Social Etiquette and Good Manners/complicated graduation announcement


I am preparing to send announcements for my son's graduation and have seen previous answers on the site, but none quite address our extended family: My son lives with his step-father and I, but as I use my maiden name, we have different last names. My ex-husband, my son's biological father has remarried.

My son has a blended name, my last name hyphenated with his father's last name.  How do we announce this as my son lives with us and we have different last names and do I include my ex-husband and his wife, who also have different last names?

Dear Rebecca:

Thank you for your question.

Two things to keep in mind when drafting a graduation announcement:

1.  Unlike a wedding announcement, the names of the parents of the graduate are not usually included in the text of a graduation announcement.
2. A graduation announcement should be sent only to the graduate's nearest and dearest. It is not a bulletin for general broadcast. Recipients of the announcement already know the circumstances of the blended families, so I suggest the following text:

The families of
John Smith-Jones
are proud to announce his graduation from
Thomas Jefferson High School
(or Cornell University)
Saturday, May 24, 2013

No need to over complicate the matter.

Congratulations to your son and happiness to all parts of the family as you celebrate his accomplishment.

Social Etiquette and Good Manners

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Nancy Mitchell


Social etiquette; Business etiquette; Entertaining etiquette; Wedding etiquette; Protocol, domestic (US) and international; Flag etiquette; Dining etiquette; Restaurant etiquette; Spa etiquette; Travel etiquette


Nancy R. Mitchell is a nationally recognized etiquette and protocol consultant and trainer with more than 30 years of experience in the field. She owns the firm The Etiquette Advocate and is an owner and founding partner of the firm Protocol Partners-Washington Center for Protocol. Currently, she is an adjunct faculty member at The George Washington University, where she developed and teaches protocol courses in the School of Business and the Career Center, and at Stratford University, Falls Church, VA. She serves also as protocol and special events consultant to the Library of Congress, the world’s largest library and cultural center. For 23 years, Mitchell was director of special events and protocol at the Library of Congress where she and her staff were responsible for planning and managing over 400 events each year. She coordinated the institution’s major special events, visits of heads of state and other distinguished visitors, galas, conferences and meetings. As the Library’s chief protocol advisor, Mitchell served as liaison to the White House, U.S Department of State, the Congress, the Supreme Court and other government agencies, embassies, academia and corporations.

Protocol and Diplomacy - International Protocol Association

Mitchell is quoted on matters of etiquette and protocol by CNN, ABC Nightline, Martha Stewart Living Radio, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Washington Business Journal, the Associated Press and Washingtonian magazine, has been featured on ABC Good Morning America, Fox News and National Public Radio, and is an etiquette columnist for, etiquette consultant to Alexandria Woman and to Engaged! magazine, and technical editor of Wedding Etiquette for Dummies (Wiley, 2010).

B.S., University of Utah, 1969

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