Why I’m giving all my wedding guests +1s

Guest post by Shortkaik
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Whether or not to give your guests a “+1” seems to be the most complicated and controversial issue when it comes to wedding planning. Right now, we're at the point where we're addressing and sending out our Save the Dates. I was trying to figure out the best way to include “and Guest” on the envelope, so I searched around. You know what the answer I got everywhere was? “Ask your guest their partner's name!” and “Guess what! You don't HAVE to invite people to bring a guest you don't know! Yay!”

Not helpful.

Believe it or not, we decided way early on in our planning that we are totally excited for guests to bring people we don't yet know to our wedding.

Yes, we're including +1s for people who are not currently in any sort of a relationship. There's still seven months until our wedding — a serious relationship can certainly develop in that time. (I met and moved in with my future husband in about that amount of time!)

We also agreed as such socially-challenged people, we would both appreciate being able to bring someone, even if it's just a super-close friend, to another person's wedding. We've made so many new friends by meeting new people at a party, whether it's been a party we've thrown or someone else's party. Yes, a wedding is different, but I don't want to pass up the chance to make a new friend or the chance for my friends to make new friends.

I know +1s aren't for everyone. Some people are uncomfortable inviting people they don't know — they feel like they are strangers. Some people can't incur the extra cost. Some people want a small and intimate wedding. I can understand all of that! But to us, we never thought of +1s as strangers; we thought of them as “friends we haven't met yet,” and that made the cost seem less-different from all the “friends we've already met.”

What are you doing about YOUR +1s?

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Comments on Why I’m giving all my wedding guests +1s

  1. I agree with this! We’re lucky enough to be not paying for each individual guest for anything but catering, so since we’re already having a large wedding it’s really the more the merrier. I know I wouldn’t go to a wedding if I didn’t know anyone there and couldn’t bring someone (even a same-gender friend if I didn’t have a date!) so I want my friends to have the same opportunity if it would make them feel more comfortable. However, I ran into the same problem as you…how the heck to put it on the invites? I actually ended up just inviting them (I didn’t want to write “plus one” or “and guest” on the envelopes, just seemed really weird to me!) but we’re encouraging them in person to bring guests, on the wedding website, and on the RSVP cards!

    • Same! I wrote the guest’s name if I knew who it was, otherwise I just addressed the invite to the single person, but put two reply lines on their reply card, and told them personally that they could bring a friend.

    • I actually ended up putting “and Guest” on our envelopes (for any unknowns, I did my best to gather names where there were names to gather). I agree, it’s kind of tough. I don’t want people to feel obligated to bring someone, as well. I think as long as you make it clear on the RSVP/website that guests are welcome, that will be enough!

  2. If it’s helpful, I’ll share the following…

    I was invited many years ago to a dear friend’s daughter’s wedding. I very much wanted to go, and RSVP’d for myself and a +1 because that’s the accepted social convention. I was politely told that I could come, but I had to come on my own. As a single woman, I didn’t feel comfortable at all going to a social function on my own. To make matters more complicated, my ex-fiance was going to be there (he was a mutual friend) and I definitely didn’t want to show up alone to see him.

    She wouldn’t budge. So I said no. I felt she was being insensitive with regard to my situation. It ended our friendship.

    I think that in general, there’s a social obligation to allow single women in particular to bring a date. And at the very least, to be sensitive to your single guests who may feel particularly uncomfortable being there on their own.

    Hope that’s helpful.

    • It seems to me that by assuming rather than asking you hit a nerve with your friend. I had one friend assume she would be able to bring her boyfriend of <1mo and I said I would get back to her and see if we had space (I actually did end up telling her we had space but by that point he had made other plans). I had another friend ASK if she could bring a guest other than her long time S.O. and I said YES. Asking is polite – assuming is rude. It really isn't the "accepted social convention" unless everyone accepts it. And clearly everyone does not.

      • I don’t want to start another debate but I just want to point out the irony that we are shedding social convention by not inviting a +1 (so it’s not rude because social convention = whatever!) but it is rude to assume that you should be able to bring one. Why? Because of social conventions? I agree that it’s not the best way to go about it and can lead to awkwardness; but the bride should not be somehow exempt from social convention (because she’s busy, on a budget, whatever) while everyone else (her supposed friends and loved ones) is supposed to suck it up and be polite.

