Doctor Who?: Addressing a doctor

by EPI Staff on June 8, 2009

Q: Two of my female friends are doctors and use their titles socially. How do I address envelopes to them and their husbands? And how do I address another friend who is married to a doctor?

A: If the wife alone is a doctor, address the envelope “Dr. Mary and Mr. John Davies.” If the woman uses her maiden name, write “Dr. Mary Shaw and Mr. John Davies.” When both the husband and wife are doctors, address them as either “The Doctors Mary and John Davies” or “The Doctors Davies.” If both are doctors but the wife has kept her own name, write “Dr. Mary Shaw and Dr. John Davies.” When addressing formal wedding invitations, the title “Doctors” is more properly written in full; for other correspondence, the abbreviation “Drs.” is fine.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather December 1, 2009 at 4:10 am

I had an additional question. If both husband and wife are doctors and the wife uses her maiden name, whose name should appear first on a wedding invitation?

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Emily July 3, 2010 at 9:09 am

How does one address titles and introduce non-physician doctors, such as Pharmacists (PharmD), Doctors of Physical Therapy (DPT), Doctorate of Education (Ed.D), and even Naturopathic Doctors (ND)?

While common sense tells me I should address the non-physician doctors as they prefer (my friends who are such do prefer Dr.), I’m nervous about introducing such non-physician doctors to my physician friends, who generally dislike the usage of such titles unless they hold an MD, DO, Phd, or DDS. I’m afraid that I may insult one or the other by using or leaving off such title.

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Laura February 21, 2011 at 1:47 am

What is the proper use of a social title on a wedding invitation for a person who holds an academic title (PhD) and his wife? Is Doctor and Mrs. reserved only for medical doctors?

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Just Laura February 21, 2011 at 4:54 am

Absolutely not! A terminal degree is a terminal degree, regardless of field. A Ph.D. in history is still known as Dr. Smith. So address it as Dr. Smith and Mrs. Smith, or (if both have Ph.D.s) The Drs. Smith.

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Sarah April 30, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Is having an inner envelope with glue on the flap a total faux pas?

I am having so much trouble finding euro style envelopes where the inner envelope has no glue or adhesive. I found one set, but the paper doesn’t match my invitation paper perfectly. Would it be okay to use a set where the inner envelope does have adhesive, but just not seal it? Or should I just go with the pointed flap option that matches perfectly, and is glue free? Thanks!

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Nancy Hohengarten May 13, 2011 at 6:34 pm

The Doctor rule goes for women who are Judges or elected officials or ministers too! Elected officials are formally addressed as’ The Honorable…..’ , but I think it is increasingly acceptable to say Judge or Senator or Representative too.

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Pam Neumann May 17, 2011 at 3:26 pm

When addressing formal invitations to two judges who are married to each other, how should both the outer and the inner envelopes be addressed?

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Julie November 26, 2011 at 10:19 pm

My husband and I received a wedding invitation with our last name misspelled. The response card are personalized and have our last name misspelled as well. What should I do?

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Winifred Rosenburg November 27, 2011 at 12:02 am

By all means, correct it. Cross out the incorrect spelling and write the correct one above or next to it. Alternately, you can forgo the entire card and write out your own response to mail back.

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Caroline August 20, 2013 at 5:07 pm

How should I address an envelope where both spouses are doctors, but different fields? (Husband is M.D. and wife is Ed. D.) Thank you.

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Winifred Rosenburg August 20, 2013 at 7:55 pm

I’m guessing what you’re really wondering is whether they should still both be addressed as Dr. when only one is an MD? As you may notice by looking at some other discussions on this site, that is a matter of contention. The safest thing would be to ask the couple what titles they prefer to be addressed as in a social context and follow their wishes along with the above guidelines.

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Caroline August 20, 2013 at 10:20 pm

They both have their doctorates….but I am wondering if the address should be Drs. Smith or can it be Doctors Smith if their degrees are from different fields. Thank you for your response.

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Winifred Rosenburg August 21, 2013 at 9:11 am

You can still use Drs. or Doctors if they both use the Doctor title socially.

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