Wedding Planning Guide

Miss vs. Ms. vs. Mrs.

Men have it easy. It’s always “Mr.”—married, unmarried, older, younger. This makes adding prefixes to your save the dates, wedding invitations, and dinner escort and place cards a synch. Women, however, are typically adorned with one of three prefixes: Miss, Ms., or Mrs. So what’s the difference? We’ll explain—all without wondering why or how it came to be this way.

Note: Of course, other titles can supercede these prefixes for both men and women, such as Dr., Colonel, etc. When in doubt? Leave it out.

Photo: Kathryn McCrary

The Difference Between Miss, Ms., and Mrs.

Let’s start with the easy one: Mrs. “Mrs.” is the proper prefix for a married woman (whether she has taken her spouse’s last name or not). If you know the woman is married and you want to use a title, “Mrs.” is the way to go.


Second-easiest is Miss. You can comfortably refer to an unmarried woman as “Miss,” from little girls to adult women (engaged or not). There does become a point in a woman’s life where “Miss” can start to feel a little young, and that’s where “Ms.” comes in.


“Ms.” doesn’t indicate marital status either way, which makes it both a safe bet and a bit vague. Some women prefer to use “Ms.” when they don’t want to disclose their marital status, such as female teachers with their students. It’s also appropriate to use with unmarried women of a certain age—and that age transition from “Miss” to “Ms.” is not clearly defined, much to the woes of engaged couples and calligraphers everywhere. We say it’s best to go on a case-by-case basis. If you have a fun-loving, youthful, unmarried aunt who’s 38, she may not love being designated as a “Ms.” (“That’s how people refer to my mother!” you can imagine her saying). However, a more conservative woman only a few years older may find “Miss” to be ill-suited and even immature.


Bottom line: They’re your guests and it’s your day, so use the information above to be as appropriate and formal as you like, and move on to the next item of your wedding planning list.


Miss, Ms., and Mrs. Cheat Sheet

When to use...

Miss

Ms.

Mrs.

Married



Unmarried


Marital status unknown



Younger


Older



 

VISIT WEDDING PLANNING GUIDE SHOP MINTED WEDDINGS