inviting managers to your wedding

A reader writes:

I’m getting married soon and was wondering how to navigate asking my two direct supervisors to the wedding. I’ve already asked one for their address, but I sent an email to the other one and she hasn’t responded (it’s been a few days). Should I interpret this as a way to avoid getting invited, so she won’t have to deal with the awkwardness of declining? I don’t have a particularly close relationship with either outside of work, but I look up to them a lot and have worked with them for a few years. Should I just drop it altogether? Am I overthinking this? I would love your thoughts.

It’s possible that not responding is her way of avoiding an invitation, but that would be pretty socially inept. Is she someone who’s generally on top of her email?

Regardless, these are grown-ups and they should be capable of graciously turning down invitations they don’t want to accept.

Now, personally, I don’t think I’d invite coworkers or managers to your wedding if you’re not close with them, so part of me wants to tell you to reconsider it … but then I’d want the tiniest wedding imaginable if for some reason I had to have one, so my opinion may be colored by that.

If you really want to invite her, why not just give her the invitation at work (no home address needed), and mention at the same time that you understand she may be busy but that you think highly of her and would love to have there if she’s able to attend?

{ 40 comments… read them below }

  1. Caroline Niziol

    I got married about 3 months ago and had to handle this. I work in a fairly small office (30-50 people depending on temps) and it was common knowledge that I was engaged. I ended up inviting my manager — who I liked, and got along with, and wanted at my wedding — along with three co-workers I am also friends with. I debated inviting other higher-ups as a nice gesture, but at the end of the day, I resented the idea that I would be obligated to invite them. Fortunately I did not deal with anyone who presumed an invitation that wasn’t going to happen! And I also did my best to minimize wedding talk all the time, though if people brought it up I’d talk about it. That seemed to help managing expectations.

    I wouldn’t read too much into not responding to your email. I like Allison’s suggestion of handing the envelope in person — that works, and you can include the comments about it not being a big deal if they are busy. Good luck with it all!

  2. Anonymous

    For some reason people seemed to suggest my now husband and I needed to invite out bosses to our wedding— I wasn’t going to have anyone tell me who I was going to invite, though, as we only wanted our closest friends and family there and had the small wedding we wanted. My husband’s parents were astonished that we did not invite our bosses (although they also thought we needed to invite about 200 more people than we did, too, ugh). I’m just saying thinking you need to invite your bosses is common— however in this day and age, a lot of people are moving away from feeling they “need to” do anything they don’t want to do in respect to their wedding. So, I say only invite the bosses if you truly want them there– however it already sounds like this is an awkward situation, so don’t feel pressured to extend the invite.

  3. Stacie

    My last company’s a little odd that it was almost expected you would invite the majority of the office if not everyone (probably 40 people including spouses/dates). There were 3 weddings in my time there, and all 3 of them invited everyone. It was really clique-y though, so you had to be careful — if you invited 1 person or a few, there’d be drama unless the line was clear (i.e invited your team, supervisors).

    I like Alison’s advice. I would just make sure that if you do give the invites in person, do it in private so that there’s no hard feelings among others who would not be receiving an invitation. But right now, you’ve indicated an invitation will be forthcoming by requesting addresses. I personally wouldn’t not invite them now since that could be a little awkward.

    1. K.

      Oh, that would drive me crazy! I would be on the “I’ll invite who I please, thanks” tip if I were getting married, and when I think of “coworkers/former coworkers I would truly want there” the list is, like, four people tops.

      My friend’s now-former boss asked her to be IN her wedding when they’d known each other only a few months, and while my friend liked the woman, she really didn’t know her like that. But there was the whole “Am I jeopardizing my job if I say no?” thing. She ended up saying no and the boss was cool about it.

        1. K.

          I know. When my friend told people about it, the response was, without exception, “She asked you to what?” Her boss was new to managing people – she stepped into the role very suddenly, after the predecessor was fired, and hadn’t quite learned how to set boundaries yet. She regarded my friend as more peer than employee (they were more or less the same age – mid-20s at the time – and had the same amount of work experience, with the difference being that my friend was new to the industry).

          1. TheSnarkyB

            Thanks for the extra context here, but still! I got the impression that it was taboo to ask to be in a wedding party no matter your proximity to the people getting married as it falls under the “inviting yourself” manners clause. Was I wrong about this? Do close friends normally respond to an engagement with “Congrats! Can I be your bridesmaid?” (or other wedding party member, gender neutral, etc.)

