Wedding Invitation Etiquette for Divorced Parents


Even if a bride's parents are no longer married to each other, they still both deserve a spot on the invitation if they're contributing financially to the wedding. Although marital status determines how the names of the divorced hosts appear, the mother of the bride always comes before the father. However, the emotions weddings trigger may call for adjusting the traditional rules of invitation etiquette to make both parents comfortable and avoid hurt feelings.

Unmarried Divorced Parents

  • Divorced, unmarried mothers can use a title -- Ms. or Mrs. -- followed by their first, maiden and married names, or their first, middle and maiden names. When both divorcees pay for the wedding, the invitation lists both names: mother's name on line one, father's name on line two.
    Do not connect these two lines with "and." For example:
    "Mrs. Ann Stevens Joseph
    Mr. James Joseph
    request the honor of your presence..."

    When the mother shuns a title, the father's name excludes "Mr." but the order does not change:
    "Ann Mary Stevens
    James Joseph
    request the honor of your presence..."

    Sometimes both sets of parents host the wedding. In this situation, list the bride's parents first:
    "Mrs. Ann Stevens Joseph
    Mr. James Joseph
    Dr. and Mrs. Warren Brown
    request the honor of your presence..."

    If the groom's parents are divorced, but the bride's parents are married -- and both parents are hosting the wedding -- use this format:
    "Mr. and Mrs. James Joseph
    Mrs. Karen Kole
    Dr. Warren Brown
    request the pleasure of your company..."

One Divorced Parent Issues Invitation

  • When only one of the bride's divorced parents host the wedding, you have two options. In "The Encyclopedia of Wedding Invitations," author Deborah McCoy suggests including both parents' names on the invitation as hosts, but wording the reception card to show the hosting parent. However, etiquette allows for only the first and last names of the divorced mother to appear on the invitation when she alone pays for the wedding. For example:
    "Mrs. Ann Mary Stevens
    requests the honor of your presence
    at the marriage of her daughter
    Leslie Marie Joseph.."

One Remarried Parent

  • A special format exists when one parent has remarried but both host. The bride's remarried mother includes her spouse's name on line one of the invitation followed by the father's name on the next line. The word "and" separates these lines to reflect the remarriage. For example:
    "Mrs. Connor Scott Morgan
    Mr. James Joseph"

    When the remarried mother and stepfather host, refer to the bride as "her daughter Leslie Marie Joseph," "Mrs. Morgan's daughter, Leslie Marie Joseph" or 'their' daughter" depending on family dynamics and preferences.

    When the father of the bride and his new wife host, the mother of the bride appears first, even though she hasn't remarried:
    "Ms. Ann Mary Stevens
    Mr. and Mrs. James Joseph"

    A less formal variation suggested by The New York Times drops the titles and uses first names of both parents and the stepmother:
    "Ann Mary Stevens
    James and Carol Joseph"

Parents and Stepparents

  • Including stepparents on wedding invitations is appropriate when the couple has a good relationship with their parents' spouses. The listing order, according to "Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette," is bride's mother and stepfather on line one and her father and stepmother on line two. You can replace the phrase, "The marriage of their daughter Leslie Marie Joseph…" with "The marriage of Leslie Marie Joseph…" Using the bride's last name when it differs from her mother's surname helps recipients recognize everyone. You may also choose to list your parents and stepparents by their full names without their titles.

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