ names.
  • Single women may use their full names with or without the Miss.

Calling Cards for Men

The following are some important details concerning men’s calling cards:
  • The man’s name is printed in full except for Mr. Spell out The Reverend, Doctor, Captain, and so on. If length is a problem, a man may decide to omit his middle name or abbreviate his title.
  • A lawyer’s card reads John Silcox, Esquire, or Mr. John Silcox.
  • A doctor’s calling card reads Doctor John Silcox, and his professional card should read John Silcox, M.D.
  • A comma always precedes Jr. or Sr. No comma is used before II, III, and so on.
  • Don’t use the letters of your academic degrees on your calling card, no matter how proud you are of them. Letters of an honorary degree are never used.

Calling Cards Etiquette

The tradition of calling on friends and acquaintances as a formal social ritual is pretty much nonexistent today. It enjoyed its heyday before World War I, when the woman of the household did the visiting. If the person being called upon was out, the caller left her husband’s calling card and her own on a silver tray in the foyer of the home. Husbands went along only when the visit was to offer condolences; visit the sick; or congratulate a birth, a major birthday, career triumph, and so on. The use of calling cards declined as women became major contributors to the workforce and had less time to go visiting. Economic factors also contributed. Calling cards are expensive. They must be engraved, which is a luxury. Also, the Postal Service will no longer deliver this size envelope, which severely limits the usefulness of the calling card as an invitation.
Eventually, they began to be used primarily as gift enclosures, although most people these days use informal notes for that because they provide more writing space. However, if your budget permits, nothing is more elegant than receiving a gift with a calling card enclosed.
Always engrave calling cards in black ink with a simple typeface. White or off-white are the correct colors. The cards are engraved with either your name or your name and address. Generally, no abbreviations are used. If the address is printed on the card, it goes in the lower-right corner. You may also write your address and telephone number on the card. Do so in ink, but not with a ballpoint pen, which insults the elegance of the card.
If you write a message on the card (Have a wonderful 50th!), it should be simply written on the face of the card. This rule also applies when using the calling card as a gift enclosure. If the card is a gift enclosure, draw a single line through your name and then write your name (Affectionately, Mary). Make sure you write the receiver’s name and address on the front of the envelope if it’s a gift so that it doesn’t get separated by mistake before delivery. Do not seal the envelope. Calling cards are gender specific. Generally, a woman’s card is more square than a man’s. A man’s card is longer than a woman’s.
Correct approximate sizes:
  • Men, regardless of marital status: 33/8 by 11/2 inches high or 31/2 by 2 inches high.
  • Single women: 27/8 by 2 inches high.
  • Married women: 31/8 by 21/4 inches high.
  • Married couple: 33/8 by 21/2 inches high.