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Chrysta
Master November 2022

B-listing Guests: practical or rude?

Chrysta, on December 23, 2020 at 11:53 AM Posted in Etiquette and Advice 0 17
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So I am curious about a topic that seems to be quite controversial: having a guest “B list”
For those who don’t know, a B list is a list of guests who don’t make the initial guest list cut for one reason or another (most often times it is budget or space restrictions). Once couples receive declines to attend, they then invite people on their B list to fill those spots. As mentioned before, the only reason people on the B list are not initially invited is usually because of budget restrictions, or the couple has reached maximum capacity at their venue; but, had there not been those restrictions, they would have invited the people on the B list (that is to say, the B list is not a list of people to simply fill seats, these are guests that the couple would have really loved to have invited, but were not able to). I’ve seen people take many stances on this topic; anywhere from it’s perfectly acceptable to you are a complete monster to even contemplate having a B list. In the past, B listing has been considered an etiquette faux pas. However, as times change, so do etiquette rules; and it seems as though this is one of those. Even popular “go to” expert wedding sources such as Bridal Guide, Brides.com, even Miss Martha Stewart herself! now say that B listing is acceptable, as long as certain rules are followed. (I will include links to a few, in case anyone is interested or contemplating whether B-listing is right for them).

So, I am curious.... what are your thoughts on having a B list? Have you altered your view at all under the current pandemic circumstances?
https://www.brides.com/story/navigating-b-list-wedding-guest-invites

https://www.marthastewart.com/7908123/inviting-wedding-guests-on-b-list

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bridalguide.com/blogs/how-to-invite-wedding-b-list%3famp

17 Comments

Latest activity by Lindsey, on December 30, 2020 at 12:20 PM
  • Shelly
    Rockstar January 2022
    Shelly ·
    • Flag

    I used to be BIG on not having a B-List, and we aren't having one for our wedding, but times have definitely changed. We were B-Listed for a wedding, but our feelings were hurt for different reasons. The first being that we had already received a save the date, and had been invited to their shower. We ended up not being able to attend because we both tested positive BUT we did get them a gift from their registry. The second being that we never got a notice in the mail about the couple having to downsize due to COVID restrictions. We literally heard from a friend that we didn't make the cut...so that was hurtful. We also never got a 'thank you' card for our gift lol...so that kinda stung a little too.

    I think if you go about it the correct way and it's absolutely necessary to have one, then it's acceptable.

    • Reply
  • Caytlyn
    Legend November 2019
    Caytlyn Online ·
    • Flag

    Prior to COVID, and outside of COVID guidelines, I don't think that B listing is ever okay. If your state only allows 10 guests and you need to B list someone, I think they would understand. If you can have 50 guests and they get an invite at a later time because they weren't one of the 50 most important people in your life, I think that's hurtful.

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  • Sarah
    VIP September 2019
    Sarah ·
    • Flag
    My issue with a B list is that now you’re giving someone a lot less time to figure out if they can attend and, even if you’re not intentionally doing this, you’re asking people to come up with money for a gift on a very short timeline. I couldn’t attend a wedding without giving a gift and in my area, standard wedding gifts are at least $150+ per couple. That’s a lot of money to come up with if you invite me a month before the wedding.
    • Reply
  • Erin
    Expert May 2021
    Erin Online ·
    • Flag

    I don't see the problem with it,.... so 12 years ago my brother and his wife got married, they had over 300 people invited to the wedding. MY BROTHER AND HIS WIFE picked the "A" list people they really wanted at the wedding... the "B" and "C" list people were who the parents of the bride and groom wanted there... aka.... the bride's parents were friends with a certain couple from church that they wanted invited to their daughter's wedding.... my brother and i HATED the wife of the couple invited... she was our 1st grade school teacher and she was the meanest woman ever!!! my brother didn't want her or her husband there, but were "forced" in invite them, so they went on the "B" list to make her parents happy. since they were paying for the wedding. so yeh...depends on the couple and who is inviting who... and who is paying for the wedding..but i am also the person who doesn't see old bosses/old coworkers/old teachers as needing to be invited.. weddings are for FRIENDS AND FAMILY... not people you are acquainted with or worked with

