Photo: Real Bella Weddings
Wedding planning includes a whole lot of moving parts.
Oftentimes, the trickiest part of all is putting together the guest list. Particularly when you have to make the call of what guests have a “plus-one”!
By all means, if you have the budget and space, the easiest thing to do is to give every single guest the option to bring a date.
Getting ready to finalize your guest list and send your save-the-dates?
Here’s our full guide to wedding plus-one etiquette:
Do You Have to Give Wedding Guests a Plus-One?
The burning question that every couple wants to know is:
Do you have to give every guest a plus-one?
Let’s be very clear … this is YOUR wedding day and you can do whatever you want!
But when trying to decide who gets to bring a guest and who has to attend solo, there are some rules to follow.
Here’s Who Must Get a Plus-One
Photo: Real Bella Weddings
Married couples, engaged couples, and couples living together should be invited as a duo. There’s almost no exception to this rule (unless you really want to be a rebel and break tradition in every way possible).
Couples in serious, long-term relationships should also be invited as a pair, whether they live together or not. This holds true even if you don’t personally know the significant other.
When it comes to long-term couples, it is okay to cut off plus-ones at a certain age. Don’t beat yourself up if it’s not in the budget to invite your teenage cousin’s boyfriend of eight months.
Inviting a pal from out of town or your best friend from childhood? If the only person they’ll know at your wedding is you or your spouse, you must extend a plus-one invite.
Oh, and don’t forget your wedding party! All of your bridesmaids and groomsmen should have the option to bring someone. Considering all that they're doing to make your day special, the least you can do is allow them to bring a date to the reception.
Related: Our Full Guide to Bridesmaid Proposal Cards
Here’s Who Might Not Need a Plus-One
Do you have a lot of single friends? Inviting them all with a plus-one could get pretty expensive.
If your single guests know each other, there’s a good chance they’ll hang out in a group anyway. But defining “single” is where a lot of couples struggle.
When in doubt, default to our initial rules above — only give a plus-one if someone is in a serious, committed relationship.
Your wedding is not the place for your roommate from college to show off the hot new guy she’s been dating for two months. She can do that at some other place and time!
Think of Your Guests in Categories
To finalize your guest list without driving yourself crazy, group your guests into categories: single friends, co-workers, softball teammates, etc.
Put your people into various groups then give a plus-one to everyone in that group or to no one in that group.
So, if one of your single friends gets an open plus-one to invite whoever they want, then all of your single friends should receive the same type of invitation.
By taking an all-or-nothing approach, you’ll avoid leaving anyone out or hurting feelings.
Are you still looking for bridesmaids dresses? Check out the
Address the Invitation Properly
Once you know who you’re inviting, you’ll be ready to start addressing your save-the-dates and wedding invitations.
To avoid any confusion, always address the invitation to both people.
If you don’t know the plus-one’s name, just ask! Send a text or make a phone call to find out the person’s name and confirm how they spell it.
Only use “and guest” if you’re allowing single, unattached people to bring anyone they want.
By including the “plus-one’s” name, it eliminates the possibility that your primary guest will bring a random person that’s just looking for an open bar and a free meal.
What if Someone Asks to Bring a Guest?
Photo: Real Bella Weddings
There’s always the possibility that someone who doesn’t get a plus-one will call and ask you if they can bring someone. In this situation, use your discretion.
Depending on what “category” you put them in earlier, you may or may not want to say yes. If you say yes to one person, it will be virtually impossible to say no to the next person in that group who asks the same favor.
Remember, this is YOUR big day. If you’re trying to keep your wedding small, stick to the plan and say NO!
There’s also a chance that someone might RSVP with the name of a plus-one that you didn’t invite on the envelope. If that happens, call the guest and politely let them know that you can’t accommodate any additional guests.
If you’re consistent, it’s also easier to avoid hurt feelings than if exceptions are made for some, but not all.
Take Special Care With Seating Arrangements
Did you ever see that Anna Kendrick movie Table 19? (Don’t worry, you’re not missing much). It tells a cautionary tale that every couple should be aware of:
Do not group all the random single people at the same table!
Instead, mix them in amongst other friends and couples they may already know or are likely to get along with.
On the other hand, if you know some singles who might hit it off, definitely seat them together! Who knows, your wedding just might turn into a little matchmaking sesh!
Before you decide who to invite with a plus-one, think about the type of wedding you want to have.
If you want it to be small and intimate, then keep the guest list to a minimum (a.k.a. no plus-ones!) If you want a Crazy Rich Asians wedding extravaganza, go for it! Invite a few hundred of your closest friends and allow them all to bring a guest.
So follow the proper etiquette, invite people in serious relationships as a duo, and decide which single people should get to bring a guest.
The key to finalizing your guest list is that it should include everyone you want at your wedding and no one you don’t!