Wedding Etiquette Forum

Out-of-Town Guests and the "B-List"

Both my FH & I are fortunate to come from large families, and lucky enough to have large groups of friends. As lucky as this is, it makes it difficult to create a guest list!

Many of our friends/family are from across the country from where we are holding the wedding. We would love for them all to come, but know, realistically, that they won't be able to. We also have a large "B-List" with people we would love to invite... How early do we send the first batch/out of town invites/ask for a response so that we can know who is/not attending, and still be able to add the B-List without that seeming so apparent? 

This ranking of people makes me feel bad, but I know it is necessary. 
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Re: Out-of-Town Guests and the "B-List"

  • Both my FH & I are fortunate to come from large families, and lucky enough to have large groups of friends. As lucky as this is, it makes it difficult to create a guest list!

    Many of our friends/family are from across the country from where we are holding the wedding. We would love for them all to come, but know, realistically, that they won't be able to. We also have a large "B-List" with people we would love to invite... How early do we send the first batch/out of town invites/ask for a response so that we can know who is/not attending, and still be able to add the B-List without that seeming so apparent? 

    This ranking of people makes me feel bad, but I know it is necessary. 
    You should not send out two batches of invites nor have a b-list.  That is extremely rude and people typically know when they are b-listed.  Would you like to know that you were second choice?  Because that is how your b-listers will feel.  So you need to come up with one invite list. The reason why you are feeling bad because your gut knows that what you are planning is rude.

    All couples would love to invite everyone they know to their wedding, but unfortunately that is not always possible and cuts have to be made.

    weddingcactusMegalega14
  • Thank you for your responses. 

    I have been b-listed to many weddings and actually understand and don't get super offended by it. I am sure others have run into this problem -- FH & I have large families that are together almost 200 people, all immediate, not all of whom will be able to come. 

    I know I am not the only one to have this issue, so was hoping for constructive feedback of how they have dealt with it vs. how rude I am for even trying to be thoughtful about things.
    [Deleted User]kimissodope
  • Thank you for your responses. 

    I have been b-listed to many weddings and actually understand and don't get super offended by it. I am sure others have run into this problem -- FH & I have large families that are together almost 200 people, all immediate, not all of whom will be able to come. 

    I know I am not the only one to have this issue, so was hoping for constructive feedback of how they have dealt with it vs. how rude I am for even trying to be thoughtful about things.
    Guest list struggles happen for most couples. It still doesn't make b-listing OK. That's super shitty to essentially tell the people you claim to care so much about "We love you, but not enough to have invited you first." 
    [Deleted User]JCbride2015
  • B listing is rude. You know you posted this on the Etiquette board, right?
    novella1186
  • Thank you for your responses. 

    I have been b-listed to many weddings and actually understand and don't get super offended by it. I am sure others have run into this problem -- FH & I have large families that are together almost 200 people, all immediate, not all of whom will be able to come. 

    I know I am not the only one to have this issue, so was hoping for constructive feedback of how they have dealt with it vs. how rude I am for even trying to be thoughtful about things.
    We had the same problem. I have an enormous family and we have a very large group of friends plus we came from two totally different circles of friends that are both huge. 

    However, B listing is not the way to solve this. No matter how "subtle" you try to be, it's obvious when a couple has a B-list. The best way to handle this is to sit down with your FI and anyone who is contributing money (if anyone) and go through your guest list one by one. Your final list should not have more people than: 1) you can afford to host and 2) than your venue can hold. This is a difficult exercise, but everyone has to go through it. One way we eliminated about 60 people was by not inviting children. Child-free weddings are not for everyone, but it worked very well for us.

    I'm actually annoyed when I'm on the A-list because I get the invitation super early and I don't know if I can go. Plus I know the couple is B-listing so I feel bad for people on the B-list. 

    And I'm annoyed when I'm on the B-list because... well it's obvious I'm on the B-list.
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    [Deleted User]FizzySipsJen4948cowgirl8238
  • You just don't B-list. Period. Weddings are expensive, sometimes you need to make cuts. If you don't want to cut your guest list, start looking for other things you can cut. Have your wedding at a non-meal time, toss favors, go for less expensive flowers, etc. B-listing is just rude.
    Daisypath Anniversary tickers
  • The guest list portion of wedding planning is often the most difficult.  

    Who are the people you cannot imagine your day without?  Invite them.  That is your list.  Do not B-list.  It is rude, people will know, and you will make the people you care about feel like second-tier friends and family.  

