Guest-list etiquette is one of the trickiest parts of planning a wedding. Whether you’re worried you’ve invited too many people, are trying to squeeze in your parents’ friends, or can’t figure out who gets a plus-one, there are so many questions to answer before those invitations go out the door. And that’s before someone else has started to plan your bridal shower! With a different host or hostess in charge, keeping tabs on the guest list can be tricky. So if your mother is hosting, can she invite a friend of hers who didn’t make it onto your wedding guest list? Our experts are here to weigh in.
The short answer is, you should not invite anyone to your shower who will not also be invited to the wedding. Your shower is an intimate gathering of some of the closest women (and men if you choose!) in your life, and if anyone makes the cut for your shower, she should also be close enough to you to get a wedding invite. Because guests are expected to bring a gift to both your shower and your wedding, it can also seem as though a guest invited to your shower but not the wedding is good enough to give you a gift, but not good enough to be a part of your big day.
If a friend or other family member is hosting your bridal shower, make sure she has access to your full wedding guest list as soon as it is finalized. Showers are usually held after your guest list has been finalized, so you will have already done most of the negotiating with family by this point. By sharing your guest list with the hostess, she can make sure everyone invited is on the wedding guest list, as well as take advantage of all of the mailing-address research you’ve already done. Even if you aren’t involved in the planning of the shower itself, it is a good idea to get involved with the guest list. Provide the hostess with a list of those you would really like to have present to make sure none of your friends or family members are overlooked. Find out how big of an event she is planning, then curate your guest list accordingly.
The only exception to this rule is an office bridal shower. These workplace events are usually hosted by a number of coworkers (usually not a bridesmaid or family member of the bride), and the office will often contribute to cover the costs of the celebration. So even if only one of your coworkers is actually getting invited to the wedding, it’s perfectly acceptable to celebrate with all of your colleagues without extending an invitation to everyone. If you work in a very small office, though, you are better off inviting all of your colleagues than picking and choosing, which risks hurt feelings.