Do You Have to Invite Plus Ones to Your Wedding?

I’m going start out by being 100% honest with you. I don’t really know the answer to this question. However after a discussion with Roo last week, I feel it might be a topic some of you are struggling with. Therefore I thought I’d use today’s wedding planning advice post as a forum for us to get in a discussion on the matter – I want to know your ideas and opinions on the subject please!

Although I’m sure you could Google this question and come up with the ‘proper etiquette’ answer, I think it’s much more relevant these days to figure out what’s right for you and your wedding. However I do think you should consider a few things before you make your decision…

Wedding budget

Firstly, every extra body at your wedding is going to cost you more money in food and alcohol. Before decided whether or not to allow someone to bring a guest, your first port of call should be to figure out if your budget allows for them.

The size of the wedding

If you’re having an intimate wedding the likelihood is that you want to keep it as small as possible, and only with people you really know. However if your wedding is going to be an 200 guest extravaganza a few extra bodies won’t be too weird.

Relationships

The choice on whether to invite your best friend’s husband Vs the brand new boyfriend of your second cousin twice removed is undoubtably a different situation altogether. Here’s my opinion…

The spouse or live-in/long term partner of a close friend or family member should always be invited. However if someone has only being seeing someone for a little while (especially if you haven’t met them yourself) I don’t think it’s unreasonable to not extend the invitation.

I also personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with only allowing a select few people a plus one. What is important, is to have a clearly defined set of rule and a cut-off point to explain who gets to bring a date and who doesn’t. If someone then has a strop (“Yeah sure we’ve only been dating for a week but I know he’s the one, pleeeeease can he come?!”) having these clear cut rules will allow you to explain your reasoning in a rational and fair manner.

As a side thought, you might want to allow your bridesmaids and groomsmen to bring their boyfriends/girlfriends as they’ve probably done a lot to help you in the run up to your wedding.

Who the invitee is

When we were married, we allowed plus ones for a few people. First and formost or very close friends and family members were allowed to bring their spouses and long term partners. But we also made an exception to the rule for some invitees who actually weren’t within our close circle of friends/family and wouldn’t know anyone else at the wedding (i.e. childhood friends). We did this because we wanted everyone to enjoy our wedding and to not feel uncomfortable because they didn’t know anyone. However, as I said before, this was a rule we decided on before hand. You have to figure out what works for you and your invitees.

What others in your family/circle of friends have done

Have you been to any of your close friends’ weddings recently? Try asking them what they did and why. If you’re within the same circle of friends, chances are whatever your best friend did for her wedding last year might work for you too. If they didn’t allow plus ones maybe ask the people who were invited without their partner if they thought it was OK or not. Sure it’s your choice, but a little research never hurt anybody.

How to go about it

Be sure to make it clear on your invitation if a person is allocated a plus one or not. Usually you’d address the invite and ‘Mr John Smith Plus Guest’ if they are allowed to bring someone or just ‘Mr John Smith’ if they are not. If you’re not allowing guests and you want to make sure someone doesn’t accidentally show up with a hanger-on, a polite note in the additional info section of your invitation should suffice. However if you feel weird doing this, a simple phone call to explain your rules might be required.

So in closing, I don’t think there is a cut and dry answer to the plus one dilemma. However the most important thing is to make the decision based on what works for you and your wedding. You should have a solid set of rules beforehand to enable you to explain to any potential strop-throwers why their latest fling isn’t invited to your wedding.

All Photography Credit: Emma Case Photography (full wedding here)

39 comments

  1. Laura C

    I think this is a very good subject – something which has been a dilemma for us for ages!

    Our hard and fast rule is ‘if we know them and like them, they’re in’. If not, no chance. We’re having 75 guests – our nearest and dearest only.

    This, so far, has served us well. However, one of my two only cousins has just got engaged. I see my cousin once every 5 ish years, and have never met his partner. I feel guilty about applying our rule to this one, but as long as they dont get married before me I think it still applies!

    If they do get married…then I’ll have a large headache!