Let your guests decide if they should bring a “plus one”

Guest post by Elana
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I am in the midst of planning my wedding, and have had many friends ask me if we will or will not be allowing guests to bring “plus ones.” I recently sent out an email to clarify what we are thinking.

This is how I'm dealing with my “plus one” situation. Perhaps you'd like to steal this wording:

Your invitation will likely be addressed to you only (unless your significant other is cooler than you, in which case it will only have their name on it). Now, if there is someone special in your life that you would like to bring, please email us and include them on your RSVP.

However, if you feel like you might end up wanting to ditch them to dance your face off with old friends, do your relationship, and your wallets, a favor and don't bring them. Make sense?

We trust that you all will make the right decision for yourself, and if you don't, we're sorry.

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Comments on Let your guests decide if they should bring a “plus one”

  1. If you have unlimited space this is a great idea. Unfortunately, for us we had very limited space and couldn’t accommodate plus ones. That didn’t stop people from bringing them, which left some of our invited guests without a place to sit. 🙁

  2. Great idea!

    I’m really here to point out that the woman with the grey tights looks like she is the conjoined twin of the man behind her. I love it and I may have inspiration for my next Halloween Costume! Zaphod Beeblebrox anyone?

  3. Holy what?! Elizabeth (TheRed) is so right about the conjoined twin situation. Can’t stop looking.

    I like this idea, because I haven’t held back around friends and family when I complain about how costly it is to invite peoples’ partners whom I don’t even really know (or like). I am hoping that giving people the option, after they may have heard me ranting, will cause them to end their search for a date. I was also thinking of putting a disclaimer on my wedsite, explaining the 6-month rule: if you have been dating someone for less than 6 months (unless you have already married that person), leave the date at home. But I also don’t want to be rude, so wording is going to be a challenge.

    HOWEVER, I also worry that by leaving it up to your guests to decide, you may actually encourage them to invite someone else. Maybe they feel like, “well, my new boyfriend isn’t important enough to me yet to bring, but my mother is special to me, I think I will bring her as my date”. I kind of want the sense of security I will get from inviting people by name, and not offering the “how many guests:___” options on the RSVP card.

    • This almost happened to me. My sister was dating someone and it was long-term when she asked if she could bring a plus-one. Then they broke up and she assumed she could bring a random guy friend instead.

    • When I got married, I invited couples that I knew and had been established for a while specifically by name . For a few people that I knew weren’t going to know pretty much anyone but me at the wedding, I included a plus one. For all of those college friends who all know and like each other, I left the plus ones off. I had a few people contact me to ask if they could bring a plus one to which I pretty much always agreed. It worked out well for me and nobody was terribly offended by not being given a plus one.

  4. The suggested response captures a great sentiment if your invited guests are confused about whether or not to bring plus one, but I don’t know that I would have been comfortable giving that advice to my invited guests unsolicited– rather, if they could bring a guest, I’d invite them “and guest” and leave it up to them (as adults) to figure out whether they really wanted to bring one or not. As Miss Manners says, it’s an invitation, not a summons, and that includes the “and guest” aspect. I invited all of my unattached friends to my wedding with a guest, and only a few who actually had serious but not co-habitating significant others brought guests. (Not that I think you’re required to “and guest” the invites if budget, space, etc. don’t allow it.)

  5. Our venue has a very hard limit at 150, and it’s been a real slog to cut down our guest list (lots of parental political debates). Early on, we decided to not invite kids, which would have amounted to over half of our venue’s limit if they all attended. From there, we’re only doing a +1 for people who have spouses or long-term significant others and we are naming the spouse or sig-other on the invite (if I don’t know their name, it’s probably a good sign that they shouldn’t be included!). It turns out that many of our friends are already married, so the +1 random guest really only applies to a small subset of the invites. We’re doing an online RSVP, and this is the language I’ve settled on for our website (hopefully it’s not rude, but gets the point across):

    Unfortunately, due to very limited capacity at the venue and the fact that weddings are BOOOOOR-ING you guys(!), the wedding ceremony and reception are adult-only. If you are interested in arranging group babysitting in Spring Green or Madison, please email Allison and she will connect you with other guests who are interested in finding a group sitter. Though we’d love to celebrate with everyone, we hope you’ll understand that the venue has a firm guest limit and we will only be able to accommodate guests named on the wedding invitation you received.

