When to use Mrs or Ms? Understanding when to use “Miss”, “Ms.” or “Mrs.” is an important skill. Many women have preferred titles that inform their identity and are important to their sense of self. Luckily, knowing when to use each title is fairly straightforward, as there are specific rules in place that dictate proper etiquette. We’ll explain everything you need to know about using formal titles, including which to write when addressing invitations for your wedding.
Knowing these rules will help you feel confident that you are using a woman’s proper title, both in person and when you are addressing cards and invitations. While the rules are fairly simple, keep in mind that the best title to use always comes down to the woman’s preference. Whether you choose to have a huge event or a more intimate elopement, read on to learn when to use “Miss”, “Ms.” and “Mrs.” for every wedding planning situation.
When to use Mrs or Ms?
Addressing wedding invitations is just as important as the information on the invite itself. Your guests are important to you, which is why they’ve been chosen to be invited to participate in your special ceremony or elopement. Using what you now know regarding the differences between Miss, Ms. and Mrs., address the outer and inner envelopes with the proper title.
- Miss: Use “Miss” when addressing young girls and women under 30 that are unmarried.
- Ms.: Use “Ms.” when you are not sure of a woman’s marital status, if the woman is unmarried and over 30 or if she prefers being addressed with a marital-status neutral title.
- Mrs.: Use “Mrs.” when addressing a married woman.
What’s the Difference Between Mrs., Ms., Miss and Mx.?
Historically, “Miss” has been the formal title for an unmarried woman, while “Mrs.” refers to a married woman. “Ms.” is used by and for unmarried and married women. Finally, “Mx.” has gained popularity as an honorific for non-binary people or someone who doesn’t want a gendered title associated with their name.
The title “Ms.” is a form of address used both in British English and American English before the surname or full name of any woman regardless of her marital status. But what does “Ms.” stand for? Simply put, it’s a neutral alternative to “Mrs.” or “Miss”. “‘Ms.’ is kind of a catch-all, and can be used interchangeably between situations,” explains Ohio-based wedding expert, Valarie Falvey, of Kirkbrides Wedding Planning & Design. “This would be acceptable for a married or unmarried woman and divorced woman.”
- Ms. Pronunciation: [mizz]
- Ms. Abbreviation For: Married, unmarried and divorced women.
- Ms. Plural: Mss. or Mses
Wondering what “Mrs.” means? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “Mrs.,” the abbreviation of Missus, is a title used in the English language before a surname or full name to address or refer to a married woman. “Mrs.” may also be used for someone who was married (such as a widow). “Mrs.” is traditionally considered the female equivalent of “Mr.” or Mister.
- Mrs. Pronunciation: [mis-iz, miz-iz]
- Mrs. Abbreviation For: Married or widowed women.
- Mrs. Plural: Mmes. or Mesdames
“Miss” is a title that originated in the early 17th century as a contraction of “Mistress.” This honorific is used to address female children or young women under the age of 18 and unmarried women. The title is also appropriate for married women who want to keep their maiden names.
- Miss. Pronunciation: [mis]
- Miss. Abbreviation For: Female children or young women under 18 years old, unmarried women or married women that use their maiden names.
- Miss. Plural: Misses
“Mx.” first came about in the 1970s and was added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary in 2017. It’s a gender-neutral title that can be used for non-binary guests or those who use they/them pronouns. “Mx. is the title someone can use when preferring not to be addressed by gender,” Falvey says.
- Mx. Pronunciation: [MəKS], [mɪk] or [mʌks]—think: “mex,” “mix” or “mux.”
- Mx. Abbreviation For: Anyone who wants a gender-neutral title.
- Mx. Plural: Mxes.
When to Use Miss, Mrs., Ms. or Mx. on Wedding Invitations
“Traditionally, there are three different titles for women: Miss, Ms., and Mrs.,” explains Kathryn Johann, owner of Parties By The Sea and featured event planner for Vanessa Villela on Netflix’s “Selling Sunset.” “If you want to avoid social faux pas, it’s important to know the differences between the three. I believe unmarried women past a certain age and divorcées can be addressed as ‘Ms’. The exception to the rule would be widowers, who can maintain the ‘Mrs.’ status out of respect for their deceased husband.”
As a rule of thumb, if a guest is a child, feel free to use “Miss.” If she’s an unmarried adult, go with “Miss” or “Ms.” Keep in mind, that “Ms.” is often preferred to address women over 18 years old. If she’s married and you know her chosen title, write that. If you’re unsure, “Ms.” is a safe and appropriate choice. If you’re sending out a form to gather addresses ahead of mailing invitations, consider including a field where guests can include their chosen title—this will take out all the guesswork and make things easier for you.
Will I Be Ms. or Mrs. After I Get Married?
Ms. vs. Mrs.—which should you choose? In short, it depends. Typically, brides who change their name postwedding to their partner, wife or husband’s name go by “Mrs.” This is because it usually indicates that they’re sharing a surname with their spouse––an example of this is the title of the action romance movie, “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” starring Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.
If you’re keeping your maiden name, you can go by “Ms.” or stick with “Mrs.” as in “Mr. Adams and Mrs. Brown.” You can also go by “Ms.” if you want your title of respect not associated with your marital status. Many women’s personal preference is “Ms.” in professional settings or formal settings where they don’t want their marital status to be a focal point.
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