January 6

Dear Diva: Tricky Invitation Etiquette

Dear Diva,

I am trying to find the perfect wording for my wedding invitations, but I can’t seem to find something to fit my situation.  I got engaged at the end of July 2008.  We have picked out, but not ordered our invitations.  Both sets of parents are hosting but my mom passed away suddenly in December.  So she helped me pick out my dress and our venue and make other decisions.  I want to make sure she is still listed on the invitation as hosting, but I don’t think I can leave it as I thought it would be when I originally picked out the wording I liked.  To further complicate the situation, we are not religious.

Thank you!

Confused Candice


Dear Candice,

First, please let me express my condolences to you for your mother’s passing.  I’m so glad she got to share in some of the important decision making with you.  Because of this, I’m sure this event will mean that much more to you.  Of course she deserves all the credit and more that she would have gotten had she been physically present at the wedding.

Traditional wedding etiquette states that it is not appropriate for the deceased parent to be listed as a host.  There are also some fears that it casts a sad shadow on what is supposed to be a happy event.  I, however, believe that one can word their invitations as they please, as long as they are not over the top.  If you strongly feel you want your mother to be listed as a host, an option is to  simply add the word “late” in front of her name, as follows:

Mr. John Doe and the late Mrs. Jane Doe

together with

Mr. William Boe and Mrs. Mary Boe

request the honor of your presence at the marriage of their children

Jill Anne Doe


Robert William Boe

This can get a little wordy, but it’s a nice way to honor all of the parents hosting the wedding, including your mother.

If you do choose to go the more traditional route and refrain from listing your mother as a host, you can still honor her in other ways during the ceremony.  Many people use flowers or candles on an empty chair to represent a person who is not present.  You can also play a song that she loved during the ceremony, read a poem or piece of written work that reminds you of her, or show a slide show of happy memories during the reception.

No matter what, I hope that you have an amazing celebration.


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