Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Reader Request: Stationery Savvy

Image Sources: Betsy White; J Press Design OblationBetsy White (clockwise)

Today’s request comes from a reader that would like to remain somewhat anonymous, given the uniqueness of her name. She has a couple of tricky dilemmas to tackle when it comes to stationery, monograms and which names to use as she has kept her maiden name and her husband is often referred to by his nickname versus his given name.

Here is what she e-mailed me:

I have a question about Stationary. I want to order some custom stationary, but am not sure what to put on it. If I order note cards, do I put my name on the front, or my monogram? If it has my name on it, can I use them for Thank You cards for things for myself AND my husband, or only myself?

Also, my husband and I have different last names so how do I create a monogram to use on things? This has bugged me since our wedding as I have always wanted personalized stationary, but none of the stationary companies I have contacted seems to have an answer.

My initials are MMB and my Husbands are DEC. To make it more complicated, my husband is known to almost everyone as a Nickname as he and his father share the same name. This nickname (Woody) does not share any of his official initials. We even had to put the nickname on our wedding invitations so people would know that I was marrying the SON not the Father.

HELP!!!  If you have ANY idea where I can find info on this, it would be great.

Thanks so much!!

M. Bourne

First of all, thank you for your question Ms. Bourne. I love custom stationery and it’s a fun way to send out correspondence, thank you cards and to keep in touch with friends while adding your own unique and personal touch.

To answer your first question about note cards, you can really use whatever you would like on the cards, but bear in mind that it will ultimately depend on who will be using these cards. If they'll be used exclusively by you, then you can use your first name only, your first and last (maiden) name or a monogram which is unique to your three initials which would include your maiden name. Tradition dictates that it is always appropriate for a woman to use or incorporate her maiden name, even after becoming married. So, one alternative that many women choose (as do those without a middle name) is to use their maiden name as their middle name. HERE is a whole site page dedicated to the very topic of using names within a monogram.

If you intend to share the note cards with your husband, you should probably use the initial of your married surname. For a joint monogram which would include both of your names, list your first initial, your married last name initial in the middle (which is larger than the other letters on either side) followed by his first (most commonly used) initial. This is very common now and many family and friends of a newly married couple often purchase stationery or other custom items like bed sheets with the couple’s combined names for a truly united monogram.

Any of these selections would allow you to use your note cards as thank you cards for a wedding, baby shower or for an occasion such as a housewarming party.

In terms of the monogram that you’d like to create for other uses, tradition calls for the use of a given name vs. a nickname. However, in these modern times, you could use his nickname since that is the name that he is really most known by. It’s really a matter of personal preference. For formal invitations or events, I would encourage him to be listed with "Jr." behind his first name or use the roman numerals “II”, so that he can be differentiated from his father. My husband has a similar situation as he shares his father’s name also. As such, he often uses the above additions to his name and frequently uses his middle initial as part of his name professionally, since Paul Davis II would just come across a bit 18th century.

Since you have already made the decision to keep your maiden name, you can continue to create personal cards or monogrammed items for yourself that involve all 3 of your original initials. For anything that you purchase together such as something monogrammed for your home, because you are now married and share the home it would be most appropriate to use his surname initial “C”.

I hope I was able to answer all of your questions and that you feel a bit more confident about proceeding with the purchase of your new custom stationery. Be sure to visit Pear Tree Greetings' website via my sidebar button, under 'sponsors' as they offer some gorgeous designs! Custom return address labels will really complete the overall polished look.

Your e-mail is also very timely because there will be a fun giveaway involving stationery in the coming weeks. Check back for your chance to win some gorgeous goodies!



  1. Thank you so much for this!! Im going to order some this week!!

  2. You're quite welcome! I'm glad you found the post helpful and I hope your note cards come out exactly the way you want. :)

  3. This post did not answer the question in the way I believe it was asked and was a little offensive to women who do not believe the family should be identified solely by the man's surname. I think she was asking (and it's what I searched for...which is how I arrived at this page) is how to monogram WITHOUT elevating his last name initial over hers. In other words, how to incorporate BOTH last name initials. This is appropriate in situations where a woman has kept her maiden name because she has already made the choice NOT to be represented by his last name.

  4. Thank you for your comment, Laylion. I believe I did answer my reader's multi-part question as she commented as such and you can see from the comments above.

    There is no reason why you cannot continue to use the exact same monogram you would have used prior to becoming married, as your name has not changed in any way. You can use this for all of your own personal stationery and the largest most prominent initial would of course be that of your maiden name. Please remember though that once a woman becomes married, even though we live in these modern times, FAMILY monograms were created centuries ago with the express intent of being used by those who would share a last name (as it was not commonplace for women to refuse her husband's surname), hence why there are only 3 initials, 2 for each first initial and the 3rd for the family initial (married name).

    I would simply have 2 sets of stationery in your case, one for personal correspondence directly from you and the second set to be shared by yourself and your husband which does include his surname. Alternatively, for more casual correspondence, you could always use for example: "Smith-White Family" as many often use for Christmas cards, etc. I'm not sure how any of my above suggestions would be offensive to women who do not believe the family should be identified with a man's surname, as I have provided a few options.

    I did not create the art of monogramming as we know it nor the tradition behind it. I have also crated a link to a website specific to monogramming for further reference. Traditionally, you will not see BOTH last name initials used (it would then become an issue of which is listed first, etc.) You seem like a progressive woman, if you feel as though nothing you are coming across online pertaining to this topic fulfills what you are looking for, perhaps you could create your own fresh idea. :)


Thanks for stopping by, your comments make my day! I read every single one and will answer any questions you have. I hope you'll visit again soon! :)


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