Ask Jonette: How Do I Handle All Sets of Parents?

On September 21, 2010

Today’s question comes from the SITS Community: “How do you appropriately deal with parents’ names on the invites and who should walk you down the aisle when you have a father and a stepfather?”

Not to worry.  Choosing the appropriate invitation wording for you is not as difficult as it seems.  There are several ways to handle each of these situations.  I would love to walk you through absolutely every possible scenario, but we would be here all day.  Instead, I’ll give you a few general solutions and invite you to leave a comment with your particular situation.  I will answer right away!

Sometimes parents get divorced, remarried, remarried again, leaving brides and grooms with a bunch of step-parents that they might or might not like.  As a result, couples have to figure out how to include everyone without hurting anyone’s feelings!  The easiest option is to incorporate these four magical words into your wedding invitations…..Together with their parents!  Together with their parents is all-inclusive and shows absolutely no favoritism!

If you are a couple who’s fortunate enough to be able to pay for your wedding without help from your families, you can exclude parents’ names all together and only list your own as the people extending the invitation to attend.

Now, I will say upfront that if either set of parents are divorced and have remarried, the most appropriate thing to do is include all of the parents’ and step-parents’ names on the invitations.  Excluding them would be like sending a wedding invitation to a married person, but not to their spouse!  While you might not like your step-parent, it’s such a minor part of the wedding celebration and not an important enough detail to give that much attention!

If you are fortunate enough that all step-parents are fine with being excluded from the invitation, simply use:

Mrs. Jane Doe (your mother’s name)


Mr. John Doe (your father’s name)

That works for the bride and/or groom’s parents.

Another common method used by modern-day couples is to only list the parents who are paying for the wedding.  I do not endorse this, but I do realize that ultimately people are going to do whatever they please.  On the other hand, this option does eliminate one set of parents.  If that particular set of parents is divorced and remarried, you’ve eliminated one less decision about whose names to print on the invitations!

No matter what decision you make, chances are at least one parent or step-parent is going to be unhappy with it.  It can’t be helped.

Walking the bride down the aisle is as special for the chosen individual as it is for the bride.  That’s why the decision is such a hard one to make for a bride who is close to her father and stepfather.  If the bride is close to her father, but also has a nice relationship with her stepfather, it’s safe to say that the stepfather will understand that the biological father will be walking his daughter down the aisle.  Don’t take that gift away from your father!  If you simply cannot choose and both men get along well with each other, put one of them on each arm and make it a family affair.  If you have a closer bond with your stepfather than your biological father, ask the stepfather to walk you down the aisle.  In turn, do your father-daughter dance for the 1st half of the song with your biological father, then dance with your stepfather for the 2nd half of the song!  That way everyone gets their time to shine with you!

Again, if your situation is more intricate, post it in the comments.  You may also email info{at} jsquaredevents {dot} com or Twitter me.  Join me on Facebook page to stay up to date with the latest event planning tips, trends and advice.

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