Even the most nontraditional wedding tends to respect certain long-standing traditions of wedding etiquette, and among these is the wording of the invitation. Wedding invitations are not merely pieces of paper that invite guests to the wedding--the location and presentation of names can reveal information to the reader. As a result, many brides and grooms take care with wording their invitation to ensure that no one is offended. In the case of one parent being deceased, wedding etiquette can help get the invitation's wording just right.
The wording of a wedding invitation when one parent is deceased depends largely on who is issuing the invitation. It is standard only to mention the name of a surviving parent (and possibly a stepparent) on the side of those issuing the invitation, but it is also standard to include the names of both parents on the other side of the family.
The bride’s family traditionally pays for the wedding and thus “hosts” the event by offering the invitation. If the bride has lost a parent, the surviving parent--if not remarried--issues the invitation alone. If the bride’s mother is the surviving parent, she should issue the invitation alone in her name or in her married name. For instance: “Mrs. Jane Catherine Smith” or “Mrs. John Patrick Smith.” If the bride’s father is the surviving parent, he should issue the invitation alone in his name.
In some cases, the groom’s family takes responsibility for hosting the wedding and issuing the invitations, in which case the wording follows that of the bride’s family hosting. If the groom’s family is not hosting, the names of both parents may be included on the invitation, even if one is deceased. For example: “Alfred Arthur Jones Jr., son of Mrs. Caroline Mary Jones and the late Dr. Alfred Arthur Jones Sr.” This is not required, however, and it is acceptable to include only the name of the surviving parent, if preferred.
Hosting and Remarriage
In the case of remarriage, the wording may reflect that the bride or groom is the child of one of the parents but not the other, while still indicating that a parent and a stepparent are hosting the event. For example: “Mr. and Mrs. John Patrick Smith request the honor of your presence at the marriage of his daughter.” Doing so reflects that the bride is the child of Mr. Smith but that the new Mrs. Smith is also part of the family.
Not Hosting and Remarriage
For the family that is not hosting, the choice of wording is up to them and their preference. For instance, if the groom’s father is deceased but his mother remarried, the wording choice may include the following: “Alfred Arthur Jones Jr., son of Mrs. Caroline Mary Edwards and the late Dr. Alfred Arthur Jones Sr.” If the groom is close to his stepfather, the stepfather’s name may be added with the mother’s name and in addition to the name of his late father.