These RSVP cards are start of the Wisteria invite suite from Minted.
These RSVP cards are start of the Wisteria invite suite from Minted.

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:

Can I bring a date? We have worked really hard to create an intimate celebration that includes all of our closest family members and friends so we ask that you come solo unless we know your other half well. We will specify all guests on your invitation and of course will seat our attractive single friends together so perhaps you'll go home with a date. We also ask that you make other arrangements for your children, as this is an adult affair. Thanks for understanding, and if you have any concerns about this please contact us directly.

Offbeat Bride Reader STL-Keri suggested this language:

“With all the craziness that comes with a wedding, we would love to spend as much time as possible with our closest and dearest — thank you for not bringing a guest.”

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?

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Comments on How to tell your guests they don’t get a +1

  1. We have very few single guests (like, 5?) and the venue is small.. At this point, I’m going on a case-by-case basis. My best guy friend has been single for ages and now has a g/f. I’m happy for him about this and I want to meet her.. so, she’s been invited. Another friend is local, his family and friends will be there… so unless he wants to bring a guest we know (at least in passing), it’ll probably just be explained that the venue is small and we can’t accommodate +1’s.

    • That’s kind of where we are. I’m kind of looking at it as, if you are in a relationship when I send out invites, you’ll get the plus one WITH THE PARTNER’S NAME ON IT. If not, and you call me and ask nicely? I may still consider it. The non-family singles are few and far between, but our guest list is already a lot higher than I wanted it to be, so I’m not just going to give out free plus ones.

      • I like this policy. I’ve heard the “no ring no bring” policy, which I’m not as big a fan of as it excludes long-time partners.

  2. We just flat out told people who assumed they could bring their new girlfriend or a date that we don’t have room because our venue is small and that I have a big family. End of story. We also put it on our site and our RSVPs had every invitee’s name on it where they could check “yes” or “no”.

  3. We have been thinking about this a little bit, but I feel in the next few months, this will become an issue.
    Our concern is that our location is kind of a destination.. its our old college town where we met which is no where close to family (family is from oposite locations and this was kind of in the middle). All of our friends are with in a relatively close distence. Our venue is plenty big, but our budget is tiny! We want to include everyone and I think if we invited everyone, they would come the distence.. And I have never been strict about who comes to my parties before. I am just having a hard time trying to understand how I feel about keeping the list small.. but we have to… And how do I say no to a close friend or family member who wants to bring someone who Im sure is an amazing person?! I will deffinently keep my eyes open for more advice on this subject! Thanks for what has been said thus far!!

    • Hi kt. You may not like this idea but my original plan due to a much smaller budget was to invite everyone who wanted to come, find a big location and instead of having a wedding list of items I didn’t want, I would ask everyone to bring along different items that were needed e.g. the people who can’t cook provide drinks, and the people who can cook bring along the food and add it to a big buffet. We live in Italy so most people can cook really well and enjoy showing off their grandma’s recipes. If people are expecting something more formal it may not go down well but I think that folk would go out of their way to bring fancy food so show they care if it was an alternative to a present. Or you could just set a price limit on presents and have both e.g. $20 present + 2 bottles of good wine.

      • Thanks! we will keep this idea in mind. Originally we were thinking something similar, but the travel distence is the big issue. Everyone will be driving between 4 and 10 hours to come to the wedding. I’m sure it will all work out somehow! lol

  4. We did the split wedding invite like you did, Ariel, and it worked GREAT! My mom could invite all her co-workers to the bash, but we could still have a more intimate ceremony and dinner with our nearest and dearest.

    • We’re thinking about doing this with an afterparty type deal. It’s CRAZY how all of the traditional wedding sites make this a HUGE NO-NO. Up there with a cash bar (which all of us offbeat brides know is a matter of personal opinion, thank you very much). Again, brides get accused of being gift-grubbers, which is so cliche and mean.
      I’m glad to hear that it worked great for a couple of weddings at least, because we have a huge number of acquaintances we’d love to celebrate with.

      • I stopped talking on many of those sites for just this reason. I kept getting into arguments with married women on how if a bride had a reception after a JOP wedding (because her husband shipped off to Iraq) or how if they DARED suggest someone not have a plus 1 or their children how the bride was just being greedy and selfish and made all the other brides look bad.
        Well I’m sorry other brides, but two points:
        1. Your marriage does not hinge on the weddings of others
        2. NO ONE needs the big party and the fun, or deserves it any more than another.

      • Im from australia but my good friends are irish and they have it sorted over there! they have their close friends and family to the church and dinner then the have “the afters” where about 200-300 people are invited! basically anyone in their village!! but the afters is just dancing and everyone buys their own drinks- the couple might pay for some cheap finger food for later on when everyones had too many drinks and this party often ends at 4 or 5am!!! great plan I say!

      • Splitting the wedding is really common in the UK. It’s a great idea but if you invite people just to the evening who have to travel I think they would be less likely to come.

        • I wish we could do the small ceremony+huge cheap party after, but in Brooklyn (anywhere in NYC, really), the issue is space — any space that could hold 150 or more people is massively exhaustedly expensive. Even hosting the after party in raw space lofts can be anywhere from $3,000 to $11,000, before you pay for lighting, wifi, tables, dishware, silverware, linens, decor, usually a several hundred dollars insurance policy for the space, and all the extras associated with making a huge empty very plain space into a party room — and that doesn’t even account for the cost of booze. It can mean that you are spending $20K or more before you even buy food or beverages.

          So, if you want a big party in NYC, you are always spending a lot — here, the ceremony itself is the cheap part. You can find many places to have an outdoor ceremony for a couple/few hundred bucks, but everything after that is just a budgetary nightmare.

          And so many of our large-capacity venues don’t allow you to bring ANY food, ANY drinks, of your own — sometimes they don’t even let you bring your own cake to save money. Yet inclusive packages end up not being all that much more expensive than when you price out every single item you will have to rent, plus staffing.

          I am at the very beginning of planning (we want to get married in summer 2020, although we aren’t officially engaged yet, but we have to start venue searching now because the “cheaper” (still astronomical) venues book up 18months to two years ahead here.


    • How did you word the split wedding?? We aren’t doing RSVP cards, so I just wanted to mention it on a ‘details’ insert, but I don’t know how to word it!

  5. Miss Manners says it’s rude to put “and guest” on an invitation. So. Unless I know my friend’s significant other personally and can put their name on the invite, they don’t get a plus one. Most of my friends know that I have a gigantic family and there’s just no room. This is also the reason no kids can come to the wedding because there just isn’t room.

    I was worried about some of my out of town friends, but since they’ll be around the whole crew from college I don’t think the lack of date is going to be an issue. They’ll have plenty of people they haven’t seen in a while to hang out with.

    When I was single, that “and guest” always made me feel pressured to come up with some random person to take with me. I felt like it was required of me to find someone, anyone with a pulse, even if I didn’t want to bring anything but myself and a gift.

    • I just wanted to add that during my work at a university library in the shelving department, I found out we have several manners guides. They all have pretty much the same view of the +1 as Miss Manners: a wedding is not just some house party, but rather a gathering of people who support the bride and groom. Not only can this be uncomfortable for the couple, but for the guest who only knows one person and doesn’t know the couple.

    • incidentally, how did you word it so that people were discouraged from bringing their kids? I know that’s going to be an issue for us…

      • You might not see this because, well, it’s August, but I am not having kids at ours. At all.

        Similar to the lack of “and guest” the invitations will clearly state the name of adults only and I’ll have it mentioned on the wedding website. Parents who I think may not grock it I will try to talk to about it directly.

      • We added an insert with a map in our invitation envelopes, where we added a couple of notes, including ‘children and partners by invitation only’.

        My first cousins who are kids and we’re close to are coming to our wedding, but I don’t want random people’s kids coming along, or screaming babies. Sorry, but no.

      • Oh, and incidentally, we STILL had people saying ‘I know you said no, but can I bring my kid?’ Which I think is pretty damn rude. You shouldn’t have to explain yourself…

        • Please clarify? How can anyone be expected to leave their kids behind, especially when they’re ‘screaming babies’ or really young kids who are sure to get underfoot. Some of the parents may be traveling 100s of miles to get to your wedding & have no other back up for Kiddie care. So the next option would be not to come- so why invite them at all and waste the cost of an invitation card (if you’re doing it the old-fashioned way)?

          Or better still send them an announcement of your wedding

          • If you cannot find childcare for an event, then it’s is totally 100% okay to graciously decline the invitation. Most of the people I grew up with have 2-4 children. If I invite 5 of my girlfriends (with an average of 3 kids to each) plus their significant others, that is 25 people. (we only have room and money for 130) Now imagine if I did that with every single guest–everyone from work invites their 2-3 kids, and so on. There would be no way we could financially or physically (due to venue size) accommodate them. Not to mention, there is an open pool in the back of my venue, and I feel it’s risky to have a bunch of kids running around. I would never forgive myself if someone’s kid drowned in the pool. This is why weddings end up being 20, 40, 50k celebrations because if you are on a certain budget, at some point you have to say NO. Yes, it’s hard to say no, but in the end, you have to be realistic. And PARENTS have to be realistic that part of being a parent is having to say no to going to things because you don’t have childcare. The couple wants you to share the day with them. The might have invited those people because they felt that those people were close to them and they wanted to invite them, but cannot accommodate their family of 5 or 6. There’s nothing wrong with declining and saying, “I’m sorry I can’t make it! Childcare for the night will be difficult. I wish you all the best.” and send a thank you card for being invited or a gift if you feel that bad. People cannot be everyone to everybody.

        • My friends all came to my wedding one year ago. They made the trip two hours away to be there now I am having my 50th birthday party and feel uncomfortable asking them all to make the two hour trip. I dont have the funds to cater or rent a space so I have decided on a restuaratn closer to my friends, that serve Meals at reasonable prices, but somehow I feel like I am settling for less on my big day. Any suggestions?

          • You fell uncomfortable asking them to travel 2 hours?!??! If I get engaged, I will give my friends a year to sort their stuff to travel the 7,400km…. If someone doesn’t think I’m worth traveling 2 hours – I’m sorry, they are not a friend. (Keeping in mind all my friends are in their late twenties, early thirties and have parents who are healthy (in their 60s) and have no kids).

        • Yup. I have close friends and one of them is really close so invited her, her hubby and a 6 year old daughter. another one is a fair weather friend and she goes out clubbing leaving the 6 year old with her eldest son at home and sometimes at her daughter’s house who lives close to her. So I did not intend to include her children. Today she called to ask what about her 6 year old? can she bring him? I told her I thought she is going to leave him with her eldest so I did not include him in the guest list. I have limited guest number so not possible. But I did feel awful afterwards for being rude. Although I believe she is the one being rude to ask obvious question to put me through the dilemma. But the whole evening after the conversation with her I felt really bad.

  6. I’m just saying “No”. It sounds mean, and maybe I’m a bridezilla (and John a Groomzilla?), but I have 12 Aunts & Uncles on my dad’s side and a ridiculous number of first cousins (who are mostly my parents age) and second cousins (whom I actually grew up with).

    It’s more important to John and myself that the community we’ve actively invested our lives in (for us, this is our Church community, Numinous) to be a part of the day. My family? I haven’t seen most of them in 6+ years, they all live over 1,000 miles away. Sure, I’d love to come up north for a second reception to see everyone, that’d be great. That’s the option they have.

    My mom and I had the conversation – she started it with “So dad said just invite all his brothers and sisters, and most of the first cousins.” and I said “No.” She said “Excuse me? It’s your family” and I said “I know mom, but we’re really limited, and I’m not cutting out friends for family”. It was harsh, she was ticked, but it leaves no gray area or wiggle room. Family will budge in where they can!

    With friends, I’m stating very clearly – 100 people. Small venue. 1/3 of that is going to be the Church community we’re very close with. My future mother in law, God bless her, is being great about this, and clarifying with people on John’s side who may not make the guest list. Take support where you can get it!

    • I’ve been in the same boat with a large extended family. I originally put my foot down and said “no” to my dad’s family (13 aunts and uncles on his side) but I came around thinking it would be fun to see all of my aunts and uncles. We recently moved so we don’t have many friends in the area anyways. We don’t have any friends who are being left out because of the large family. I refuse to invite all of my cousins though (tons!). I invited 3 of the cousins I’m closest to. If any of the other cousins have a problem with it…. well… screw em.

