All About Invitations, Part Two

Posted by acursaro on May 20, 2009

The other day I touched on invitation wording, but I wanted to delve in a little deeper to explain etiquette for various situations.  Luckily, the rules are more pliable nowadays which is fabulous since there are a lot of different situations that arise with names, parents and payment.

Photo: my own design

Photo: baci - designer stationery & events

Something to think about though is: Wedding invitations are worded the way they are to reflect the tradition of the bride’s family graciously giving away the bride while inviting family and friends to join them for this happy occasion.

As with the ceremony itself, the center of attention is the bride and groom. (That’s why their names are spread out in the center of the invitation.) Therefore, there is no place to indicate who is paying the bills. To do so would be to draw attention away from the bride and groom” (Crane & Co. Etiquette).  This day is to be whole-heartedly about the bride and groom – too many times others interfere.

Photo: WeddingBee Pro

A traditional wedding invitation includes the bride’s parents’ names (because customarily they are the party responsible for hosting), the bride’s first and middle name,  the groom’s full name, the wedding date (including the day of the week, month, date and year), ceremony time (note that afternoon begins at twelve o’clock and evening starts at six o’clock) and location (include street address, city and state).  Traditionally, a separate reception and reply card are enclosed – I’ll touch on each piece of the total invitation suite in the upcoming weeks.

However, you might not be in a traditional situation so here are several different rules to follow when. . .

. . . the groom’s parents are hosting the wedding: The bride would then need to include her last name on the invitation since it can no longer be assumed (today many brides choose to include their last name anyway – I did).  Also, instead of the bride “to” the groom, the line could read bride “to their son”.

. . . both sets of parents are hosting: The bride’s parents’ names would be on the first line followed by “&” and the groom’s parents’ names would be on the second line.  The fourth line would then read “at the marriage of their children”.

. . . you’re hosting your own wedding: If your parents are still alive, it is proper etiquette to include them on the invitation regardless of payment.  However, if you choose to issue your own invitation, you would simply omit the parent names.

. . . your mother wants her first name on the invitation, too: It would read “Mrs. Edith and Mr. Joseph Sholl” – the father’s name remains with the surname always.

. . . your parents are divorced and neither is remarried: Your parents’ names should simply be on separate lines and not joined by “and”.  The mother should be on the first line – with “Mrs.” followed by her first name, maiden name and last name.

. . . your parents are divorced and remarried: Generally, it is only the bride’s parents that give her away, but if you would like to include your parents’ spouses include your mother and her husband on the first line, your father and his wife on the second line – be sure to include the bride’s last name as well.

. . . you are adopted: The parents that raised you are to be on the invitation.

. . . one or both of your parents are deceased: When one parent is deceased, the surviving parent issues the invitation.  If your mother is the remaining parent and has not remarried, she would be listed as “Mrs. Joseph Sholl”.  If your mother has remarried she would generally be listed by herself (unless the stepparent raised the child from a very young age) but with her new married name – the bride should then include her last name on the invitation.  If both parents are deceased, it is proper etiquette for a grandparent, close friend/relative or the couple to host the event.  Simply replace “daughter” on the invitation with the proper relationship term.

. . . you have been married before: The bride and groom generally host the wedding if one has been married before, however, the bride’s parents can still issue the invitation if they choose.  A bride should include her first, middle and last name on the invitation.

. . . one or both of your parents is a doctor: It is perfectly acceptable for medical doctors to use their title on wedding invitations, however, it is not for academic doctors.  If your father is a doctor and your mother is not, the line should read “Doctor (or Dr. if his name is rather long) and Mrs. Joseph Sholl”.  If your mother is a doctor and your father is not, she would traditionally still be listed as “Mrs.”.  However, if your mother chooses to use “Doctor” her name should be placed on the first line with “Doctor” followed by “and” your father’s name on the second line.  If both parents are doctors, traditionally it should still read “Doctor and Mrs. Joseph Sholl”, however it could also be listed as “The Doctors Sholl” or your mother’s name with “Doctor” followed by “and” your father’s name with “Doctor”.

. . . your mother uses her maiden name: Once again, your mother would traditionally be listed as “Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Sholl”, but you can treat it the same as if she were a doctor.  List her name first followed by “and” your father’s name on the second line.

. . . you’re having a double wedding: If the brides are sisters, the eldest bride would be listed first.  However, if the brides are not sisters it is proper to send separate invitations that still indicate guests are invited to a double wedding ceremony.  When planning a double wedding, be sure to highlight both parties equally.

. . . one or both of your parents is a minister: The same rules apply as if your parents were doctors, except replace “Doctor” with “The Reverend”.

. . . one or both of your parents is a judge: The same rules apply as if your parents were doctors or ministers, however, you would use “Judge” but not “The Honorable”.

. . . you or your parents are part of the military: Similar rules apply to doctors, ministers and judges, however, branch of service is to be listed on the line that follows the name.

When in doubt, ask a professional for advice or do some research yourself.  A great resource is Crane & Co.’s Wedding Etiquette.  They have nearly every situation imaginable listed out for your reference.  Also, keep in mind your and your parents’ preferences, ultimately it is up to all of you and the type of wedding you have been dreaming about!