Hmmm….Invite This Friend But Not That Friend

by admin on May 7, 2012

This is not a rant, but I am hoping that you can help me avoid becoming a rude bride. I am part of a large group of women, some of whom are my best friends, others who I see in the context of group nights out and are only acquaintances on the basis of being in the group. On the rare occasion that I organize a group night out I invite the others as a matter of course and people invariably end up chatting to their good friends anyway. My problem is that I would really like to invite my close friends from the group to the wedding (4 women) and not the others (6 women) as I either do not know them that well or dislike them.

Can I send wedding invitations to less than half of a group of friends or should I just suck it up and invite the others too (bearing in mind that our venue holds no more than 130 people)?  As well as this: if I do not invite them all to the wedding, can I organise a group night out shortly after the engagement to announce it? This would NOT be an engagement party, merely a way of letting people know about an engagement which has not yet been officially announced.

I would greatly appreciate any input you could give me on this. 0426-12

Point 1)   You are under no obligation to invite people whom you would not otherwise choose to socialize with.   Co-workers, for example.  Just because one works all day with someone doesn’t necessarily mean the relationship extends to social hospitality outside of the office.    That said, you need to weight the cost of cementing forever the social divide between you and six other women with whom you seem to routinely socialize.   One of the bad things about weddings is they seem to be catalysts for every possible way for someone to get offended and if the potential exists for friendship world war 3, then you must decide if not invited them is worth it.   I’m not saying you are obligated to invite the but just be sure you are prepared to ignore the offended whines.

Point 2) If you choose to not invite the other six ladies in your group, don’t organize anything that has the appearance of possibly rubbing in their faces what they are missing.  Discretion is your friend.   If you do not talk about your wedding in front of them, they have less opportunity to ask you about their missing invitations.   It’s a kindness to be discreet.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

JillyBean May 7, 2012 at 10:18 am

I agree with the Etiquette Maven – absolutely invite who you want to the wedding – it’s your and your significant other’s day, enjoy it! 🙂 But do not have a separate event to announce your engagement. That’s really not nice at all, and yes, it’s definitely rubbing it in their faces. If your engagement happens to come up, then there you go. Otherwise, have a night out with the ladies that you’ll be inviting, and have fun!


catrunning May 7, 2012 at 3:36 pm

I don’t understand why OP wishes to organize a group event specifically to announce her engagement when she only intents to invite 40% of the participants to the wedding. (Yes, I know she’s not calling it an “engagement” party, but that is exactly what engagement parties are designed to do.)

There’s no rule in etiquette that you have to invite all members of a group – social or otherwise – to your wedding. That’s fine – most people couldn’t afford to do so anyway, even if they had the inclination. However, most people invited to even an unofficial engagement party would anticipate they would receive an invitation to the wedding itself. Yes, I know there are exceptions – like when you are getting married in another country, etc – but when the wedding is local, inviting some of the “engagement party” guests and not others is divisive at the least.

I suggest OP just gather her 4 friends up for lunch, cocktails or whatever and announce her engagement to them. The news will eventually trickle to the rest of the group, but in a much nicer way.


confused May 7, 2012 at 4:31 pm

OP here – just to clear up any confusion I had organised a group event to take place in a couple of weeks but this was before we were engaged. Seeing as this will be the first time I will see the girls since the engagement (we are on a holiday abroad at the moment) it would have been a very easy way to announce it to everyone I know, but I was afraid that this would be rude, which is why I double checked here.
I was really just wondering if I should change the date of this group event (which was never intended as an engagement announcement, just a get together) or cancel it so as not to create the impression that all of the girls are on equal footing in terms of closeness. We haven’t actually announced it yet so I still have time to meet up with my close friends a couple of days in advance, tell them then and maybe let the others know by email or word of mouth… really appreciate the help 🙂


MeganAmy May 7, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Congrats on your engagement, by the way.

