There are two philosophies about A and B Lists. Some etiquette guides will recommend just getting out your pencil and cutting your list to fit your budget, and then being as gracious about it as possible if friends inquire why they weren’t invited. In cases of a tight budget, some couples opt to have a small ceremony and then on a later date, have a big casual party to celebrate their marriage where they have the freedom to invite everyone they could possibly dream of having there.
It is, however, an accepted practice to have two wedding invitation lists. An average of 25 percent of your invited guests will be unable to attend. This lets you send out a second round of invitations to your “B List.”
If you’re going to do this you really need to mail out the A List invitations at least ten weeks in advance. The second round should be sent no later than six weeks prior to the wedding. Bear in mind that the “reply by” date is printed on the RSVP card, so make sure you’re mailing your B List invitees with time to reply. Sometimes we create a small batch of later reply cards so that it is less obvious to guests that they were on the “B List.” If you are going to “B List” friends, you want to do everything you can to avoid anyone from discovering that they were on your “B List,” as this could hurt some feelings.
You should also order all the invitations at the same time. A separate order will cost more than ordering them all at one time, since there is a premium for small orders, and you may have to allow two weeks for the second small order to be processed. If you order enough for both lists at once, this will save you time.