Ask the Bride -- Inviting Co-Workers

Question: My fiance and I work at a very small company (60 people). Our difficulty is this: we would like to invite a few of our close friends from the office to our reception; I'd like to be able to invite everyone, but due to financial constraints this is impossible. We don't socialize with our immediate supervisor outside of work, and have never interacted socially with the head of the company either--and at any rate would prefer not to have them at the reception, which was really intended for family and close friends anyway. Our ceremony will be held relatively near where we work, and I'd like to know this: Is it at all proper to invite people to the ceremony only? I don't want to seem unfriendly, and there are many people whom we'd love to have attend - but we are afraid that people will be offended if we don't invite them to the reception as well. Please help! We need to send our invitations in the next few days and we can't find any answers in all of our wedding guides and planners to help us! -- Jennifer Wells (

Answer: First of all, this is a difficult question, and I understand your frustration. Two different etiquette experts say different things: one, that it's impolite to invite people to the ceremony without inviting them to the reception; and the other, that you could have reception cards printed, rather than stating "Reception immediately following" directly on the invitation, and then only include the reception cards in the invitations of the people you want to include in the reception. Personally, I would rather keep the ceremony and reception small, than have to dismiss people after the wedding or take the chance that uninvited people would tag along to the reception.

However, the May/June 1996 issue of "Bridal Guide" magazine addresses the co-worker question directly. Their solution is to only invite the people you are closest friends with, or work with directly. They say "it would be improper to exclude your supervisor if you'll be inviting others from the office." Also, "as far as the president or CEO goes, unless you're on pretty familiar terms, I'd pass. He or she is surely going to be too busy to give up the time, and it may look to some like you're fishing for gifts or brownie points." They also suggest that you should invite everyone that is part of a close-knit professional or social group at the office, as well as your assistant or secretary. Hopefully you can narrow this list down to a few people and their spouses/partners.

You don't have to feel obligated to allow for single co-workers to bring a date or for any children. This article closes by saying "keep in mind that most people understand the limits of wedding budgets and don't expect to be invited to every office wedding. So, aside from especially close relationships, you really needn't worry too much about offending anyone." Finally, for anyone who has a bad relationship with a supervisor, there is always the choice of taking the chance of making the relationship worse by not inviting him/her and offending this person, or inviting the supervisor as a friendly, concillatory gesture. I do think that, although this may seem undesireable, it would be best to invite a supervisor and to exclude a casual office acquaintance.

Just remember, all you have to say to the forty or fifty people you don't invite is that you are on a limited budget!