Can I Invite My Co-Workers, But Not Their Spouses, to the Wedding?

Let's put this age-old question to rest

Updated 10/04/19

Philip Gabriel

There will inevitably come a time when you and your partner will need to sit down and trim the guest list. You have to draw the line somewhere, but when it comes to co-workers, is it acceptable to invite them only and not their spouses or plus-ones? Or would that be impolite? Our in-house wedding etiquette expert is here to weigh your options.

I'm close to about 10 of my co-workers and I'd love to have them at my wedding, but my guest list is tight and we can't accommodate 20 more people. Would it be okay to invite these co-workers, but not their spouses?

It's true: Once you start factoring in spouses, fiancés, and serious partners, your guest list will grow exponentially. But yes, you will need to include those significant others to avoid causing any bruised egos. While an all or nothing approach may sound harsh, ultimately, it's your wedding day (let's not forget that). You'll want to use tact and discretion when deciding which, if any, of your co-workers you want to invite.

If you can't possibly account for a potential group of 20 (those 10 co-workers and their plus-ones), then one option is to invite your immediate boss, your assistant, and/or those with whom you are closest. Sharing a cubicle with someone doesn't warrant an automatic wedding invitation, especially if they're dating or married to someone you've never met. As a rule of thumb, we recommend separating your "work relationships" from your IRL friendships to help thin down the roster. (Pro tip: Be sure to mail your wedding invitations to your co-workers' home addresses, not the office. Being discreet can go a long way toward avoiding hurt feelings.)

Another perfectly acceptable alternative is to invite no one from work to your wedding. Yup, you heard right. If anyone inquires, you can say something along the lines of: "Now that we're into the realities of planning, it looks as though we're going to have a fairly small wedding." Or, if you or your partner has a large family, you could say, "We already realize that, once we invite our families, we won't be able to accommodate as many friends and coworkers as we had previously hoped."

Those comments can help get the point across that the guest list will be limited. Should spots open up on your wedding guest list down the road—perhaps, a large number of attendants won't be able to make it—then you can always re-evaluate at a later date.

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