    • i’m having this dilemma myself…. invite family (who i literally haven’t seen or spoke to in 5 years) or invite friends (who i am very close to and speak to almost daily) i’m pretty sure i will get the “but its family guilt trip” from my mum, especially as we will prob invite some family but not all….. but our budget is tight…..

  7. We were trying to be nice and all-inclusive and thought we’d appease all our single friends by giving them an “and guest.” But, when it came down to it, almost none of them brought a date, and we had pretty much wasted about 50 spots that could’ve been used for friends we actually KNEW. I wish we had thought of Ariel’s point above, that our group is tightknit and most people wouldn’t come without knowing anyone else. Also, I had never thought about Jaime’s point that sometimes the “and guest” can actually be a slap in the face to singles… Oh well, live and learn. Learn from me!

  8. I disagree that it’s a given unless otherwise stated; I’ve always thought that the people listed on the invitation are the ONLY people invited. My default in dealing with anything people don’t like is to say it’s because it’s a French thing & my fiance is telling any of his family/friends who don’t like anything that it’s an American thing. Luckily, not having +1 really is!

    • That’s cool, I’m French too and although I lived in the US for a couple years, I’m not really familiar with the wedding protocol. Here in France, traditionally you would get married in a a townhouse or church(outdoor weddings are uncommon because not “legal”) and have an “aperitif” or simple cocktail to sociailze right after. Afterwards, selected guests are invited to the dinner and party.

      Here’s the invitation trick: everyone gets an invite stating “please join us or pray for us during the ceremony”, which only allows you to come to the townhouse or church and acts more as an annoucement of your wedding than an invite. The French name for it is “faire-part”, or annoucement, the same kind you would send for a baby’s birth.

      Then closer guests get an extra card inviting them to the cocktail after the ceremony, and an even smaller group gets another card for dinner.

      Here’s the thing though, to announce my wedding to old friends in the States, my parents sent them the first type of invite and we were all surprised when a couple of them flew in for the wedding! Obviously we adapted our plans and invited them to the whole event, dinner and party.

  9. We have had to be ruthless. No plus ones.
    It is frustrating because my dad keeps harping about it being a time for the parents to show me off and it is not my day! (I know right)I have over 40 cousins! I wanted no more then 50 perple and that is at 80 with no cousins.
    I put it is simplet terms for everyone
    a/ Did they congratulate us on the engagement?
    b/ have we seen them in the last 3 years?
    c/ would I want to pay $50+ to eat dinner with them.
    We had a huge engagement party and if they could not be bothered to come or make contact after the invite to let us know they were not coming, well why would we invite them to the wedding.
    I have had to cull some of my workmate which have assisted me more then anyone else because I don’t have space.

    • That’s a great checklist! Definitely going to have to file that away for future use.

    • We created a checklist too. And generally it worked. My now husband and I got engaged quickly (at the 6 month mark) and had a short engagement (only a few months). We decided that only people that knew us as a couple were invited to the wedding. We wanted to limit the wedding to the people who contributed to our relationship.
      a. did you attend (or call during) our surprise engagement party?
      b. Did you get to know us as a couple (dinners, trips, phone calls, etc)?

    • That is clever. If I went by every person I haven’t seen in that time and every person who didn’t congratulate us, I sure would have a smaller guest list!
      Of course, my dad wouldn’t be on that list, so maybe that’s a no.

  10. We both have huge families–the list of family members we are both close to and really want to be there is literally pushing 100–and that is after cutting lots of family off the list! We also have a large group of very wonderful friends who have been in our lives for years and years. We simply couldn’t afford +1s, and that is what we have said.

    • That’s exactly the position we are in. And I don’t feel particularly bad about it. I think it’s fair. We also split our day into 3 portions, and are inviting everyone to the party afterward. But the dinner is small and intimate, and we invited exactly who we wanted to be there.

  11. I am so glad you posted about this issue! This has been SUCH an awkward thing for us to deal with, since our wedding ‘reception’ is anything but- it’s actually just a dinner at a local restaurant where we have 51 seats exactly for guests. That’s it- 51, not 52, not 55, we have 51 seats and that means only the people we explicitly can invite can come.

    We’ve dealt with it in the following ways.
    1) On the response cards in the invites, we wrote “We have reserved you ____ seat(s) at our celebratory dinner” to show people explicitly how many are invited.
    2) We’ve relied on verbally telling people who ask/imply they’re bringing a +1 that isn’t invited. In that case, we’ve basically just told them outright that we’re just inviting them. We’ve apologized and basically used all the ‘reasons’ (how I wish ‘because it’s our wedding and it’s just what we’re doing, capisce’ could be reason enough) listed in this post, but we’ve mostly emphasized the fact that the restaurant has 51 seats and that we’re really trying to keep things small, intimate, and simple. Reiterating we’re not having a reception (and then reiterating it about 100 more times) has also helped convince people that we’re not trying to snub them and deny them their extra spot at our 300-person-ballroom-shindig and that we really are very limited on space and funds.
    3) We’ve tried to make up for the small dinner list by inviting as many other people (with real invites, just no card inserts with dinner/registry information) to our ceremony as possible. It’s in a church and we’ve been telling people we know who we just don’t have space for at dinner that we’d love for them to see our ceremony (the most important part to us, which we let them know) and we hope they’ll be there. We’ve told those people we’re simply having a family-only dinner after, so there is no reception, but we hope they’ll come to church anyway if they’re in the area.
    4) Ultimately we’ve not cared what people have thought or if we’ve being judged. Have we probably made some people grumpy by not being able to have +1s? Yes. Do we feel bad we can’t invite everybody’s spouse/date/partner and that we’ve had to exclude people? Yes. But are we worried enough to change our plans, go above our budget, and do something we would not enjoy (having a more mainstream style reception)? No. This is our wedding and we’re doing what we can realistically afford and what we want to do to celebrate. If people are SO offended at this, they are welcome to donate to the ‘host a conventional 300 person ballroom reception for us’ fund and we can invite +3s for all I care.

    • I like the idea: “we have reserved ___ seats for you.” So straightforward and polite. I think i will steal that language.

    • I’m a 52 yr old first time bride. We were adamant to keep the ceremony and reception small. Immediate friends, close family (no distant cousins, as a matter of fact not even ALL my first cousins) and immediate business partners-2/very best clients-4. A long time friend assumed she could bring her 18 year old son, because she knew we are close. Without even asking me first if he was invited, she asked him if he was coming to my wedding. I had to tell her there are no plus +1’s, and even some spouses i dont know at all wont be named on the invite. There are 69 total invited and really only room for 48. I have already conceded i will have to set up differently.

      But why should I have too. i have waited for this man and this day my whole life (and for most brides, DOUBLE TIME). It is about us, and to be included in our quaint guest list should be a joy. I dont care about gifts, we have two of everything already. I just want those closest to us to witness a long awaited day.

      For someone to just assume they get a plus one, no matter who the 1 is, without even asking me is rude. Weddings cost alot of money – even just for BRUNCH. And frankly we have a budget to stay as close to as possible.

      My reply has been, “our wedding is small and just immediate family and friends; but i hope you will join us at our celebration at our house this summer.” PERIOD

      I have learned that I really dont have to justify, apologize, defend or explain myself to anyone. Just want to add my 2cents here, for others.

      • If I got a wedding invitation that excluded my spouse I would be highly insulted. I’m happy that you found true love but I hope that it doesn’t make you thoughtless or careless with the other important relationships in your life.

        • She’s not being thoughtless, she is trying to stick to a small budget and a small space. Should she only have 25 friends and family there just so that all those people can get +1s, when +1s (even spouses) are often people we don’t know well, and not be able to invite the other 25 of their truly near-and-dear family and friends?

          I think it is more thoughtless for people to assume their preferences for attending a party are more important than allowing the engaged couple to have the wedding the want at the budget they can afford, without getting mad at them for not inviting their family members.

          I could be biased here because I live in NYC, the single most expensive place to get married in America, where even majorly DIY’d weddings can — if you have a 100+ guest list — cost more thab $30K ***on the low end*** and two times that at average, and three times that on the high end. So I am really not looking forward to having to offer +1s to all my out of state friends whosr spouses ai have never had the chance to meet.

    • I’m a 52 yr old first time bride. We were adamant to keep the ceremony and reception small. Immediate friends, close family (no distant cousins, as a matter of fact not even ALL my first cousins) and immediate business partners-2/very best clients-4. A long time friend assumed she could bring her 18 year old son, because she knew we are close. Without even asking me first if he was invited, she asked him if he was coming to my wedding. I had to tell her there are no plus +1’s, and even some spouses i dont know at all will be named on the invite. There are 69 total invited and really only room for 48. I have already conceded i will have to set up differently.

      But why should I have too. i have waited for this man and this day my whole life (and for most brides, DOUBLE TIME). It is about us, and to be included in our quaint guest list should be a joy. I dont care about gifts, we have two of everything already. I just want those closest to us to witness a long awaited day.

      For someone to just assume they get a plus one, no matter who the 1 is, without even asking me is rude. Weddings cost alot of money – even just for BRUNCH. And frankly we have a budget to stay as close to as possible.

      My reply has been, “our wedding is small and just immediate family and friends; but i hope you will join us at our celebration at our house this summer.” PERIOD

      I have learned that I really dont have to justify, apologize, defend or explain myself to anyone. Just want to add my 2cents here, for others.

      • I am just starting to plan a wedding for the summer of 2020. At that point I will be a 46yo 1st-time bride. I get you…

  12. I have a friend who sent out temporary tattoos with her invitations and said only guests who showed up with the tattoo on where allowed in the wedding. She sent only the amount of people she wanted to come from each invitation 🙂

    • This is a fantastic idea! With all of the kids on our guest list, I think it will go over pretty easily, too.

    • We’re doing something similar by including “tickets” to the venue in the invitations. When I first started gathering up addresses, I made it clear that I needed to know up front who all was coming because the tickets were coming with the invitations. I also explained that due to the size of the venue, we have three lists. One list of people we definately want to come, one list of people we’d like to invite if the people on the first list can’t make it, and Everyone Else.

  13. We printed our invitations ourselves, and so each response card had the exact names printed on them. Next to each name was a box they could check for “accepts” or “regrets”. That way we knew EXACTLY who our guests would be. For the people who we deemed to bring a guest (the friend who created our slideshow, for example), we just put a blank line for him to fill in if he wanted to bring a date. Then, just to be sure, at the bottom of the card we printed, “total number of guests attending: _____ “.

    This worked really well. The only hitch we had was my husband’s brother (who is single) RSVPing for 8 people. We just had to make a phone call to find out what was going through his head.

    • I haven’t sent out invites yet and am inviting +1s, but was wondering if leaving the # of guests blank would result in people thinking they can invite their whole posse. I’ll choose my words carefully after reading this.

    • I think specifically naming each guest on the return cards is a perfect idea if you need to limit the number of guests. Great thinking!

      • Still, be prepared for awkward questions even if you do this. We did exactly that, and I still have people asking if they can bring a guest. I’ve told them that they might be able to based on the number of RSVPs that we get.

      • We are planning to have ceremony during the day and reception in the evening. for those who we want for both events we sent out invitation card with the slip and a cover letter giving information about the wedding programme, car parks and let us know about dietary requirements if they have any (like nut/milk/cheese allergies or vegetarian etc). out of 75 invites Only 3 sensible invitee send us the acknowledgement and info… For others we are texting them if they got the card or not. is there any dietary requirements? and also explaining and apologising can’t include their extended family or children because it is a small event with limited reserved seat. I still feel mean after saying all that but I got to be assertive and letting them know what I want on my wedding day.
        They have not told me on my face but if they feel I am being ruthless … I agree but I don’t want to know. I felt like the whole planning and invitation is already putting me off and might not enjoy my wedding day 100% on the day. Will see.

        Before sending out invitation I texted most of my guest saying we are having a wedding and sending out our invitation so need their address if they don’t mind. most of them replied back saying congratulations … and looking forward to it. 1 couple did not even acknowledge the receipt of the text and that made it easier for me. I did not hesitate to cross them out from my guest list 🙂

  14. I’m having an entirely separate party for the friend we can’t afford to have at the wedding.It will be a come one come all bash, as opposed to the formal reception.

