Wedding Etiquette Forum

First Etiquette Blunder of My Wedding

Last weekend my FMIL met my parents for the first time. She came to visit for a three-day weekend.  It was a little awkward but overall it went well. 

However!  My mom was all excited to show us the invitations.  She had received a few samples from the printer and the order is in. The rest are being printed as we speak (I think). I had carefully checked for spelling and correct dates and addresses, all of that.  But when we showed FMIL the invitation, she noticed that we identified her as "Ms. So-and-So."  But I had completely overlooked the fact that she recently earned her PHD, and should be identified as "Dr. So-and-so." Oops. 

Furthermore, later when I was talking to my fiance about it and asked, "Do you think it's that big of a deal?"  He was like, well, she had a high school diploma and three kids when she divorced my dad, so yeah, she worked really hard to educate herself, it took her 20 years, and she's proud of it." He didn't say it, but I think it was a point of pride to show the family of her ex-husband how far she's come -- and I don't blame her.To make matters worse, we did identify my dad as "Dr." on the invitation because he is an MD. But my mom knew that and we've all known him as a doctor our whole lives.  I guess I kinda forgot that FMIL has been quietly working her ass off in school this whole time (she does live out of state so it's not like we've been witnessing all of her studies).  Feminism fail. =(

Sigh. It's too late to make a change, or at least it would be very costly if we did. I feel like the best we can do is offer a sincere apology and hope she understands that re-ordering the invites is not an option at this point. They are supposed to go in the mail in two weeks. 
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Re: First Etiquette Blunder of My Wedding

  • Technically, PhDs do not use Dr. socially (only medical doctors do). However, I think that rule is shitty and sets up a weird hierarchy. But, technically, your invitations are correct.

    To smooth things over, maybe do programs and list FMIL as Dr.?
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    PrettyGirlLostSTARMOON44CMGragainjaprincess24
  • hellosweetie1015hellosweetie1015 Where the skies are so blue member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
    I'd call your printer and feel out the cost to reprint. Yes, technically PhDs don't typically use Dr. socially but she worked hard for that degree (which of course all PhDs do) and I think if she wants to use it then she ought to. 

    IF the cost is prohibitively expensive and/or they can't get there in time to be mailed within a reasonable time frame, I feel like it's okay to apologize profusely and assure her that from now on, her honorific will be correct on any printed materials (programs, escort cards, RD invites if they're printed, etc). 

    And I'd be asking why FI didn't catch it, if he proofed them. If he didn't proof them, I'd ensure that he did proof any other printed materials. Two sets of eyes almost always work better than one anyway, you know? My sister just printed her high school graduation invitations, and she put the date as May 21th. If someone else had proofed it, maybe they would have caught it before she sent it out for printing.
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    PrettyGirlLost
  • I'd call your printer and feel out the cost to reprint. Yes, technically PhDs don't typically use Dr. socially but she worked hard for that degree (which of course all PhDs do) and I think if she wants to use it then she ought to. 


    IF the cost is prohibitively expensive and/or they can't get there in time to be mailed within a reasonable time frame, I feel like it's okay to apologize profusely and assure her that from now on, her honorific will be correct on any printed materials (programs, escort cards, RD invites if they're printed, etc). 

    And I'd be asking why FI didn't catch it, if he proofed them. If he didn't proof them, I'd ensure that he did proof any other printed materials. Two sets of eyes almost always work better than one anyway, you know? My sister just printed her high school graduation invitations, and she put the date as May 21th. If someone else had proofed it, maybe they would have caught it before she sent it out for printing.



    I'm sorry if this is thread jacking but is this true only for people with an MD or a DO? What about other medical providers?

     

    Agree with PPs: Apologize, offered to correct it on other programs and hopefully she will understand

  • Why didn't your FI catch this and/or ask to review the invitations? It's his wedding too...and HIS mother. If "Dr." Was really that important, he should have asked to review and/or caught it. The only way I'd hold your FI harmless here is if he had no idea you were ordering invites.

    And as others said, PhDs generally do not use Dr in social settings.

