I was asked a fun question via our AskMartha mailbox last week.
The father of the bride has three titles, all of from which he has retired. In order of his retirements (retirement dates are noted), they are Lieutenant Colonel, USAF ('89); Captain (airline) ('06); and Mayor (small locality) ('10). How should we word the invitation?
I love these questions -- they bring out the word geek in me. First, the dates of the retirements don't matter -- only the fact that he is retired.
To answer it concisely: You'd only note his lieutenant colonel title. It is a commissioned rank (historically a lifetime occupation), and therefore he would be entitled to use that title for the rest of his life.
The normal format would be:
Lieutenant Colonel Harold Brick Adams
United States Air Force, Retired
Except . . . if he's married, he drops the "USAF, Retired" designation -- because these don't apply to the Mrs. (Lieutenant Colonel and Mrs. Harold Brick Adams).
Now why not the other two, you may be asking? The only titles that are used after retirement are those considered to be a lifetime assignment ("mayor" definitely is not; "ambassador" and "president" do hang on). And incredibly few professional titles make the transition into the social sphere even when you're still working at that job (captain of an airline applies only inside that industry -- not in the social or family sphere). And after retirement, they fall away.
Do you have professional titles on your invitation, or your guest list?
Check out our Wedding Etiquette Adviser for answers to your invitation-wording questions!
(Send your inquiries to: askMartha@marthastewartweddings.com)