Wedding Etiquette: How to Extend Invitations to Your B-List

Photo by Jill Swirbul Photography

The guest list. It’s one of the most daunting and stressful wedding planning requirements. If your budget was unlimited (but let’s be honest, that possibility affects a tiny percentage of couples), you’d invite everyone you’ve ever known to attend your big event. In reality, you’ll need to find the sweet spot between what your budget can accommodate, and what your reception venue requires as its minimum number of guests.

Especially if you are planning a destination wedding, you may run into a conundrum where a significant number of your guests are unable to attend your wedding, leaving you below your venue’s required minimum. When this happens, it’s time to bring on the B-list, the second wave of guests who are just as important, but who didn’t make your initial budget-restricted list of invitees.

The wedding etiquette question in this situation is this: how can you extend invitations to your B-list, without making people feel like seat-fillers at the Grammy’s? We’ve got the proper protocol to make every guest feel wanted and welcome.

Timing is Everything

Your B-list guests may be tipped off that you are issuing a second round of invitations if their invitation arrives only a few weeks before your big day. Plan ahead. Send your initial round of invitations eight to twelve weeks before the wedding, and set an RSVP deadline for four to five weeks before the main event. This will give you enough time to start issuing your second round of invites if you have the flexibility to extend your guest list.

Keep Your Stationer on Standby

Let your stationer know if you expect to issue a second round of invitations. A reputable partner will be able to guide you through the timing, printing, and budgeting process to ensure your B-List members receive their invites promptly.

Create Your B-List When You Create You’re A-List

Since time will be of the essence, if you need to expand your guest list, be prepared with your B-List right from the start. When you create your initial list of guests, decide then who will be on your backup list so that you’re ready to go if you need to expand your invites.

Organize Your Guest List by Association

As a courtesy, keep groups of friends, colleagues, and family members on the same list—A or B. For example, if you have six co-workers on your team, place them all on the A or B list. That way, if you end up not needing to move on to your B-List, those who didn’t make the first cut won’t hear talk around the office of how much they’re looking forward to your wedding—and feel the hurt of not being invited.

Keep Your B-List a Secret

Aside from your dress, your B-List should be your wedding’s best-kept secret. Don’t let anyone—not even your closest friends and family—know that you tiered your guest list. If word gets out, even accidentally, that you have prospective guests on standby, it could hurt someone’s feelings.

No couple wants to disappoint anyone in their life, but the reality of the wedding planning process is that nearly every couple will face some limitations based on budget and venue. Remember that your goal should be to surround yourself on your wedding day with as many friends and loved ones as possible, no matter the logistical path you must take to get there.

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