• John Lally

You're Invited...If Someone I Care About More Than You Can't Attend

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

Have you seen this wedding invitation that was recently posted on Twitter?

It's gone viral for all the wrong reasons and has no doubt left the senders a little embarrassed - but not quite as embarrassed as those in Groups B & C:

The notice reads:

"Dear friends and family,

Please understand that our venue is limited in the number of guests we will be able to accommodate for our wedding day. As much as we would love to have each an every one of you join us on our big day, we are forced to split our guests into groups to ensure we do not surpass our capacity restrictions.

Group A: Please RSVP as soon as possible. We appreciate your promptness as we will be able to extend any vacant seats to additional guests.

Group B & C: Please keep a close watch on our wedding website for notice that we have space available. If you already know that you are unable to join us, it is helpful that you decline via the RSVP function on our website.

If possible, we encourage our guests to hire a babysitter for the night and leave your children at home. As much as we love your kids, we are doing our best to make space for all of the guests we can. We also ask for our single guests to forgo their plus one if possible. We appreciate your understanding.

You are in Group A"

The Subtle Art Of Wedding Invitation Reserve Lists

Your wedding day will be the single most complex and expensive party you're ever going to organise. Having a B-List & even a C-List is perfectly understandable and highly practical. But there's one paramount rule you must always remember:

Don't let the reserve guests know they're the reserve guests!

Every article I've read about this invite, has labelled the senders 'a rude couple'. While it definitely comes across that way, I believe they sent this out with nothing but good intentions and they probably thought this grouping system was an ingenious way of dealing with the pesky COVID-19 restrictions.

Given the explosion of criticism this Twitter post has generated, they're probably mortified. Many of the Group B & C guests will have taken offence at the hierarchy and all because the happy couple wanted to find a pragmatic way to deal with an already terrible situation they've found themselves in, as a result of the current pandemic. I feel for them.

The Pleasure Of Your Company

If you're spending tens of thousands on a big party for all your friends and family, to feed them, to water them and to entertain them for an entire day or weekend, it might be easy to get carried away in the mindset that they should be honoured to receive the invitation.


As the inviter, you are requesting their time and company, to have them witness and celebrate in your joy. As the persons sending the invitation, you should feel honoured that your guests are able to attend, which is why invitations are typically worded as follows:

"We would be honoured if you would join us"

"We request the pleasure of your company"

The couple sending this invitation have missed this social dynamic entirely and approached their invitations as though they're inviting their guests to an exclusive club, with a long waiting list, that anyone and everyone is dying to be a part of. It's your wedding day, not the Glastonbury festival ticket resale.

My Suggestions

Firstly, I think the press and the internet should go easy on this couple, these are crazy times and having these restrictions imposed on your wedding is hard enough. We're all having to navigate through crazy, unprecedented circumstances and as a result, the actions we take aren't always going to hit the mark. Be nice.

Secondly, I sincerely believe, the stationery supplier should have talked them out of this in the design stages. I'm not one to criticise the competition, but if I had seen this wording, I would have certainly offered my opinion and an alternative solution. For a couple who have never organised a wedding; etiquette, form and correct social cues are not always obvious (especially when you have a thousand other things to think about). A wedding stationery supplier, who deals with hundreds of wedding invitations every week, should recognise a social faux pas when they see one.

My Alternative Solution

  • Scrap the groups, everyone's a Group A (as far as they're concerned).

  • Order more invites than you think you'll need

  • Ask your guests to respond asap - due to COVID restrictions.

  • As your 'unable to attend' RSVPs start rolling in, your reserve list invitations are sent out.

  • When you have your final guest list confirmed, send out a small card to those you were unable to invite, expressing your deepest regrets that due COVID restrictions, you're not able to invite everyone you wanted to (no ones upset and they may still send you a gift).

To The Couple

If it's not too late, if you still have friends & family that you haven't alienated and would like a do-over, get in touch and we'll sort you out some carefully crafted, meticulously proof read and hierarchy free wedding invitations, on the house.

Also, I'd love to know the distinction between groups B & C...

Remember people:

Don't let the reserve guests know they're the reserve guests!