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. I’m basically treating plus ones that I barely know (or not at all) as the B-List. No idea what the etiquette is on this, but I just know that I would rather be able to invite another good friend over someone I don’t know. That being said, I know that weddings are usually more special when you have your person with you, so I’m hoping I can extend more plus ones to people once the RSVPs come in.

    I’m not too worried about this, since almost everyone coming is local so it shouldn’t disrupt travel arrangements, and most people will know a ton of other guests, so coming solo won’t mean not knowing anybody, in the case that I’m not able to extend plus ones to some people.

  2. When I was invited (and told I was being invited) as B-list guest I was mildly insulted at first because it was a long time friend, and I thought well she didn’t have to TELL me that I was a B-list guest. But then after I thought about all of the other friend’s weddings that I didn’t even get to go to at all for the same reasons that I had been put on to her B-list (parents paying for the wedding, small venues, tiny guest lists, big families, having to invite all of the family first and then friends) I changed my attitude pretty quick! I went to the wedding and had the time of my life, and what everyone else has been saying is right. It’s not like the other guests knew that I was a “B-list” invite, and it’s not like she didn’t want me there, she totally did – and I was glad to be there.

  3. three years ago, i was a b-list to a new friend’s wedding. she did not have much family, and when she started to get a lot of ‘no’s’ from people, she invited my (now) FI and I, even though we had only known her about 2 months by that point.
    it was a glorious wedding, and cemented our friendship. she is now an a-list to my wedding this year!

  4. We’re probably going to have a B list. We have everyone we want (and need) to invite in a kind of evil sounding hierarchy until we lock in a venue and a budget (this is going to be a long engagement). I think it’s perfectly acceptable. I’ve been on a B list before… in fact, I’m pretty sure I was somewhere at the other end of the alphabet because I got invited to the wedding meal on the morning of the wedding (having already promised to attend the wedding and the post-meal dancing). Someone had the audacity to call the bride (!) the morning of her wedding to let her know that they hadn’t been able to book a hotel (with however many months notice) and so wouldn’t be there in two hours(!). I went quite gracefully, just focusing on being a good guest for the poor bride who had forked out all that money to spend a day with people, for them to consider RSVPing no an afterthought!

  5. I have a B-list and despite what those a-holes on a different popular wedding website say I am not ashamed! The B-list includes the following people: Three new co-workers who either started work or who I got closer to after the original list was made. A couple that I recently reconnected with, a new friend I made during a show I was in this spring, two couples who we love but only see at parties, and the roommate of our officiant who again we love but only see a few times per year. Like this article states there are plenty of people on the “A-list” who I wouldn’t have invited if given a choice. My parents are paying for the caterer, chair rental, and whatever portion of the bar we can’t fund so they got to add sixteen of their friends. I would’ve invited about half of them myself so that’s eight seats gone. There are also a lot of distant relatives of FH’s that we only see about once a year but again, it would be WWIII if they didn’t get an invite so I’m hoping a lot will say no. I only need sixteen declines to get everyone I want there so fingers crossed!

  6. We have an ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’ list. A is for everyone we would be heartbroken not to invite, B is everyone we want if there is enough room or budget, C is anyone our parents think they might want to add on if there is room (old friends they want to show off their kids too, etc).

  7. We had a B list and let me tell you I was so glad some of our A list people cancelled so we could invite the B list. They made our wedding and I’m so thankful they came at the last minute! Only regret we had was inviting those A list people in the first place!

  8. I only had one person left on my B list for the daytime, and when someone pulled out the morning of the wedding I was straight on the phone. She was so happy to be “bumped” up and totally got the whole numbers thing!

  9. I think the idea of calling a list A or B is bad. It sounds bad.
    We have two lists we’re calling them “must invites” and “really want to invites”. Unfortunately we have to send out invites to all the “must invites” first and see who is coming or not before we’ll be able to send out our invites to our “really want to invites” group.
    Because of budget and space we can’t invite everyone outright, but if some of the “must invites” can’t come there are people we would really want there and so we’ve put them in that “really want to invite” list.
    I think a wording change for what you call your lists is all it takes to have someone go from offended to excited.

    • I haven’t told anyone that they’re on a specific list. I find it’s less hurtful to just explain we’re going to include as many people as we’re able. The letter designations are for shorthand only between my fiancé and myself.
      @offbeatbride

      Cassie added a comment in reply to You’re on standby: why I love being a B-list wedding guest .
      Cassie

      I think the idea of calling a list A or B is bad. It sounds bad.
      We have two lists we’re calling them “must invites” and “really want to invites”. Unfortunately we have to send out invites to all the “must invites” first and see who is coming or not before we’ll be able to send out our invites to our “really want to invites” group.
      Because of budget and space we can’t invite everyone outright, but if some of the “must invites” can’t come there are people we would really want there and so we’ve put them in that “really want to invite” list.
      I think a wording change for what you call your lists is all it takes to have someone go from offended to excited.
      Reply to this email to reply to Cassie.
      *Please note*: Your reply will be published publicly and immediately on You’re on standby: why I love being a B-list wedding guest .
      Recently in this conversation…
      Jessica Forshee Jul. 29th at 7:12 PM

      *We had a B list and let me tell you I was so glad some of our A list people cancelled so we could invite the B list. They made our wedding and I’m so thankful they came at the last minute! Only regret we had was inviting those A list people in the first place! * Sam Kelly Jul. 30th at 1:36 AM

      *I only had one person left on my B list for the daytime, and when someone pulled out the morning of the wedding I was straight on the phone. She was so happy to be “bumped” up and totally got the whole numbers thing! * Cassie Jul. 30th at 6:15 AM

      *I think the idea of calling a list A or B is bad. It sounds bad. We have two lists we’re calling them “must invites” and “really want to invites”.
      Unfortunately we have to send out invites to all the “must invites” first and see who is coming or not before we’ll be able to send out our invites to our “really want to invites” group. Because of budget and space we can’t invite everyone outright, but if some of the “must invites” can’t come there are people we would really want there and so we’ve put them in that “really … * Reply to this email to reply to Cassie.
      *Please note*: Your reply will be published publicly and immediately on You’re on standby: why I love being a B-list wedding guest .
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  10. Thank you thank you thank you for this post!! I posed a similar question about this in another forum and got some really hostile responses. I get that the A-list/B-list issue is a controversial one but I love the way offbeat brides have turned an unfortunate reality (having more loved ones than resources to host them all at a wedding) into something that can be really positive. We definitely have a “must invite” and “really want to invite” list and we are struggling to juggle 2 huge, widespread families, friends and a limited budget. Hearing about all these positive outcomes for other b-lists gives me high hopes for group as well!

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