  15. We’re doing two things. First, We’re including a non-response card with the instructions for RSVP on our website, along with the statement, “We have reserved you ____ seat(s) in your name” to show people explicitly how many are invited.

    On the website, we are setting up an RSVP system with individual logins and passwords. Once they have logged in, the RSVP system will ask them to select the number of people they are bringing using a drop down menu specific to that guest. (Thus, for example, if we are inviting a family of 4, the max number of people that can rsvp using that login and password will be 4; if the invitee is single, the max number of people will be 1.)

  16. I am single and at the age (26) where I am going to LOTS of weddings. All of the wedding I have been to are friend weddings where I know lots of people. I have three anecdotes that illustrate good and bad ways of handling this issue.

    1. In the case of my college roommates who I do not see often, the bride has e-mailed the group of us and along with asking for current addresses, asked if we are seriously dating someone and for the correct spelling of their name. The invite is then sent to the friend’s address with the name of the s.o. on it. That way girls who have someone important in their life feel encouraged bring him and the single ones like me don’t feel the need to invite a random.

    2. My friend was invited to a family wedding on New Year’s Eve that was no guest unless married. He is one of four and all four of the brothers had serious girlfriends. One had been dating his gf for 5 years! They were put in a tough spot having to choose between the family wedding and not leaving their loves alone on NYE. Two brothers decided to skip the wedding b/c their girls could not go. Be ready to accept this if you do not invite people to bring the other important people in their lives.

    3. I was invited to a wedding by a guy I went out with once! After an ok first date he asked me to be his +1 for his best friend’s wedding, in which he was a groomsman!! The wedding was 2 months away. I felt bad saying no but I also felt bad that he felt so much pressure to have a date to the wedding that he would invite someone he barely knew.

    In summary: Invite important significant others to show your friends that you value their bonds of love or don’t expect them to value yours. If they are single I believe it is perfectly ok to invite them alone and it takes the pressure off to find a date.

    • We basically did #1 and it worked well.

      In the case of most of my friends and family members, it wasn’t an issue, because I know their significant others and I addressed the invite to both of them.

      At that point, I realized that I was planning to invite about 10 people who were either single or were dating someone I didn’t know. I reached out to them individually and asked if they would like to bring someone important to them to the wedding, if they were able to make it. Six said they’d like to bring their SOs. One said her SO would be out of the country at the time of our wedding, but asked if it would be OK if she brought a close friend instead; I said yes. The other three said they had no interest in bringing anyone. I told them to let me know if they changed their mind and we’d see if we could work something out.

      Now I know this could have been a lot more difficult if we’d had more single friends.

      But I like the personal touch of reaching out to people to gauge their situations individually. I don’t like those across-the-board rules for who gets a date and who doesn’t, as I’ve had my now-husband left out of invitations twice when we were just living together, because +1s were only extended to married couples (even though we’d been together longer than several of the marrieds there).

      For example, my cousin had just started dating his girlfriend when I was sending out our postcards. By a more traditional breakdown, I would have invited him without a plus one. But he told me that he really liked her and I’d never seen him so serious about a girl before. So I made the executive decision to include her name and I’m so glad I did. They’re still going strong and making plans to move in together next year. I would have felt so awful if she hadn’t been at the wedding now that we’ve spent a lot of time together and she’s really becoming a part of our extended family.

      • I know this is about a year out, but I wish more people had responded to you! It’s flat out awkward when people “decide” who is a valuable plus 1… and then those people end up getting married, getting close to you, etc. I know it’s often difficult in small settings or price constraints, but inviting someone who has been dating or living with the person you wish to invite makes a lot more sense than NOT doing so and possibly straining ties with that person.

    • Number 2 is my problem all over. I have a wedding in two days, and it is the second of my close friend’s weddings in the last 12 months that my boyfriend of 3 years has not been invited to.

      One of my friends has decided not to attend the reception, and is bringing her partner to the ceremony, because he wasn’t invited. I am attending without my boyfriend, but it is a frustrating trend. I don’t think it is fair to pick and choose partners, either none or all.

      If I get married and don’t invite my two friend’s husbands, I think they would be incredibly hurt.

      At the end of the day, it’s her wedding and she chooses the guests, so I can’t decide if I’m being selfish or not.

    • For No. 2 – Sad two brothers decided not to go. Their brother hopefully only get married once, and it would be a one day affair. Plus it was his wedding, therefore his decision as to who comes. I think either my partner comes or you wont see me at your wedding is emotional blackmail. The day was not about the two brothers and their partners – however long they have lived with each other, it was about celebrating the bride and groom’s love. Hopefully the two brothers and their partners will one day have their own day and then they can set their own rules.

      • Well, I think the main dealbreaker here was probably that it was New Year’s. If it had been on a radom day they’d probably have come. But on a day where you’re probably planning on going to a party with your partner, to say nothing of the “kiss at midnight” thing…

    • I would really hate this. I was single for 7 years, and if I had been invited to a wedding where ALL my girlfriends from university had brought a s.o. and I was there alone – I would have been bitter, and hated everything about the wedding, and thought it was lousy that I couldn’t even bring a friend just because I was single.

  17. Ugh. I’ve created a wedsite and included the no plus ones info on the site, just figuring out how to do it on a tiny RSVP card without going into a rant is a bit difficult. I don’t want to come off as sounding bitchy but it’s my GD wedding dammit. I know how crazy that night’s going to be, and I don’t want to waste any time meeting my hoe bag cousin’s flavor of the week (she’s shown up with a different guy at the last 3 family weddings without alerting anyone about it beforehand).

    Our guest list is awesome, and everyone knows AT LEAST 2 other people at the wedding well. I’m just worried because most of my family is out of state and what if one of my relatives brings someone all the way from california that we didnt invite? I mean… we’re having a Halloween themed reception and I’m all about horror, but I don’t want any real blood shed on my wedding day.

    • This is the funniest response ever and I feel exactly the same way! hahahaha! ‘flavor of the week!’

  18. I really like the split idea. Alternatively, the rule of only inviting the significant other if they are significant to you always works.

    • This makes me feel better! I am feeling very horrible about not inviting a couple of significant others, (though they are sisters and have invited their entire immediate family). They are old school friends and I do not know their boyfriend, just their family. They got offended by me asking people not to bring extras because we have a 40 MAX guest list, and I have a big family. Another forum on a wedding website made me feel like a total b**** for this!

  19. We have an RSVP form on our wedsite ( that functions to keep numbers down two ways – 1) one of the fields is “I am RSVPing for” and has a drop down menu that only offer choices 1 or 2 (this is intended to eliminate the horror stories i’ve heard about blank spaces filled in with 4s and 5s) and 2) we have a nice little paragraph at the top restating that our venue is tight and limited, so we ask that you be respectful of the number of places we’ve reserved for you (names on the envelope – intended to take care of the +1-that-wasn’t-invited problem

    Ultimately, if people want to be rude and bring their 3 kids/boyfriend of a week/whomever, they will, no matter what you tell or ask of them. We’re hoping that asking nicely, and then restricting options to back it up will work…

  20. We are going the “There are _____ seats reserved in your honor” route. Our venue holds 130 people and not a single person more. I have three large families, FH has two tiny families and we have friends and co-workers so 2nd cousins are not being invited UNLESS we have interacted with them in the course of our relationship, which eliminates most of them. If their parents (my cousins) get upset about it, too bad.

  21. We are having a reception of around 120 people on the actual ‘getting married’ day, and the next day will be an open invite wedding regatta at the lake, with boats and a potluck picnic. Can’t wait!!

  22. We didn’t have +1’s. The only ones who got +1’s were the single members of our wedding party, and that’s it. It’s just too much money and personally there were alot of people my husband and I wanted to invite. We wanted to use that space for family and friends. Not strangers. It bothers me when people don’t get this concept and get bent out of shape if you don’t include +1’s on invitations.

  23. This is a great thread! I just wrote for advice on our just us ceremony and how to let people know they weren’t actually invited (though we still want their gifts! ha)… the website sounds great.

    thanks ofb!

  24. I stumbled by as my original image from Flickr was getting lots of views and I was wondering why! Nice to see the image getting used as the lead to this article. I’ve always thought that there were a few in that image who looked either like they shouldn’t be there, or at least that they didn’t really want to be!

    Click on my name above, or visit to see more of my vintage wedding photographs, and also some of my own wedding photography!

  25. We are having a small wedding. My friends are all married and there is only one husband I don’t know well (but who I am inviting anyway in case he would like to attend), so among my friends it is not an issue because I’d invite them all anyway. My FH’s friends are all single, or at most dating, but nothing too serious. So we may offer his friends a +1 option, especially since most of the guests will be people I know. Luckily most of his list are coworkers who work with one of my friends. We will, however, make it clear that if they bring someone that someone does not bring drama.

  26. My boyfriend recently was invited to a friend’s wedding and it was only addressed to him. I felt a little hurt because we live together, are are having a baby this year, and the freind knows this. Also it was a weekend camping fun fest with performers and smores! I think that he will decline. Maybe he on the “b” list anyway.

    • Yes, this I think is really awkward. My feelings would be hurt too. If someone is an established couple (dating for years and years, having a baby!), I do not see this as a +1. If someone is single or has been dating someone for a handful of months, then their date is a +1.

      • I see it that way too rainyday. My man and I have been dating for almost 3 years, we live together and even have a puppy together…. I don’t see this changing because we’ve had our big arguments and are still together… I have friends who are in the same boat so of course I’ll invite their SOs!

    • You’re not a plus one, you’re a very significant other!! A plus one is someone who is just a date.

      My fiance’s cousin left me off the invitation. He called her and she was like “Oh shit. I was printing those things out at 3 in the morning and I knew I was going to make a mistake.”

    • That is ridiculous. I understand when people can’t allow their friends to bring random dates to a wedding. But you are not a random. You are an established part of his life. Obnoxious!

      This is one of the reasons I really hate the rule many stick to that if you’re not married or engaged, no +1. It completely leaves out committed couples who have chose not to get married, either at the moment or ever.

      Twice before my husband and I were married I had friends invite just me to their weddings, even though we were living together and had been for years. It really pissed me off and hurt my feelings, like they thought our relationship wasn’t a important because we hadn’t joined their marriage club yet.

      Also, obnoxious is when an invitation is addressed to one member of an established, non-married, couple and then has “and guest” added. What the heck? If you know both people by name then they both get invited by name.

      To me “and guest” should only ever be used when you’re inviting a single person and telling them that they can bring a random date, if they want.

    • Sometimes when my cousins invite me for dinner but does not include my fiance I make an excuse not to go. But only if my fiance is with me. but when he is working and I know he definitely cannot make it to the dinner I accept the invitation and go alone.

      Now, one of my dear girlfriend got a boyfriend recently. When I was talking about my wedding plans and telling her about having limited seat and going through dilemma cause I have my family and close cousins. Nevertheless she asked me to invite her boyfriend as she wanted to introduce him to other girl friends (8 of us) during my wedding day. I felt annoyed cause here I am telling her about my dilemma about not having enough seat for every guest I wanted to invite and she asking me to invite her boyfriend.
      I send out the invitation only addressing her. Cause I felt that since she started going out with him she has never bothered to introduced him to us. I am glad she is happy in her relationship but I don’t think its my duty to create opportunity for her to introduce her boyfriend to us. So I left him out from my invitation. Besides I have never met him and I don’t know him at all. And I want only dear and close people who I know to be at my wedding ceremony. I still feel bad so texted her to explain that we don’t have enough seat as its reserved with limited number. if some invitee send RSVP and there is a seat available even if his name is not on the invitation she can bring him at the last minute and hope she is not offended by it. She texted back ‘no worries’ … but I still feel mean and bad.

  27. We had very few +1s, but what we were really worried about was certain extended family members bringing their kids (which they’ve done at other weddings). To take care of both, we did the “__ of __ will attend” (filling out the 2nd blank) on our response cards, and listed everyone specifically (using “and guest” if we didn’t know) when we addressed the envelopes.