        I think that BECAUSE it has been social convention in the past, it is totally understandable that someone would make that assumption – kind of like assuming you will have cake – and that if it’s not the case the couple needs to be understanding that that will be a surprise/disappointment to some people. Just because we are offbeat, doesn’t mean that all of our guests will be up to speed.

      • In my experience people assume that you automatically get a plus 1 (unless you say otherwise) because as another poster stated, it had been a pretty typical social convention in that past. I don’t think it’s rude to assume you get a plus 1, any more than it is to say only invited guests are allowed. It’s just tricky social navigating that needs to be done with tact in either case.

        For my upcoming wedding we included the names of significant others on the invitation and kindly told our friends that “casual dates” were not invited (via word of mouth & our wed-site). Our rationale was that we are fairly private people, who are keeping our wedding small & that everyone invited knew at least several other people at the wedding. We only had two people challenge this, and both of them were single men. Hopefully, neither one was offended when we told them no, but ultimately I feel like it’s our wedding and our prerogative. That being said, if someone wants a big wedding with “friends you haven’t met yet”, more power to them!

      • Interesting that you say that asking is polite. You would think that asking would be considered polite. But I just got a Save the Date card which included the wedsite and on it there was a FAQ section which addressed the question of “Can I bring a guest?” She says:
        “Short answer: No. Whoever is listed on the envelope (Save the Date) is who is invited.
        Long answer: Maybe (but don’t be tacky and ask)… ” and she goes on.
        It is totally understandable if she wants to keep the guest list under control, but I was a little bit shocked by the bluntness. It was off-putting and that along with a few other quips on her site made me less and less excited about getting invited. Anyway, there are more tactful ways of telling your guests they can’t have a plus one. In fact, Off-Beat even has an article about it, http://offbeatbride.com/2010/07/wedding-invite-no-plus-1.

    • I think it was your prerogative not to attend, and I don’t think it was fair of her to hold that against you. I also don’t think it’s fair to expect a +1. Weddings are *expensive,* and the cost of a +1 might mean I cam’t invite someone else–someone I know and love. The reason I love OBB is because it acknowledges the fact that “accepted social conventions” are, by and large, bunk, and do not need to be followed unless they fit your circumstances, needs, and wallet.

    • If I were single I would not be offended to be invited alone, it would be expected, and I’d accept as long as I expected to know at least one or two other people there. (This can be said for every person invited to my wedding, as it’s very small.) Were I single, I’d have no qualms with making smalltalk with others, both known and unknown, and don’t get why people think it’s so awkward. It’s just a few hours, and who knows, you might make friends.

      It just reminds me of someone I know who will literally not go to the bathroom unless someone goes with her. She’ll announce she’s going to go, and if no other ladies stand up to accompany her, she’ll either just stay in her seat or pick one of us and ask if we want to go with her. Should we say no, she’ll stay in her seat.

      Isn’t attending social fuctions alone sometimes just part of life? And why single women, specifically?

      • I wouldn’t be offended to not be allowed to bring a guest, but I do appreciate it when I can.

        But I don’t really understand the thought that you can’t socialize with anyone else if you’re partner is there. I don’t stop making friends when I’m in a relationship – we just start making new friends together.

        Personally, I’m better at socializing with strangers when I have someone with me. It helps keep the conversation flowing. If I went to a wedding with a date, I would socialize as much or more with other people than if I went alone!

    • “As a single woman, I didn’t feel comfortable at all going to a social function on my own.”

      No disrespect intended, but I always find it odd that we women say things like “I won’t go to a party alone” or “I won’t eat at a restaurant alone.” Imagine how we’d react if a man ever said that! We’d tell him to seek help or something

      • This times infinity.

        I assume women to be every bit as social (or anti-social), and capable as men, so I’m really uncomfortable with the idea that we should be privileging “single women” for +1s.

        Frankly, I would be crazy offended if someone gave me a +1 just because of my gender and marital status, as it implies I’d not be capable of conducting myself unchaperoned.

