I have been trying to figure this out & suddenly thought of you because you know a lot about names and also about etiquette.
For 2 people getting married, but neither changing their last name, what are monogram options (for the couple/for the wedding/later, after the wedding)?
I guess I could just make something up using all 4 letters. But is there any set ways it is done?
I do think couple monograms are fun. I remember learning about them around the time Rob was a baby: I was ordering towels from Lands’ End for someone’s wedding present, and I think it must have come up on the order form or something. I was thrilled with the idea, especially since towels had felt a little dull and this would let me do something fancier.
For a couple monogram, the couple’s surname initial goes in the center, and then one person’s first initial goes to the left of that, and the other person’s to the right. For a couple made up of one man and one woman, the woman’s initial goes to the left—but I think the rule there isn’t “the woman’s initial goes first,” but rather “the one who gave up the surname goes first.” (On the other hand, if it were the guy who took his wife’s surname, I would be split between wanting his initial to then go first and wanting the woman’s initial to still go first.)
For two women or two men, I think you could go alphabetically, or whatever looks better, or flip a coin. I’d follow the concept of “the one who gave up the surname goes first,” if it applied. If both were changing to a new joint surname, I’d go with alphabetical or what looks better or a coin flip or which member of the couple I liked better.
Anyway, when I read the question, my first thought was that I wouldn’t do a couple monogram for a couple that didn’t have a shared surname. I think of a couple monogram as a quaint/old-fashioned thing, perfect for someone who is giving up a surname and is happy about it, risky for someone who isn’t/isn’t. For example, I did give up my surname, but I wasn’t happy about it; a couple-monogrammed item would have been a risky gift for me. Not as risky as addressing my letters and packages to Mrs. Paul Thistle, but somewhere on that spectrum.
But let’s say we have a situation where each person in the couple is keeping his/her name, but we have reason to believe a couple monogram would go over very well. My first idea was to do a “carved into a tree”-type couple monogram. Like, let’s say my maiden name was Whistle, and I’d kept it when I married Paul. This would be cute on the towels, if the store could do it:
My second idea was to make the two surname initials large in the middle, flanked by their respective first-name initials:
I think that would look significantly prettier if it weren’t in Sharpie marker on a memo sheet.
That’s pretty much when I ran out of ideas, so I searched online. Mark and Graham has a whole section on monogramming. They suggest a two-initial monogram of both surname initials, like this:
I like that, especially if the couple’s style is more formal: SW+PT is a more casual look. They also suggest a monogram of “wife’s first, husband’s last, wife’s maiden,” but I assume that’s the woman’s new personal monogram, not a couple monogram.
Wait wait wait. No. I am wrong. A second site (The Etiquette School of Ohio) says that the TRADITIONAL couple monogram is wife’s first, husband’s last, wife’s maiden, and that the MODERN couple monogram (wife’s first, husband’s last, husband’s first) is what I’ve been thinking of as a couple monogram. Well. That may be true, but that seems wrong to me. This does not at all seem to me like a couple monogram for Swistle and Paul Thistle:
Where is Paul in that? That seems like the monogram for me, if I moved my maiden name to the middle and became Swistle Whistle Thistle. Well, I’m ignoring that whole idea and going with the modern version.
Southern Weddings has a good idea about an interlocking monogram. They use first-name initials, but you could also use surname initials. I won’t try to draw it here, because it looks best with big fancy letters. The downside, I thought, was that it was hard to see the initials, or even that they WERE initials.
All the sites agree that couple monograms are not used until after the official marriage has taken place. That is, you can use them at the reception, but not on save-the-dates, invitations, anything you wear as you walk down the aisle, etc. However, they don’t count the SW + PT as a couple monogram, so that would be fine to use before, during, and after the wedding. It would also be fine to use the idea I saw on Neat Cards, which was to use each person’s own monogram with a little decorative thingie between them, like this:
Also, wait, I forgot to look it up in Miss Manners. BRB.
Okay, Miss Manners is not in favor of couple monograms. Here is what she says:
Household linens may be monogrammed with the maiden initials of the lady of the house, a custom dating from premarital monogramming that serves equally well for serial marriages. Couples who are tempted to entwine their initials should try to get it out of their system by carving their names on a tree.
I’m wondering if anyone else has done anything with a non-shared-surname couple monogram before, or has any other ideas or suggestions.