  28. For people who gave me flack, I sent a link to a wedding etiquette FAQ page about it, and also mentioned that there were space constraints because of my large family. Well, ahem, Emily Post says you’re the tactless one, so there!!! And I did get a lot of flack, since we were the first of our generation, among ALL of our family or friends, to get married, and no one knew/remembered any wedding etiquette whatsoever! GAH!

  29. We’ve had serious constraints thanks to the absolutely rigid limit of our venue and our massive families (my fiance’s family are having a separate party for those in his family who we can’t invite – there are 200 people on their invite list and 120 max for the entire wedding…).

    We decided to invite long-term significant others and those who we’d met and liked, but just to be honest with the others and explain to them individually, and there was actually hardly any complaint. Most people seem to understand ultimately that there’s enough stress in planning a wedding as it is.

    We also told people that if space became available we would invite plus-ones wherever possible, and as it’s happened we’ve ended up getting everyone’s partners in after all! Try not to let yourself freak out over it too much in advance; the solution might just present itself in time!

  30. Wow hehe i actually have the opposite problem lol most of the 30 people on my list are in relationships and their partner is being counted… hoping FH’s single friends bring dates or they will be dancing alone lol

  31. To be honest, I am paying for my wedding subsequently cannot afford extra expenditures and simulataneously did not want a room half-full of strangers who weren’t and couldn’t possibly be there to celebrate with us. I wanted the atmosphere to be instantaneously family-like, warm, and comfortable for everyone. To the couples in which both individuals are friends of ours, we sent individual or dually addressed invites. I wracked my brain to figure a way to politely say,”no plus ones, please”. This is what I finally came up with:

    “Because this is a close family and friends event, we do ask that only those addressed on the invitation attend. While we are asking this; we guarantee you will know someone else who is attending and will do our absolute best to craft the seating chart accordingly. If you have any questions or concerns about the possibility of bringing a date, please contact us. With any luck, you may even leave with one!!! ;)”

  32. we are letting friends with serious significant others bring dates because we know their significant other. just to make it clear to everyone, we put a line on our rsvp card that says “we have saved __ seat(s) just for you!” and then another line for them to fill out how many are attending. I think this will help make everything crystal clear for our loved ones.

  33. Our evites were pretty informal and had a humorous tone, so I just addressed it in the faq:

    Q. Can I invite my husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/cousin/sister?

    A. Significant others and children are invited but lets leave it at that. If your cousin IS your significant other, please seek counseling.

    Q.But you forgot to invite so-and-so!

    A. No we didn’t. If we wanted them here, we would have invited them. If you really think I just totally forgot someone who should be included, let one of us know (PRIVATELY) and we’ll deal with it on a case-by-case basis.

  34. I know that the point of this post is for people to share their experiences in dealing with “this pesky situation”, and I’m sure everyone’s aware that single people may be offended- hence the need for this post. But I do want to throw in my two cents from the other side. As a single person (who reads this site and offbeatmama because I like to plan and dream about love too), yes, I would be very hurt to not have the option of bringing along someone whom I could count on to be with me at a celebration where, let’s be honest, the majority of attendees will be (often older) family of the bride and groom, and/or married/in a couple. In my experience it’s not often that there is a large group of single people, and they’re usually the “dregs” of a group anyway- largely unconnected with each other. At a celebration that’s entirely centered around the love and future happiness of a couple, it can feel like a bitter reminder of what you don’t have, at a time when you just want to be able to wish the couple all the happiness in the world- and yes, it still feels that way even if they’re your best of friends, or closest of family.

    For those saying “I want to be able to spend time with the people I like, not someone I don’t know”, or “I don’t want to be in a room half-filled with people I don’t know”, how many people are actually going to be at your wedding? Realistically, even if it’s only 50, you probably aren’t going to have the time or the inclination to spend more than a few minutes with each guest, because you’ll be caught up in the celebration- while your guests will have the other 2.9 hours to themselves. Who would really lose out in this situation? I understand about the space constraints and budget worries, because if you’re funding it yourself each place is naturally going to feel more precious. But if this scenario were presented to me, the couple would most likely be saving themselves an extra place in my stead; it would be highly unlikely that I would feel comfortable enough to attend alone or to stay for much longer than a congratulations and best wishes before departing. Even for the best of friends.

    So, if you’re really set on a particular budget or space constraint, or looking for a particular “atmosphere” at your wedding, it’s absolutely your prerogative- but perhaps consider adding a clause for people concerned about dates to contact you privately as they RSVP, giving a few of your more shy and uncomfortable unattached friends the option to bring a +1. You could even set a cap on it- say, no more than 5 people could even have that option- as I can almost guarantee only those most afraid of being alone will even bother to bring it up. But you should also prepare yourself for the possibility that some people you love will choose not to attend solo, and try not to be offended.

    • That’s kind of why I’m handling it the way I am. I’m not “officially” inviting the singles with “plus ones”, but if I know they’re in a relationship of any substance at all (i.e., my BM has been dating a guy for about six months, and he’s in), I’m inviting them. Because, I don’t care if you’ve only been dating a few months and some don’t see that as “serious” – if you’re in a committed relationship (even if it is new), it sucks to leave your SO home.

      With the truly singles, as I said, I’m not putting it on the invite. However, if the person asks me about it and seems concerned, I’ll consider it on a case-by-case basis, particularly if we get a lot of regrets. We budgeted for about 110 guests (and were hoping for less), and our list is over 130. It’s the only place we’ve gone “over budget,” and it’s DEFINITELY my fault, not FH’s (or his family, or my family), but unfortunately it’s also the most expensive place.

    • I’m with you, Megan. I know that we all have budgets, etc, but realistically you are not going to be able to spend a ton of quality time with most people at your wedding. So for the four hours that you are NOT talking to a particular friend, I think it is fair for them to have someone there with them (IF they want to) that they can hang out with.

      I got married last year at almost 29 years old, and I gave a guest to all of my friends who are single (I addressed the invitation to “Friend’s Name and fabulous date of your choice!” to add a bit of levity). Granted, there weren’t many, so it wasn’t a huge financial deal, but mostly I just felt that if someone was almost 30 they should be allowed to bring a freaking date if they wanted to, and not be expected to hang out with a bunch of married people.

      I think there are different circumstances (i.e. large groups of friends who already know each other) but I would urge you to really consider the enjoyment of the single people at your wedding- if they are the only ones, they should have the option.

    • This was the reason that everyone at my wedding was allowed to bring a guest, if they so wanted. I would never, ever want someone to feel alone or abandoned at my wedding.

      But on the flip side, I have to say that when I was single I never, ever brought a date to a wedding, because I wanted to spend all my time catching up with friends and relatives I had in common with the bride or groom.

      I guess so much of the thinking on this depends on the types of weddings you attend. I’ve never been invited to a wedding where I knew fewer than 10 other guests. So it didn’t really matter to me if I was the only single person there or not, because there were people I knew would be interested in hanging out with me, and vice versa.

      If I were invited to a random co-workers wedding without a date, I might choose not to attend or go but tell myself it is OK to sneak out after dinner. But, honestly, that situation has never come up.

      I guess my point is that someone with my type of wedding experiences might have a hard time understanding why one of their friends might feel alone at a wedding if they weren’t allowed to bring a date.

    • I completely agree! Having been a single person for so long, I was invited to my cousin’s wedding a couple years ago. The bride was obviously too busy to hang out with me on the day, and her sisters and parents (the ONLY) people I knew, were too busy…. I was bored, lonely, and felt resentful that I had paid so much money to travel the 6 hours up to the wedding (and bachelorette party months before). I didn’t feel I could decline as there would be all sorts of questions.

  35. We had a very small wedding and a friend and her husband brought their small child even after I had explicitly told her ‘no kids’ 2 weeks prior. No ‘sorry’ or explanation- I was and am pretty angry about their rudeness.
    It seems even when you are clear some people will do as they please. I just had to get over it but won’t be contacting them anytime soon.

  36. I think there’s not a way to handle the question of dates without some small measure of awkwardness. I was recently invited to an old friend’s sprawling potluck-style casual park wedding, and I asked if I could bring my other half, because I knew literally two people at the wedding besides the couple. The bride said guests were welcome if we brought enough food to share at the reception. Apparently the bride’s mom (who was *not* paying for the whole shebang) didn’t know that we had been given that reply, and said something snotty about it to Other Half at the reception. Of course, Other Half would have been fine being left at home, as she knows that crew somewhat less than I do — we just wanted clarification, not to wrangle another invite from the couple.

  37. It was mostly painless for us since there were only 29 guests: no one got a plus one. Husbands and boyfriends and wives and girlfriends were invited, but in almost all cases they were people we’d known for years. There was only one person we didn’t know, an old friend’s new wife. Our ceremony was intimate and personal, and it wouldn’t have worked if everyone there wasn’t familiar with us. I think one aunt may not have come because I wouldn’t let her transfer her boyfriend’s invite to her best friend, and an acquaintance tried to push her way in as the date of a mutual friend, but mostly everyone got what we were going for. After the ceremony and official reception we had an after party at a local bar and tons more friends came to that (or our earlier engagement party). Everyone who wanted to celebrate with us got the chance.

  38. My best piece of advice on this subject is to stay flexible. We intended to have a firm “no +1” policy because the budget and guest list was fairly tight. There certainly wasn’t any “plus guest” on the invites, and we sent named invitations to friends’ significant others who had been dating for a long time. BUT, things always come up. What about the wedding party member who was recently messily divorced and felt a personal need to bring a date? Or the good friend who had only dated a girl for a month before the invitations were sent out, but was already convinced he was going to marry her? Our “no guest” policy ended up being far more fluid in order to account for some of these unexpected questions. They were all dealt with on an individual basis, and in the end we had space because a lot more family members declined (or were no-shows) than we had originally expected.

  39. When sending out invites, I freaked out about plus ones since I’ve been living abroad for a few years and havent been able to keep track of local wedding customs/expectations/people’s relationships…Thankgoodness a friend gave me great reassurance. She said people won’t think you’re cheap if you don’t give everyone a plus one (only people in serious relationships)and that if you do give people the opportunity, they will bring someone…random. which is ok cause most people ‘pad the envelope’ and cover the extra person’s dinner, but it lead’s to a less intimate/cosy feel. I would recommend asking around to see who is in a relationship or not…

    • I think my rule will be the following:
      – plus ones if you’re married (and I’ve been to the wedding)
      – plus ones if you’re in a serious relationship (and I’ve met the person)
      – plus ones if you are a single friend and likely won’t know more than two other people at the wedding.

  40. Ah, this is so interesting and understandable. I once got offended when a work colleague said no to me bringing my long-term boyfriend (I ended up changing my RSVP from yes to no). Later, I completely understood the flip side of this: boyfriend and I feel that for our wedding we’ll invite our immediate families plus 12 guests apiece, leaving NO room for plus-ones. Also, I regret to say, a few partners of my friends are people who grate on me, and so I’d most defintely like to see the friend, but not the lovair.

  41. I was invited to a friend’s brother’s wedding, and my +1 was selected for me already: An old high school friend that the couple also knew! The invite came addressed to both of us, so we played “Swap partners” for the day. Our SOs hung out with one another while we were at the wedding. I thought it was nice of the couple to consider that for us and ‘pair us up’ that way. We were still at the “OTHER single table” at the back, though. The “cool” single table was next to us.

    For my own wedding I’d like to take it as SOs only, no “dates”. And definitely no children: They’re bored and cranky at weddings and I don’t want to pay $100 for a dinner some 4 year old will only pick at because it’s not chicken nuggets.

  42. I am 31 and getting married for the only time, so there are a whole host of people who need to make it on the list (some just to witness hell freezing over since for years I said I’d never get married). My fiance and I have discussed it, and we would rather throw an awesome party with all of our friends than have a super fancy dinner. So we have our ‘want’ dinner at $50 per person, and then an ‘if we need to trim’ dinner at $35 per person.

    We are having a good sized out-door wedding and tented reception with an open bar. Space is limited only to the point of how many tents I ask for. I didn’t put “and Guest” on any invites. I added each friend’s S.O. to the invite, and for all my singles, invited just them.

    None of my singles have asked to bring a date yet – they just keep asking if there are going to be any cute guys/girls there and for me to seat them together. Hee hee. (If anyone does ask… I plan to say ‘I was planning on setting you up with one of my friends at the wedding.’)