    • Reply
  • Kristen
    Master November 2020
    Kristen ·
    • Flag

    I can see both sides. I can see being added last minute if you befriended someone last minute. I can say I got invited to a sorority sister's wedding the day of and I am going to assume because she had an opening. I happily went but yeah in the back of my mind I did think why am I good enough to come now. I mean each person is different. I will say there are times when B listing is okay as long as the people do not know they are B listed but I could see people being bothered by it because they did not make the original cut. I mean I kind of b listed for my bridal shower and I did admit that to one friend and it was covid related. I could see her being bothered but I also explained it was due to guest limiting and I told her I would have had her and more people if not for the time being but if I had to be honest she and I became close recently so she would not be in my top of the B list. This is a tricky one and it comes down to how each person would feel.

    • Reply
  • Victorian Bride
    Master June 2021
    Victorian Bride ·
    • Flag
    I'm from the South and with my family and friends, it is still highly frowned upon. Now that does not mean if someone else does it outside of our large social circle that we'd think them a monster. Ha! Ha! In our group, though, it's still considered rude. Everyone that has had a covid wedding has either eloped or had immediate family only. Many of them are having a 'wedding' for their 1st anniversary or whenever they feel comfortable. Thats why we are eloping and having the huge réception at a later date. I don't want to deal with hurt feelings and our elopement will be live streamed to all who wish to watch it.


    I think everyone will have a different view on this subject. I honestly don't think in this day and time anyone is wrong. We are living in a vastly different world than previously.
    • Reply
  • Michelle
    Master October 2022
    Michelle ·
    • Flag
    B listing is always rude. People find out they are second or third picks and get offended but will never tell you. There is never any acceptable situation where this is ok.
    • Reply
  • Eri
    Super October 2020
    Eri ·
    • Flag

    B-listing is not a hill I'd die on either way, but I do find it a bit tacky.

    Outside of COVID, I feel like B-listing is a sign that the couple could've made better decisions during the planning process, or had priorities that superseded the guests. There are always exceptions, but I think this holds true in a lot of cases.

    Set your budget and rough guest list early, then plan accordingly.

    If you choose a venue with a small guest maximum, but have no budget restrictions, then you put yourself in a position to make some tough calls.

    If you have a strict budget but a lot of room for guests, it's a moot point because you can still only spend a certain number per guest and probably shouldn't invite to your absolute budget max.

    If you have budget restrictions and also a small venue, you're in the same boat as above and had to have known you wouldn't be able to invite everyone you wanted to.

    I also agree with the previous post about leaving b-list guests with little time to prepare for the wedding -- but I'm also a fan of save the dates and giving guests as much of a heads up as possible; being invited to a wedding should not be a surprise that late in the game.

    All that being said, we got married in October with a much, much smaller list than our original plan due to COVID. Our venue capacity got cut in half, and we decided to only invite a third of that with very specific parameters to keep things fair and as safe as possible. Fortunately, the guests we could no longer invite were very understanding and supportive.

