Wedding invitations when one parent is deceased

SuzieSnowflakeAugust 14, 2010

My daughter is getting married next year and her fiance's mother passed away last month. Additionally, his mother and father never married and went their separate ways after he was born. My future son-in-law does not have a close relationship with his father but my daughter and I have been encouraging him to get to know him better to try to build a relationship.

My daughter and her fiance want to set up a table with a picture of his deceased mother along with a floral arrangement at the reception, which I think is a wonderful idea.

My question is, how should the invitation be worded? My husband and I are hosting the wedding but we don't want to create any ill feelings with the father of the groom nor do we want to forget about his deceased mother. Any advice?

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From what you've said, my choice would be to say "John Doe, son of the late Mary Doe". However, if the father has had a part in his life, if he wants to build a relationship with his father, if he considers him his father, and is on good terms with him now, he could say "John Doe, son of the late Mary Doe and William Jones".

Again, in my opinion it all depends upon how much the bio father has been involved in his life, the level of respect, and what your SIL-to-be wants in the future.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 8:07PM
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You are concerned about a man who did not stick around to raise his son or even be a part of his life. I would be more concerned with what the groom would want. This is a time to be building wonderful memories for him and the bride.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 3:16AM
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Thanks for your responses.

Suzie, I like the wording you've suggested, "John Doe, son of the late Mary Doe and William Jones". I feel that it is respectful and doesn't forget his mother. I'm glad someone else feels that it is okay to include his deceased mother because I read that wedding planning experts say not to.

Sheila, in this situation the feelings are good between father and son and the father has tried to be part of his life but for whatever reason in didn't quite work out right. The father is very shy, doesn't want to impose, that sort of thing. He has never married. My future SIL wants to have a good father/son relationship it just feels awkward and uncomfortable right now because they don't know each other well. My thoughts are that if we include him as much as possible in the wedding, planning, etc. that they will become more comfortable with each other and a relationship can begin to grow.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 7:39AM
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Congratulations on the happy occasion, Suzie. Your SIL-to-be must be so sad that his mother won't be there. Having been very close to my now-deceased father, I also would've wanted his name included, despite what the wedding planning "experts" say. There's etiquette, and then there's what feels right and good to a person's heart. Sometimes they're the same thing; othertimes, in my opinion, I say go with the heart.

I hope that the future relationship between father and son does blossom. This will be one step toward it.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 8:24AM
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Suzieque, I have no idea what you might mean by "...despite what the wedding planning "experts" say." It is perfectly correct to include the name of a deceased parent.
Suziesnowflake, you might consider wording it "son of William Jones and the late Mary Doe". The other way around it could be read to mean that both of your FSIL's parents are deceased. Or, if you want to put the mother's name first, then insert a comma: " Son of the late Mary Doe, and William Jones".

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 12:46PM
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colleenoz, you must've missed the sentence in Suziesnowflake's 2nd post that said "I'm glad someone else feels that it is okay to include his deceased mother because I read that wedding planning experts say not to."

I was responding to what she said about the wedding experts saying not to include the names of deceased parents.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 3:06PM
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Maybe the experts are saying not to include the deceased parents' names if you are using the form of the parents doing the inviting:

John and Mary Doe (Or Mr. and Mrs. John Doe)
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Petunia Marie

where John or Mary or both is dead. Maybe some people are wondering if they should write

John and the late Mary Doe
request the honor of your presence .....

which would be creepy. But the "son of" formulation is fine. I doubt if any etiquette authorities would say that that is incorrect, but if even if they would, I, too, would ignore them.

I got an invitation recently that not only listed the groom's deceased father, but all 4 grandparents, including 2 deceased. I loved that. (It didn't say "grandson/granddaughter of ...," it just had their names at the very bottom, under the word "grandparents.")