  43. I’ve heard about this problem so many times and one thing that I really don’t understand is why someone would want to bring a random person to a friend’s wedding.

    An important significant other who your friend(s) the bride and/or groom just hasn’t met yet, because you live far apart? Absolutely. But do people outside of movies really bring random dates to their friend’s weddings?

    I mean I guess there isn’t anything wrong with that if you want to do so and and the couple invites you to bring a guest. But to me, weddings are about catching up with old friends and family members who I don’t get to see very often. When I was single I never even considered bringing a casual date or friend to a wedding with me. I wanted to kick it with my buddies, not be worried about introducing someone all the time.

    Honestly, if I was invited to a random co-worker’s wedding and knew I wouldn’t know anyone else there, I’d probably just decline and send a nice gift, or else go and be ready to take off right after dinner if my table companions proved lame.

    • I only once brought a random to a friend’s wedding. She was a friend from college, I knew a totle of zero other people than the bride, iy was in another state tewuwiring a 2hr road trip, and I was single in my mid-30s. Considering all of that, I would have been awkward and bored and lonely all night if ai had gone alone, so I brought a guy I had only had a few dates with. We had a really fun time, and then only saw each other a couple of times after that because we realized we weren’t right for each other.

      But I earned my +1’s seat by us being two of the people who really got the dancing going and kept it going, which the bride said helped the party seem more fun than it may have otherwise.

      Meanwhile, I am now (at 43) just starting initial planning on our summer 2020 wedding, which will be BONKERS EXPENSIVE since we live in Brooklyn. We are going to try to limit +1s as much as possible because we have a 130 guest list (down from 166) and holy crap, it is “down payment on an apartment” expensive to get married here unless you do it at City Hall and have no reception.

  44. THANK YOU!!!1!
    My mama, as much as I love her, is turning out to be a COMPLETE CONTROLLER of my wedding (and I don’t mean a cool controller like one with arrow buttons and the first 2 letters of the alphabet…). Whether it’s the awesome angel food cake that my sister-in-law’s gonna make (instead of one with fondant, which I find just plain icky) or who is included in my SMALL guestlist, the answer of “Why not?” is always “It’s tacky!” Fortunately, I already had the response of I’m tacky, get over it.

  45. We are having our handfasting in my grandmothers medium sized backyard, we figure we can get about 50 people there for the ceremony and reception potluck and we have already made a no children 1 to 16 allowed, (my two closest cousins have babies under 1 and my uncle is taking them in the house and babysitting for the ceremony)
    We did the guest list and it is at 44 people right now so plus ones are not an option so we are having a bonfire that evening at another friends house that is pretty much an open invitation.
    Which brings up a question, if you are having an open invite party are you having to tell some people not to show due to them not getting along with friends of yours who are closer to you than they are? How would you deal with it? I have decided that the bonfire will be by invite but LOTS of people will be invited

  46. This website is a godsend! As a somewhat-heavily tattooed weirdo in a town full of *normal* people, I feel like my wedding sometimes won’t be flashy enough or live up to people’s standards — especially some of my old school friends (whom I love dearly, but have actual jobs where the earn proper money, not a waitress&chef like myself & FH). However; when it came to the plus ones, we’ve been pretty fortuate in the sense that all of the singles are actually said old school friends, so all know each other. Should they feel put out about not having a plus one, I agree with the “welcome to contribute to a fancier reception” suggestion 😛 And just on the tangent of mothers, my normally overbearing mother, who usually hates my tattoos, has been amazing through the whole thing! I think she’s come to appreciate that I’m never going to do things the conventional (read:her) way.

  47. Our issue was mostly with people bringing kids. If the single person had no partner in their life, I didn’t give them a “guest” as long as they were going to know people at their table. I did have several guests that added on their kids, and I contacted them and said, “We wish we had room for everyone to bring their kids, but we really meant the invite for you and your spouse. I wanted to give you a night on your own where you wouldn’t have to cut someone’s meat! The only children coming are those in the family or in the wedding.” Then I gave them the names of other friends who were coming so they could maybe pool babysitting. Everyone adjusted to not bringing their offspring, and apologized for not getting the hint from their carefully worded invitation.

  48. I have never heard of this before! Perhaps it is becasue I have only been to English and Australian weddings, but it never occured to me that people would just rock up with an extra guest. Oh dear.

    • Same. My wedding is in a couple of weeks (in Australia). I would have never dreamt of asking to bring someone along to a wedding if they’re name wasn’t on the invite. However, I just had two separate friends if they can bring a +1. Not parters (all partners names were on the invite), but just someone else because they didn’t want to go on their own. I found it quite rude they they even asked, and after discussing with my fiance, we decided that we just wanted to share the day with those that were close to us…that’s why we chose those people in the first place. Then if they have a partner, they can come too…it’s a bit different to bringing a friend i think.
      Anyway, to my shock, my of my ‘friends’ sent me a really nasty message and seems to have de-friended me over it. Seems they weren’t the friend I thought they were…….
      This wasn’t a numbers issue at all…more about who we wanted to share the day with.

  49. I find it fascinating that people want to bring small children to a wedding! I have quite a few friends & family attending our wedding with small kids and the resounding answer was “Yay! An excuse for a night without the little ones hanging off me being bored/tired/hyper/cranky/hungry/full/needing the toilet.”

  50. Well, we didn’t have any issues with +1 at the beginning of the process. We invited guests with long-term partners (married or not, mostly not) together – and our singles alone (they all knew at least a few other people, so no reason to feel awkward). There were only 3 kids to be considered and they were my guy’s nephews and niece, so of course they were included.

    Then we got an unexpected +1 request just a week before the wedding – a Jack Russell terrier! Belonging to the nephews and niece. I was taken aback at first, but since that the wedding was a weekend-long cabins-by-the-lake affair and we couldn’t expect them to leave the dog at home that whole time, and the family said he’d be fine waiting in the car during the ceremony, we said ok. Lucy turned out to be a real highlight! So I’m all for the case-by-case basis approach to +1 requests 😉

  51. my partner and i are being cheapskates and having a courthouse wedding which has a maximum seating capacity of 50. so that pretty much restricts us to immediate family and our closest friends (it doesn’t help that my partner and i both come from large families where both of our parents have separated and re-partnered). so there will be no +1s, if your name isn’t on the invite, you don’t come. sorry.

  52. I have a bit of a problem and need some advice. I have friends that have a little 2 year old who was not listed on the invitation and I don’t want them to bring her. Having a child scream in the middle of my ceremony will bring tears to my eyes…and not the happy kind. The problem is they are coming from Belgium to Canada and then travelling 2 hours to the wedding. I have not asked her if she was planning on bringing her daughter as I don’t want to offend them but there will be NO other children. She’s too little. So how do I tell her not to bring her?

    • Hi Amy, that is definitely a tough situation. Since you realize that your friends may not have any options for childcare since they are coming from overseas, and since they are going to such an effort to be there, I’m sure you don’t want to come off as self-centered by simply announcing that they can’t bring their daughter. Instead, maybe you could use a “just being helpful” / “let’s find a solution to the problem” approach by saying, “Can my family/friends and I be of help finding a babysitter for your daughter so you can enjoy the day?” Maybe a helpful friend or family member would be willing to make arrangements – find a babysitter, put them in contact with your friends by phone/email. If they are reluctant to entrust a strange babysitter with their little one for the whole afternoon/evening, maybe make a compromise and have them use the sitter just for the ceremony and bring their daugther along to the reception.

  53. I didn’t read all the comments to I’m sorry if someone has already posted a similar situation…

    I haven’t really spoken to my father since I was 18. And though he definitely will not be giving me away it seems WRONG not to invite him. But I can’t STAND my step-mother and step-sisters. How do I politely let him know that I only want him at the wedding.

    Our wedding will be our day and we only want people who are important in our lives there. As it stands my guest list is 43, and I don’t really want to go much higher. I do NOT want my step-family at my wedding.

    • I am estranged from my parents (mentally/emotionally abusive), and though I know I will be getting a lot of blowback, I am not inviting them. And I will only invite my father’s cousins if they promise/swear not to tell him that it is happening at all, or where, or on what day.

      Do not invite family that make you feel bad.

  54. We’re only going have 45 guests, we cut out my extended family completely (the great-this-or-that I haven’t seen in five years, cousin whoever who doesn’t know my name, etc), and any ‘family friends’ that we haven’t seen in 1+ years. Cutting out the far-off branches of the family tree gave us plenty of space for “+1,” because we have enough friends that aren’t part of the common circle and would probably be more comfortable bringing a guest with them.

  55. I think the biggest issue for us is going to be family that isn’t invited showing up or feeling left out.
    We have 20 people. Our parents and their spouses. My brother and his. My sister in law and hers. My grandma. My uncle. Our friends – N, A, J, A, M, K. We can’t afford to have everyone under the sun appear. If I have a million dollars to spend on the wedding, I’d invite all my friends on facebook, the friends I haven’t seen since elementary school, my high school buds, my university pals, my aunts and uncles, and cousins, and everyone that I can think of.

    But I don’t. My one uncle is coming because he’s a good friend. He’s not that much older than I am. He always listens. We talk on the phone and on facebook often. But he’s single and I’m afraid that he’s worried he has to bring someone. So I asked him to be our MC, because he totally rocks at it. He’s done it for all the major family events and hopefully he won’t have to bring someone now. I’ll talk to him closer to the date. My two best friends aren’t seeing anyone and they are bridesmaids, so I don’t think they will bring anyone. And the two groomsmen are married and their spouses will be there, as they are all good friends.
    So I really only have two to worry about. One of my best friends and my uncle.

  56. On my save the dates, I wrote a personal note to the singles, asking them to let me know by the month the invites are going out if they would like a plus 1. This was for out of town singles, very close friends, and close family who are divorced. We’ll see how it goes. Now reading this post (which is awesome) I’m thinking I may have been too liberal, but we’ll see come July what the skinny is, because our B list keeps growing and I want those date spots! Now the friend from Alaska who asked if her friend can come as a date is going to have to get a lot of careful thought at $100+/head.

    • You know, I am grateful that there is a person out there who was that liberal. As a single, who is 28, I try to empathize with young people paying for their own weddings, but I get invited to A LOT of weddings, and because I have moved a lot, I have to travel out of state for most weddings. When I spend $1,300+ per wedding, it is nice when someone considers that although the day is about them, I have traveled far and have paid a lot to support them and would also like to have fun. Thank you for being so sensitive to the issue!

  57. I’ve been struggling with this question since I started planning my wedding since my reception site holds a strict 130 and I have a lot of single friends. I’ve been having a lot of little game parties at my apartment where I’m inviting the stragglers who don’t know the group as well to meet people so that the wedding won’t be a giant party of strangers. Also, thank you for dispelling the “tacky” debacle! I was surprised to see that word used so often on a site dedicated to the offbeat! Brides, just focus on not being obscenely rude and people will understand that your wedding is about more then just them!

  58. What happens when you have some extended family you do hang out with and want there, but others that you only see once or twice a year? Or how about relatives of my fiance who he wants to invite but doesn’t think will actually make the trip to Boston from Ireland?

  59. Our guest will be rsvp-ing via our wedsite. The wedsite has the option of listing the exact amount of guests allowed per party. I have the option of listing each guest within that party by name or leaving it blank and allowing the invited guest to write in exactly who s/he intends to bring! Next to each name is the option to bubble in “yes” or “no.” The “maybe” option can be included, but we opted out of that. It’s at, and so far we haven’t been let down! All the RSVP options have been super helpful for us. The website is easy to navigate and sufficiently customizable, too! Good luck all!

  60. We are having TWO RECEPTIONS.

    Sounds expensive, but it’s the opposite! I have people who I love but don’t intend on inviting to the wedding already asking me when they should save the date (presumptuous much?). I immediately tell them, “The formal family wedding and dinner are on such-and-such a date, but we are having an open reception at the park for all of our lovely friends like you the next weekend after!”

    We thought people would be offended at first, but every single person has said, “Omigosh, what a good idea!”

    Formal wedding plus 1st Reception cost: keeping it under $10k.