    • Reply
  • J
    Master 0000
    Judith ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    Yes, this. Having to limit to what may be 2 to 8 slots besides your family, if you treat it like a short notice situation where it is ordinarily fine to deliver your invitation verbally, over the phone or in person, so start with a list, and if you get an immediate no, add one to your list of calls, so you call everyone over the course of a week, there is no obvious tell. But in the ordinary course of invitations, when you have 50, 100, 250 guests, sure you may have wanted others too. But asking for an RSVP at 6-8 weeks out for a first bunch, as 2 of the articles suggest, means people in the first group are having to answer and may turn you down because they do not have a vacation or work schedule they would have at 3 weeks out. When they want to come, but don't want to say yes if not known for sure. Your early RDVP request makes your B list more important to ypu, than courtesy to those you invite first who should not have to RSVP so early.
    And for a long planned wedding, getting an invitation at 4-5 weeks tells you hey, some of my top 100 can't take it, so you have a shot. You are being rude to everyone, rushing half and making the others afterthoughts. If you mail some no earlier than 10 weeks out, especially anyone not immediate family who must travel far, there is a chance that some will get back to you by phone or email, an early decline. You increase your odds if you call tp talk, pr text about the wedding, saying I hope you got your invitation, I am so excited, yada yada... very often someone who already knows they are declining, will tell you. If you get a decline ( without having to ask) and send out more invitations still 6-7 weeks out, the second group is receiving theirs at the usual time, and the first group were never asked to rush. This is the only way B listing is ever right, to me.
    And those who still don't know, they may still decline. So you will have saved some seats from being empty, not all, but least you were polite to your first choices and alternates. That is important to me, does not change as I get older.
    • Reply
  • Mrs. Coakley
    Master June 2017
    Mrs. Coakley ·
    • Flag

    I'm a bit of a traditionalist, especially when it comes to etiquette.

    I'm in the camp that B-listing always has been, is, and always will be rude. Pandemic or not.

    Invite the guests you can afford to invite, within the capacity limits of the venue. This may require more time and thought and eventually making difficult choices, but there should be one guest list and one guest list only. If you end up getting more declines than expected, use that money for upgrades on food/beverage/entertainment.

    Guests know when they are B-listed, and it's really just not a good look. I'd be much less offended not being invited at all to a wedding than getting invited last minute and knowing I was not a priority and I'm just filling a spot.

    • Reply
  • C
    Super December 2021
    Casey ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    Exactly this.
    • Reply
  • Melle
    Legend June 2019
    Melle ·
    • Flag

    I actually did this for my wedding. i mean though the way i did it, was that i had only let my mother in law have 50 guests. and so the B list was really just the additional 30 guests that she wanted to have after everyone else declined or whatever. in my culture it is customary to allow your parents to invite people but i capped it because it was 1. what i could afford and 2. i didn't want a majority of my wedding to be people i did not even know! so for her it didn't seem so bad just because it was like "my daughter in law didn't even let me invite everyone" haha.

    • Reply
  • Michelle
    Master October 2022
    Michelle ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    Yes exactly, a pandemic doesn't give free reign to be rude. If anything, it should be given more attention instead of ignored.


    People would rather not be invited at all than be an afterthought.
    • Reply
  • Samantha
    Expert October 2022
    Samantha ·
    • Flag
    I have mixed feelings.
    My brother has a large family, and some of his kids have large families. Just him, his wife, their my nieces/nephews and their family total 40 people. If they send regrets, that’s a big chunk of people!
    We want to keep it at 100 and I don’t want to hog the list - but I’d also love to have some friends there.
    • Reply
  • Gen
    Champion June 2019
    Gen ·
    • Flag
    I feel like they used to be pretty tacky but given the covid situation and having to keep the guest list very limited, I think times have changed and people will be more understanding now!
    • Reply
  • Paige L.
    Super September 2021
    Paige L. ·
    • Flag

    Unless it is due to Covid restrictions, B-Listing is, in my mind, one of the rudest things a couple can do. Basically, the guest wasn't important enough to make the first round, but now they are welcomed to come to the wedding and leave a gift for the couple now that someone more important has declined. It just comes across as gross.

    • Reply
  • Lindsey
    Savvy November 2021
    Lindsey ·
    • Flag

    We have a B list. In an ideal world, we'd be able to invite everyone, but venue and budget restrictions don't allow. If we get some no's, we'll start inviting the B list. I wouldn't necessarily tell someone they're on the B-list (mostly parents friends) but I know I've been on a B list before and I don't consider it rude. It's about celebrating with people not about the gifts for us.

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