            1. Caroline Niziol

              It is definitely not OK to presume anything. I had a funny moment with a best friend when she realized she had not asked me to to be her bridesmaid she had to awkwardly bring it up — I had already asked her to be mine, and she was getting married 2 weeks after me. Even for family and friends, it’s generally polite to wait and be asked — regardless of how sure you are.

            2. Nicole

              I think she meant the boss asked the employee to be in her (the boss’s) wedding. I hope. Weird enough that way; absolutely absurd the other way around.

              1. K.

                Yes, that’s what I meant. The boss, “Roshumba,” asked my friend “Grace” to be a bridesmaid in Roshumba’s wedding. (I have no recollection of what the boss’s name was, which is why I gave her such an unusual pseudonym. I can’t remember her name but I know it isn’t Roshumba.)

  4. Karyn

    As long as you don’t print up t-shirts for people to wear to work the day after, I’m pretty sure you’re fine whether or not you ultimately choose to invite these people. Personally, I would only invite office workers with whom I worked on a daily basis and whom I might like to have a beer. My immediate supervisor, for instance, would get an invite – my HR department, however, would not. ;)

    1. Anonymous

      HAHA! And don’t ask the CEO to contribute money for part of the wedding and call it a team building event!

    2. fposte

      “As long as you don’t print up t-shirts for people to wear to work the day after”

      Ooh, I forgot that we’re coming up on the Big Day for that!

  5. kristinyc

    I’m lucky to have the outs of: 1) Having my wedding in another state and 2) Switching jobs right around the times invites went out.

    But honestly – your co-workers and boss shouldn’t expect to be invited, and you should only invite them if you’re really close and hang out with them outside of work. Most people know how expensive weddings are.

    I just read the Miss Manners Wedding book, and she says to say to people you aren’t planning on inviting (but who ask about it), “We’re having an intimate wedding of just family and close friends, I’m sure you understand.” That could mean ANY number, really.

    Just don’t talk about your wedding constantly, and it’ll be fine.

    1. Laura L

      “intimate wedding of just family and close friends … That could mean ANY number, really.”

      This is true. I was in a wedding last year where probably over half of the guests (maybe more) were family members. The bride had a fairly average-sized extended family, but the groom’s was HUGE and they were all in touch with each other all the time, so it was hard to leave anyone out.

  6. AnonA

    Oy–I had to keep my wedding under wraps at work. I worked in a department where the secretary (who had all sons and no daughters) co-opted everyone’s wedding planning, showers, wedding days. I saw her intervene and act like another MOB for four other co-workers over five years. It would start with innocuous questions and then devolve into her planning/approving choices (including making one bride purchase glass plates for the day after brunch, since nice disposables were not enough). It was a distraction from work for the whole department and too much drama. Plus, she always had to be invited to everything.

    Instead, I kept wedding and work separate. We quietly invited a few friends from work and then informed my team the day before the wedding. I didn’t end up inviting my boss (a nice guy, but one who would have expected a much more lavish wedding than we planned to have) because I drew a line of only inviting people we had a social connection with and who would understand/appreciate the type of wedding we had (a less crazy church/parish social hall wedding than the East Coast standard of renting out the country club for 400). I explained that I didn’t want my wedding to interfere with work and that seemed to go over as well as it could. Weddings never make everyone happy.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I am going to argue that your coworkers who gave in to that secretary were as much a part of the problem as she was! People only get away with that kind of nosiness/bossiness if you don’t set boundaries.

      1. AnonA

        I agree, but in the initial flush of talking about it, they got sucked in by the secretary. She also held a lot of power behind the throne, so people would want to keep in her good graces. Plus, wedding planning is all consuming on some levels (the largest party you will likely ever plan), so the bride’s wedding/wedding/wedding fever led them to oversharing. It was this making the wedding part of work thing that I wanted to avoid.

  7. Anon 2

    I’m wondering about something. I’m not crazy about my supervisor (A). So when I get married, I won’t be inviting him. One of his peer managers (B) is married to a good friend of my sister. I’m not crazy about B either – and if he wasn’t married to my sister’s friend, I would not even consider inviting him. B’s wife and my sister grew up together (met in 4th grade). B’s wife’s family is also good friends with my family. So I have to invite B (and her husband). B’s wife (and her family) would have hurt feelings if I didn’t invite them. So I really don’t want to leave them out. That feels awkward. Anyone have any thoughts?