    2nd Reception cost: $40 for public park “rental,” plus $2k flat rate for a popular food truck, plus a friend’s band who is playing for us for free.

    Cost of being able to celebrate with our entire group of friends, family and community that we love…PRICELESS.

    Plus I get to wear my dress twice. Bonus!

  61. We made our guest list with +1s in mind. We live in a relatively urban area, but we’ve also been to about 10 weddings between us in the last year or so, and most of our friends are coupled off. I find that sometimes people won’t want to bring a date if they already know plenty of others there, or that their date might be a drag. Married couples are obviously counted in, but by doing a bit of research and counting all of the +1s into the wedding guest list, we have realized that only a couple of people will be coming alone, and we’ll deal with them as it comes along.

    Thanks for writing about this sometimes sticky wedding planning issue!

  62. Although I am single, I frequent this site for the excellent decoration inspiration. I’ll give the single person’s perspective on this issue. If you are going to have a strict “no plus ones” policy, it should apply equally to singles and couples. If you don’t know your friend’s girlfriend, boyfriend, partner, husband, wife, they are not invited. Even people who are single without a S.O. usually have a best friend who fills that supportive role in their life. Frankly, I think it’s very rude to rank other people’s personal relationships. So either everyone gets a plus one, or nobody does.

    • Even though it’s been nearly a year this comment, I can’t wrap my head around “I think it’s rude to rank other people’s personal relationships” in conjunction with saying, “Well, if you don’t know so-and-so’s significant other.” That’s essentially “ranking,” too (“Well I know someone, but I don’t know the SO”… what if it’s because he/she works, long-distance, you’ve been engaged such a short time the SO never got the chance to meet you, etc.). I think it all comes down to “discretion” and “case-by-case” rather than a flat out rule in EITHER direction.

      • What I think this poster is trying to say is that while you may not know your friend’s boyfriend of 5 years whom she lives with, you also don’t know your other(single) friend’s best friend. Yet the former gets a plus one, and the latter doesn’t… Why should the boyfriend (SO) outrank the Best Friend? Why should one person be allowed a plus one and one not?

        • Because a wedding is a celebration of romantic love, and yes, it is an event that by its very nature *does* exult eros over philia, if only for one day and in that one, specific space. It absolutely makes sense that a couple would make space on their guestlist for a guest’s significant other half, but not for a friend, who – not being a unit with the guest in question – might honestly come off a bit like a random gatecrasher.
          I honestly believe it is the absolute prerogative of the bridal couple, who may well be paying as much as $100 a head for each guest, to be discriminatory in which relationships they recognise and are willing to go out of pocket in recognition of.
          My best friend is the platonic love of my life going on fifteen years now, and I can’t imagine my life without her, but it certainly wouldn’t occur to me for *an instant* to feel entitled to have her invited to accompany me to someone else’s expensive, catered event, and offended when she wasn’t!

  63. We were really specific and addressed both the envelopes and the inside wrapper to exactly who we intended to invite. Still, my two of my FOH’s friends (one of whom actually invited himself to the wedding in such a way that it was too awkward to *not* send him an invitation) have invited girlfriends that we didn’t even know existed. We’ve decided that so far, two extra guests aren’t going to break the bank and I don’t want to make things awkward by telling the guys they can’t have dates. But I’m still bitter about it and trying to figure out how to *not* be angry any more.

  64. Thanks for bringing this up! We’re getting married during a hockey game and providing our guests with tickets to the game on top of the reception, etc. A lot of my friends/coworkers that I wanted to invite are married but I don’t know their spouses and don’t have the $ to buy the extra tickets. I ended up cutting them from my invite list – but I haven’t finished my invitations yet… Maybe I’ll reconsider and use one of these ideas to invite them as singles. As coworkers, maybe they can just come as a group.

  65. We began our invitation with the wording “Because you have shared in our lives by your friendship and love” hopefully getting the point across that we do not want unknown random dates at our wedding.

    In the event that one of our single friends does contact us about bringing a date then I plan on calmly explaining that we cannot afford to have +1’s due to our limited budget. The one exception we will be making if for our bridal party. Of the six people we have chosen only two are married/engaged. Since we are asking them to put a lot of time and effort into being a part of our wedding, we think it is only fair to allow them a +1. Of course if they prefer to go solo we are OK with that too!

  66. What if this +1 situation is with an attendant? My MoH is insisting that she get to bring a date, but she’s not dating someone that I’ve ever met. We are pagans and having a pagan wedding and want to restrict the list to actual FRIENDS. She is not the only person I’ve told no about +1s, but she is making the biggest deal. Help!

    • I’d recommend reading the comment above you–your attendants shell out a LOT of time, money, and energy on you. She might not even know many people at your wedding (though I’m sure she might, since you said you’re keeping it to friends). Either way, don’t feel entitled to just take all the efforts your bridal party gives you–is one date going to ruin your whole wedding? And in an even more civil way… why don’t you agree to meet this date BEFORE the wedding? If she’s your MoH, you should probably be getting to know him/her anyway!

  67. So this hasn’t been visited in ages, but regardless.

    I just sent my invites out last week. Those who I knew had long term partners were invited by name – as in “Jane and John”. Those that had been together years and years and years/were living together/had had little humans together. One the RSVP cards, the names of those invited appeared. If it was one person, then just their name.

    Today, I got my first contact asking about the invites and plus ones.

    I simply told them that “No, there was no plus one due to venue and catering, and that I only plus one’d those who wouldn’t know anyone there.” I also told them I would let them know if they could bring a plus one later on if numbers allowed it.

    I have decided on a blunt but kind route from now. I’m done with letting things flow around me for fear of being a Bridezilla.

    • My invites are going out next week and I went the route of putting each guest’s name on the reply card…all 90 of them. It was daunting, but I hope will alleviate any confusion about +1s. In a follow up story, my bitchy MoH who would NOT give me a break about bringing a date broke up with me. I feel relieved 🙂

  68. My fiance and I are rather geographically challenged. I grew up in Indiana, then moved to Illinois when my Mom remarried. Shortly after I left for an international boarding high school where I made friends from all over the world (my bestie lives in Saudi Arabia). I went to college in Texas, where I met him, but most of my family is still in the Midwest, and my friends are all over the country/world. He lived in Texas his whole life but his parents recently moved to Colorado, and his extended family is in Montana. To top off the craziness we recently moved to California and are having the wedding here. Soooo… issues.

    Our solution is we are having a very very small wedding/reception out here in CA, less than 50 people, and then we are going to have two more ‘cake receptions’ in different locations around the country after the honeymoon. One in Indiana for most of my family/friends, and one in Texas for his family/friends. We will have another much smaller cake, minimal decorations, and probably just an iPod playlist as a DJ, and not much else. They will be very simple (read: very cheap) but it offers a way for us to celebrate with everyone without having to having to book multiple hotels full because absolutely everyone will be flying in for the event. It is also another chance for me to wear my dress more than once, which is great considering what I paid for it.

  69. I had a number of people ask me directly about bringing SO’s. When I explained the limitations to them, they were completely cool the reality that we can’t do it unless we know said SO well. However, we also had a number of people RSVP with SOs which we had NEVER met, so I had to make the awkward phone call explaining that there is a reason there was only one name on the card. Again though, most people have been completely cool with it and apologized for not checking. We do have one person who has said if he can’t bring his GF then he’s not coming. I was pretty pissed because first, he just RSVPed for this girl whom I had not only never met, but we didn’t even know he was dating someone. Then when we contacted him about it he asked if his ex will be there. Yes. Will she be there with her BF? The answer, honestly is yes, but because we’ve known her current BF for 2 years before they were even dating. He was always on the list even if they’d broken. This friend then gave us the ultimatum that if his GF can’t come, then he won’t be there. Goooooo drama!

  70. I’m still very undecided. I have 4 lovely friends in their 40s and 50s who are all married, and I have never met their partners. Two off them went to a wedding withoutr their husbands, so I guess it is okay with them because they didn’t refuse the invite (they had an absolute blast!). Even though they all know each other, I still don’t want to be Miss (Bad) Manners, and but I don’t want random blokes at the wedding either. This post made me feel a LOT better 🙂

  71. We ran into the problem of who gets a plus one and who does not in terms of our group of friends – love that term, “urban tribe” – and people were starting to get huffy about whose SO is more important than others within the group. It got so messy that we decided that in that group of 10, they all knew each other well enough that they could eat/dance/drink with each other and have a lovely time – that way, the girls who were pitching a fit that they could not bring a date but so-and-so could became a non issue. We have set an all or nothing rule that unless we know the SO that they can’t attend. If our friends can’t leave their SO at home for one night to spend with 10 of their close friends at a wedding, then they don’t need to come. There is a reason we invited groups – there is not a single person there who won’t know at least a few people.

  72. I am having the same problem. I have a huge family. My partner has a huge network of friends… I don’t know where to cut. so no plus ones is a good idea but still sticky because of the family and friends who have been dating for a long time. I have family who would be coming but I don’t know their partner. but they have been with them for years…

  73. I know this is an old post but exact language is really helpful to me so maybe this will be helpful for somebody else. This is what I have decided to put on our wedding website…

    Can I bring a date? We have worked really hard to create an intimate celebration that includes all of our closest family members and friends so we ask that you come solo unless we know your other half well. We will specify all guests on your invitation and of course will seat our attractive single friends together so perhaps you’ll go home with a date. We also ask that you make other arrangements for your children, as this is an adult affair. Thanks for understanding, and if you have any concerns about this please contact us directly.

  74. Our dilemma is that I have my heart set on this place (Caesars Palace Juno Garden) which will only accommodate up to 150 people… then we are having dinner which will accommodate up to about 200 people, but then we have a limit of the number of people allowed in the suite (Absolut Suite) which I’ve heard is pretty crowded at 200 people. And our budget isn’t big enough to accommodate more than 150 people- so we’re kinda stuck. And what makes it worse is that his family is more than twice the size of mine and he has friends galore. I feel bad when I tell him we’re limited the the amount to people we can invite, but it has to be done. So currently I only have my brothers and sister and their families (15 people just right there), then my aunts and uncles, my cousins and their spouses, my godmother, my mom and dad’s best friends who have known me since BEFORE I was born, and my four closest girlfriends and their husbands…. and that’s 50 people… which leaves him 100. I think that’s more than enough, but you have to know; his parents are divorced and remarried to other people. So he’s got FOUR parents, that means double the grandparents and double the aunts and uncles… but NO CHILDREN… except his brothers and my close niece and nephew (the only ones under 18)… so hopefully there aren’t many +1s and no angry parents?

    • I forgot to mention that as for the plus ones, I put on our wed site that we just don’t have the room for extra people, but if the contact us the when the RSVPs are due that maybe we could work something out… I have a good idea of who might not be able to come at least on my side… but first and foremost if my niece Chelsea (my bridesmaid) wants to bring a date she gets first pick as she is helping me do my DIY (dresses, purses, invitations, etc.) If she wasn’t going to be only 20 when we get married I’d make her my MOH.

      But honestly with the restrictions we really CAN’T have more than 150, not trying to be rude to those single people. I really will try…. I blame my FH for having too many people! 😛

      • I know this is yonks later, but the “check back after the RSVPs are in” seems like a great way to approach this, especially if the limit is due to practical reasons like venue size. You’re acknowledging their desire for a guest without making a commitment to overstretching yourself (or breaking fire regulations!).

  75. I was just invited to a wedding on the West Coast (I live on the East Coast) of a friend I have not seen in five years. I was super excited when I received the save the date, but am so bummed now that I received the invite. I have not been invited with a guest and the ONLY two people I will know at this wedding besides the bride and groom are my ex-boyfriend and his now wife. Do you think they had just hoped I wouldn’t come, so they didn’t invite me with a guest? This one seems like a no brainer to me, but apparently not.

  76. THANK YOU EVERYONE!! I’ve been mind blown with what to do about this, but def adamant about no +1s just b/c you’re single- everyone that’s invited knows will know more than a handful of people. I’m about to steal some of yall’s wording- I literally just read every single post and cut and pasted, but what I had come up with on my own was ‘Due to limitations on space and resources, we cannot invite any +1s to this event, we are at complete maximum’ but I really like adding in that we want it to be a family and friend affair and you will know at least 5 people there! Oh and having a FAQs tab on our website- brilliant! Thanks again!

