How to tell your guests they don't get a +1

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! 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 for some random other person to come with them?

I want to first touch on the fact that, depending on the specific guest and your community of friends, this may or may not be a big deal. If you've got an "urban tribe" of local single folks who all know each other, it's not a big deal. If you're inviting a single friend to come across the country and they won't know anyone at the wedding except you? It's gonna be a really big deal. If you can, allow guests for those single friends traveling from afar.

But when dealing with local friends, 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. One Offbeat Bride had the RSVP card say "__ of [insert number here] guests will attend," with invitations to guests without +1s reading "__ of 1 guests will attend."

Use a wedsite to help you make your point

It's hard to get everything on an invitation, and while you can make a point to have the invitations addressed only to your friends (with no "…and guest" included on the envelope) most 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.

Here's how Offbeat Bride Tribe member rowergirl24 addressed the issue on her wedding website's FAQ:

Can I bring a date?
Not unless we know them well.
We have worked really hard to create a small, intimate celebration featuring all of our most important people. If you have a question about this please call or email. Thanks for understanding.

Offbeat Bride Tribe member 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 the 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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