Google+ Southern Etiquette: Plus Ones - Southern Weddings

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Hey y’all!  We’re back with another installment of Southern Etiquette.  This time, a reader, Christina (who, by the way, LOVE LOVE LOVES SW mag – her words, not mine – yes!), sent in a conundrum that I’m guessing many of you are puzzling over.  Christina writes:

“Recently I’ve seen weddings where the couple is trying to save money and therefore if you and your significant other aren’t married, you can’t bring them as a +1.  It seems a bit awkward to have to ask, but some invites are tough to distinguish who is invited.  Any thoughts on this?”

Why yes, Christina, I do have some thoughts to share on this subject, as I’m sure our readers do, as well.  But first, as always, I defer to Ms. Post:

“The spouses, fiances/fiancees, and live-in partners of guests must be included, even if you don’t know them.  But you get to decide if you want single, unattached guests to bring dates.” (Etiquette, 17th Edition, page 572)

Well, that’s pretty clear, and I don’t think many of us would dispute her there. 

But what if your friend from college has been dating her current boyfriend (not fiancé) for a year and a half?  The more budget-minded among you might be tempted to cut said boyfriend off the list in the name of saving $$$, but I (and this is just my opinion now) would urge you not to.  Have you ever been to a wedding without a date?  I have, and it wasn’t that fun.  Since so many activities at a wedding seem to revolve around coupledom – particularly dancing – I think allowing a “plus one” for as many guests as possible (especially those who have a steady partner) is a courtesy that’s worth stretching the budget for.

But tell me – what do you all think?  Are “plus ones” a splurge-worthy necessity or an unacceptable budget buster?

Images in header c/o Millie Holloman

lara Written with love by Lara Casey
  1. avatar Ashley reply

    Emily, I agree with you. Even though going stag to a wedding may sometimes have its advantages (i.e. single hot groomsman), I would still feel offended if I didn’t at least get the option to bring a date.

  2. avatar Daisy reply

    When I got married this fall our guest list was tight due to space constraints. We decided that anyone who was single when the invites went out did not get invited with an "and guest" unless they were in the wedding party. We were having a destination wedding & the thought of someone feeling the pressure to try and find a friend or romantic interest to invite for a weekend away seemed like a lot to ask. We did have a few people call and ask if they could bring someone- but it turned out that both times they had a new boyfriend/girlfriend we didn’t know about, and that was fine. We were just trying to keep people from inviting the person they met at the hotel bar the night before! In the end it was great- we had a nice crowd of single friends who got to mingle, as well as some groups of friends who took the opportunity to rent some suites & have a fun weekend of catching up. Don’t feel obligated to give every person an "and guest" – but at the same time, create a bright line rule so it doesn’t look like you are trying to exclude your cousin’s annoying on-again-off-again boyfriend. For us it was that our single friends came single.

  3. avatar brooke @ claremont road reply

    I agree with you — at our wedding, anyone who was in a relationship (even if we had never met the significant other or they had only been together for a few months) got invited with their SO. However, I had a few single friends who had actually told me they’d rather come alone and have fun with friends rather than "babysit" a date, so we (and they) were okay with us not including "and guest" on their invitations.

  4. avatar Stacey reply

    I think your tip is good about a long-term boyfriend. I have been dating my boyfriend for 3 years until we got engaged this past May. I don’t like going to weddings unless he and I both could go. Also the second part to her question was how do you know who is invited to the wedding. On the outer envelope you will see one name ie. Mr. John Doe. on the inner envelope you will see the names of all the guests invited. ie. John, Jane and family or the kids names listed. If the kids aren’t invited then it will just say John and Jane. If the guest is allowed a plus 1 then it will say John and guest.

  5. avatar Jessica B. reply

    I completely agree with you, Emily! Well said. :]

  6. avatar Heather reply

    I agree with Ms. Post and Emily, if they have a significant other, the SO should be invited as well. However, to save money, like all have stated above me, it is completely fine for you to give the invitation to a single friend without a plus one. If they do call and ask you if they can bring their SO, that you may not have known about, then at least they are being polite in asking you and not just showing up with someone, as people do that, and you may want to take that into account for the budget. Going to a wedding alone is not very fun, unless there are going to be a lot of single people there. :)

  7. avatar Christina Solomon reply

    First: Thank you Emily for featuring my question.Ashley I felt like you expressed you might – offended. I had (and am still with the same guy) a serious relationship and wasn’t given the option. This has happened twice now – once to a wedding I was invited to and now to a wedding he was invited to. We have been together more than two years and live together. I understand budgets but it just doesn’t seem in the spirit of weddings. The destination wedding limitations seemed very fair and would be respected. You don’t want just randoms at the wedding but my situation isn’t that at all. I can’t wait to read the additional comments and potential experiences to help me understand.

  8. avatar Charity reply

    I agree with Emily about it being awkward to have to say no to a +1 but at the same time, that brand-new significant other to the person who changes "partners" quite frequently isn’t always welcome. I guess using your own discretion can be the key. I generally go by the invitation–look at the front–who it is addressed to is usually who is invited to the wedding.