  77. Because there’s a 500 mile difference between my fiance’s family and mine, and neither of us can afford to fly in the guests (or house them), we’re doing 2 small weddings. There will be no +1s OR children allowed (with the exception of the ring bearer/”flower” girl – we’re not doing flowers either…). The plan is to send out cards similar to the wedding program ( with a section regarding attire, food options, and bringing of additional people. I intend to have that section read somthing like:
    (in bold) Can I bring a guest not listed on this invite? (/end bold)
    Sorry, but no. As this is one of two weddings, we have to keep the guest lists small. We wish we could invite everyone, but alas, we can’t. If childcare is an issue, please see (insert website her) for help.

    And if someone calls, asking if they can bring someone not listed? “Sorry, but I thought the invite was clear. We simply can’t do it.”

  78. Hey everyone,
    Is it a bad idea to put a note in the individual’s invitation that they cannot bring a +1? I’m working on a tight budget and a small venue.

    • I personally don’t think its a bad idea about the note with the invite I think it just comes down to the wording…

      I’m just about to start invites for our wedding and there are a few people that we don’t want to invite their partners (and at least one is a husband) I will say it unfortunately comes down to the budget, and we have had to be really tight on our guest list…………. not the fact that your husband is a major douchebag who seriously needs an attitude adjustment and I would rather stick the fork I will be eating my wedding cake with into my eye than shelling my hard earned dough on feeding him and making nice on a day that is about my partner and I.
      End rant/

      I hope it works out for you 🙂

  79. Urgh – this is sort of where we’re at with our guest list, and for some reason the +1 issue brings out the bridezilla in me something fierce. Our guest list right now is hovering between 80 and 90 people. Neither of us has a ridiculously huge family, but neither do we have a ton of money. Our families are paying for most things, so I feel badly asking them to extend themselves further so that we can include people that we don’t really know and don’t feel strongly about having there. This isn’t going to be an issue for most people, but we do have a few friends who will likely be bringing S/Os we don’t know. It’s actually one friend in particular who cycles through relationships fairly quickly who is causing me some grief – we had finally made the decision not to give him a +1, only to find out he has a new girlfriend with whom he has bought a house. I also had one of my bridesmaids’ very recent ex, who I haven’t known for that long, Facebook me to ask if she can still come to the wedding (which isn’t for a year and a half). o_O

    I guess I just don’t want to spend my wedding meeting and making small talk with people I’ve never clapped eyes on in my entire life, whose dinner I have made my family pay for. Given that it’s only a few people we’ll probably just decide on a case-by-case basis, and err on the side of being inclusive. But we’re really making an effort to keep the guest list small and the costs down, and HAVING to invite people we’ve never met because MANNERS just kind of gets my goat.

  80. I love that this discussion spans years – My wedding was over a year ago but I stumbled on this when looking at things on pinterest for a friend.

    I wanted to share that we did RSVPs via a website. Our general rule was people got a +1 if they were in a relationship around at least 3 months and all guests were invited by name – except for my single first cousins who were all in their 40s and some older family/friends who would be traveling alone. We had three friends have break ups in the 8 months we were engaged. Two of them didn’t have any expectations to bring guests after that – one had a complete meltdown that we didn’t give her a guest even though she had no one specifically she wanted to bring and had several good friends there who would all be flying solo. She could not comprehend that we were trying to have a smaller more intimate day. It was one of the biggest stressors with my wedding was her anger about this.

    While I was reeling with her anger we sent out our invites. We did RSVPs on the website only – I was so smug about that because I heard horror stories about people writing in another guest on their response card. With the website (we used wedsimple) you couldn’t add another person. I figured I was saved from that drama. When I got my first RSVP I was so excited – the person sent me a msg via the website immediately after saying “To whom it may concern – I am bringing a guest.” Just the wording… I was so pissed. To whom it may concern? I think it’s clean who it concerns!! Turned out he had just started dating a girl and said for sure she’d be flying down (both his brother, sister in law, mom and dad were all coming to the wedding also). Leading up to the wedding my now husband called him saying we just want to confirm she is coming and if she’s not you need to tell me by 2 weeks before when we turn in our numbers. Said he understood and it’s all good. A couple days before the wedding he text my husband saying “Just wanted to tell you I’m single and ready to mingle.” Yep. They broke up and she didn’t come. I don’t understand how people just don’t get it enough to even be socially appropriate about it.

  81. Having a dinner for 20 after our wedding. At the moment I have 21 people on the list. Two of the people on the list I thought I’d add a +1 guest on their invite. I also have one child at the table (not me) it’s our flower girl.

    Can I not add the +1 on the invite and ask the parents of the child to go home after the wedding or make arrangements for a sitter. Seems like no matter what I’m gonna look like a jerk.

    This has all come about because my partners family has suddenly decided to terrorize me by showing interest in what’s going on in our lives. 😉

    • Remember it is your wedding not theirs, however if they are paying for part of it then I would let them have some say. I’d ask the flower girls parents if you could arrange for a sitter for her for the reception, explain that it is an all adult party and not appropriate for the young girl. Also remember that most likely not everyone you invite will attend. There is nothing wrong with over asking by 1 person.

  82. Way to may post to read all the replies to this one but I’ve done two things. First I put on the RSVP cards that I have saved X# of chairs for the party and the names of who is invited are on the envelope. For example I have two single friends who live together and are both dating people I don’t know. I put on 2 seats and the names of those two friends. Also in my FAQ This is my response to that question.

    “• Can I bring a date?
    Nope no dates, sorry this is our wedding and we don’t want anyone we don’t know to be there. I refuse to feel awkward in a big poufy dress in front of strangers I’ll already feel that way in front of my friends and his family.
    We have a really small venue and we weren’t able to invite nearly everyone we wanted to and we just don’t have the space to add people we don’t know.”

    I know it sounds really harsh I tried to add the humor in it because I know those two friends have now been dating the people they are with for a while but I don’t want to risk not getting along with them or them causing drama….. and I really don’t have any more seats unless someone sits with my mom.

  83. I just wanted to say that when my fiance and I had only been dating for a couple of months he was invited to a family friends wedding (his name was on an invitation with his parents names, no + guest on the rsvp card). He/his parents asked the couple if I could come (as his plus one). They replied that the could afford to pay for someone they had never met (hardly even heard of) to come to there wedding (fair enough). I didn’t actually find out about this till after so I am not sure how it was organised but my fiance paid for me to go to their wedding. In the end my partner and I had a great time and it was an important day in our relationship not to mention how wonderful it was to be able to witness two people who are now good friends of mine get married.
    Our wedding is in April and I will be putting names on invitations and no +1s on the rsvps (we are very space limited) but if people ask me about brining their new partner if we can squeeze them in to the church we will. (i’d still be mad if people assumed they could bring a +1 (or kids) though 🙂 asking=good, assuming=bad)

  84. I’ve been reading posts on this website for two days now. It’s really making me worried, even though it’s mostly “How to deal with X situation” posts.

    I’ve started a list of people I’d like at a small immdeiate-family-only (plus my cousin bridesmaid and her fella, and my best friend bridesmaid and her fella who are the ones who got us together) ceremony and dinner. So far, without any groomsmen, it’s 25 people including my fiancé’s 6 nieces and nephews. Plus my cat if whatever venue we get allows.
    Being Irish, we’re probably going to have a big party “reception”/afters. This is where it gets tricky… I’ve got a few couples listed who I am close to in my re-enactment club, and as many friends of his that I know he’s close to, and our mutual friends from when we actually knew eachother in college. And then it’s the relatives that we like – Okay, so I have discussed some things with him. But I have only listed the cousins,aunts and uncles that I like and know would make it a good night, and that all get along. And yet, I feel bad for not inviting my lovely aunt and her partner (we don’t consider him part of the family) and their grown-up kids and their partners (I get on OK with my cousins, but they’re not the most down-to-earth and kinda don’t gel with the others so well). I’ve not even listed any of my dad’s nieces and nephews yet (I’m closer to my mother’s side) because some of the ones I get on with best are the kids of his brother that he hasn’t spoken to for 30+ years. I don’t recall talking to the ones who live in Wexford (SE Ireland), and the others are all well older but came to our engagement party up home in Monaghan (north central, on the N.I. border) and I *do* like them — the eldest even told me he was going to propose to his lady one drunken night.
    There are a good few aunts and uncles on my mother’s side whom I haven’t invited too. The one aunt who has really stirred up trouble with my mam’s sister and her kids (I like the elder girl, but don’t really know her well and she lost her boyfriend shortly before we got engaged… :-/ ), the uncles who are separated from their wives and turned into giant assholes somewhere, the uncle who lives in England, the ex-wife of one asshole uncle and their two sons (who I knew as babies but they wouldn’t know me from Adam now), and the 3 sons and partners of the other ex-wife whose daughter is one of my bridesmaids – lovely guys all round but I’m not as close to them as I am to their baby sister.

    So far I’m at 160 people for the whole day. Plus one feline, maybe. I may decide to round up to 200 for the party (in the hope that half can’t make it), but that’d just be people **I** think would be fun to invite. And the issue of exes comes up then — the one guy it never really worked out with but was there for me for so long who sounded genuinely kinda sad when I told him, the ex who’s my sparring partner and better as a friend is not a question if there’s space, and the one guy it was never official with but was there just as much as Ex#1. GRAAAAGH!!!!

    Any advice? Any similar situations?
    Sorry for long post. Have a potato *giefs*

  85. We had to cut out 2/3 of our guest list due to budget issues, which meant all our dearest friends and mentors were cut out so we could afford to cater (literally!) to the relatives. I wasn’t about to let some fourth cousin thrice removed bring a stranger to my short wedding when my college roommate couldn’t be invited, so I found an awesome template online that I modeled my RSVP card after.

    The first line states, “We have reserved ___ seats in your honor,” so all I need to do is write in the same # on the blank space as is listed on the front of the wedding invite. Easy peasy!

    If anyone throws a fit…well, the entire thing will probably be only one or two hours…I’m sure they’ll survive.

    God help anyone who tries to sneak in a guest anyway LOL I WILL ask them to leave (the Boy and I have spent over a year scraping the bottom of every paycheck barrel there’s no way I’m wasting my money on people who can’t respect me enough to remember it’s my day, not theirs!)

  86. We were very blunt and two the point. Our invites said at the bottom “By invite only and no children under 14” its simple and direct. And nobody took it personally bc it was out front in everyones face, so it was clear it applied to everyone.

  87. We used the wording, “We have reserved _ seats for you” on our RSVPs

  88. We are currently running into this issue in several ways. We wanted to have an intimate wedding where we were surrounded by our nearest and dearest. That came to about 75 people. With parents forcing us to invite all extended family, we ended up inviting 94. Our venue can fit that amount, but it’s not ideal. For this reason, (and hello! Money!) we laid down boundaries about +1s and kids. We dealt with this by making it clear on the RSVP cards and by carefully addressing the invitation to only those people invited.

    We were always sure we did not want kids apart from my niece and nephew who are in the ceremony (and will be taken away to go to bed early on). Everyone else had to either make a choice or their make own accommodation for their kids. BUT! We still had someone write in their kid’s name on their card regardless of number of guests that were invited. After the feelings of shock and awe at the thick-headedness of that, it then lead to an awkward email that still hasn’t gotten a response! I could go on about this but I’ll stop there.

    The other is the decision we made about +1s. Our married family and friends got invited regardless of how well we knew both of them. Even our friends who have lived together and have been serious for years got invited together. In this case however, all of those couples we know equally as couples. Then it got sticky… Cousins who have been dating people but don’t live together, aren’t engaged, and we don’t even know their SO did not get a plus one. We figure they are family and will not feel alone surrounded by family. Friends who are dating but not serious also didn’t get a +1. Honestly, that one stings a bit but with the family we had to include it was a tough but necessary call. If they are true friends, they will understand. We ran into a few awkward convos with these. Cousins and friends asking if they got a +1 after only receiving a Save the Date, (to which we responded, “invitations will be out this spring”) Friends asking even after it said “1 guest” on their RSVP, and genuine questions coming from a kind place which broke my heart! Once all the RSVPs are final (haha) I’m hoping we can make room for a couple of those people. Lastly and least, friends who are completely unattached don’t get a +1. That one is easy. Why would they? This isn’t a random “come y’all” party. It’s a carefully orchestrated occasion. I’m anticipating my new husband and I won’t have time to talk to everyone, why would I want to be introduced and make small talk with a totally random person? Is that awful?