    The only time "B-listing" is appropriate (note, what I am about to say is NOT actual B-listing) is if you find yourself with space after RSVPs are in and you extend plus ones to truly single people (because people in a relationship should have already had their SO's invited, regardless of length of relationship).

    People in relationships must have their significant other invited, so make sure to budget space for that in your guest list.  


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  • scribe95 said:
    Yeah, you aren't the first one to have a large family. Me as well. As a result some people didn't make the cut. We invited who we could host and not over that - for venue capacity and budget. Such is life. 
    Whoa! What a concept! Seriously though, this isn't hard.

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  • MGPMGP member
    First Anniversary First Comment 5 Love Its Name Dropper
    OP, I feel your frustration.  FI and I are in a very similar situation--we have OOT family that we are obligated to invite for various reasons that I won't discuss here, but we know that in all likelihood, they will not come to the wedding.  Rather than B-listing, here's how we have dealt with the problem:  we have worked with our parents and each other to create a guest list that includes the OOT family (around 30 people) as well as everyone else that we feel is important enough to be included.  Then we found a venue that is ideal for the number of guests that will likely attend our wedding, but can accommodate everyone budget-wise and space-wise that we are inviting if by some fluke of fate we wind up with 100% attendance.  THIS LAST PART IS VERY IMPORTANT.  

    When you have a certain segment of guests that you think are very likely not to attend, there is nothing wrong with implementing a "plan A" where their attendance is not contemplated, SO LONG AS you also have a "plan B" that you are entirely comfortable with in the event that you get more "yes" RSVPs than you expected.  It's certainly better than B-listing.

    ETA:  I should also add that your Plan B needs to be just as etiquette-approved as your Plan A. So downgrading your centerpieces, nixing favors, switching from four passed appetizers to three, rearranging tables (and even breaking down one or two to widen your dance floor) = acceptable Plan B fixes.  Cash bars, tiered receptions, uninviting significant others = unacceptable Plan B fixes.
    This is fantastic advice.
  • One of DH's (geographically and relationship-wise) distance family members got married last summer.  It was a super-fancy shindig and we found out after we got our invite but before the RSVP deadline that there was a B-list of 150 people.  Literally as soon as the couple got an invite, they were sending a new invite to the next person on the list.  Since DH and I were A list invitees (score!), I seriously contemplated waiting until the day before the RSVP deadline to put our decline in the mail.  I didn't, because I'm nice and wanted to get the RSVP in on time, but I really wanted to. 

    OP, the guest list is something many couples struggle with - big family, lots of friends, desire for a small celebration.  To narrow our own guest list down, DH and I asked ourselves the questions, "Would our day be better if they were there?"  "Would we invite them to dinner at our house?"  If the answer to both questions was no, they didn't make the list.  It was tough, but more than being B-listed, people understand that not everyone can be invited to every wedding. 
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    MGP[Deleted User]
  • I'll tell you what we did:
    Made a list of our VIPs. Knew what our absolute top number to invite was. Added guests in circles until we hit our number (less than 60). If anyone declines, awesome! You just saved us about $250.

    Being b-listed twice....once when I knew (became fast friends with a coworker, her bridesmaids' dates cancelled, so I got to go) it's not a great feeling. Even if you "understand" doesn't mean it feels great! Think of the name! B-list! As is not as good as A-list! If you really want someone there, invite them. The first time. 
    [Deleted User]novella1186cowgirl8238
  • simcal18simcal18 member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its First Answer First Comment
    edited October 2014
    MGP said:
    OP, I feel your frustration.  FI and I are in a very similar situation--we have OOT family that we are obligated to invite for various reasons that I won't discuss here, but we know that in all likelihood, they will not come to the wedding.  Rather than B-listing, here's how we have dealt with the problem:  we have worked with our parents and each other to create a guest list that includes the OOT family (around 30 people) as well as everyone else that we feel is important enough to be included.  Then we found a venue that is ideal for the number of guests that will likely attend our wedding, but can accommodate everyone budget-wise and space-wise that we are inviting if by some fluke of fate we wind up with 100% attendance.  THIS LAST PART IS VERY IMPORTANT.  

    When you have a certain segment of guests that you think are very likely not to attend, there is nothing wrong with implementing a "plan A" where their attendance is not contemplated, SO LONG AS you also have a "plan B" that you are entirely comfortable with in the event that you get more "yes" RSVPs than you expected.  It's certainly better than B-listing.

