Do You Have a Rolling Guest List?

Rolling guest list etiquette

A friend of mine recently told me she didn’t want to have a B list for guests. I hadn’t given B lists much thought in a long time. I do recall another friend 10 years ago voicing extreme annoyance at clearly being on a B list when she received an invitation to a destination wedding a few weeks before the wedding date. Inviting someone at that juncture does seem kind of pointless. But that may have been the last time I thought of it until recently.

I personally have been on a B wedding list a few times and it didn’t bother me. Mainly because I felt I belonged on the B list — basically, I fell into the “It would be nice to have this person at our wedding if we have the space” realm. But I was by no means essential. However, you can run into problems when the person thinks they are on a different tier of friendship than you see them.

If you’re wondering about the etiquette of all this: Rolling lists used to be big no-nos, but lately they’ve become more accepted. If it’s important to you not to slight anyone — and you always runs that risk with rolling lists — it’s a fantastic gesture to have only one guest list and keep all guests on equal footing. I think it often encourages good guest list decisions on your end as well.

That said, rolling guest lists can make life much easier. If that’s the case for you, there’s no reason to shun one. It’s especially helpful if you have venue capacity limitations, which makes it difficult to invite everyone you would like to in the first place.

However, I recommend creating some B list rules for yourself and sticking to them. All people associated with a single group should be treated equally, if at all possible. So avoid putting three cousins on the A list and four cousins on the B list. Better to put them all on the A or B list together. Coworkers — are at least, coworkers who make sense to invite — are another group that it would be smart to treat equally.

Personally, I think you run more risk of offending people when they think they’re being treated differently than folks they consider their equals in the situation. If everyone in your book club is on the A list except one who’s on the B list, expect that person to be hurt. But that person probably wouldn’t care if the entire book club was on the B list.

One last thing: Consider proximity when creating your guest list. Guests who live in the same city as your wedding are far more likely to attend than those who don’t. So be especially deliberate about whether or not to put locals on the A list.

So that’s my spiel. Now let me know about you and your guest list.

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Photo by Cunningham Photography

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