When Simon and Jen Bennett got married six years ago, they wanted to stick to a budget and only invite 100 guests at the most. “So we knew coming in that we would have tough decisions to make when it came to co-workers,” says Simon.

At the time, both Bennetts worked at different sports media companies, and Jen says she had more friends outside — rather than inside — her office.

“I did invite my manager, and even asked her advice about how to play the politics of asking some of my co-workers and not others, since office gossip was epic within our team,” Jen recalls. “She told me not to worry about it, it was my day, and to invite only those I wanted there. Most of my colleagues ended up declining the invitation, which I was fine with because that meant that only my close friends were there.”

Things were a bit trickier for Simon, whose workplace was a small, tight-knit group — so he wound up inviting nearly three full tables’ worth of colleagues.

But not everyone from his office was on the guest list. He says he handled the potential awkwardness by staying tight-lipped about the wedding at work and sent invitations in the mail to be discreet. “During my reception speech, I gave a shout-out to my company and the entire back row of the reception hall exploded with cheers,” Simon adds.

While the Bennetts made their colleague-filled wedding a success, it’s a sticky situation for many couples — how do you pick and choose between co-workers for your wedding guest list? And what’s the etiquette around inviting colleagues to your big day?

To found out, we spoke with Canadian etiquette experts Joanne Blake, of Alberta-based Style for Success Inc., Elizabeth Burnett, of B.C.-based Elizabeth Etiquette, and Julie Blais Comeau, Quebec-based Chief Etiquette Office at EtiquetteJulie.com.

Each offered a few pointers on how to avoid office drama and ensure your wedding goes off without a hitch.

  • Don’t gush about your wedding plans at work.
    While the months leading up to your wedding can be exciting, you don’t want to prattle on about your upcoming nuptials around the office — particularly in front of people who aren’t invited. “You may want to give those that are invited a heads up to be discreet as well,” Blake says.
  • Do send out invites based on categories.
    Stuck on which coworkers to invite? Blais Comeau says you don’t have to invite the entire company, but you should pick which teams or departments you want there for your special day. Either invite your whole department — or no one — rather than picking and choosing individual colleagues “to avoid feuds.”
  • Don’t feel pressured to invite your boss.
    If you don’t want coworkers at your wedding, don’t invite them. Same goes for including your boss or manager, “unless of course they are in your close circle of friends and the other members of your close circle are invited,” says Burnett.
  • Do be clear with your invitations.
    Be sure to “snail mail” invites to people’s homes, says Blake. “Make it clear in the invitation that your guests can bring their spouse or a guest,” she adds. It’s also good to specify the dress code, be it casual or black-tie. And above all: Even though you might know your boss’ hefty six-figure salary, don’t ask for gifts on the invitation.
  • Don’t force co-workers to mingle.
    Your wedding reception should be fun for all your guests, be they family, friends, or colleagues. So make sure your seating plan ensures they’re with people they know — and in the case of co-workers, that means giving them tables of their own. “It’s a little bit different from a networking event… the goal of the wedding is to come and join in the celebration with you,” says Blais Comeau.