Inclusive Invite: Should co-workers be invited to your wedding?

by epi on August 8, 2012

Q: How do you handle co-workers on a job who anticipate receiving an invitation to attend your wedding when they are only offered to attend your bridal shower? If you have coworkers attend a bridal shower, should they also be invited to the wedding?

A: If an office group gives a shower for a bride-to-be, it does not mean at all that she must then invite everyone to the wedding. The office shower takes the place of any other wedding celebration for co-workers who want to celebrate such a happy event. The only office co-workers who you might invite to your wedding would be those who are also personal friends outside the work place.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Ruth Peltier August 8, 2012 at 4:57 am

I think that the way this is worded implies that co workers were invited to a general shower that was also attended by friends and family. This is very different from a workplace shower. If the shower was not just coworkers than the co workers should , indeed, be invited to the wedding

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GW August 9, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Q. I have been invited to a co-worker’s wedding ceremony and dance, but not the reception. Should I still bring a gift? (By the time she had started working with me, she already had her guest list created, and due to the size of the venue, could not include anyone else at the reception, but still wanted to include me and a few other co-workers on her big day. I understand her situation, and have no issue with not being invited to the reception. I plan on attending both the ceremony and the dance)

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Just Laura August 9, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Bringing a gift to a wedding is up to you. Do you like your coworker, and want to give her a small something in honor of this momentous occasion in her life?

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Vic Reynolds August 10, 2012 at 10:35 pm

To elaborate a bit on what Ruth mentions above, if it is your “friends and family” bridal shower to which the co-workers are invited (as in, one that a friend is hosting on your behalf, your family and other close friends are invited, etc.), and it is not your “work” bridal shower that your co-workers are attending, then tradition deems that it is in poor taste to invite your co-workers to such an event and not invite them to the wedding ceremony and reception events also (because some of the bridal shower attendees present will be at the upcoming wedding/reception events, for which the shower is being hosted, and can talk about it, and others will not be attending….you can see how this would create issues…plus, showers are traditionally held after invitations have been sent).

In many office settings, co-workers are normally outside your primary close friends and family circle, so whoever hosts your primary shower should not invite your co-workers if this is your relationship with them (and it sounds like this is the case based on your question). It has been my experience that people who invite a group of co-workers, obscure fellow church members, etc., to a primary “friends and family” bridal shower and do not intend to invite them to the wedding events is solely doing this to obtain more gifts without having to increase their expenses for the event. Sad but true.

If your co-workers (who are not invited to your wedding/reception) choose to host a bridal shower on your behalf, then it is certainly not expected that they later be invited to the wedding and reception. Just be thankful for their gift of the shower, and be sure to write generous thank you notes to individuals who contribute to the event or to those who give a gift to you.

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Joanna August 13, 2012 at 10:02 am

Last year, I had a situation that IMO was even tackier – a co-worker spent the ENTIRE YEAR talking about her bridezilla princess wedding to which we were not invited. It was not a question of a small event; she and her husband were inviting his old high school friends that he had only exchanged a few words with on Facebook! It was not a question of too many co-workers; there were only 4 of us in the office! We were, simply, not invited. I’m not saying that my co-worker HAD to invite us; if she didn’t want to, or couldn’t, fine. But in my mind, sitting around talking nonstop all day every day about the tiny minutiae of a wedding that we were not going to be part of was just really, really rude and awkward.

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WC September 30, 2012 at 9:58 pm

I am getting married in a year and have a question about inviting co-workers. I work in a school, where I come in contact with many co-workers every day, yet am not “friends” with all of them, meaning we don’t talk outside of school, or even very much at school, unless it is professionally. It is well-known that I am engaged, (it’s a fairly small school) and frequently my co-workers (people that I would consider acquaintances) ask how my wedding plans are going, or other info about the wedding. I feel that I am in a tricky position, because if I only invite a handful of teacher friends, then I am afraid I will hurt feelings for those who are not invited. However, my budget really can’t handle inviting all of the teachers, assistants, office personnel, etc in my building. Someone advised me to put one invitation in the teacher’s lounge and have people “sign-up” if they would like to attend, thereby taking pressure off of me and allowing them to decide if they feel close enough to attend, but I am worried that this is poor etiquette and will seem tacky to the ones who I am close to. (or anyone else!) Any advice is appreciated because I am worried about what I should do.

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Elizabeth September 30, 2012 at 10:44 pm

WC, you have the right instinct about not putting up the invitation in the lounge. That was a bizarre suggestion, and you are right to reject it. Tacky is not the right word … it’s just weird.

