Curating this part of your guest list can be tricky business
Ask The Kit Weddings is our bi-monthly wedding etiquette column. Wedding expert Alison McGill tackles the pressing—sometimes uncomfortable—questions that everyone from almost-marrieds to attending guests have on their minds. Send your Qs to firstname.lastname@example.org.
My fiancé and I both have a huge group of work friends that we would love to have at our wedding. The problem is that we only have room to invite a handful of co-workers because we’re keeping the guest list super-tight to keep our wedding on budget. It’s going to be hard for us to choose who to invite, and we know some people will be offended if they don’t receive an invitation. How do we decide who makes the cut? —Kate
This is a very timely question as the return to the office is revving back up, and we’re rekindling our co-worker friendships. Handling the office crowd can be one of the most stressful parts of guest list logistics. I put your question to Susy Fossati the founder and CEO of Avignon Etiquette and one of Canada’s foremost experts in modern manners. She says that navigating office politics and your wedding planning can indeed be challenging, but there are diplomatic ways handle it.
Here’s her advice.
If you can’t invite everyone, how do you decide which office friends receive invites? “This is actually a very sensible process,” says Fossati. “I would generally say to invite those you are closest with at work. Is there a group you socialize with outside of work? Co-workers you call or text on the regular, and not about office things? Those are the people who have been living the wedding alongside you, and have been along for the ride from day 1. They should be invited. If you’re friendly with your boss, that is another must-invite. If you find it too hard to prioritize people, there is also the ‘all-or-none’ mentality. Everyone gets an invite in your group or no one at all. Sometimes, people find this route the easiest.”
How can you prepare for backlash from co-workers who feel snubbed? “The best way to avoid this is to keep wedding talk away from the office,” says Fossati. “The less you talk about your wedding, the less likely someone is to bring it up. In those instances where someone still brings it up, an honest (and short) answer is always your best approach (i.e., size constraints, budget constraints, etc.). You can say something like: ‘There is nothing I would have loved more than to be able to include all my closest friends, but unfortunately, the venue size could only accommodate X number of people. How about we catch up over lunch, soon?’ Responding positively and genuinely is the best approach.”
If you are a manager, can you invite someone you manage, and not another person who’s also on your team? “This is one of those situations where the all-or-none philosophy is the best scenario, especially from a top-down perspective. Think of a parent offering a candy to one child, and not another. No one wants to be in that situation.”
Can you invite co-workers but not your boss? “If you are not close to your boss, it’s okay to invite only those colleagues you are closest to. In this scenario I would keep discussions of the wedding to a minimum in the office. Also, do not ever feel you need to disclose to anyone who has, and who has not, been invited—this is personal information that does not need to be shared in light of the fact you don’t have a tight relationship.”
After all we have been through in the last two years, I would hope behaviours and expectations surrounding events and attendance has changed—do you feel people are more mindful? “COVID has affected everyone in different ways, and some more than others. While many people are quite comfortable returning to celebrating events as they did pre-COVID, others need more time. That’s just human nature. Unfortunately, sometimes we forget. The best thing we can do is give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Change is inevitable, we can’t control that. What we can control is how we respond. Good manners are always about putting others at ease and creating the best possible experience for everyone.”