        Which I think just reinforces the comment above that “accepted social convention” really isn’t anymore.

    • I’m not intending any offense, but I must respectfully disagree that because a woman is single she cannot attend a social function on her own. I was single until I was twenty nine and if I had refused to attend social functions I wouldn’t have had any of the fabulous experiences I had as a single woman – going to university on the other side of the country, living and working abroad, and backpacking in Europe and Asia, all of which I did by myself. I’ve attended many weddings on my own too, and understand that bringing someone meant that the couple would have to shell out money to feed a stranger, which not everyone can afford to do. Sometimes it sucked to be so much on my own, but it was just a fact of life for me. I didn’t want to make that worse by missing out on stuff I wanted to do.

    • I would always think the same. But being that know planning a wedding paying $100.00 per guest and keeping it as intimate as possible, I kind of understand why some people don’t offer the +1. But the there is the Girl code and at that moment if the ex is invited, you plus one your girlfriend and help her find a hot date ???? lol.

  3. We only gave plus ones to those who had a significant other. We had a hard limit on how many people we could seat in the venue, so we had to cut out the “drum up a date” folks. I still feel bad about it to this day! But it was necessary to fit all of our actual friends and family. :-/

    • When we started our guest list, we automatically put each person as 2 guests. It made it easier to just assume everyone was 2 people, even if we didn’t know if they were – then we didn’t have to go back and try to shift people around when we discovered someone had a significant other we didn’t know about!

      • We’re in the process of working on our guest list right now, and this is exactly what my dad made me do. I was irritated at first, because “I *told* him I wanted to invite single people as singles”…but like you said, it makes it sooo much easier as things change in people’s lives, and if worst comes to worst, and we’re really cutting it close right before we send out invites, that gives us an easier way to cut down on some of the numbers.

  4. I think this is a great attitude. Also, I know people spend so much time trying to figure out how not to include 1+ at their wedding. The truth is people will probably bring them anyway. I don’t think most young people who haven’t gotten married are familiar with wedding etiquette.

  5. If we thot there were people who really wouldn’t know anyone else at our wedding & they didn’t have a sig.other, we gave them a +1. But a lot of our single friends knew other friends who would be attending & were from the same social groups (either coworkers or from the same school year, etc.). That’s another thing to take into account. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing for every guest.

    • This is true! Maybe I’m just bad at drawing lines. I thought about who we would include/exclude based on the common “married/living together/engaged” rule, and I thought about the social circles, but there were just too many variables for me to handle. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, but that can certainly make it simpler! 🙂

  6. We can’t afford to feed +1s and our budget is so tight that we can’t even invite all the people we’d like. We only invited couples that are married, living together, or we are friends with both of them. We have invited people to invite a date to come later in the evening for drinks and dancing. To me the most awkward part about going stag to a wedding would be the dancing part, most people can make polite chit chat with strangers during dinner and have their dates join later.

  7. I never understood why single guests couldn’t bring a date. I get that there’s the cost thing, but if I were a single lady being invited to a wedding, there’s no way I would want to go by myself. I would never expect my single guests to show up solo. How awkward for them. I’m a firm believer in the idea that the wedding is as much for the guests as it is for the bride and groom. I would want everyone to have a good time, and like you, I enjoy meeting new people, so really, the more the merrier.

      • If you’re an extreme introvert, or somebody with social anxiety, being in a room full of people you don’t know well can be one of the most excruciatingly awkward things ever.
        Still, if somebody likes you enough to invite you to their wedding, and you like them enough to go, it’s unlikely to be fatal. I think it would be more awkward to be at a wedding when you don’t know either the bride or groom so that your friend can have a ‘date’.

        • I guess I just don’t understand the leap in logic from “single” to “extreme introvert.” For one thing, it implies that single people are only single because they are/feel incapable of talking to other people, which, no.

          I can understand concerning yourself with the feelings of your extremely introverted friends, but given how rare it is to have an introverted friend who ALSO is not friends with anyone else you know AND is a good enough friend to invite to your wedding, it seems like there wouldn’t be a social convention to consider because it would come up so rarely.

