You’re on standby: why I love being a B-list wedding guest

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Plentiful Blossoms Wedding Invitations from Minted.
Tweaked version of Minted's Plentiful Blossoms Wedding Invitations.
A co-worker recently invited my fiancée and me to her wedding in a month. She told us the invite is late because we were on her “B” list. Once everyone on her “A” list had RSVPed, she could invite others.

I always thought you invited everyone at once. I feel like an after-thought. Should I be offended? -B. Lister

The sad truth about a LOT of weddings is that, due to budget or space restrictions at the venue, not everyone gets to invite everyone they want. Plus, when you add the “parental guest list” factor to the mix (and if they're paying for it they get some major say), your invite list can start feeling the pinch.

Still… even the idea of a B-list can send shockwaves throughout the land of Wedding Etiquette-ville. While I get that the concept could make some people have the sads, I think as wedding guests, we should all start embracing the B-list… starting with me!

True story: I was recently, and admittedly, a B-list attendee at a wedding, and it was awesome. I didn't have any less fun because I was a last-minute addition — I just felt lucky to be there. Let me explain why…

The A list

Don't let the name insult you. It doesn't mean “the better people” — it mostly means “the totally necessary people” or “the people that would cause the most turmoil felt for years to come if they aren't invited.” This list includes your close family members, your bestest friends, your wedding party, and possibly people you can't stand because of Game of Thrones-type politics and whoever is footing the bill.

The B-list

What's that you say? Crotchety Aunt Begonia refused to attend because she's always hated your father? (Yay!) And best friend from out of town is going to be giving birth around that time? (Bummer.) There is only one way to celebrate or bounce back from a declined RSVP: Turn to your B-list! Guess who's getting an invite now… that new friend you made two months after you sent out your invites, and a couple of your partners' favorite co-workers.

A and B lists are often a part of wedding planning realities, and they don't speak for how much a couple cares for you. So snatch up those B list invites, and have a great time! Because Aunt Begonia wouldn't even come close to having the kind of fun you're about to have at your friend's wedding.

Fess up: Who here has a B-list or has been on the B-list? How are you handling the invites?

Comments on You’re on standby: why I love being a B-list wedding guest

  1. We ABSOLUTELY have a B list, and have been pretty open about it. Our venue is fairly small and not a traditional wedding venue (a brewery) so we have to keep the guests to 100 or less. That’s a blessing AND a curse because it’s tough to narrow down the guest list, but it gives us an excuse to keep it to the people closest to us. Our families are so large that it doesn’t leave a lot of room for others but I’ve found that people are more understanding about that than you would think.

  2. I am 100% unashamed that we have a b-list! They will be welcome to the ceremony either way but we just don’t have the money to invite everyone we want!

  3. I’ve been a B-lister before, and we had B-list guests at our wedding. At the wedding we were invited to, the bride worded it as “People who we didn’t really want coming anyway RSVP’d ‘no’, so now we can invite some of the people we really wanted to the first time!” She sent an electronic copy of the invite and that was it. We weren’t offended, and I was happy she included us. It’s not like anyone else there knew we were on the B-list, and we enjoyed the wedding just as much as everyone else. As for our B-listers, we used much the same wording (adding that we had blechy family invitations we’d been obliged to send), and they all came and frankly seemed to have the best time out of all of our “friend” guests. I think if any of them had been offended, they probably would have declined, but it all worked out for the awesome as far as I could tell. I say go for it, just make sure you word their invitation right by making it clear you want them there, even though you weren’t sure you’d initially have the room. If you’re on the B-list, that means they WANT to party with you or they wouldn’t have bothered inviting you at all! I say, take it as a compliment and party on!

    • Oh, I’m going to do that if we use our B-List! Possibly as an insert in a paper invite, but more likely electronically – I’d feel much better being up-front with people, in a kind of “I’m relieved you can come” way.

      Really, I don’t think my friends would be insulted by that. It comes with the economics of paying for a wedding.

