THE PROBLEM WITH PLUS ONE — Wedding Etiquette
We’re overwhelmed by the number of our friends — who after receiving their save-the-date cards — have asked if they can bring a plus one to our wedding this summer. The best man asked us if he could bring a mutual friend as his plus one. He wants to know if he can get him invited to our wedding!
We know the guy who wants to be the best man’s plus one, so if we wanted him to come to our wedding, we would have sent him a save-the-date card. How do we handle this?
–BC, Seattle, WA
The whole plus one situation can be murky. A guest bringing his own guest. Especially if the plus one knows the wedding couple and knows that he wasn’t invited. A wedding isn’t just any party. It is a celebration of a marriage.
You only invite people whom you like, like a lot, or love. If you, the bride and groom, had wanted the wanna be plus one at your wedding, you would have invited him.
What to know about plus one:
- As the host, unless you’re not particular, make a list of assumed single people you are inviting whom you want to extend a plus one invitation to your wedding.
- If the guest doesn’t list his plus one’s name on the reply care to the ceremony, find out the name of the guest your guest is bringing as their plus one.
- Add that person’s name to your guest list after the original guest’s name on the spreadsheet. That way if the name of the plus one changes, at least you’re keeping a correct head count.
What people who haven’t hosted a wedding don’t know is this:
- As a guest, he or she is being invited because they’re liked by the wedding couple or their parents.
- If a mutual friend hasn’t been invited, it is because the bride and groom don’t want him at their wedding, so it is in bad manners to bring him as your plus one.
- It can be hurtful to the plus one to be told they weren’t invited because they aren’t liked, so don’t push it.
- Make it clear that if a guest is bringing a plus one, s/he sends a gift from the bridal registry from both the original guest and his/her plus one.
- The plus one can certainly send his own gift from the bridal registry, as a thank-you for having been invited, but don’t count on it.
At this age when your guests are apt to be in one of the various stages of complicated, dramatic or knotty coupledom or uncoupling or single, choose your plus ones carefully.
Who gets a plus one to the wedding?
- Don’t get caught up in being stuck with a revolving guest list of unwanted plus ones — surprises that you either don’t know or don’t like.
- Do give a plus one to a friend’s SO when they’ve been together for over six months and you’ve met him or her more than once.
- Don’t give an open plus one because you’re stuck if you know the plus one and don’t like him or her.
- Do give a guest traveling from afar, who may not know people at your wedding, the option of having a plus one.
- Don’t think you have to offer all of your extended family members plus ones, the fact that they’re family means that they’ll have people to talk to at the wedding anyway.
- Do ask single participants in your bridal party if they would like a plus one, and get the name and address of the person to whom you can send an invitation.
- Don’t get talked into giving someone a plus one once the list has been finalized, which is after the cutoff date for the reply card return. Even if he says, “She’s the one. I can’t wait for you to meet her.”
Important: On your wedding website, in person, and by word of mouth, get the word out that it is a “small wedding” and that you are not giving out many plus ones because you have a tight and concise guest list.
- Often the size of the list depends upon the fire code of the venue where the reception is taking place.
- Leave your answer at that.
- A small wedding is in the eye of the beholder. What a small wedding may be to you, might look like a big wedding to me.
Be clear, your actual invitation list is key to controlling the amount of plus ones:
- Couple: With a good pen print the names of the guests who are invited on the outside and inside envelopes (if you’re using two both).
Mr. Matthew J. Whitman (guest)
Ms. Annie Louise Kelley (plus one)
- For a family: when residing at the same address, list on the inside and outside envelopes the names of the children you wish to invite. For instance you may not have accommodations for small children and babies. You can also list, or just list, those names in the upper left hand corner of the actual invitation:
Mr. and Mrs. William Wilson
Miss Alice Wilson (under19)
Mr. William Wilson, Jr. (14)
Master Jake Wilson (under 12)
(the address on the outside envelope)
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