    If it's too expensive to re-print, then y'all should just apologize to her and print it as "Dr" in the programs, on her escort card, when addressing her invitation, etc.
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    PrettyGirlLost
  • OP, I might have missed it, but was FMIL actually upset about it, or did she just point it out? It sounds like you FI was more upset. I agree with PPs that it might be useful to see just how expensive it would be to change it, but if it is too much just make sure it is included in everything else with her name. I wouldn't really concern myself over the whole "this is to show ex-husband how far she's come" thing. That has nothing to do with you at all, and I understand feeling bad about the mistake, but if she is set on proving how successful she has been there are plenty of ways to do so outside of printing "Dr." on a wedding invitation.
  • marie2785 said:

    Technically, PhDs do not use Dr. socially (only medical doctors do). However, I think that rule is shitty and sets up a weird hierarchy. But, technically, your invitations are correct.

    To smooth things over, maybe do programs and list FMIL as Dr.?

    ----------BOX FAIL---------------------------


    As someone who knows and works with multiple PhDs, veterinarians, and dentists, I have to disagree with you. ALL OF THEM use Dr on formal written correspondence. The PhDs may not usually be referred to as "Dr so and so" when you talk to them, but for anything that is formal and written, you should always use Dr since it is their formal title. 

    I have many friends and coworkers who get very offended when the Dr is dropped. They worked hard for their PhD, DVM or other doctoral level degree, and they deserve the recognition. 
    But if you're working with these people, is the context social or business?   

    Plenty of people work hard for their degrees but it's understood that their titles aren't there.   My BIL is an attorney but in social correspondence he's Mr.  If I invited him to a professional event then I would use esq.   He doesn't get that on our Christmas cards though. 
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  • That stinks you missed that and clearly it was unintentional. Is FMIL upset or disappointed? As a PP said it's worth looking into the cost to reprint to at least show FMIL that you take this seriously and want to correct. The cost and time frame may not allow that to happen but at least it shows your intentions.

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  • marie2785 said:

    Technically, PhDs do not use Dr. socially (only medical doctors do). However, I think that rule is shitty and sets up a weird hierarchy. But, technically, your invitations are correct.

    To smooth things over, maybe do programs and list FMIL as Dr.?

    ----------BOX FAIL---------------------------


    As someone who knows and works with multiple PhDs, veterinarians, and dentists, I have to disagree with you. ALL OF THEM use Dr on formal written correspondence. The PhDs may not usually be referred to as "Dr so and so" when you talk to them, but for anything that is formal and written, you should always use Dr since it is their formal title. 

    I have many friends and coworkers who get very offended when the Dr is dropped. They worked hard for their PhD, DVM or other doctoral level degree, and they deserve the recognition. 



    marie2785. I am a PhD. I know how hard it is to earn one of those degrees.

    While it may be nicer to recognize us by using our professional titles socially, it is certainly not expected or a violation of etiquette.

     

     


     

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    southernbelle0915SP29STARMOON44
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Ninth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    edited May 2015
    marie2785 said:

    Technically, PhDs do not use Dr. socially (only medical doctors do). However, I think that rule is shitty and sets up a weird hierarchy. But, technically, your invitations are correct.

    To smooth things over, maybe do programs and list FMIL as Dr.?

    ----------BOX FAIL---------------------------


    As someone who knows and works with multiple PhDs, veterinarians, and dentists, I have to disagree with you. ALL OF THEM use Dr on formal written correspondence. The PhDs may not usually be referred to as "Dr so and so" when you talk to them, but for anything that is formal and written, you should always use Dr since it is their formal title. 

    I have many friends and coworkers who get very offended when the Dr is dropped. They worked hard for their PhD, DVM or other doctoral level degree, and they deserve the recognition. 



    At a professional event, yes, they deserve the recognition. 

    But this is not a conference of PhDs or other doctorates, it is a social one.  So the correct social titles are Mr./Ms./Mrs./Miss, not Dr.

    That said, it may not be a hill worth dying on.

    STARMOON44
  • fyrchkfyrchk member
    250 Love Its 100 Comments First Anniversary First Answer
    I agree with other PP's. Inquire as to the cost. Bring the cost to your FI, let him discuss with his mother whether or not she thinks it's worth $xxx to have them reprinted (if it's even possible time-wise). If nothing else, she may appreciate the effort you took to correct your "mistake."
  • SP29SP29 member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    This is always a tricky situation. There are many instances too (even professionally) where a PhD does not refer to them self as Dr. Smith but Susie Smith, PhD. 