    Wow, it feels really good to vent about this stuff to an anonymous party. First comment. Thanks!

  89. We invited anyone that wanted to come but our party is a 4 day holiday weekend so I wouldn’t dream of telling anyone that they can’t bring a +1. I reserved and booked all of the accommodations and had everyone pay me for the rooms so I’m fairly confident that there will not be any no-shows. I didn’t set my budget until after I knew how many guests would be attending. It simply makes more sense to me to do it that way.

    My rsvp date was May 30th but the celebration isn’t until Labor Day weekend.
    The people who are coming are the most important thing. We figured that out first and everything after that is just details.

    We were actually prepared for as many as 50 more people to attend and we would have been thrilled to have them.

  90. Can I write “invitation only” on our invites? My fiance is Nigerian and it has becone apparent to me that Nigerians feel that if they are invited to a wedding they have the power to invite others. His brother had people put +7 on their RSVP card when they were only given +2 on the invite. Despite his calls to some people he still had almost 400 people at his wedding when only 200 were invited. Which the venue of course expected him to pay for. We have a very tiny budget and cannot afford to have any uninvited guests. I’m even considering having the venue check names at the door to make sure no uninvited guests sneak in. Help!

    • So, I have no idea whether this reply is a moth late or over a year late… But: How does your husband feel about this? Is the: All welcome! thing something that is culturally important to him, or is important because you don’t want to offend those people for whom it’s important? If yes, maybe look into having some kind of party (maybe even as a seperate event organized by other people, as somebody in the comments mentioned) that everybody COULD attend. If it’s not important to you or him, then yes, be blunt! But also recognize that people might have different expectations, that are just culturally formed and that this may result in clashes where nobody is trying to be mean or selfish.

  91. I have a friend who RSVP’d +1, though her envelope was just addressed to her. My mother (who is graciously handling the guest list) is furious and wants me to correct her right away. I did not +1 this guest and our group of friends since well we’ll have each other. It’s not even a date she’s inviting, but her roommate, whom I have never met. It is a small venue and numbers are tight. I can try explaining this to her, but it will just result in drama. Any advise would be greatly appreciated!

    • Hi Kbride,

      If she’s truly your friend, she’ll understand. If you just explain to her that numbers are tight and it wasn’t intended for *anyone* to have a plus one, I’m sure she’ll realise she misunderstood. It’s best coming from you rather than your mother, as well.

      Good luck 🙂

  92. Ooooh…. this was an annoying subject for me. We decided no plus ones unless the plus one was a close friend, too. We were on a TIGHT budget. I was laid off soon after our engagement, and with one month to plan, I was broke super fast! My FH lived about 6 hours away and was not able to do much, my parents were hosting the wedding in their backyard, and we were both set on trying to spare them, my grandparents (who were assisting financially and otherwise) and ourselves from spending too much. The only people we weren’t close to who were coming was a couple who were close friends of my parents’, and since my parents had asked if inviting them could be our way of thanking them for paying for things and letting us use the house/grounds, we said alright. I told the people concerned that we had a tiny budget, and that we weren’t doing plus ones. Pretty much everyone was understanding, including one of my bridesmaids, whose boyfriend was not being invited, (mainly because no one was getting a plus one, but a LITTLE because I didn’t like how he behaved… which was like a spastic, selfish two-year-old). They all said they understood and it was fine, not to worry about it, etc.
    Night before my wedding, my wedding party (who were all out of towners) were all invited to come stay over night at my parents’ house and work on last minute stuff. Guess what? My bridesmaid brought her boyfriend who stayed overnight and for the whole wedding, reception, etc. I could not believe she went ahead and brought him, but I knew that it would end badly if I said anything, so I ignored it and prayed that he would behave himself. Luckily, he didn’t pull any of his normal bad behavior for the wedding, but I still feel sad that my friend would lie to me saying it was no big deal and then BRING HIM ANYWAY.

  93. My finacé and I are using squarespace for our website and found that it is very easy to set up an online rsvp section. I have been told by a friend that the wording for our rsvp section is to the point, but well said. ‘We wish we had the capability of inviting everyone to join us, but, due to space limitations at our venue, we sadly cannot. We sincerely hope you understand and know that we truly appreciate everyone for wanting to celebrate our life together!’

    Thought I’d post to maybe help a bride out who is still struggling with the perfect way to break it to the guests!

  94. These are great, but what happens when you dutifully explain why plus one’s are not permitted and your crazy relations go straight into orbit?! I got screamed at, called horrible names and was told plane tickets were already purchased and I would permit it if I didn’t want to be responsible for reimbursing him for the ticket. It was utter madness. I caved out of shock, but it has truly soured my desire to include this individual in our day (and our life)! Sadly, this is not the first occurrence of utter rebellion and disregard for our wishes, but it is the most extreme.

  95. Thank you for this content! We established and explicitly stated a no plus one policy at the beginning of the planning process, yet a friend recently challenged it, stating suddenly that “he assumed he was allowed a plus one” despite our earlier conversation. Being able to refer to this page (and consulting with close family and friends), was helpful in both addressing this situation, and clarifying the wording on our wedding website in a polite way.

  96. My situation is two-fold. My father is a pastor and used to be mine while growing up. When he discovered he was not going to be asked to perform the ceremony, he was very upset and hurt. My response was that I wanted him there as my dad to support us and not in the role as officiant because the man we have performing the ceremony is our current pastor. Days later he sent an rsvp for him and a woman that he wanted to bring with him whom I have never met even though the invitation was addressed only to him. I told him that unfortunately our venue is not large enough for plus ones, nor are we financially capable of taking that on. He became even more upset and wrote my 3 brothers and sister a text message condemning my behavior after which he wrote that he would not be attending. I believe that he will change his mind, but I’m very concerned that he will show up either with his guest or will be there by himself but be unsupportive/unloving which will create a lot of stress for me and especially my betrothed on our wedding day. I love my father and want him there, but I’m very nervous that he will not act like a mature adult. Any thoughts?

  97. Our affair is going to be small (30-45 people) so no one gets a +1 unless we’ve met this person. This reminds me of that HIMYM episode where Lily complains about Ted constantly bringing girls that no one ever sees again to private moments like New Year’s Eve and her birthday. If this person was serious to you, then we would have met them by now!

  98. We had our invites printed to read, “due to the nature of our venue, we cannot accommodate children or additional guests.” This was true: the venue was a hard 60 people max, and that included my photographer. But, since the wedding was small, I was able to reach out to certain individuals who were in 1) long term relationships and 2) had children, but were family (my sister in law, and my brother in law’s gf) and let them know that we absolutely wanted my nieces/nephews there, I just didn’t want to have “versions” of the invitation. I was also able to talk to the few single folks invited in advance, and see if they wanted to bring a plus one. All of them were in the bridal party (and thus pretty occupied, anyway), and none of them opted to bring a guest.

    That said, beware of the online RSVP. I had people RSVP that they were coming who weren’t invited. At all. Guest or otherwise. Needless to say, I lost my shizz that day.

  99. I’m confused about SO’s. My future brother in law has a girlfriend that lives with him. When she is invited to other family functions, get togethers she never stays more than an hour or two. Do you think she needs invited since it’s likely she won’t be there for most of it? Going off of past experiences, she was here for one hour at Christmas when my other future brother in law came from Oregon.

  100. I am planning my wedding and I have written on my RSVP cards this RSVP is valid for one person only.
    to avoid having people show that I don’t know as I wish to keep it personal but I feel bad as I have family friends that are three brothers and I only know one of their girlfriends really well and have an invitation for her but not the other 2 girls how do I tell them without sounding really horrible.

  101. Thank you for posting this, we’ve been struggling as well. Our wedding is going to be in our back yard, and we are only inviting 40-45, but at 8pm are opening it up and turning it into a house party. At that point, it’s pretty open invite, but we finally decided not to allow non-significant-others to the wedding or dinner part. Luckily most invitees are couples, but we do have a few single friends. I plan on talking to them individually and just telling them that to us getting married is a super personal and private thing, and we’re not comfortable with people we don’t know being there for it. (This is true. I know not everyone feels that way, but we totally do.) I am hoping that framing it this way will be a subtle reminder that the day should be as meaningful as possible for us. I also think that if someone gets upset they can’t bring a random +1 even after us letting them know it would make us uncomfortable on our wedding day, they’re sort of jerks.

  102. I know this question is YEARS late, but we are in a bit of a tricky situation about +1s that I haven’t seen discussed much on the thread:

    We are beginnimg to plan a wedding in Brooklyn, NY in the summer of 2020. Because we are an older couple (mid40s/me and mid 30s/him), we have a lot of friends from various parts of our lives. More than half our guest list will have to fly here (draft: 134 initial list, down from 166 — actually down from 177 before we decided on kid-free) from various parts of the country and a few from Canada and London.

    Because we have so many out of town guests, we do not know SO MANY of their spouses and significant others. It’s not just singles whose dates we wouldn’t know — we have many friends whose husbands and wives we have never met even once, and many guests we haven’t seen in years. Not because we don’t want to see them, not because we don’t want to meet their loves, but because of physical distance.

    We want to give +1s to anyone who has to travel, but it is SO expensive, and that means nearly half the people at the wedding would be people we do not know.

    Before you tell me that I should make the guest list smaller, I have an abusive family (my parents will not be invited, nor will most of my relatives because I can’t trust them not to help my parents crash the wedding). My friends are my chosen family and my lifeline. It is important to me to have as many of my friends as I can possibly afford to invite. If I invite spouses we don’t know as a blanket rule, that means we can’t invite people we really like, enjoy, and miss.

    Many of our friends will know at least one or two other people at the wedding;, some will know a bunch of people. But some of our friends have social anxiety, some won’t travel without their partners or dates, and some have already gotten snippy and even angry and throwing words like “selfish” and “angry” and “insulted” around on a Facebook thread when I posted some article I read by a woman who argued that we should do away with all +1s, and I said “Hey, we’re not engaged yet, but this is an interesting article.” (Folks were getting so riled up even though they were not even thinking it was about OUR future wedding… the FB post was not even about what WE would do, it was presented as “What an interesting article.” We are not telling anyone we are planning a wedding yet because we aren’t officially engaged yet, but we know we want to have the wedding in 2020 and we have to plan way ahead because venues here that can hold 125+ people book up 18mo to 2years ahead.)

    We would love to offer travelers but+1s and some of our perennially single friends +1s so we don’t expect them to be lonely. BUT:

    New York City (I was born in and still live in Brooklyn) has been reported as the single most expensive place in America to get married. No one has a back yard or house we could use. Even if I do TON of frugal DIY for decor, cake, hair, jewelry, bridal party gifts, not having any flowers at all, no favors — just finding a space that fits 130+ people (that isn’t a picnic in the park, which we don’t want *and* which is out because my maid of honor has bad pollen allergies), just a big enough space for a meal and a dance floor can run around $30,000+ (!!!) for the venue and your own DIY food/booze/decor/etc – and that is considered *”cheap”*for a 2020 Brooklyn wedding! In fact, I’ve been researching and apparently the average here is around $65,000! It’s astounding.

    My partner’s parents may want to help pay for the wedding, but they don’t live here and they do not believe that anything costs anything. I’m a super thrifty and frugal person because I have been low-income most of my life due to a creative and activist-focused career, but they are frugal even though they do not have to be, they are very financially secure, they just do not think anything costs anything; they also have only a tiny handful of friends so they can’t relate to any crowd over 15.

    This is the dilemna with +1s (whether spouses or single dates). If we give everyone +1s that can end up adding $15K to $25K! But ai also don’t want to have a wedding where people would feel angry or miserable.

    How do I word invitations (or phone calls) in order to *discourage* bringing a partner/friend, but *allowing* guests to do so if they have social anxiety and/or would not come for whatever reason unless they can bring someone?

    Whew. That was a LOT! Can you tell I’m spiraling about this?

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