Research reveals that, within a generation, non-married people
will outnumber married couples.
It's becoming increasingly risky to assume that co-habiting couples are married, so how do you avoid making tactless blunders?
Non-married couples can help out by introducing their partners with the words 'my partner'. This is universally taken to denote a long-term co-habitee, and many people will find it less embarrassingly juvenile than terms like 'boyfriend' or 'girlfriend'.
When you meet a couple that are living together, never assume marital status. So don't say things like 'is this your wife?'
Never make the assumption that, because they're living together, they're planning to get married. Increasingly, people are deciding to buy houses, have children etc. without any thought of marriage. So it's crass to ask questions like 'so when are you two thinking of tying the knot?'
Forms of Address
When sending invitations to non-married couples, common sense dictates that both names are given in full:
John Debrett and Caroline Manners
When it comes to deciding how to order the two names on the invitation or envelope, it's a good idea to put the 'prime' invitee first. So if, for example, you are inviting an unmarried couple to a wedding, and the female partner is a good friend of the bride, then it would be sensible to give her name first on the envelope and invitation.