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Our Answers to Common Invitation & RSVP Etiquette Questions

Whether you are hosting your wedding, anniversary party, or corporate event, uncomfortable situations can arise when it comes to inviting your guests.   Below are a few easy solutions to common invitation-related problems that clients have asked us in the past:

For wedding invitations, when a parent has passed away, what is the best way to include them?

While your family member who has passed away is not technically inviting your guests to your wedding, it is common to include the parent’s name on the invitation as a way to remember and honor them.  Instead of saying “Mr and Mrs. John Smith invite you to the wedding of their daughter…” we suggest this wording:

“The honour of your presence is requested at the marriage of

(Bride’s name),

daughter of Mr. John Smith and the late Mrs. Jane Doe Smith,


(Groom’s name),

son of Dr. Tom Brown and Mrs. Susan Jackson Brown”

For wedding invitations, when a parent is remarried, should you include their new spouse’s name?

This depends on two things: who is paying for the wedding, and how close you are to your stepparent. If your parents are contributing to the wedding costs in any way, we suggest including their name out of respect and as a nod to their contribution.  If your parents are not contributing to the wedding costs, and if you are not very close to your parent’s new spouse, we still highly advise having a conversation with your parent to make sure that no one would be offended if you decided to leave them off of the invitation.  It is better to have a discussion early on than have to deal with any issues after-the-fact.

If you would like to include your stepparent’s specific name, we suggest this wording:

(Bride’s name)

daughter of Mr. John Smith and (Step-Mother’s full name)


the late Mrs. Jane Doe Smith…

You could also vaguely include your stepparent by broadly including both of your entire families:

Together with their families,

(Bride’s name),

daughter of Mr. John Smith and Mrs. Jane Doe Smith,


(Groom’s name),

son of Dr. Tom Brown and Mrs. Susan Jackson Brown,

request the honor of your presence at their marriage”

The most common question: What do you do when a guest invites their own additional guest that you have not included on their invitation and in your guest count?

A good way to prevent your guests inviting additional “plus ones” is to let them know the specific amount of seats that you have reserved for them, spelling it out for them:

“We have  _(insert number here)__ seats reserved in your honor.”  

If you have a guest that still adds on an additional name/”plus one,” a perfectly polite way to handle it would be to let them know that while you would like to include their guest, you will need to wait and see what the final RSVPs are looking like before you give the go-ahead.  You can also tell them that the venue can only accommodates a certain amount of people.  Your guests will not know how many people your reception venue actually agreed to host, nor does your guest need to know that you simply don’t want to dish out that extra money for hosting someone that you may not necessarily be close to, or possibly may not have even met.

Again, whatever the situation is, we recommend clearing the air if any issues arise, versus hoping that things just smooth over.  We know that your guests are important to you, and it’s best to deal with any issues early on so no feelings are hurt, and also so you can fully enjoy your event!

Enjoy celebrating!

-Storybook Chicago

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