  9. avatar Sarah reply

    I agree with you one hundred percent, Emily. In the grand scheme of things, a couple of "and guests" shouldn’t make or break a budget and/or your ability to accomodate your guests. I am getting married in May and before I booked anything, I made my guest list and gave everyone (including my uncle who has been single my entire life) the opportunity to bring a friend or significant other. I think that it is important when hosting any event to be gracious and think of your guests feelings. If budget or space is that limited, a host may need reevaluate the guest list. As a guest, I don’t think that it is appropriate to request to bring a date. It will be indicated on the invitation and at that point, ultimately, the recipiants decision whether to attend.

  10. avatar Lacey reply

    I’m so glad you brought this up! I’m currently in the middle of receiving RSVPs for my wedding (coming up in just four short weeks!) and I’m hearing a lot of buzz around this issue. I did inner/outer envelopes and took each guest into consideration when deciding whether or not to include an ‘and guest.’ We decided to include +1 guests for people who were in long term relationships, married, engaged, living together, etc. and of course a guest for each member of our wedding party if they choose to bring someone. My fiance and I both have friends who are dating around, but not seeing someone regularly, so we didn’t include a +1 for them. One friend who lives in another state called my fiance and asked if it would be ok to bring his girlfriend, which is of course completely fine! We didn’t know he was seeing someone! I would love to be able to extend the invitation for everyone to bring someone, but space keeps us from being able to do that. I don’t think somone should be excluded or taken off of the invite list because I don’t have room for them to bring a date. We’ll have lots of single people, so they’ll be able to mingle! We’re having an upbeat reception, so everyone will mostly be dancing on their own anyway, until the obligatory slow dance, but hey, we’re hoping people will partner up! The big debate for us was co-workers, co-workers of parents and their SOs. I read a ton of blogs and posts on this issue and there was no clear-cut answer one way or the other. I chose to discreetly hand-deliver (with the inner envelope addressed only to the first name) a couple of invitations to just my closests comrades, and my parents’ closest friends at work with their first name only. Those folks are also friends so I told them who else I invited from the office so they could come together. I’m now receiving RSVPs back, and rude comments from one women who works with my Mother, that they are bringing their SOs. It’s not many people, so it’s not a huge deal, but I’m just wondering what everyone here might think?

  11. avatar Stacy Reeves reply

    Personally, I would give every non-married guest a plus one. It seems unfair to invite someone to a party at which you will likely only speak to them for a few minutes, but not allow them to bring a guest to keep them company for the other three hours and fifty-five minutes. The only time where this might be okay, to me, is if I was inviting a group of single friends and intending to put them all at the same table.

  12. avatar Emily L. reply

    Hmm. I am struggling with this right now. Most of the cases are cut and dry (unlike the "inviting children" issue which has turned into a two-headed monster) but what do I do about a friend who has an on-again-off-again boyfriend (whom I really dislike) but has already mentioned bringing him to the wedding?

  13. avatar Larry Hammack reply

    Seems like Emily, Ms. Post and most of the responses are in agreement…same advice I give to our brides… the guest list is one of the biggest headaches the bride & groom will have, but ultimately, good taste must prevail. Guests with SO at time of invitations, yes they should be included….. simple as that. Happy New Year everyone!!

  14. avatar Lauren reply

    I think it definitely depends on the person/situation. I know for sure that a lot of people don’t know about proper etiquette and that the people the invitation is addressed is who is invited to the wedding. For my wedding, we invited the person’s significant other if they had been dating for a while, and if my husband or I had met said significant other. It worked out just fine…we still had a few add their own guests, but everything worked out great!

  15. avatar Lauren reply

    What a great topic! I’m also trying to consider circles of friends regarding the guest list for my upcoming wedding. For example, single friends that might not know many other people at the wedding are being given a guest, regardless of their relationship status. I’ve been to weddings when I was single at which I didn’t know many people and would have loved having a "friend date" there with me to make the experience more familiar and fun. On the other hand, single friends who would know a good deal of the other guests might not be given the And Guest option if budget/space constraints apply. Another consideration was whether or not we’d spent time with our unmarried/unengaged friends’ significant others. If our friends made the effort to allow us to spend time with their SO, we knew they were important enough to our friends (and therefore to us) to should be included. I hope this helps!

  16. avatar Katie S. reply

    Now that I am engaged and making all of these tough decisions (no more hypotheticals!), I am finding that my opinions on most matters are rather cut and dry…and controversial! It is my personal opinion that if someone is in a serious relationship (whether dating, engaged, married, etc), then their significant other should be invited. Having had this happen to me and my fiance in the past, it can be offensive to be invited to a wedding as a single person when you are, in fact, in a serious relationship. The only exception to this rule, I think, is if you are having a very small wedding and are working with a tight budget and you simply can’t afford your friends’ significant others. In this case, my opinion is that you should talk to your friend(s) one-on-one and explain how much it means to you that she attend your wedding, but that unfortunately you are having a very small and intimate affair due to cost, which is why you hope she understands that you cannot include her significant other. Just make sure you’re consistent with friends on this rule!However, I also feel very strongly that truly single people should not get a plus one. I just don’t understand the logic behind inviting a single friend with a plus one, in which case she will need to go out and find a date (a new prospect she meets at the bar a few weeks before the wedding? a friendly coworker? an old fling?) and drag this person to my wedding. Most likely, the date will have absolutely now idea who the bride and groom even are, so then my parents/we will end up paying for a person to come to the most special day of our lives that does not even know us. It seems illogical to me.While these opinions may be controversial, it’s best if everyone keeps in mind what a wedding is really about – celebrating two people’s love for each other, while being surrounded by the people that mean the most to them!

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