Invitation Wording – Help?

by DIY wedding planner on December 8, 2011

My parents are divorced, but my mother kept her married name. He has since re-married, so I have a stepmother. My fiance and I are footing a large portion of the bill, but my dad is hosting the reception, and my fiance’s dad has contributed. We therefore want to mention them on the invitations, but can you tell me what you think of the following wording?:


Michael, Sandra and Emma Burton (bride’s father, mother & stepmother), and James and Amelia Winterbourne (groom’s father & mother) invite you to the wedding of

Ethan Winterbourne
Katie Burton

At 12:00pm on Saturday 6th June 2009 at


And for a reception at




The bride and groom will not be requesting material gifts, but if you do feel you would like to contribute, a honeymoon fund has been created. Please contact Sandra Burton (contact no)
Addresses and maps will of course be provided with the invitations.
I did wonder whether my dad would look like a bigamist :) Good advice, thanks.
it’s not requesting money as such, it’s saying if you HAVE to. I don’t want a toaster, as we already have everything for the house. It’s the done thing in many cultures, and my partner and I have 5 cultures to think about.
it’s like – if you want to contribute, help us by buying a hotel room for a night, or a meal out in Cairo, or a boat down the Nile. An active gift, instead of a material thing that we don’t need. That was all we meant by it.
Thanks Sarah. The wedding’s largely being organised my my fiance and I. Should we therefore wait for them to RSVP, then we send maps and directions, and then gift details? I’m not sure how else we could do it. It’s a very unstructured wedding!
thanks lilylady, good advice.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

arklatexrat December 8, 2011 at 7:07 am

Why not “the families of” instead of all the different names.
Are your folks that picky that they want to see their names in print and call attention to all the “blended family” confusion?

The Burton thing with the two moms right together is especially troubling–it looks like polygamy or something.

I wouldn’t do it that way, but of course it’s your day, so do whatever you want. But I would be willing to bet that more than one of your guests will have the same reaction I’m having.


abc December 8, 2011 at 7:21 am

no you don’t word it like that; Mr. and Mrs. Michael Burton, Ms. Emma Burton and Mr. and Mrs. James Winterbourne invite you to…..etc etc….

And you do NOT put on an invitation the request for MONEY….how tacky….you don’t get to decide what if any gift someone will give you….you get a toaster, you return it…..if your dad is hosting the reception he’s footing half the cost of this production…..


Sarah December 8, 2011 at 7:25 am

I would suggest saying “Together with their families, Katie Burton and Ethan Winterbourne invite you to celebrate their marriage…” Since you’re footing most of the bill, it’s appropriate for your names to be on there, but this way you don’t have to deal with the complication of names and wording and relationships.

Also, on a side note, you’re not supposed to mention gifts on your invitation at all, even if you’re saying that you aren’t asking for any. The invitation is a request for the guest to celebrate at your wedding, not an invitation to bring a present. This is a big etiquette no-no. Instead, gift information should be given to the bridal party and to your parents, and they can spread the word when people inquire as to your registry or shower.


jodi_t38 December 8, 2011 at 7:39 am

Well since the names are the same and they are still your parents why not just use the old traditional way: Your dad and moms last name (because your step mom now has it too) requesting the honor of their presence at the wedding of their daugther_________ to your finance’ name________ son of _______________ on (date) and (time) why does it matter about the names they are still your parents and they now just are not living in the same home parental rights still apply and the new step mom shares the last name so she is included I don’t think using step mom on the invitation is going to matter in your case I think she will understand and be happy to share your day as well. Congratulations on your wedding.


keebler066 December 8, 2011 at 7:49 am

I would say The family of Michael Burton & James Winterbourne invite you to the wedding of………,and take off the party about the gits.


lilylady20 December 8, 2011 at 8:31 am

From what I’ve heard, it is tacky to mention gifts at all on the invitations. Spreading the information to the bridal party is one way to do it, also you COULD wait for the RSVP and then distribute information that way. Or, since most people will be asking if you have a registry, you can put the RSVP number as Sandra Burton (Your stepmom?) or say, “Contact Sandra Burton (phone number) with any questions.” People might get the hint that way.
Good luck, and congratulations!


Lydia December 8, 2011 at 9:03 am

You include the stepmother like this -
Michael (Emma) Burton and Sandra Burton

Whatever cultures you are, do not include the gift information on the invitation, or on an insert. If people don’t know what to get you, they will contact your family.


RedSoxRock!!! December 8, 2011 at 9:20 am

you do not mention gifts on any invitation! If someone throws you a shower then they can write the info for the honeymoon fund on the invite other then that gifts can be spread by word of mouth! Its not polite to ask for gifts monetary or not in any cultural i know of!! Most culturals do have a tradition like my best friend is italain so she was given money and not gifts but she neer asked for it! The invitation should also have th church then a sepearte card with the location of the reception and directions well at least thats how i would do it!!


kill_yr_television December 8, 2011 at 9:36 am

I think that Miss Manners would not approve at all, is what I think. I’m not trying to be hateful here, I’m trying to help you out with something that seems to be pretty new to you. I’m going to outline what is wrong and give you some examples of how to do it right, OK?