    Technically, only MDs are socially addressed as doctors. But I think that is silly. I see no logical reasoning for it. Why MDs and not dentists or vets or chiros, etc....

    In one respect I do think it kind of silly when people get so offended that you didn't refer to them as Doctor So and So. For example, I met a chiropractor (they get a Doctor of Chiropractics degree, but they go into that program with any bachelor degree) who was super offended that a physiotherapist didn't address him as Dr. Smith (physio in Canada is a masters program, while in the US its a PhD program, but still, either country, just like a chiro, you enter with a bachelors degree and it's an entry level professional program). I thought that was silly, even if one is a "doctor" and the other isn't, still the same professional footing- like get over yourself (but that is all chiros, this guy seemed generally full of himself).

    BUTTTT I also respect that certain people prefer to be addressed certain ways (whether it is anything to do with PhD or not- my husband HATES being called with reference to his middle name, some people are very particular about Ms. vs. Mrs.), and I think one should respect their friends and families wishes (not because of tradition or etiquette, but because they are your friend or family). 

    So OP- I would call the invitation maker and ask the cost and timeline to reprint. Talk to your FMIL. Apologize and ask her how she would like to be addressed on the invitation. If she would prefer Dr. or Susie Smith, PhD, then I'd do it. 
  • edited May 2015
    Yeah, that was a pretty epic fail since it's not easy to get a PhD, much less while trying to do it as a single mother of three. While I do understand the cost issue, talk with your mother in law and ask her if she would like a formal correction to be made during the ceremony/reception or maybe on the invitations that went to your fiance's family/friends. Maybe doing that will help ease the tension and not cost you an excessive amount of money. Also just a side note, it doesn't sound like your fiance took a look at the invitations or he should have noticed that. 
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  • larrygagalarrygaga Czechoslovakia member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
    edited May 2015
    I have letters behind my name that I only use to sign documents at work. I understand the importance of working hard to get letters and using those letters! I say re-do it, because she deserves respect for her hard work! It would be a different story if you left the letters off your dad as well! 

    I agree, this is an expensive lesson on how to include your new family in your life. It's all about making mistakes and learning from them. 
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  • STARMOON44STARMOON44 member
    Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited May 2015
    I only use doctor for medical doctors. End of story. It's not a judgment call on how hard it is to get a PhD as a single mom, it's a basic etiquette rule- PhDs are not socially addressed as doctor.

    Any guests upset that their achievements are not being honored are being special snowflakes and I'm not fussed about them.

    If his mother were hosting, of course she'd use whatever title she wanted as the person issuing the invite, but that's clearly not the case.
    [Deleted User]
  • plainjane0415plainjane0415 The hills of Tennessee member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper

    H is a pharmacist.  He has a doctorate degree, any formal invitation he has received since receiving that degree has been addressed to Dr. Plain Jane's H.

    I definitely think it is respectful to address those who have worked so hard for such a distinguished degree as such. 

    OP, I think you made a mistake here, and should really look into the price of reprinting.

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    PrettyGirlLost
  • VulgarGirlVulgarGirl Desert Oasis member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary Name Dropper

    marie2785 said:

    Technically, PhDs do not use Dr. socially (only medical doctors do). However, I think that rule is shitty and sets up a weird hierarchy. But, technically, your invitations are correct.

    To smooth things over, maybe do programs and list FMIL as Dr.?

    ----------BOX FAIL---------------------------


    As someone who knows and works with multiple PhDs, veterinarians, and dentists, I have to disagree with you. ALL OF THEM use Dr on formal written correspondence. The PhDs may not usually be referred to as "Dr so and so" when you talk to them, but for anything that is formal and written, you should always use Dr since it is their formal title. 

    I have many friends and coworkers who get very offended when the Dr is dropped. They worked hard for their PhD, DVM or other doctoral level degree, and they deserve the recognition. 
    This.

    marie2785 said:

    Technically, PhDs do not use Dr. socially (only medical doctors do). However, I think that rule is shitty and sets up a weird hierarchy. But, technically, your invitations are correct.

    To smooth things over, maybe do programs and list FMIL as Dr.?

    ----------BOX FAIL---------------------------


    As someone who knows and works with multiple PhDs, veterinarians, and dentists, I have to disagree with you. ALL OF THEM use Dr on formal written correspondence. The PhDs may not usually be referred to as "Dr so and so" when you talk to them, but for anything that is formal and written, you should always use Dr since it is their formal title. 

    I have many friends and coworkers who get very offended when the Dr is dropped. They worked hard for their PhD, DVM or other doctoral level degree, and they deserve the recognition. 



    marie2785. I am a PhD. I know how hard it is to earn one of those degrees.

    While it may be nicer to recognize us by using our professional titles socially, it is certainly not expected or a violation of etiquette.

    It can be seen as an etiquette violation to those people.  There is NO LOGICAL reason why physicians are afforded the courtesy of being referred to socially by Dr. and those with Ph.Ds are not.  Physicians and Ph.Ds both have terminal degrees and if those professionals want to be referred to by "Dr." then you should do it.

    And before people start up with the "But I have an MBA and I don't demand to be referred to by. . . " well while that's a great achievement, that's not a terminal degree, it's considered a professional degree, and so there isn't a social title related to a master's degree of X.

    Lurkers, if you have Ph.Ds on your guest list I suggest you check with them as to how they would like to be referred to on a formal correspondence such as your wedding invitation.  If you are inviting lawyers and they wish to be addressed as Blah Blah, Esquire on their invitation, do it.  If your aunt Gertrude wants to be referred to as Princess Frou Frou of all Cupcakes then do it.  It's no skin off your nose.  Who cares what the "technical etiquette" states if you are likely to offend someone?

     

     


     


    I would like to be called Dr. Princess Fru Fru of Cupcakes please and thank you.
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  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    MagicInk said:

    marie2785 said:

    Technically, PhDs do not use Dr. socially (only medical doctors do). However, I think that rule is shitty and sets up a weird hierarchy. But, technically, your invitations are correct.

    To smooth things over, maybe do programs and list FMIL as Dr.?

    ----------BOX FAIL---------------------------


    As someone who knows and works with multiple PhDs, veterinarians, and dentists, I have to disagree with you. ALL OF THEM use Dr on formal written correspondence. The PhDs may not usually be referred to as "Dr so and so" when you talk to them, but for anything that is formal and written, you should always use Dr since it is their formal title. 

    I have many friends and coworkers who get very offended when the Dr is dropped. They worked hard for their PhD, DVM or other doctoral level degree, and they deserve the recognition. 
    This.

    marie2785 said:

    Technically, PhDs do not use Dr. socially (only medical doctors do). However, I think that rule is shitty and sets up a weird hierarchy. But, technically, your invitations are correct.

    To smooth things over, maybe do programs and list FMIL as Dr.?

    ----------BOX FAIL---------------------------


    As someone who knows and works with multiple PhDs, veterinarians, and dentists, I have to disagree with you. ALL OF THEM use Dr on formal written correspondence. The PhDs may not usually be referred to as "Dr so and so" when you talk to them, but for anything that is formal and written, you should always use Dr since it is their formal title. 

    I have many friends and coworkers who get very offended when the Dr is dropped. They worked hard for their PhD, DVM or other doctoral level degree, and they deserve the recognition. 



    marie2785. I am a PhD. I know how hard it is to earn one of those degrees.

    While it may be nicer to recognize us by using our professional titles socially, it is certainly not expected or a violation of etiquette.

    It can be seen as an etiquette violation to those people.  There is NO LOGICAL reason why physicians are afforded the courtesy of being referred to socially by Dr. and those with Ph.Ds are not.  Physicians and Ph.Ds both have terminal degrees and if those professionals want to be referred to by "Dr." then you should do it.

    And before people start up with the "But I have an MBA and I don't demand to be referred to by. . . " well while that's a great achievement, that's not a terminal degree, it's considered a professional degree, and so there isn't a social title related to a master's degree of X.