    ETA:  I should also add that your Plan B needs to be just as etiquette-approved as your Plan A. So downgrading your centerpieces, nixing favors, switching from four passed appetizers to three, rearranging tables (and even breaking down one or two to widen your dance floor) = acceptable Plan B fixes.  Cash bars, tiered receptions, uninviting significant others = unacceptable Plan B fixes.
    This is fantastic advice.
    Thanks.  I should add that this may not work for everyone.  For us, it's a good bet because these relatives are generally either elderly or raising small children, we are not close, and they did not travel to my sister's wedding a year ago, which was in a location that was as or even more convenient for them than mine will be.  I'm willing to risk the probably 5% chance that my space will be a little squeezed and I'll have to scale back my centerpieces a bit for the 95% chance that the venue will work out perfectly for my crowd.  If it were a 50/50 shot that this family was coming, the calculus probably would have been different.

    I get the antagonism toward B-listing on this board.  I really do.  If you would like to invite 100 people but expect 40 not to show, the answer is not "invite those 40 people in your first round and then add more people to your guest list if you get declines."  But the answer is not always "you MUST plan your wedding for 100 people" either, especially if there are a significant number of likely no-shows and the bride and groom are worried about empty-looking rooms and meeting minimums.  Sometimes the answer in that situation is "plan your wedding for 60 people, but keep enough flexibility in your plans so that if 100 people show up, you can host all of them properly."  
    [Deleted User]MGP
  • Thank you for your responses. 

    I have been b-listed to many weddings and actually understand and don't get super offended by it. I am sure others have run into this problem -- FH & I have large families that are together almost 200 people, all immediate, not all of whom will be able to come. 

    I know I am not the only one to have this issue, so was hoping for constructive feedback of how they have dealt with it vs. how rude I am for even trying to be thoughtful about things.
    Yes, you are so thoughtful for telling your friends and family, "hey, we like you enough to come to our wedding and give us gifts, but only if the guests we like more don't show up." Please don't do this. PPs have made great suggestions about ways to whittle down your guest list.
    novella1186esstee33RebeccaB88
  • It seems to happen a lot around here although I didn't do it. I have a lot of cousins away but decided not to invite most of them. Some people say to invite in circles but I decided to go with who I really wanted to be there. I invited about 110 and have around 90 attending.
    [Deleted User]
  • I'm going to go ahead and agree with everyone else that being on the B-List feels pretty bad. I had a friend invite me to the wedding, but tell me (in person) that my SO (who I'd been with for years, that they knew very well) wasn't invited, but if they had people RSVP no he would be able to come. This was close to the wedding, and after another friend and I threw her a bachelorette party when her BMs didn't.

    Please heed the advice here, even if you're guests understand budgets, seating constraints, etc. doesn't mean their feelings won't be hurt.
  • I'm going to go ahead and agree with everyone else that being on the B-List feels pretty bad. I had a friend invite me to the wedding, but tell me (in person) that my SO (who I'd been with for years, that they knew very well) wasn't invited, but if they had people RSVP no he would be able to come. This was close to the wedding, and after another friend and I threw her a bachelorette party when her BMs didn't.

    Please heed the advice here, even if you're guests understand budgets, seating constraints, etc. doesn't mean their feelings won't be hurt.
    That is horrible!  SOs always, always, always get an invitation, regardless of the length of their relationship.  A couple is a social unit whether they've been together 2 months or 20 years!

    OP, B-listing is bad, mmmkay?  PPs have the reasons covered, so I hope you read all their responses.  Good luck.




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  • Ranking guests isn't rude. It's natural to have varying degrees of closeness with your family and friends. It's the b-listing part that's rude. So, rank the people you're closest to, and only invite the number you can accommodate. It's okay if you have some declines. It's okay if Great Aunt Sally who you haven't seen in five years doesn't get invited at all.

    FI and I made a spread sheet assigning a category to everyone we considered inviting and their SO's: VIPs (wedding party the people you can't imagine not being there), immediate family, closest friends, extended family, distant family (relatives we only see once every 3+ years), distant friends. Based on the numbers in each category, we weren't able to invite distant family and friends, and that's okay. We won't miss them on our wedding day.


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    lurkergirlnovella1186cowgirl8238
  • blabla89 said:
    Ranking guests isn't rude. It's natural to have varying degrees of closeness with your family and friends. It's the b-listing part that's rude. So, rank the people you're closest to, and only invite the number you can accommodate. It's okay if you have some declines. It's okay if Great Aunt Sally who you haven't seen in five years doesn't get invited at all.