    • I don’t think I would be offended or hurt to receive a B-list invite unless a) it’s from a person whom I expected to put me on their A-list, or b) it’s an obvious gift grab (like inviting me to a wedding across the country with very little notice). If it’s from someone I was not expecting an invitation from, I’d be pleasantly surprised and not offended. If it was reasonably local and I was available I would make an effort to go.

      I recently invited two people a month before the wedding whom I wish I had invited to begin with. I just told them they had been left off the list by mistake, which is basically the truth. These are people I was close with in grad school but have sort of lost touch with or maintained occasional contact since I moved away, so I don’t think they expected invitations. Hopefully they won’t be hurt. I talked to one of the two and he didn’t seem hurt.

  4. Amen, girl! Our guest list was split three ways, 50 for his parents, 50 for my parents, and 50 for us to split… And we all have B lists ready to go if the A listers can’t come! It is what it is, etiquette be damned! I wish we could fit everyone but we simply can’t afford it.

  5. For our wedding last week we had a B-list, C-list and a few more in reserve! The people who were invited last minute weren’t after thoughts at all – they were people we were delighted to be able to invite after we’d sent our duty invites to our huge family! The people I invited last minute were my childhood friends, friends who I was really happy made the effort to come and they made the day even more special.

  6. HALLELUJAH to this post! I very recently got married and man, did I need this article to prove my point. I had SO MANY people I had to invite because of family-ties and family relations but honestly, the idea of having them at my wedding left me with a bad taste in my mouth and due to a super strict budget I just couldn’t invite some close friends. Luckily one or two of the dragons cancelled so I could invite the people I actually really wanted there. So to the poster of the question: Dude, you we’re probably a high priority and they thought you will understand being on the B-list. Most of the times it should be a compliment!

  7. My fiance and I are paying for the entirety of the wedding so we didn’t have a secondary list. I did however invite some of his parents dear friends, and it’s obvious that they are really excited by that fact. I do think that having another group of people to invite if your initial invitees aren’t able to attend is a great idea though! Most people will understand that it’s not that you don’t want them there, but the budget is definitely a priority over everything else.

  8. I had a “b-list” bridesmaid – a newer, but increasingly close friend who was able to take over a couple months out when I learned one of my out of town besties would be unable to make it. In that situation, it was a bit awkward to be essentially, like, “hey, you know you weren’t my first pick, but I’d love if you’d be a part of the wedding party” but she understood and actually was incredibly helpful as my only local bridesmaid and we’re now very close.

    Several years later a good acquaintance had a similar situation and I became a “b-list” bridesmaid. Having been in that situation before, I totally understood and everyone’s right – it’s fun just to be included at that point.

    Then just a couple weeks ago I got invited to another good acquaintance’s wedding – I had been a bit surprised we weren’t invited in the first round because we had been at the engagement party and I’d consider this couple part of our friend circle and invite them to mine were I having one. All that being said, she did a fantastic job of explaining why we weren’t initially invited (had to invite obligatory family guests first) and made me feel like she was excited to be able to invite us now – so I also think so much of it is just in how you word it and in making the new invitee feel you really want them there, not just as an afterthought or to pad out numbers or something.

  9. We had a B list, though we didn’t call it that because admittedly it does sound like those people somehow matter less. Our guest list had to be small due to budget and venue restrictions, but we were reasonably sure that everyone would receive an invitation eventually because our wedding was in Cleveland and most of our guests were from Chicago and New York.

    The A list included immediate family members, very close friends we were in contact with, and local work people. The B list included aunts and uncles, friends we considered very close but hadn’t been in touch with, and work acquaintances. We sent out B list invitations once some of the initial responses came in. We were really happy to have the secondary invitees accept their invitations and celebrate with us because it gave us a chance to reconnect and spend some time together in person.

  10. I absolutely love being a B-list wedding invitee! There is less pressure to move mountains to attend if I have a conflict, it’s a great chance to witness something I would not have otherwise been a part of, and (most of the time) an amazing party with a bunch of people I really like.

    I have never been married but I so admire my married friends (and some friendly acquaintances) who are shameless about the B-list last-minute invite. An invite is an invite and I love it!

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