    Lurkers, if you have Ph.Ds on your guest list I suggest you check with them as to how they would like to be referred to on a formal correspondence such as your wedding invitation.  If you are inviting lawyers and they wish to be addressed as Blah Blah, Esquire on their invitation, do it.  If your aunt Gertrude wants to be referred to as Princess Frou Frou of all Cupcakes then do it.  It's no skin off your nose.  Who cares what the "technical etiquette" states if you are likely to offend someone?

     

     


     


    I would like to be called Dr. Princess Fru Fru of Cupcakes please and thank you.
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    VulgarGirl
  • I have my PhD, and we had a few PhD invitees as well as a few MD invitees to our wedding. We made the choice to address the invitations to "Mr./Mrs//Ms." and not use the professional title (unless of course we were aware that someone really preferred it. In our circles, however, it comes off as rather self-righteous to require it in social settings since many people in the circles have doctoral degrees). 

    However, on the escort cards we addressed everyone with a PhD or MD as "Dr. So Andso". It was because I have one friend who I knew would really get a kick out of it...and I knew I couldn't do it for him and not for everyone else.


    So, as others have said, you should apologize profusely to your FMIL (or, rather, you should do nothing, and your FI should aplogize profusely. Your only apology is if you ordered invites without his input! In that case, you have some serious apologizing to do to him) and price out the cost of re-printing. If prohibitive, you just make sure you have her listed at Dr. in the program and escort cards. 
    PrettyGirlLost
  • ViczaesarViczaesar Central Coast, CA member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    It makes no sense that Doctorates of Medicine should be addressed as Doctor socially, and Doctorates of Philosophy should not.  It should be both or neither. 

    Signed, a woman in her seventh year of a doctoral program, not including the two years it took her to get her Masters degree.



    SP29levioosaPrettyGirlLost
  • Thank you everyone for your input. I called my mom the day after I posted this and asked if we could inquire about changing the invites.  She told me that 1) the first batch of invites had already been printed and were ready to be picked up 2) The cost to re-do them would be $700 and 3) most importantly, the last morning of our trip, while FI and I were still packing and getting ready, she had brought it up again to my FMIL, and she said something like, "Oh, it's not that big of a deal, I wish I hadn't said anything, I just kind of blurted it out."

    So... I think we're ok. My FMIL is very practical and frugal, and my mom said, "she'd probably feel bad if we did reprint."  And frankly, we just can't afford to do so even if she felt differently. That's just way too much to spend on correcting an error in ettiquette. On paper. That will eventually end up in people's recycling bins.  As I'm sure you all know, the wedding costs pile up and to re-do something like this would be major. I think it's just onward and upward from here.  
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  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Ninth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    I'm glad your FMIL came around. That kind of ending to a story is rare.
    PrettyGirlLost
  • huskypuppy14huskypuppy14 Boston Suburbs member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited May 2015

    Technically, PhDs do not use Dr. socially (only medical doctors do). However, I think that rule is shitty and sets up a weird hierarchy. But, technically, your invitations are correct.

    To smooth things over, maybe do programs and list FMIL as Dr.?

    Technically, people should be addressed as they prefer. 

    Would you say to a female medical doctor,it is technically correct to use Dr. and Mrs. John Smith and not  Dr. Jane Smith? No you would not. She earned a PHd. and she is allowed to use that if that's what she prefers. 

    I think you should reprint them OP. 

    And also, PhD are higher on the hierarchy than MDs professionally. 


    ETA: Saw OP's update. Ok, don't reprint the invitations, but definitely put Dr. on the programs and escort card.
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    PrettyGirlLost
  • Do you want to follow traditional etiquette?  If you do, then only medical doctors use the title "Doctor Jane/John Jones".  PhDs use Mr., Mrs., Miss or Ms. in non-academic correspondence.

    I don't think it is fair, either, but that is the traditional etiquette.
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  • SP29SP29 member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited May 2015
    I agree with you PrettyLostGirl. Times are changing, and addressing MDs only as doctor makes no sense.... but anyway...

    OP- It sounds like everything is A-OK, but I would still touch base with FMIL personally. I would apologize for the omission and ask how she would like to be address in the program and escort/place card. 
  • randomsloverandomslove member
    250 Love Its Third Anniversary 100 Comments Name Dropper
    edited May 2015
    I would talk to your fiance about it and see what he thinks is the best course of action.





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