    Invitations are going out next week, so we’ll see how well people comply! 🙂

    • LOVE your wording: “Though we’d love to celebrate with everyone, we hope you’ll understand that the venue has a firm guest limit and we will only be able to accommodate guests named on the wedding invitation you received.” I am stealing it.

    • I feel like you’ve given too much by way of explanation, which to some may appear to open the matter up for debate (“Oh but my four-year-old LOVES weddings, he won’t find it boring at all”) or compromise (“Well what if someone can’t make it? Can I get a plus-one then since it won’t affect the guest limit?”) When you’re drafting your wording, consider the worst-case scenario of what someone may think they’re allowed to do based on what you’ve said.

      • I forgot the most important part – the website RSVP will only accommodate up to 2 and asks for all guests by name. So if I really need to call someone (kind of expecting to need to) and discuss personally, I can.

        I was told, by single friends, that even if the invite didn’t say +1 or “and guest” they would just assume they were allowed to bring someone. So…still not sure how to handle that without the “named” part.

  6. This whole +1 business is crazy. It seems no matter what tactic you choose, some people still don’t get it. My cousin had been dating a lovely girl for over a year. The whole family likes her and we’ve seen her at every family holiday the whole time they were dating. I addressed his invitiation to both of them by name. Well, guess what! They broke up and he’s just gonna bring a random chick no one even knows he’s dating. I only found out because Cousin told My Brother (and asked him to keep it on the downlow). Lucky (for me) Brother didn’t keep it on the downlow like he was asked. In the end, it’s not going to be a huge deal as far as numbers go but I invited a specific person, by name. I don’t want to be meeting someone I will likely never see again at my wedding.

  7. Thank you thank you thank you for this! I really dislike when people use “married/engaged/living together/6-month rule” as a hard rule, because in my case my boyfriend and I can’t live together right now because of work and were secretly engaged for over a year because we weren’t ready to make a big announcement. Thankfully our families have been accommodating, although in my families case we’re pretty loud and crazy so it’s assumed the relationship must be serious if they’re willing to introduce them to us! 🙂

  8. I just don’t get the +1 stress. FH and I both have huge families and a lot of friends, and a small venue with severe space limitations. And we didn’t address a single invite to “and Guest.” We still have lots of +1’s and will be meeting the newly-significant others in our loved one’s lives at our wedding. I think it’s sweet– they want to bring their “person” to witness with them our commitment to each other.

    We’re also throwing a casual reception– beer and wine, fajitas, simple cakes, outdoors. Our friends and family are generally sane, respectful, trustworthy people. If they asked to bring someone, I assumed it meant a lot to them and said it was fine. It wasn’t worth it to me to be upset. Plus, I read once that you will be surprised by who does and does not choose to attend your wedding, and that’s held true. We anticipated a high declination rate, but it’s been higher than we anticipated, so there’s room for the extra new friends.

    It was also hilarious to be asked by my FMIL and FSIL if they could each bring their boyfriends. They are very private people, so despite the fact that they’d been in these relationships for over a year, we will be meeting these men for the first time at the wedding. Ah, love.

  9. Is this really a problem?

    I’m planning my wedding right now and if I didn’t invite them as a couple people have just been asking me if they can bring a +1. They already decide on their own if it’s important enough to them to bother inquiring.

    As someone above says, it sort of sounds like encouragement to bring +1s they might not otherwise have brought, and the wording is clumsy to put on an invitation.

  10. I have allowed all of my single, or un-committed guests a pls one, as not very many of them are looking to “hook up” and i know the feeling weddings give people…two people so in love they want to spend the rest of their lives together…makes single people a little sad. I will say the battle of children not being invited, yet still expected to be “ok” makes me want to pull my hair out

  11. We were going to allow plus 1’s in two situations. 1) they have been together FOREVER and so it would be weird not to invite the other person since they’re practically married anyway. 2) The invited guest won’t really know anyone else at the wedding since they are removed from the main group of friends (only high school friend you still talk to etc). Otherwise, I do not think it is necessary especially if their family or other friends are attending. You don’t need to bring someone you just met so I can spend $50 on them too.

  12. I am definitely using this wording! I’m working on a FAQ section for my website, so I’ll include it there. Thanks for sharing!

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