January 25, 2019 at 05:30AM by CWC
Remember when Jim and Pam got married on The Office and the entire staff of Dunder Mifflin attended their wedding? From line-crossing boss Michael to chronically unfriendly Angela and social loose cannon Dwight, literally everybody got an invite. (Come to think of it, those characters were always particularly light on the work-life boundaries with one another.)
But since life isn’t but a delightful sitcom, the matter of whom to invite to your wedding can be a much more complicated ordeal…with far more disastrous implications if not handled properly.
If you’re in the midst of wedding planning and you’re deciding whom to invite, the subject of coworkers may come up—especially if you have a few close friends at your job. You spend a hearty chunk of your life with them, but if you invite some, should you invite them all? Where is the line? “Deciding who from the office to invite to the wedding is one of the most commonly asked wedding-etiquette questions,” says Anne Chertoff, the wedding expert of Beaumont Etiquette.
“Deciding who from the office to invite to the wedding is one of the most commonly asked wedding-etiquette questions.” —Anne Chertoff, wedding-etiquette expert
Perhaps that’s because the premise includes several tough-to-solve conundrums, like how to artfully invite some coworkers and not others to your nuptials. And if you go forth with that plan, how do you break the news to the colleagues who didn’t make the cut? Could it be best to just hedge your bets and completely leave out people from work?
The answers to these questions depend on a few factors, and they’re ones you and your spouse-to-be will have to seriously consider—in conjunction with helpful hints from leading etiquette experts, of course.
The case for cordially inviting
If you’re considering inviting coworker(s), Chertoff says there are a few things to keep in mind. For instance: Do you already socialize with them regularly outside of the office? Are you having an intimate wedding, and if so, would they be someone you’d consider close? Would they fit in your budget and head count? These can be key factors in deciding who makes the cut.
As is the case with any wedding guest, Chertoff says the choice should come back to a very basic rule of thumb. “Invite those you are close to, along with their plus-one if they’re engaged, married or living together with someone.” In most cases though, inviting a coworker is a totally fine course of action.
…And cordially excluding (no hard feelings)
If you do decide to invite a coworker (or two, or three, or however many), you have to keep your excluded coworkers in mind.
“I do you think you should chat with your other coworkers and explain that you can’t invite everybody,” says wedding planner and designer Michelle Fernie-Oley. “This way you won’t appear to be inviting your other coworkers behind everyone else’s back…. Yes, it is your wedding, but you do need to consider other people’s feelings in the process.”
While you can expect most people to be understanding, don’t be surprised if you get some side-eyes, Fernie-Oley warns. But once you’ve made your choice, stick with it. After invitations are sent out (to homes—definitely don’t drop them at cubicles, says etiquette expert Diane Gottsman), keep general wedding chatter and planning outside of the office.
And, as tempting as it may be to include coworkers not invited to the wedding in lower-overhead celebrations like a bridal shower, Gottsman says doing so is likely to rub them the wrong way. Think about it: That would send the message that someone isn’t welcome to the main event—even if you do have very valid reasons—but can stop by the pre-party. With a gift, natch. Put simply, it’s not a great way to make someone feel included.
However, your colleagues may throw you an office shower, and if that happens, you shouldn’t second-guess your invitation decisions. “It’s a lovely gesture to celebrate a colleague but shouldn’t influence whether they then receive an invitation to the wedding,” Chertoff says. And if you decide to go the no-coworkers-at-all route, you can celebrate together in other ways. “The work crew is usually happy to have a small office celebration then pour over the wedding videos and pictures after,” says career coach and Power Suiting founder Wendy Toth.
Are you the boss, or do you run your own company? Because that brings about a different recommended course of action. In this instance, Fernie-Oley says you should definitely go the all-or-none route, which can become a ton of people, very quickly. (Consider how many people work for you, then add in their plus-ones.)
On the flip side, do you have to invite your boss whether or not you’re inviting your other colleagues? “In formal office settings, like law firms, inviting your boss is usually expected. In less formal offices, the responses may vary wildly, giving you a lot more freedom,” Toth says.
The most important thing to remember though, is it’s your big day, and as long as you handle invites (and non-invites) with courtesy and professionalism, you’ll be a boss bride in every sense of the word.