    Inviting A (my manager) is not something I would consider. He’s annoying and works my last nerve. Thank you.

    1. Caroline Niziol

      More important issue: do YOU and your fiance want to invite B + B’s wife? You can’t always invite everyone to weddings, and people get that. Focus on who you and your fiance want and don’t worry about the few people on the periphery.

      The only place where this gets tricky is if parents/others who are paying for the wedding are making demands. I am not presuming anything about who is paying for your wedding, just noting that it complicates things. For our wedding, my parents paid. My fiance and I invited 1/3 of the guest list, my parents had 1/3 (this included our side of the family), and my fiance’s mom had 1/3 (this included my fiance’s family). It’s not perfect, but it worked.

      1. Anon 2

        Thanks, Caroline. Actually, I do want to invite B and his wife. I don’t particularly like B (he plays too many politics). But his wife and my sister have a long friendship that I respect. And his wife’s family and my family have a long friendship that I respect. I forgot to mention that B’s wife’s family attends my parent’s church (where the wedding will be held). And a lot of other people from their church will be there.

        I thought about what I wrote some after I submitted my first post. I would never invite B’s wife and not invite B (unless B’s wife didn’t want B there – which is not the case here). I respect their relationship (regardless of my opinion of B). My fiancee will go along with whatever I want on this one.

        1. Caroline Niziol

          Oh man, I would never imply or approve of inviting only one half a couple! That’s unacceptable. Sounds like you’ll be fine inviting B and B’s wife and skipping A. Most people know enough about weddings to accept that not everyone the couple knows will get an invite. And forgot to say congrats as well. :) Good luck! If you want more wedding advice about these kinds of things, I highly suggest http://apracticalwedding.com/ — it’s full of great posts.

  8. Jamie

    Weddings are so stressful. Workplace relationships can be so stressful – I wouldn’t conflate the two if my life depended on it.

    I’ve just recently come to learn it’s a thing, inviting co-workers and bosses, and it really does add to the anxiety. Personally, unless it’s a social relationship outside of work, I wouldn’t add to the guest list.

    I could be bitter though, because I’ve been married twice and both times I wanted to elope and both times I was over-ruled…so what do I know?

  9. Louis

    I use the mirror rule.

    If I was invited to his/her weeding, would I feel like I have to go because it’s might impact my work or would I be happy to go ?

    From your boss perspective, if your are not that close, being invited is just seen as another unpaid work function. It’s annoying but they might still agree to go just to keep you happy.

    I would much prefer to spend my sunday with my wife and kids than with bunch people I don’t know that happen to be related to one of my employee.

  10. JT

    Don’t worry about having to invite your coworkers. We have a fairly small team and one of them was getting married. We threw her a surprise wedding shower, and even invited her significant other…. No we did not get invitations to the wedding (not that I care), but point is, it’s not neccessary. After all, it’s your special day.

  11. Rana

    Based on our experiences, don’t waste too much energy worrying about whether to invite co-workers or not. You’ll need it for worrying about how to jigger the guest list so none of your relatives get offended. (In our case, it helped that we had the wedding someplace that required most people to fly long distance to get to, but, oh, the angst for a while there!)

  12. No idea

    If I wasn’t close to the person, as a manager, it would also feel weird to me to be invited, and I would wonder if it was done out of some sense of obligation.

    And I realize that people are happy to be getting married and often are super focused about it even when at work, but when someone at work asks you how are the preparations going, they don’t necessarily want to hear about all the minute arrangements with caterers, florists etc.

  13. Anonymous

    When I got married, I invited my direct manager and his wife; we literally sat in the same office. But, full disclosure, he married us, so I guess he had to be there!

    I actually kept the whole affair low key because I’m not a meringue kind of girl, and some people actually didn’t even know until after it happened.

    I chose not to invite the owner of the company; afterwards she was hurt and angry about it and one day, threw a report at me! Paper went flying everywhere – she was, I guess, p***ed about not being invited.

  14. ECH

    I know I may be in somewhat of a unique situation, but I’d probably invite everyone at work (it’s a small office) because I would enjoy having them there. My relationship with upper management is cordial, but my relationship with my direct reports is fairly close. In fact, should I be in a relationship that would progress toward marriage, I would not only want my family to approve of the man, but also my department to approve of him.

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