    FI and I made a spread sheet assigning a category to everyone we considered inviting and their SO's: VIPs (wedding party the people you can't imagine not being there), immediate family, closest friends, extended family, distant family (relatives we only see once every 3+ years), distant friends. Based on the numbers in each category, we weren't able to invite distant family and friends, and that's okay. We won't miss them on our wedding day.


    This is exactly what we did. I called it "tiers." Everyone on the first tier got invited. Most of the people on the second tier got invited. No one on the third tier got invited because of our budget. Will these people know in real life which tier they were on? No. Absolutely not. Did it help us shrink the guest list so we could still properly host people and afford the wedding and not break etiquette? Yes, absolutely. 
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  • Obviously the way to go about this is to make a list of everyone, and then start ranking the list by how much you think the guest is likely to afford/contribute to your wedding gift. If you can, call around to friends and relatives who have recently gotten married, and find out who got them the most expensive gifts. Then, you invite these people first. Work your way down the line until you're at capacity for your venue. That way, you're sure to get the biggest return on your investment. 


    I mean, seriously? If you want to have a wedding for 500 people, then have a wedding for 500 people. No one and nothing is stopping you. It's all a matter of decisions--you decide where and when you're going to have the wedding. If you want 500 people at your wedding, then maybe you'll rent space at a public park on an afternoon and serve only soda and cheap cake. But if you decide that a more expensive wedding is more important than inviting all 500 people, then own that decision. There's no appropriate way to b-list. 
    [Deleted User]
  • MandyMost said:
    Obviously the way to go about this is to make a list of everyone, and then start ranking the list by how much you think the guest is likely to afford/contribute to your wedding gift. If you can, call around to friends and relatives who have recently gotten married, and find out who got them the most expensive gifts. Then, you invite these people first. Work your way down the line until you're at capacity for your venue. That way, you're sure to get the biggest return on your investment. 


    I mean, seriously? If you want to have a wedding for 500 people, then have a wedding for 500 people. No one and nothing is stopping you. It's all a matter of decisions--you decide where and when you're going to have the wedding. If you want 500 people at your wedding, then maybe you'll rent space at a public park on an afternoon and serve only soda and cheap cake. But if you decide that a more expensive wedding is more important than inviting all 500 people, then own that decision. There's no appropriate way to b-list. 
    Hey, good call!  I just made that list, and it turns out that my parents aren't on it because they're on a fixed income and can't afford to give me a grand gift.  But Dad's lawyer (who I've only met once) is on the list because I hear that guy gives large cash gifts.  Score!
  • adk19 said:
    MandyMost said:
    Obviously the way to go about this is to make a list of everyone, and then start ranking the list by how much you think the guest is likely to afford/contribute to your wedding gift. If you can, call around to friends and relatives who have recently gotten married, and find out who got them the most expensive gifts. Then, you invite these people first. Work your way down the line until you're at capacity for your venue. That way, you're sure to get the biggest return on your investment. 


    I mean, seriously? If you want to have a wedding for 500 people, then have a wedding for 500 people. No one and nothing is stopping you. It's all a matter of decisions--you decide where and when you're going to have the wedding. If you want 500 people at your wedding, then maybe you'll rent space at a public park on an afternoon and serve only soda and cheap cake. But if you decide that a more expensive wedding is more important than inviting all 500 people, then own that decision. There's no appropriate way to b-list. 
    Hey, good call!  I just made that list, and it turns out that my parents aren't on it because they're on a fixed income and can't afford to give me a grand gift.  But Dad's lawyer (who I've only met once) is on the list because I hear that guy gives large cash gifts.  Score!
    The really scary thing is that my engaged friend, who is trying hard to keep her guest list low, was actually told by her FI's family that certain distant cousins were worth inviting because they give good gifts.
    These people exist, guys. 

    But anyway, like we've all already said, throw a party you can afford with 100% attendance of people who are actually important to you. 
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  • Thank you for your responses. 

    I have been b-listed to many weddings and actually understand and don't get super offended by it. I am sure others have run into this problem -- FH & I have large families that are together almost 200 people, all immediate, not all of whom will be able to come. 

    I know I am not the only one to have this issue, so was hoping for constructive feedback of how they have dealt with it vs. how rude I am for even trying to be thoughtful about things.
    I don't think this word means what you think it means. Being thoughtful would be buying a less expensive dress, thoughtful would be cutting back on flowers and maybe not having a live band if a DJ is less expensive, you know, so you can invite everyone the first time.

    [Deleted User]
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