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How to Invite Co-Workers to Your Wedding

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Wedding season is upon us, which means that workplaces around the country are going to be filled with wedding talk, etiquette dilemmas about gift-giving and invitations and other wedding-related quandaries. But never fear — we have answers to some common questions about weddings, work and office etiquette.

Can I invite some of my co-workers to my wedding without inviting all of them?

It makes sense that you might want to invite a few co-workers to whom you’re particularly close without wanting to invite everyone else in your office. You can generally pull that off as long as you follow two rules:

— Ensure the number of people invited is smaller than the number not invited. If you invited most employees but leave just one or two out, that’s likely to be pretty hurtful to the people you exclude. But if you’re clearly inviting just a small number of people you’re personally close with, most people will understand that.

— Don’t make your wedding a major focus of conversation in the office. This is just common office etiquette. If you share every detail of your planning with colleagues, you may create an expectation that you’ll be inviting them.

However, if you have a particularly small office, it gets trickier. In that case, you probably do need to invite all or none.

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What if I don’t want to invite co-workers at all?

That’s fine! There’s no etiquette rule requiring that you invite co-workers.

If you feel awkward about not inviting them, you can fall back on the always useful “we have a limited guest list for budget reasons” or “it’s going to be a pretty small wedding so we’re limiting it to family and close friends.”

Am I expected to invite my boss?

Nope. Loads of people don’t invite their bosses to their weddings, and there is no obligation or expectation that you should because of your career. If you have a wedding-loving boss who seems to expect an invitation, it’s fine to explain that you have a big family and a limited budget or a small venue with a limited guest count.

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What if I’m the boss? Am I expected to invite my staff members to my wedding?

Nope! (And really, most people will be relieved, since the power dynamics in the relationship mean people may wonder if they’re more obligated to accept the invitation than they otherwise would if it weren’t somewhat related to their job.)

However, if you do decide to invite members of your team, keep in mind that as the boss, you can’t play favorites. If you invite some of the employees who report to you but not others, it’s likely to look like favoritism and will make other employees wonder whether you’re being fair in things like work assignments, raises, professional development opportunities and access to you. So that means you should invite everyone who reports to you or none of them.

I got invited to a colleague’s wedding. Do I have to go?

As the great Miss Manners says, an invitation is not a summons. You are free to turn it down. Just cite conflicting plans with regret and give the couple your best wishes. A gift is a nice gesture if you want to give one but not obligatory with co-workers (although a card is always nice).

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Does etiquette dictate we’re supposed to take up an office collection for a wedding gift?

This really depends on the norms of your workplace. Some companies foot the bill for gifts for major milestones, like weddings. In other offices, co-workers will commonly chip in for a gift. The key thing to keep in mind is that colleagues shouldn’t be pressured to donate their own money toward a gift; it’s fine to give people the opportunity to contribute, but don’t make it an obligation.

My co-worker just got engaged and I’m going crazy with all the wedding talk. Can I ask for a wedding-talk moratorium?

Treat it like you would if it were any other topic — just like if your co-worker were constantly monologuing about cars, or CrossFit or “Game of Thrones.” With any topic that’s taking up too much air time at work, it’s fine to say, “I need to get back to work now.”

And brides and grooms, remember that no one at work is likely to be quite as interested in your wedding as you are! It’s fine to share details with people who seem genuinely interested, but be careful not to overdo it. You and your co-workers are trapped in the same space together day after day, and they probably do not want a play-by-play of your decision-making about napkin colors (as weirdly fascinating as that can be when it’s your own wedding).

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