I wouldn’t cancel the event. I just wouldn’t make the theme of the event about your engagement. I’d compromise. I like the idea of telling your closest friends (the 4) in advance if you see them or on the phone. Or, if you’re comfortable, you can announce it at that event. I think there’s nothing wrong with announcing your engagement and having a drink or two in celebration. But then changing the subject to other things and not having the entire event be centered around your engagement.

Personally, I’d try to tell the 4 before the event. And I’d mention to them that there is no finalized guest list yet, but that you are not sure you’re going to invite the other 6, so for them not to discuss too much wedding planning with them (so that they don’t all discuss renting rooms the night of your bachelorette party in case you don’t think they’ll all be on the guest list for that, etc.) But I think you can all (you plus all 10 of them) talk about how you got engaged, what your plans are for your marriage, etc.


catrunning May 7, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Hi – if I were OP, I wouldn’t necessarily bother cancelling the group event. I would simply announce your engagement to your 4 close friends in advance, telling them that you are limited in the number of guests you can invite and unfortunately you will probably not be able to invite the other 6.

That way, at the group event, your engagement can be brought up as part of normal conversation and not seen as a formal “announcement to the group”. There is a real difference between telling a person or two “hey, did you hear I’m finally tying the knot?” and standing up in front of everybody to say “I invited you all here to announce my engagement”. Announcements to groups are frequently assumed to apply equally to all members of a group.

And your close friends will know to be discreet with the other 6 instead of jumping up and down and automatically including the other 6 in the upcoming festivities. (I’ve seen that happen a few times when close friends get so excited about hearing the announcement, they immediately start talking showers, wedding planning, etc. with other members of the group and those people would naturally assume they would be invited as well. When they later realize they aren’t included, it causes hurt feelings. I think sometimes its because close friends of your close friends occasionally tend to assume a closeness to you that isn’t there – especially if they could be young and a little socially inexperienced.)

Oh, and congratulations!


Striving For Sense May 8, 2012 at 10:42 am

I think you should keep the party as planned, tell your 4 besties in advance, and then let the grapevine take care of the rest. Don’t announce the engagement at the party. If one of your friends brings it up, smile, and say thanks, and then move the conversation on to a topic of interest to the others. If they persist in asking questions about the wedding, just shrug and say, “Oh, this party isn’t about me. What’s up in YOUR life?”


You can’t invite everyone, and you don’t have to. You do, however, have to avoid rubbing it in that you’re not inviting them.


LovleAnjel May 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm

I’m probably a little late here:

Did you get an engagement ring? If so, use your left hand a lot, and someone will notice. It will be brought up as a normal part of conversation, not as though you are Making An Announcement.


MeganAmy May 7, 2012 at 5:40 pm

I agree with the admin and other posters. Invite the 4 you like and not the 6 others. As long as you’re not inviting all of them but one, leaving one out alone, it’s fine.

I agree with “It’s a kindness to be discreet.” Any guests who are invited to something are not supposed to discuss events with others unless they’re sure they’re invited. However, many people do, and feelings are hurt.

I would tell the 4 who you invite that they are the only ones from the group invited because you feel closest to them and that you would appreciate it if they would not discuss the engagement or wedding in detail in front of the others because you don’t want the 6 who are not invited to get their feelings hurt. You also should not initiate this topic in front of the other 6, for the same reason.

I would not have a group night out centered around your engagement because that gives the impression that you intend to invite everyone in that group to the wedding. It would definitely cause hurt and angry feelings if you don’t invite them all to the wedding.


Cat May 7, 2012 at 7:10 pm

I agree with the “invite those whom you really want” but don’t make a public statement about it.

As an adopted child, I finally found my entire family. Most of my maternal half-siblings agreed never to see me for reasons that are none of my fault or responsibility. They do see the half-brother with whom I was raised.

My uncle never failed to send me photographs of them everytime they got together and excluded me. I finally had to tell him that I do not send pictures of parties I attend to those who were not invited and that to send me the “happy family” pictures from which I was excluded and to label me as “absent” on them was a hateful and rude thing to do. I was not “absent”. I was not wanted and not invited.


