Coworker Wedding Invite Etiquette | What’s the Deal with Inviting Coworkers?
When you’re whittling down your wedding guest list, the question of coworkers inevitably arises. Whether you’re close with only a few people out of a large department, or you’re friendly with everyone outside of work but can’t afford to invite them and their spouses, coworker invitation etiquette is especially tricky. In the worst-case scenario, the waves you create during your wedding preparation can spread to affect your job security.
At the very least, you may be creating some awkward moments around the water cooler. Deciding how to handle the coworker issue is one of the most important actions you can take in your wedding planning.
The most important question to ask yourself is: Are you personally close with your coworkers?
Remember, different workplaces have different approaches to employee socializing. In a large company, you may only get to know the people who sit in cubicles directly near yours. In a hospital or other high-stress situation where you work late together on a frequent basis, your coworkers may feel like a second family. In many modern tech offices, the lines are intentionally blurred between work and play. If you feel comfortable firing Nerf guns at your coworkers during employee meetings, it’s more likely that you’ll want to invite them all to your nuptials.
There’s no etiquette rule that says you have to invite people just because you work together. The only rule is that you do have to be consistent. When you can point to clear lines you’ve drawn (for example, inviting people only from your immediate department, or only the people you regularly have lunch with), coworkers who don’t receive an invitation are less likely to take it as a personal slight.
It’s important to avoid the misperception that you’re selecting some coworkers and not others because of on-the-job friction. In order to emphasize the fact that you’re inviting people as friends, not coworkers, avoid talking about wedding planning at the office. Mail invitations and other wedding-related correspondence to invitees’ home addresses outside of work hours. Keeping your wedding excitement separate from your professional life is one surefire way to avoid creating accidental awkwardness in your workplace.
What about the new coworkers?
One difficult situation that can arise is the sudden addition of new coworkers. For example, if you have been working with the same people for years, it’s natural to feel some level of intimacy. But what happens if you’re about to invite your whole office just as a new person is joining the team? If you have unlimited resources and you feel like making friends, go ahead and extend an invitation.
However, you are under no obligation to invite someone you’re not close to, and if there’s a concrete reason (such as a recent hiring) behind the exclusion, there won’t be hurt feelings. Just avoid gushing about your wedding plans in front of anyone who won’t be there.
Be careful about inviting the wrong coworkers. If you issue invitations to every single member of your company regardless of intimacy, it can create more awkwardness than inviting no one at all.
Inviting people to your wedding whom you suspect won’t want to come just looks like you’re begging for presents. Even if your intentions are purely innocent and inclusive, you could come across as greedy.
Likewise, be cautious about extending invitations to people who work directly over or under you. The authority dynamic can create misunderstandings about professional debts or favors owed. A subordinate, for example, could feel pressured to give you an expensive wedding gift, while a manager could feel discomfort over being buttered up. If you want to include coworkers with whom you are not especially close, do so in a way that involves everybody at once–such as bringing in a cake to share.
If there are any coworkers with whom you specifically do not get along, do not invite them to your wedding. Regardless of inter-office relations, your wedding day is your own special occasion and there is no reason to have anyone hostile in attendance. Avoid referencing your wedding around the person, because your lack of invitation could be the spark that starts an all-out war. If you wish you could repair relations, however, your wedding is a good occasion to extend an olive branch. Give the wedding invitation in person with a heartfelt explanation that you hope you can put past differences behind you.
Final decision: Invite them or not.
Once you’ve decided who gets an invitation, relax and don’t worry about your decision. Ultimately, the way you act towards your coworkers on a regular basis is much more important than whether or not they join you on one special day.
If you sense that anyone is uncomfortable about the situation, follow up with them in person and let them know that, while you value their friendship very much, you are unable to invite everyone you would like because of financial, venue space, or other types of limitations. Offer to do something special with them, such as meeting for a drink after work, instead.
As for the people with whom you’re not particularly close, don’t worry–by not inviting them, you’re giving them the opportunity to save money on a gift and to spend the day doing their own preferred activities. Focus your attention on being a pleasant coworker and wedding planning outside of work hours instead. Chances are, whatever you feel in your gut really is the best course of action. So put on a smile and get ready for the celebration of a lifetime.