Planning a wedding is a stressful time. There’s the venue selection, the menu planning, decor, date, etc., etc. But one of the most fraught decisions can be who to include on the guest list. Who receives an invitation and who doesn’t will depend on many factors, but when it comes to adding co-workers to the guest list, the choice can be even more complicated.
To avoid creating a potentially stressful work situation, ask yourself these questions when deciding who to invite from the office.
Are you “real” friends?
When adding coworkers to your guest list, consider first whether you are truly friends. “If there are coworkers who you socialize with outside of the office, they should be invited,” says etiquette consultant Jodi RR Smith, president and owner of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting.
If there is a group of coworkers that you go out to dinner with, spend time on weekends with or play on recreational teams with, those co-workers can be considered actual friends and should be treated the same as your non-work friends when it comes to getting an invite.
Coworkers that you spend your lunch time with or hang out with only during work events are not treated the same. “The difficulty is that the time we spend with co-workers can create the faux-friend feeling,” says Smith. Beware though that even though you may not consider them a true friend, they may feel differently and may be hurt if they don’t receive an invite, especially if others in the office do. If you’re inviting some friends from work, you may need to extend the invitation to these “work friends.”
Are you inviting more than half the office?
When inviting coworkers, Smith refers to the rule of half. “If you are inviting close to half of the work group–or half of those in a small office–you should be inviting everyone,” she says. If you’re inviting less than a third of the work group and are excluding more coworkers than you are inviting, then you don’t need to extend an invitation to everyone.
Are you the boss?
If you’re the boss, inviting co-workers to your nuptials gets a little more complicated. Smith says you should either invite everyone on your team or no one to avoid playing favorites. But before extending any invitations, be aware if the company has any HR or ethics policies that you need to adhere to for an event outside the office.
Should you invite your boss?
There is no rule that you have to invite your boss to your wedding. Smith says your boss should be treated in the same way as any other work group. If you are friends outside the office, or if you are inviting half of the office or work group, your boss should be on the invite list.
Can you avoid wedding talk at work?
Your wedding is a huge life event. It’s natural to be excited about it and expected that your colleagues will be excited for you and will pepper you with questions for details. But if you have made the decision to not invite coworkers, Smith recommends pre-empting the conversation by saying something like, “We’re getting married in the fall. I wish we could invite everyone, but we can’t.” To avoid hurt feelings, don’t say that only friends and family are invited because a co-worker may consider themselves a personal friend, even though you don’t think of them that way.
If you are inviting some individuals from the office, Smith recommends letting them know that you were not able to invite everyone in the office, so while the wedding is not a secret, it shouldn’t become the major topic of discussion at the office so as not to offend anyone who wasn’t included on the guest list.
Do you want to mix your work and personal life?
Your wedding is one of the most intimate events of your life. Inviting co-workers to participate along with all your family members and friends may get awkward if you aren’t already friends outside of work. This is especially true if you display a different side of your personality at work than at home, or if you feel the need to maintain a certain character at the office. Co-workers may find it difficult to take your hard-line approach seriously once back at the office if they’ve just witnessed you letting loose and tearing up the dance floor at your wedding. Consider whether you want your co-workers to get that close to your personal life before you send out an invite.
Remember, your wedding is a special day that you will remember for years to come. “25 years from now, long after you have left this job, your childhood friends will still be your childhood friends, your cousins will still be your cousins, but will you still be in touch with your coworkers from a quarter of a century ago?” asks Smith. When making your guest list, think about the faces you want to see in your wedding album when you’re celebrating your anniversary years from now.