Striving For Sense May 8, 2012 at 10:43 am

Wow, Cat! Did your uncle stop, I hope?

I’m so sorry about your mixed-up family. From what I’ve read from you here, they don’t know what they’re missing. You’re a wise and wonderful person.


Enna May 9, 2012 at 6:29 am

What were your maternal sibling’s motivations? Does sound a bit harsh – if I found I had a long lost family I would want to include them. Strange that they are happy to meet your half brother? Does sound very odd.


LovleAnjel May 14, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Not saying this is Cat’s case, but the child of an affair can be shunned by the other children from the “real” family. They hate this person, because they hate their origin and what it did to the family. Not at all the child’s fault, and nothing to do with who they are as a person.


Jojo May 7, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Perhaps it’s better to pre-empt in this situation? If you’re only inviting half of a group it can come across as a real snub, intended or otherwise.
You have three options really-
1. To invite them all and hope some will politely decline.
2. To invite 4 to the main part of the day and everyone to the evening do.
3. To invite the four and then gently take the others aside for drinks and apologize profusely that limited space and the demands of Mother of the Bride/Groom mean that you’ve had to edit your share of the guest list ( etiquette generally dictates the bride only gets to choose 1/3 of the guests) down and while you can’t invite them to the day, you don’t wish for them to take it personally – hey, it gets them out of buying expensive outfits and gifts!
Buying the drinks will probably go a long way to making it a positive evening and it prevents awkwardness on the part of the group. It also means you can discuss the wedding with them and the four you do invite wont feel like they’ve been placed in a spot, loyalty to one vs the others.


Bint May 8, 2012 at 7:30 am

“You have three options really-
1. To invite them all and hope some will politely decline.”

No – that’s really passive-aggressive, and it never works anyway.

“2. To invite 4 to the main part of the day and everyone to the evening do.”
From what I’ve seen here, that’s not common in much of the USA. Also, the OP doesn’t know some of these people well, and admits she does not like them all.

Option 3 you listed sounds so complicated. The bride doesn’t have to apologise for not inviting people who are not close friends, any more than she would need to apologise for only inviting those she’s close to in a sports team. Just because you socialise in a large group they happen to be part of doesn’t mean you should placate them, or feel you owe them anything – the chances are far higher that these girls would have no expectation of being invited anyway.

Assuming people have presumptions is unfair and leads to all this social knot-tying that’s unnecessary. The bride shouldn’t announce her engagement in the group, but nor should she feel obliged to explain or extend invitations to the others. It’s far easier to go on as normal.

“It also means you can discuss the wedding with them and the four you do invite won’t feel like they’ve been placed in a spot, loyalty to one vs the others.”

Nothing like having to discuss a wedding you’re not invited to!


Enna May 9, 2012 at 6:31 am

I htink it would be best to invite those who you want at the wedding.

When my next door neighbour’s daugnhter got married me, my parents and sister weren’t invitied to the wedding but were invited to the reception afterwards: I was fine with this. At the party my parents actually got chatting to some of the bride and groom’s family they hadn’t met before. So it was nice that way.


confused May 14, 2012 at 10:57 am

OP here again with thanks and an update! I met my closest friends at the weekend (the 4 plus a couple of others who are not in that group but know each other). We went to the coffee shop where we have spent most of our adult lives and it was really special telling them this news. The party is this weekend – I have said to the girls that as the guest list is not set but it is highly unlikely to include everyone in the wider group, tell others by all means but try to keep in depth discussions to the people who were there. They all completely understood. We are going to look at some other venues this week to keep an open mind, but it is likely we will choose the original place we wanted to go to. So at the weekend it will be interesting to see who the news has spread to! I am now well prepared to bean dip and be genuinely interested in their lives, no need to talk about the engagement all the time as I have had that chance with my best friends now.
Thank you all for your help!


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