The rules of wedding etiquette are ever changing and we know that it can be difficult for today’s brides, grooms and their guests to find the correct, most up-to-date information. That’s why we are excited to launch #RaspberryWeddiquette, a weekly series in which we ask our clients, followers on Twitter and Facebook, etc. to submit their most burning etiquette-related questions. We’ll compile them and together, our experienced team of experts will provide you with clear answers on your biggest, Wedding Day dilemmas! You can send your questions via Facebook or tweet us @RaspCreative with the hashtag #RaspberryWeddiquette.
Thanks to Jess R. for this question.
Handling “plus 1’s” with grace can be difficult. And let’s face it, some people think that wedding invitations are negotiations, but they are not.
The territory of wedding guest etiquette can be tricky to navigate. In theory, each invitation you send or receive should explicitly state whether or not a plus one is invited – but, often enough, that simply isn’t the case.
We’re having a small wedding. Do we have to invite Mr. Tumnus “and Guest”? He’s not seriously dating, so can I just address the invite to Mr. Tumnus, and he’ll know he’s not supposed to invite someone?
Most guests will understand that without “and Guest” or another name on the invitations, it’s meant for them alone. Especially if you’re having a small wedding, you probably won’t invite singles to bring escorts, except for serious significant others.
Technically, “and Guest”, isn’t acceptable. It’s always a good idea to find out the significant other’s name, when and where possible. A good rule of thumb is, if they’ve been dating for more than 6-months, you’ll know his/her name and you’ll want to invite them to your wedding. In the event that you don’t know the name, and weren’t able to receive it in time, you could write “and Guest” on the envelope.
However, if your invited guest chooses to invite a friend of theirs, whom you never met, you might have wished that you didn’t put the wording “and Guest” on there at all.
What if I invite a single person without a guest, and they respond that two are coming?
Some people might assume that you meant to invite their significant other and just didn’t know their name. If someone responds “2” instead of “1”, it’s appropriate to give them a friendly call, and explain that you are planning on having a smaller wedding, or due to budget constraints; you unfortunately were not able to invite everyone with a guest. People should understand. Don’t feel bad – it’s your wedding, and only the people who are explicitly invited are supposed to respond. This is where you need to stand firm; this is not a negotiation.
A clear way of handling the +1 issue would be the RSVP card. If you are planning on only inviting a certain number of guests per family/friend, adding the wording “We have reserved ___ seats in your honor.” would be a clear and simple way to clue your guests into who is invited if the envelope wasn’t enough. This is a great way of making sure that you are sticking to the total number of guests you are inviting. This is becoming more and more popular, and it helps to ensure that “extra” guests won’t be coming.
Another option we are seeing pop up more and more on the RSVP card is to list every invited guests’ name separately with an option to check “accepts” or “declines”.
Whichever option you choose, these are both great ways to clue your guests into who is actually invited.
Do I have to invite my bridesmaid’s husband?
You should send an invitation to each guest of your wedding party. Spouses of attendees should always be invited, too. If your pals’ have a significant other or are just casually dating, to add or not to add becomes a question. Use your discretion depending on your budget and how long the couple have been together (six months is a good gauge).
How do we decide who can bring a date?
Once people have publicly declared their social status—by marrying, getting engaged, or moving in together—they should be invited as a unit. Include spouses, fiancés, and live-in partners on your invitations.
It can be trickier when you’re dealing with longtime couples who don’t cohabitate, especially if you’re not good friends with both people. Try setting a no exceptions cutoff: If a couple has been dating less than a year, only the partner you’re close to is invited. Or, include the significant other only if one of you has met him or her.
Just explain that your numbers are limited and your friends won’t take this personally. Beware, many unmarried people find it tremendously upsetting to not be allowed to bring a date. Prepare them for the idea and pay careful attention to where the singletons sit during dinner.
What if I’m just not sure?
Your wedding stationary designer should be able to help you determine this, if not; ask your wedding stylist or coordinator.
The envelope is the final word on who exactly is being invited, and the names listed there are the only guests included in the invitation. This goes for anyone invited to the rehearsal dinner, too.
If a wedding invitation doesn’t explicitly say it’s for “someone and guest”, and if they aren’t married or living with a romantic partner, then under no circumstances are they to ask the bride, groom, or your families for permission to bring a plus one.
If someone is single, casually dating, or otherwise romantically unattached, they should not assume they can bring a guest. Wedding plus-ones are typically intended to be used for the spouse, fiancé, or romantic partner. It is generally considered to be in poor taste to bring anyone else. Guests should not bring a roommate, housemate, parent or sibling as their escort, or bring an escort that might be outwardly impolite or inappropriate. This is considered impolite and disrespectful.
Consider this the rule to trump all rules: No guest should ever show up to a wedding that they were not specifically invited to. If a guest shows up with a plus one; take a deep breath, and then gracefully handle the situation by finding a seat for the uninvited friend.
When in doubt…send the RSVP card with “__ of seats have been reserved in your honor” and most people shouldn’t have any questions.