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 10:32PM
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My apologies, suzieque. You're right, I did miss suziesnowflake's reference. If that's what the "wedding experts" say, they aren't experts :-) As gellchom points out, it would be creepy to have a deceased person sending out invitations, but a reference such as suzique would like to make is excruciatingly correct. Not quite sure how you would word it if the deceased person was the bride's parent but it could be done.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 7:36AM
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My mother and FIL passed away prior to my wedding to DH. We issued the invitation ourselves (Suzanne Smith and Edward Jones request...). On the back of the wedding program we put a little poem and an in memorium to both deceased parents. At the reception we put our parents' wedding photos on the table with the table cards (both in the same frame, same size). Since your daughter's fiance's parents didn't marry that wouldn't work, but have you considered a table with many old photos (baby pictures of the "kids", your wedding photo, photo of the fiance's parents, etc.), showing the new "family", with the mother's as the most prominent (in size and location) with a single votive in front of it? I am not crazy about the idea of too much being done that turns it into a sad occasion. I would also consider small, subtle things that are meaningful to him but maybe not obvious to everyone. Maybe have his bouttoniere be her favorite flower (if it works). Also consider how you will handle the dances with the parents. In my case we didn't have to deal with that, since we both had lost out same sex parent. But we did skip the formal "intros" (which I hate anyway) because I didn't want to hear my father accounced with his new girlfriend and there was no good choice to escort in my MIL. Lots to consider...

    Bookmark   August 18, 2010 at 11:32PM
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My DIL passed away suddenly on the day her DD's invitations arrived...The wedding was planned for 3 months later...My DD and DGD sent out the original invitations with my DDIL's name on it....When she was buried, 3 days later, they had one of the invitations laying in her casket..Very, very sad, but we knew she was there.....

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 12:02PM
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Shouldn't your daughter be deciding this?

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 4:57AM
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lee676, perhaps you missed the line in the original post where she wrote, "My husband and I are hosting the wedding." So they are the ones sending out the invitations.

She didn't say she isn't discussing this with her daughter and her fiance; probably she is. She is (perhaps all of them are) just looking for information and advice.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 1:49PM
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Actually, the bit about the wedding-planning experts is true.

Crane's Blue Book, which is *the* authoritative wedding-invitation etiquette source, says not to include the groom's parents. And offers no examples of how to do so.

They view the invitation as being strictly the simplest sentence possible. Not the credits at the end of the movie. And unless they're actively hosting, the groom's parents aren't "actors" on that day; they are simply guests. Important ones, but guests nonetheless, and guests don't go on the invitation.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2010 at 6:11PM
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I am sure Talley Sue is correct about what Crane's and other authorities say. And I get the point about simplicity, hosts only listed on the invitation, and the invitation not being about credits.

However, I can tell you that we get dozens of wedding invitations every year, and they all give the groom's parents' names, too. The only exceptions are the ones from much older couples who are issuing the invitations themselves, or from couples who style the invitation "Together with their parents/families, Petunia Smith and Cuthbert Jones request the pleasure of your company as they are married ...." The latter formulation seems to be when there is some sort of complicated family circumstance regarding lots of stepparents or something.

Even the ones that have, in every other respect, the most formal wording, still include the grooms' parents' names: "Mr. and Mrs. Zebulon Smith request the honour of your presence at the marriage of their daughter, Petunia Ann, to Cuthbert Arthur Jones, son of Mr. and Mrs. Norbert Jones ...."

I imagine that in many cases, both sets of parents are hosting, or at least contributing money. But even where (as the formal wording indicates) only the brides' parents are, they always name the groom's parents, too.

My point is that even though this is not correct per the etiquette rule, it is so firmly established a convention in my community that to leave off the grooms' parents names would be considered a major insult on the part of the bride's parents and would be taken as a real humiliation by the groom's parents.

I'm not arguing the etiquette rule; I'm just saying that it doesn't end the analysis.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 1:36AM
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I have to agree with Gellchom on this one (no surprise there!). Back when I got married the first time, I styled my wedding invitation after my parents' invitation. Well, they got married in another country with a totally different culture and their invitation mentioned both sets of parents.

When I showed my future MIL the invitation with her and her husband's name on it, she was thrilled as they were not mentioned on her older son's wedding invitation. As things turned out, aside from giving birth to a grandson of hers, that was about the only thing I ever did that she DID like. LOL

Anyway, my point is, yeah, it goes against the etiquette rules, and I knew that when I did it. But that wouldn't be the only etiquette rule I've ever broken. I find some of those rules to be arbitrary and dated. Especially in our much more relaxed and do-as-you-please society today, I think it's just dandy to throw some of those rules out the window.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 1:08PM
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