Traditional etiquette holds that whoever hosts the wedding issues the invitations. A deceased father cannot act as a host, making his inclusion on the host line improper. However, contemporary practice does allow for variations in format to recognize a deceased parent, provided the wording does not imply that the invitation comes from him.
Father of the Bride Recognition
An invitation that reads "Mr. and Mrs. John Doe request…" implies that both parents are alive. To recognize the bride's deceased father, word your invitation as follows: "The pleasure of your company is requested at the marriage of Jane Mary Doe daughter of Mary Doe and the late John Doe to John William Smith." Use "The honor of your presence…" for a ceremony held in a house of worship.
Recognizing the Groom's Father
To recognize the groom's deceased father, wording for the bride's parents should mirror that used for the groom's. For example, place "Jane Mary Doe" on the first line followed by "daughter of Mrs. and Mrs. John Doe" on the second. Then, after the word "and" on its own line, note the groom's information: "John William Smith, son of Mrs. William Smith and the late Mr. Smith request the…"
In Latin America, a deceased father is listed on the second line of a wedding invitation, followed by a religious symbol: either a cross or Star of David. Non-Hispanic guests may not recognize the significance of this format.
- Crane & Company: The Blog; Wedding Etiquette: The Invitational Line
- Martha Stewart Weddings: Etiquette Advisor; Invitation Wording
- The American Wedding: Blog; Everyday Etiquette -- Invitation Wording – Honoring a Deceased Parent
- The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette: 50th Anniversary Edition; Nancy Tuckerman and Nancy Dunnan
- Douglas Freer/iStock/Getty Images