Michelle is dreading the moment she’s going to have to tell a co-worker she’s not invited to her wedding.

“Two or three months after we met she started to assume she was invited to my wedding, saying things like ‘I can’t wait to meet your fiancé’s friends!’” says Michelle, who works in wealth management in Guelph.

What do you do if you find yourself in Michelle’s predicament? To help you manage wedding invites at work with class, we spoke to etiquette expert Julie Blais Comeau, CEO at EtiqutteJulie.com and the author of Etiquette: Confidence and Credibility.

Stick to an invitation policy

To avoid awkwardness at work, Comeau recommends creating a personal wedding invitation policy with your partner.

“My general rule of thumb is to invite by category. If you are inviting some coworkers, invite them by department so that within the team, nobody is going to be surprised they’ve been left out,” recommends Comeau.

You might think you can get away with asking a colleague to be discreet, but you can never be sure news of who you invited won’t become office gossip. If you decide to invite coworkers from your immediate team, or from a certain department, make it your policy to invite the whole team, or the whole department.

If you find yourself in a situation similar to Michelle’s, Comeau recommends saying something like “we have a restricted budget and we’ve chosen just to invite the boss, the people we interact with on a daily basis or colleagues within the department and my partner has done the same,” says Comeau.

If you followed your invitation policy and invited by category without any exceptions, you’ll be able to provide a simple and honest explanation, if questioned.

Understand office politics

If you’re wondering if you should invite the boss or certain colleagues to appease office politics, the short answer is: it depends. Comeau recommends taking into account the culture at your workplace and your career plans with the company.

“If you’re not aware (of office politics around weddings) ask other people, what is the tradition? What is the culture here? Do people usually invite the boss? Do people invite two or three bosses?” says Comeau.

Once you understand the office politics around wedding invites, Comeau recommends asking yourself if you expect to see your colleagues again in the future if you were to leave that company, and whether or not you are planning on leaving that company in the near future.

If you do plan on staying with the company, and it’s the norm to invite the boss to the wedding, Comeau recommends following protocol.

On declining an invite

If you’re on the receiving end of an invitation from a colleague you don’t want to commit a weekend or Saturday night to, it’s okay to say no.

“RSVP back to decline as soon as possible. You don’t have to give an explanation…but make sure that nothing is going to come back to haunt you,” says Blais.

Be mindful of what you posting on social media that weekend. It’s okay to decline but you might harm your relationship if you’re caught at another co-worker’s baby shower or having a #lazysaturdaynight.

If you do decline, you’re not off the hook for giving a gift.

“When you decline an invitation, especially if you have contact with that person on a regular basis, you still have an obligation to offer a wedding gift,” says Comeau.

The amount you decide spend should be based on your relationship with that person. Go through the registry to deliver the gift, or bring it to work with a card.

Have you run into any awkward wedding invitation issues at work? Let us know in the comments.