Mention the wife before her husband in most greeting situations.

How to Introduce a Married Couple

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Using 1930’s Emily Post etiquette rules when introducing a married couple might seem outdated in an environment where men and women are supposed to be equal and many women keep their maiden name, instead of taking the husband’s name. However, many situations exist where introducing the married couple appropriately reduces discomfort for everyone. Avoiding introductions because you don’t know how is not an appropriate option, according to Etiquette International.

Business Settings

When introducing two or more people, introduce the most important person or the person with the highest authority first, according to Etiquette International. In a business setting, that means introducing your boss to your parents as “Mr. Brooks, I’d like to introduce you to Sally and John Peters, my parents,” or “Mr. Brooks, these are my parents, Sally and John Peters.” Alternatively, say, “Mr. Brooks, these are my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Peters.” If your parents don’t share the same last name, you would say, “Mr. Brooks, these are my parents Sally Roberts and John Peters.” Introduce your mom before your dad, according to Etiquette International, because the order is woman before man.

Social Settings

Where everyone is on equal social footing, it doesn’t matter who is introduced to whom, according to Etiquette International. With two couples, introduce the eldest couple first with the wife mentioned before the husband, and then the younger couple with the wife mentioned first. Alternately, simply go around the room and provide the names of everyone present, such as, “This is Lillian and Mark Baker” or “This is Joan Clark and her husband Peter Wilson.” Those present will understand that the couple is married, which can prevent embarrassment later and prevent someone from addressing the husband or wife by the wrong last name.

Receiving Lines

If you are in a receiving line, and you are introducing a married couple who have different last names, introduce the wife before the husband, such as, “William Parker, this is Sally Jones and her husband Peter Smith.” If the couple shares the same last name, say, “William Parker, this is Amy and Tom Smith.” This would be an exception to the senior couple rule, as etiquette rules dictate that you give dignitaries the higher status, such as the parents of the bride and groom or whomever you are honoring. However, if you are honoring the husband, introduce the husband before the wife, as the person of the highest honor.

Introducing You and Your Spouse

When you and your spouse attend events together, you could be called upon to introduce yourself to the host or to others in the group. You can say, “I’m Anne Roberts and this is my husband, Donald,” if you share the same last name or “I’m Anne Roberts and this is my husband, Donald Connors.” In a situation where everyone seems to use first names only, you can say, “I’m Anne and this is my husband, Donald,” without supplying any last name.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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