Editor-in-chief Diane Forden answers a reader's biggest etiquette question.
Q: My wedding will not be big enough to include all of my coworkers, but I would like to invite some of them. How can I do this without offending anyone?
A: Deciding which colleagues to invite to the wedding has to be one of the trickiest etiquette issues. Much depends on your particular situation, so you really have to go with your gut instinct. Of course, it's perfectly acceptable (and often easiest) not to invite anyone from the office. But many of us are friends with the people we work with and want them at our weddings.
Where to begin? With your boss. It would be improper (and not too smart!) to exclude your supervisor if you'll be inviting others from the office. It's also a wise and kind gesture to invite your assistant or secretary if you have one. After all, nothing motivates like flattery, and such an employee will surely feel honored. From there it gets tougher. If you have a regular crowd you lunch with, you pretty much have to go the all-or-nothing route, as leaving someone out will cause tension. If a group of people work for you (say you're head of a department), you have two options: Invite all of them, or just the most senior members of the group. Other than that, it's up to you to pick and choose without stepping on toes. Just don't do something glaringly obvious, such as inviting only one of two vice presidents. And as far as the president or head of the company goes, unless you're on pretty familiar terms, I'd pass. He or she is surely going to be too busy to give up the time, and it may look to some like you're fishing for gifts or brownie points.
Remember, too, that if coworkers are married, engaged, living with someone or seriously involved, you must include their partners in the invitation. You need not invite single colleagues with dates, however, or include children. Finally, keep in mind that most people understand the limits of wedding budgets and don't expect to be invited to every office wedding. In fact, many people are relieved to not have to buy a gift or give up a night they'd rather spend with their families. So, aside from especially close relationships, don't worry too much about offending anyone.