          So yeah, I’m still confused why being single automatically means awkward and sad and not having a good time. I also don’t know why there should be a gender difference in how awkward it is to show up single. Like, does it relate to the trope of women pining over their lack of wedding to plan, and men just wanting to score with a bridesmaid?

    • I must ask, how do people who can’t handle going alone to weddings deal with things like the first day at a new school, first day at a new job, etc ? You (general you) can’t take a pal along to those

      • As an introvert with anxiety issues and chronic illness, living with all these things individually is all about picking your battles. Not going to events alone if you don’t have to (but “alone” is relative, not having a date doesn’t mean you’re going alone), picking which functions you’re most comfortable attending and passing on the rest, so that you aren’t burnt out when it comes to those first days and such where you can’t bring a friend.

        Also, those kinds of hard days typically come with a LOT of self-care, both preparatory and afterward. Resting up, eating the right foods, taking the right medications at just the right times, and mentally gearing up; then taking some time afterward to rest well (because the mental gymnastics and prep work is exhausting), de-stress in whatever ways are most conducive to the situation, and generally give myself time to recuperate. The first “day” of school was a 5-day process for me every single semester, and that’s not even including the two days in the middle that were actually the first days of the respective classes. My sister-in-law’s wedding was a week of emotional prep and another 3 days afterward to calm back down again. But then, I was in it. Other weddings aren’t so bad.

        • I think the thing is, for my friends who would be uncomfortable attending my wedding alone for whatever reason– be it social anxiety or overt sensitivity about being single or traveling long distances to the wedding–I’m giving those guests a plus one. But my good friend who will know about 20 other people there and has known all of those people for many years, but happens to be single? I’m not giving them a plus one.

          I would hope if you are close enough to someone to invite them to your wedding, you know their level of comfort.

    • Some women feel uncomfortable going to big events where there will be alcohol and groomsmen without a date or a friend to check in with. They just don’t feel safe otherwise. I think this is different than the whole “can’t even go pee alone” thing. I’ve never had this problem, but I had a friend in college who literally couldn’t leave our apartment alone without one of the neighbors hooting at her. I would happily walk to class or the library and go out at night alone, but she would not for this reason. (Guess who was the skinny blonde in our duo.)

  8. We are inviting everyone with a +1. Our wedding has 100-ish people–since we are mid-30s, most of our friends are married/partnered. There is nothing more irritating than going to an event with almost everyone else as part of a pair. We had to pare down our guest list to accommodate the venue–and make sure no one had to come alone. It’s different if you are in your 20s and have loads of friends from college all coming stag–but in our case we felt it was unfair to guests.

  9. I’ve been invited to so many weddings where I was invited “+1” and didn’t bring a date even though I was dating–even engaged to!–someone. I just don’t find it awkward if there are people that I know there, and if I don’t, I probably don’t know the couple well enough to be attending their wedding.

    I was also (sort of) invited to a wedding once, because I was sort-of-seeing (non-committed) one of the groomsmen; when he received the invitation, he also received a call from the groom informing him in no uncertain terms that while his invitation said “and guest,” they were expecting me to be his guest. I know they would have fit me in if for some reason he chose to take someone else, and we were still seeing each other come the wedding so it was all OK, but I can’t help but wonder sometimes, how awkward if they had said that and we either broke up or he took someone else anyway? In that case as the couple in question I think I would have just either confirmed I could put the “girlfriend’s” name on the invite and make it clear to begin with (since it’s not like I hadn’t known these people for years!), or send us each an invite separately with no “and guest.”

    When it boils down to it, though, the people who are invited to my wedding are pretty cool cats. Anyone they like well enough to bring them to J-Random-Friend’s wedding is probably cool enough to be welcomed into our friendship circle anyway. And because both my partner and I are social people with big friend groups, we are planning big wedding receptions anyway. Nothing that can’t squeeze in a few “more the merrier” party crashers.

    • My attitude is the same – you worded it so well:

      “Anyone they like well enough to bring them to J-Random-Friend’s wedding is probably cool enough to be welcomed into our friendship circle anyway”

      I figure any plus ones my guests bring are people I want to meet anyway!

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