Ms. or Mrs.? The Right Way to Address a Widow

Make her feel comfortable and seen.
christin perry the knot
Christin Perry
christin perry the knot
Christin Perry
E-Commerce Contributor
  • Christin specializes in writing gift guides and shoppable articles for The Knot.
  • Christin is a freelance writer, also covering lifestyle, health, and parenting.
  • She has written for such publications as The Bump, Parents, VeryWell, Parade and LittleThings.
Updated Jun 08, 2023

When it comes time to fill out your wedding invitations, you'll have your work cut out for you. Besides compiling names and addresses, you'll need to ensure you're addressing someone the correct way. Here, we're answering the question: "Is a widow a Ms. or Mrs.?" to give you some insight on how to write her name on the invite, including delving into the difference with Ms. vs. Mrs. It's something you may not have thought of previously (and, with all you've got on your plate, who can blame you?), but it's an important detail, nonetheless.

Keep reading in order to learn what you need to know about how to address a widow on a wedding invitation and if a widowed woman is a Ms. or Mrs.

Which title should you use to address a widow?

Is a widow still a Mrs.? Very much so. In general, a widow should be addressed as a Mrs. along with her married last name, if she chose to take it. There are some exceptions to this rule, but they are few. In the following cases, you might be better off checking with her directly before drawing up a salutation for a widow:

  • She has legally reverted back to her maiden last name

  • A great deal of time has passed since the death of her spouse

  • She is remarried or is dating someone, currently

How should you address a widow on an envelope?

If you're sending casual correspondence, like a thank-you note, a holiday card or an invitation to a more casual event (like a bridal shower or similar), you'll generally use a less-formal salutation for a widow. A good example would be to address her as Mrs. along with her first name and then her married last name. Or, you could choose to skip the Mrs. or Ms. altogether and simply write her full name. Below are a few examples of what this wording might look like, if you're wondering how to address an envelope to a widow:

  • Mrs. Lisa Thompson

  • Mrs. Thompson

  • Lisa Thompson

How should you address a widow on a wedding invitation?

When it comes to formal correspondence, like a wedding invitation, you may want to consider using the traditional, formal format for how to address a widow on a wedding invitation. Below is the most common salutation for a widow for use in a formal setting. This is typically used as the default title for a widow, unless she has remarried or has specifically requested otherwise. But if defining your guest by her former husband feels odd to you, depending on the nature of your relationship or the level of formality of your affair, feel free to just use her full name. This would also be a good choice for women who were in non-hetero marriages, as the "husband's name" traditional format wouldn't apply.

  • Mrs. Reginald Thompson

  • Mrs. Lisa Thompson

Using these guidelines, you can successfully send correspondence to a widow while honoring her married status before her spouse passed away. And that's always key when filling out your wedding invitations.

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