Most people who ask about your wedding planning are just making polite conversation and aren’t angling for an invitation. Keep your responses brief nevertheless. The rule for inviting coworkers is to either invite the few who you are actually friends with outside of work, or to invite everyone. Since inviting everyone is not a possibility, you should not feel bad at all for simply inviting your actual friends. If anyone asks, just explain that it’s going to be an intimate wedding and so you had to keep the invite list limited. Be sure to mail the invitations to any coworkers you invite rather than passing them out at work.

If you start to feel guilty, or if someone pressures you for an invitation, do what my parents did: (they got a bit of this from some people at our synagogue) they just thought back and tried to remember if they had been invited to that person’s wedding (or their child’s wedding). They tried to remember the last time that person had invited them for anything, even a cup of coffee! And in all cases – they came up empty. Is the person angling for an invitation someone you consider a friend, someone who would include you on their invitation list? If not, you may proceed guilt free.

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Alicia October 1, 2012 at 7:49 am

Do not put up an invite in the teachers lounge that would be awful and then you would be inviting all of them which is what you do not want. A simple question about wedding plans is not angling for an invite. People you are not close to should not be hurt or insulted for not getting invited to your wedding. They might just be trying to be nice or maybe just like weddings but either way only invite those you are really close to and expect to really be close to for a long time. If you have never been to their place and they never to yours do not invite. I heard some good advice that was if you do not expect to still want them there at your 50th anniversary then do not invite to the wedding.
Also it can be a burden to be invited to a wedding of someone you are not close to as it can seem a plea for gifts.
Only invite your real family and friends and then keep the wedding details at work to a minimum.

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Allen October 15, 2012 at 2:00 pm

I’m in kind of the same boat. I was working in a certain dept with 12 people for about 8 months or so, then I proposed to my lady and a couple months later switched departments BUTI still work literally right next to my old dept so we still talk every now and again. I’m not very close to anyone and to be honest the only real thing they know about me is the wedding itself so they ask how the planning is going all the time. I try to keep it vague and say that my lady is doing the majority of the planning. I don’t really want to invite them because if they all bring a plus one, that’s another 24 mouths to feed which is way over our budget. I read that some people invited coworkers but didn’t give the option of a plus one which doesn’t really sit well with me. I was thinking of compromising and verbally inviting them to the ceremony (which is in a public place anyway) but not the reception citing that my future father in law is dropping the hammer down on the guest list (which is partially true.) Another thing I’m worried about is I want this to be a formal occasion and my biggest pet peeve at a wedding is people wearing shorts and shower shoes or jeans. I’ve seen a few of my coworker’s spouses and remember them saying that they don’t own a pair of pants let alone dress slacks. Is this just me being picky?

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Just Laura October 15, 2012 at 2:08 pm

If you send a formal invitation for a formal event, you will (of course) expect your guests to dress formally. Unfortunately, if someone still wants to wear torn up jeans to your black tie reception, that’s what is going to happen. That is also an irritation of mine, but I can’t force someone to go on eBay and get an inexpensive but decent pair of non-flip-flops.

Because you don’t actually want to extend hospitality to your coworkers, I do not suggest inviting them at all (verbally or otherwise). You don’t have to invite coworkers to a wedding. They are likely asking you about your plans just to make polite conversation.

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Winifred Rosenburg October 15, 2012 at 2:16 pm

I agree with (Just) Laura. I would like to add that there is nothing wrong with not allowing everyone to bring a “plus one.” However, if any of your invitees are married, engaged, or living with someone you must invite that person as well, but you should actually include his or her name on the invitation and not just say “and guest.” I also wouldn’t suggest inviting your coworkers to just the ceremony as there’s no way of doing it without highlighting the fact that they aren’t invited to the reception. If any of your coworkers ask if they can come to the ceremony, you can say “Of course! Here’s the address…” but you shouldn’t bring it up yourself.

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Elizabeth October 15, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Allen, I agree with both Laura and Winifred. You are absolutely under no obligation to invite your coworkers to your wedding. It sounds as if these people are not friends of yours, but coworkers. One way to think about it is: when is the last time they invited you to some major event – a wedding, a birthday, etc? If you are not close enough to them to be invited to those kinds of events, then you are not close enough to them to invite them to your wedding. They probably ask you about the wedding planning because it’s the one thing they know that’s going on in your life and it’s an easy conversation starter. None of them will be expecting an invitation. And if you do get the odd coworker that does say something, just respond that it’s going to be “an intimate affair,” and that you were unfortunately not able to invite “work friends.” Case closed.

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