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

Posted by
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. I just invited someone from our B-list today and it felt so good! She’s my dear friend and has been so supportive of our relationship since day 1. It was a shame that I had to wait this long to invite her, but we had a very small budget and space constraints. She isn’t upset at all and immediately said she was going to book her flight.

  2. Most of my B-list came from one group of friends. A few people from this group (who we were closest to) were on the A-list, but once enough family members said no (some we were expecting, but we wanted to hold off until we were sure), we invited the rest of the group, and I’m so happy they all came! It wouldn’t have been the same without them.

  3. People have a bad reaction to being b-listed because it’s rude to b-list people.
    I don’t know why this is hard. Invite the number of guests you can afford to host and plan to host them all well. If some can’t make it you can upgrade your menu or just save the money you would otherwise have spent on those guests. Don’t insult people by b-listing.

    • part of what I like about offbeat bride is that the site isn’t afraid to share alternative perspectives, recognizing that what feels “rude” for one person might not for another. if it feels rude to you, then don’t do it at your wedding and decline any b-list invitations you might receive. if it doesn’t feel rude to other people, then how does it impact you?

      I say this as someone who would never do a B list at my own wedding, but if the idea works for someone else’s wedding, then right on for them

    • because some people would prefer to be able to invite more friends and loved ones rather than “upgrading the menu”!

      I think a lot of people (myself included) remember the fun they have with the people they are around at events like weddings, more than they remember how fancy the food was – and given the chance, they’d rather upgrade the fun and number of friends than upgrade the entrees!

    • I don’t think it’s rude to have a B-list of people you’d like to invite, but can’t until someone you absolutely must invite can’t make it. I don’t think you should advertise the fact, but I don’t think it’s rude to have one. As long as you treat everyone who comes to your wedding like they’re A-listers, who cares?

    • While it wasn’t a true “b-list”, we had invited essentially the max number of people for the venue, and only extended the invitation to plus-ones (ie people we didn’t already know) after we had enough declines that we knew we could accommodate them. It had nothing to do with money and everything to do with capacity.

      (Though I also don’t think it’s necessarily rude to b-list, more just pointing out it’s not all about money)

  4. The way I see the bigger picture is that mature adults understand constraints. People on both sides of the invite have constraints, but those don’t reflect underlying emotions. When constraints loosen for one reason or another, I hope everyone can enjoy the new capacity.

  5. I would have never considered a B-list until my daughter was recently married, but I believe it worked out well for everyone involved. I still sent these (few) invitations a month out, and requested an RSVP a week prior to the wedding. Every one of these guests was quite gracious and fun.

    Admittedly, I did not do this at my own wedding over 25 years ago because it was considered bad etiquette, and traditionally, well it just wasn’t done. But in the last few years DH and I have definitely been the recipients of the B-list invitation and we just couldn’t bring ourselves to feel badly about it. Almost every bride let us know how happy they were to have been able to invite us, and we just allowed the ones who didn’t say anything to think we believed we were A-list guests all along.

  6. One of my favorite moments in my wedding planning process was inviting two B-list guests. They were two co-workers who I had been growing increasingly close with, and I was able to say “when we made the guest list 6 months ago, I thought about inviting you but didn’t because I wasn’t sure if it was weird because we are coworkers. Now that I am that much closer to the event I am realizing that you are not just co-workers you are also dear friends and I would really like to have you there.” They were THRILLED and not at all offended that their invite was delayed, and they ended up being two of the most awesome, party-hearty guests there.

    Sometimes if you are just really up front about the realities of the situation (whether they be family obligations, financial constraints, or social awkwardness) people actually end up appreciating your honesty and understanding the situation. Yay communication!

  7. Excellent. I’ve had some similar experiences, though not quite so formal as having a b-list, just waiting patiently until I knew I had enough space in the hall to invite a few other people. Also, allowing people +1s after all.

    The only thing I don’t think I’m on board with is TELLING people they are on your b-list. I’m sure they’d work it out anyway, no need to throw it in their faces.

  8. I met the man I plan to marry as a C list attendee at a friend’s wedding. Seriously got the invite a week before the wedding. Never turn down an invite just because it comes a little late. I am also now even closer to the friend (said gentleman was the best man) and their daughter.

  9. I think this is where expectation-setting can come in handy. I believe that people want to feel special, included, thought of as important, and they also understand that obligations can interfere with desires. I have B-listed and been a B-list, and I think it goes the smoothest when the couple / hosts had told me already beforehand, “We really wish we could invite so many more people, and especially you, but we have to wait to see which family members are coming first to know how much space we have.” That way, when you go back to them, you get to say, “Guess what? Space opened up, and we would be so honored if you could make it.”

    • This exact thing happened to me! My old old friend got engaged to a woman and he told me as soon as they had set the date that they wanted me there but had to invite the parents and such as it was going to be very small. And two weeks later I got the call – I was in! I was thrilled I “made the cut” and happy that he reached out before hand so I knew I was “emotionally invited” even if I wasn’t “officially invited” yet.

  10. We have a B-List too! We can only have 50 people at the ceremony and my fiancee has a lot of family plus my parents were keen that my Aunts and Uncles came. We managed to get friends coming by implementing a strict no cousins rule but we still only have about 10 people each that we can invite so we’ve got a rather large b-list. We’re sort of hoping the no cousins rule will count out some of those aunts and uncles with younger kids.

    It’s nothing against anyone and I think the reception will be more fun that the ceremony!

    The hardest thing is definitely telling some friends that are invited that their partners can’t come to the ceremony, only the reception 🙁

Read more comments

Comments are closed.