The Wedding Guest B-List: Should You Have One?

A wood table at a wedding reception decorated with a floral garland.

To B, or not to B—that is the question. A wedding B-list has long been a controversial topic. Do you have one, or not? Is it smart, or insulting? There are two ways to view it and neither is right or wrong. In fact, some couples are mixed on the subject, finding it appropriate in some scenarios but not others.

Whichever side you’re on, recognizing the benefit of a wedding guest B-list is more important than ever these days. After all, the coronavirus has wreaked havoc on wedding planning. It’s now the new norm to expect plans and guest lists to change.

Since you’re likely to encounter wedding guest cancellations for one reason or another during the pandemic, it’s highly recommended to have a B-list when planning your wedding. (At the very least, keep it as a Plan B in your head!)

What’s a Wedding Guest B-List?

Basically, a B-list a list of second-choice wedding guests. Putting it that way doesn’t sound too nice, but let us explain. Of course, you have an A-list, which is a list of everyone you absolutely want to attend to your wedding and possibly others you’d like to be there if they can make it. Unfortunately, we all have our capacity limitations, so sometimes we’d like to invite more people than we can handle. And since you’re likely to get a “no” from at least some people on your A-list, that’s where the B-list comes in.

Should You Have One?

The answer to this depends on you and your event. Let’s look at some key points to consider when deciding if you’re pro or anti the B-list.


A bride and groom hugging some guests at their wedding reception.

As mentioned before, Covid-19 can break your or your guests’ plans at any minute. In these turbulent times, it’s better to be safe than sorry. For example, you may find that a lot of your close family and friends won’t be able to attend due to travel restrictions or health concerns. Some may cancel further down the road, too. On a more positive note, what if restrictions are lifted and you can have a bigger wedding after all? And, of course, what will happen if you have to change the date? Those who previously responded “yes” may change their mind.

Angry Guests

The main problem with B-lists is that couples worry guests will find out they were an afterthought. Hence, most people just choose to avoid the drama. Because of this, should you choose to have a B-list, it’s recommended not to place anyone who is easily offended on it.


A table set at a wedding reception with guests in the background.

You have to think about the event itself, too. For example, if you’re hosting a 100-person max wedding and 10 people cancel, you’ll still have 90 attendees. Are you OK with one empty table or are you keen on filling every seat?

Now, the same may not be said for a smaller wedding. If you only send out 20 invitations and 10 people cancel, that’s half an empty room. This is worth noting since, in many parts of the world, there are still limitations on gatherings (or they could be reintroduced at any moment).

If You Do Decide to Have a B-List…

Should you take down some names for a plan B, there are a few things to keep in mind. For starters, try to keep your wedding date on the down-low—at least until you finalize who’s coming and who isn’t. (Thanks to social media this may not be realistic, but it’s polite to try.)

One of the dead giveaways on who’s the top choice and who isn’t is the RSVP date. Normally, your invitation will say “Reply by [date]” so you may need to print two sets of invitations for the A- and B-list. Alternatively, just say, “Reply within X days of receiving this.” And, of course, make sure you send out your first round of invitations enough ahead of time so that you can send out the second round and still have time to finalize the details.

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