First, a wedding invitation doesn’t work like the programs at your community theater, where big donors get half a page while small contributors get 6 point font. Mannerly people prefer to keep private family matter like who paid how much for what — well, to keep it private and in the family. Parents names are mentioned on the invitation not in recognition of their financial contributions but to help those who receive invitations figure out who Bonnie Bride or Godfrey Groom are, as in “Oh yeah, my cousin Eddie’s kid!”
Second, in formal invitations you don’t put a list of names into paragraph form. Each person gets a seperate line. The exeption is married couples, you share a line. So you don’t lump your dad, mom, and step-mom together unless your dad is keeping a small harem. Since your dad and step-mom are a married couple, they get one line. And your bio-mom gets a line of her own.

The most Miss Manners like way would be to issue a “passive voice” invitation that doesn’t give a clue as to who is actually acting as host, who chipped in toward the cost, and who has been busy getting divorced and remarried.

The honor of your presence is requested
at the marriage of
Katie Burton, daughter of
Michael Burton and
Sandra (maiden name here) Burton, to
Ethan Winterbourne, son of
James and Amelia Winterbourne
at 12 O’Clock on Saturday June Sixth at
Holy Toledo Church of God,
321 Flat Rock Highway, Toledo.

Yes, this leaves your step-mom out. Unless you are inviting people from her side of the family who might we wondering who Katie is and need a clue to figure out “Oh, it’s Emma’s husband’s daughter!” then there isn’t any need to include her name. Honor her with a toast at the reception instead.

However, if you feel that you must include step-mom’s name OR that you must have a list of “hosts” at the beginning of your invitation, it should read

Sandra (maiden name here) Burton
Michael and Sandra Burton
James and Amelia Winterbourne
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of etc etc etc

You’ll notice a few other changes too. For a church wedding you don’t invite, you request the honor of their presence. The idea is that a church is God’s house and it would be presumptious to issue invitations to someone else’s house. If the ceremony were in a park or rented hall, you’d ask for the pleasure of their company. And usually the time and date are formatted as words, not numbers — three, not 3. You can leave out the year, it’s assumed that the invitation means this coming June, not some June in the distant future.

Now let’s move on the RSVP and gifting parts at the bottom.
First, I know etiquette is weird, but etiquette requires that you pretend you are not expecting gifts. To mention gifts on the invitation is like including an admission price — something a mannerly host would never dream of doing.
Second, why are you asking people to write you a letter to RSVP when they could just pick up the phone? You’re not expected to take and make all those calls yourself, you get a friend or family member to handle this.
And that brings me back to gifts. When people call your helper to RSVP (or she calls them) these people will probably ASK what sort of gift the newlyweds would appreciate.

I’m sorry this was so long, but you should see Miss Manners. This is a summary of several pages of her delightful writings. Feel free to eMail me if you want me to look something up in Miss Manners for you. Congratulations and best wishes.


Karin December 8, 2011 at 10:17 am

I think the “Michael, Sandra, and Emma Burton” thing is a bit confusing, even though you did explain it in parentheses right after. Maybe instead you could say “The families of Ethan Winterbourne and Katie Burton invite you to the wedding of….” That might be a little less wordy and confusing.

Also, I would recommend not mentioning anything about gifts or a honeymoon fund on the invitation. The invitation is just that- to invite someone to your wedding. If someone asks you if you’ve registered anywhere, then you can tell them about your honeymoon fund. If you put it on your invitations, it will sound like you’re asking for gifts/contributions to your honeymoon fund, even if you don’t mean it that way. Just leave that part out completely.


Whit December 8, 2011 at 10:52 am

I would word it this way:

Michael, Sandra and Emma Burton
invite you to the wedding of their daughter

Katie Burton
Ethan Winterbourne

Son of James and Ameila Winterbourne

At 12:00pm on Saturday 6th June 2009 at


And for a reception at


As for the RSVP there is usually a separate card for this and I wouldn’t suggest putting this on the actual invitation.

For the gifts, not to be rude but your not suppose to put anything about gifts on a wedding invitation even if your saying you don’t want material gifts. The only thing i can suggest is maybe putting a little note in there about it instead of having it on the actual invitation.

Hope this helps


jlunchbox December 8, 2011 at 11:24 am

This is what we put, similar situation…

Together with their families,
[Bride] and [Groom]
request the pleasure of your company
at their marriage

too many names are bad


iloveweddings December 8, 2011 at 11:27 am

Hi. That is a lot of names on one invitation. Since you are also hosting (paying for) a large portion, I like this kind of wording better. (It alleviates all the names).

Together with their parents
Katie (middle name) Burton
Ethan (middle name) Winterbourne
request the honor of your presence
at their marriage ceremony on
Saturday, the sixth of June
Two thousand and nine
at twelve noon
Church name
city, state

Then on a separate card you can have the reception information:

Please join us for our reception immediately
following the ceremony
[venue name]
[city, state]

Then, another card with the RSVP info.

You can do what you want, but it is considered very tacky in the U.S. to mention ANYTHING about gifts on an invitation. You seem stuck on doing this, though, so go ahead.

I can’t believe you have everything that you need, but if you do, good for you! The wedding, reception, and honeymoon should be all paid for by the couple (and family if they can contribute)….NOT your guests.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: