Hi, Offbeat Bride!We're trying to keep our wedding guest list below 150 people — which turns out is really difficult.
Do you think not giving my single friends a plus one is tacky?
Ok, so first thing's first: yes, it's tacky. IT'S ALL TACKY! Whatever you do for your wedding, someone will judge it, someone will think it's tacky, and someone will be upset. You can't avoid it, so just be accountable for your choices, and accept that you're doing the best you can.
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's get to your issue: how can you tell your beloved friends that you really want THEM there, but don't have the space to accommodate them bringing a guest? How can you politely tell guests they don't get a +1 — this isn't just about single guests! For some couples, this can even mean that their married guests can't bring a spouse. This issue could get a lot of push-back — again, you need to hold yourself accountable for push-back if you choose not to let married guests bring a spouse.
I want to first touch on the fact that, depending on the specific guest and your community of friends, single friends not being able to bring a guest may not be a big deal. If you've got an “urban tribe” of local single folks who all know each other, it's all good. If you're inviting friends to come across the country, not bring a guest, and they won't know anyone at the wedding except you? That's gonna be more of a big deal. If you can, allow guests for those traveling from afar.
But if you've factored in all these issues, here are a few angles to try:
Word & address your invitations and RSVPs clearly
You can try your best to make your point on your invitations. Here are a couple example invitation wordings for when you are inviting someone who cannt bring a guest:
- On your RSVP cards: “__ of [insert number here] guests will attend.”
Invitations to guests who could not bring a +1 read “__ of 1 guests will attend.“
- On your invitation: “We have reserved ____ seat(s) for you at our celebratory dinner.”
Invitations for only one guest would then read: We have reserved one seat(s) for you at our celebratory dinner.
Use a wedsite to help you make your point
Even clearly written Invitations can be misunderstood, and while you can make a point to have the invitations addressed only to your friends (with no “…and guest” included on the envelope) many people assume they can bring a guest unless told otherwise.
That's why having a wedding website can be so incredibly useful — it gives you the room to explain what's going on, including that there are firm limitations on how many people you can have at the wedding.
Offbeat Bride reader Amanda Soto used this language:
Focus on venue size
In your conversations with your friends, emphasize the limitations of the venue. That way, it's not about you being a meany, it's about very clear limitations on how many people your venue space can accommodate. Make it clear, “We just don't have room for extras — if we allow +1s, we have family members who won't be able to come.”
Emphasize the community
In your conversations before the wedding, make it clear that you want the day to be about your community celebrating together. Emphasize that you want your nearest and dearest around you, and that by not having +1 guests, it allows you invite more members of your community to share the day together.
Split your wedding
This was my solution: the wedding ceremony and dinner had a pretty tight guestlist, right around 100 people. But afterwards the reception was essentially an open invitation. This meant that we had only our closest friends and family with us during the sacred/expensive part of the day, but then could have our whole extended community of beloved folks with us for the FUN part of the day. This option won't work for everyone, of course. But it worked great for us.
I'd also love to hear from Offbeat Brides — what are YOU doing to deal with this pesky situation?