How to tell your guests they don't get a +1 #Friends & Family Advice#Invitation advice#etiquette#guest list#guests#invitation wording#invitations#small wedding Updated Nov 6 2019 (Posted Jul 15 2010) Ariel arielmstallings 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? -Jessica Ok, so first thing's first: yes, it's tacky. IT'S ALL TACKY! Whatever you do for your wedding, someone will judge it, someone will think it's tacky, and someone will be upset. You can't avoid it, so just be accountable for your choices, and accept that you're doing the best you can. 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 to accommodate them bringing a guest? How can you politely tell guests they don't get a +1 — this isn't just about single guests! For some couples, this can even mean that their married guests can't bring a spouse. This issue could get a lot of push-back — again, you need to hold yourself accountable for push-back if you choose not to let married guests bring a spouse. I want to first touch on the fact that, depending on the specific guest and your community of friends, single friends not being able to bring a guest may not be a big deal. If you've got an "urban tribe" of local single folks who all know each other, it's all good. If you're inviting friends to come across the country, not bring a guest, and they won't know anyone at the wedding except you? That's gonna be more of a big deal. If you can, allow guests for those traveling from afar. But if you've factored in all these issues, 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. Here are a couple example invitation wordings for when you are inviting someone who cannt bring a guest: On your RSVP cards: "__ of [insert number here] guests will attend." Invitations to guests who could not bring a +1 read "__ of 1 guests will attend." On your invitation: "We have reserved ____ seat(s) for you at our celebratory dinner." Invitations for only one guest would then read: We have reserved one seat(s) for you at our celebratory dinner. Use a wedsite to help you make your point Even clearly written Invitations can be misunderstood, and while you can make a point to have the invitations addressed only to your friends (with no "…and guest" included on the envelope) many 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. Offbeat Bride reader Amanda Soto used this language: Can I bring a date? We have worked really hard to create an intimate celebration that includes all of our closest family members and friends so we ask that you come solo unless we know your other half well. We will specify all guests on your invitation and of course will seat our attractive single friends together so perhaps you'll go home with a date. We also ask that you make other arrangements for your children, as this is an adult affair. Thanks for understanding, and if you have any concerns about this please contact us directly. Offbeat Bride Reader 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 your venue 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 Related Post Guest list rules to help you keep your wedding small Trying to keep your wedding small? What rules do you establish to figure out whether certain guests will make the cut? 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? Ariel Author of three editions of the Offbeat Bride book and the forthcoming From Shitshow To Afterglow, Ariel Meadow Stallings acts as the publisher of all the Offbeat Empire websites. She lives in Seattle with her son, and if she's not reading or writing books, chances are good that she's dancing or happy-crying. She writes weekly essays for her new publication, The Afterglow. PREVIOUS Yes, there will be children at the wedding NEXT Skull shoes for your Halloween wedding, or just because Show/Hide comments [ 185 ] my partner and i are being cheapskates and having a courthouse wedding which has a maximum seating capacity of 50. so that pretty much restricts us to immediate family and our closest friends (it doesn't help that my partner and i both come from large families where both of our parents have separated and re-partnered). so there will be no +1s, if your name isn't on the invite, you don't come. sorry. Reply I have a bit of a problem and need some advice. I have friends that have a little 2 year old who was not listed on the invitation and I don't want them to bring her. Having a child scream in the middle of my ceremony will bring tears to my eyes…and not the happy kind. The problem is they are coming from Belgium to Canada and then travelling 2 hours to the wedding. I have not asked her if she was planning on bringing her daughter as I don't want to offend them but there will be NO other children. She's too little. So how do I tell her not to bring her? Reply Hi Amy, that is definitely a tough situation. Since you realize that your friends may not have any options for childcare since they are coming from overseas, and since they are going to such an effort to be there, I'm sure you don't want to come off as self-centered by simply announcing that they can't bring their daughter. Instead, maybe you could use a "just being helpful" / "let's find a solution to the problem" approach by saying, "Can my family/friends and I be of help finding a babysitter for your daughter so you can enjoy the day?" Maybe a helpful friend or family member would be willing to make arrangements – find a babysitter, put them in contact with your friends by phone/email. If they are reluctant to entrust a strange babysitter with their little one for the whole afternoon/evening, maybe make a compromise and have them use the sitter just for the ceremony and bring their daugther along to the reception. Reply I didn't read all the comments to I'm sorry if someone has already posted a similar situation… I haven't really spoken to my father since I was 18. And though he definitely will not be giving me away it seems WRONG not to invite him. But I can't STAND my step-mother and step-sisters. How do I politely let him know that I only want him at the wedding. Our wedding will be our day and we only want people who are important in our lives there. As it stands my guest list is 43, and I don't really want to go much higher. I do NOT want my step-family at my wedding. Reply I am estranged from my parents (mentally/emotionally abusive), and though I know I will be getting a lot of blowback, I am not inviting them. And I will only invite my father's cousins if they promise/swear not to tell him that it is happening at all, or where, or on what day. Do not invite family that make you feel bad. Reply We're only going have 45 guests, we cut out my extended family completely (the great-this-or-that I haven't seen in five years, cousin whoever who doesn't know my name, etc), and any 'family friends' that we haven't seen in 1+ years. Cutting out the far-off branches of the family tree gave us plenty of space for "+1," because we have enough friends that aren't part of the common circle and would probably be more comfortable bringing a guest with them. Reply I think the biggest issue for us is going to be family that isn't invited showing up or feeling left out. We have 20 people. Our parents and their spouses. My brother and his. My sister in law and hers. My grandma. My uncle. Our friends – N, A, J, A, M, K. We can't afford to have everyone under the sun appear. If I have a million dollars to spend on the wedding, I'd invite all my friends on facebook, the friends I haven't seen since elementary school, my high school buds, my university pals, my aunts and uncles, and cousins, and everyone that I can think of. But I don't. My one uncle is coming because he's a good friend. He's not that much older than I am. He always listens. We talk on the phone and on facebook often. But he's single and I'm afraid that he's worried he has to bring someone. So I asked him to be our MC, because he totally rocks at it. He's done it for all the major family events and hopefully he won't have to bring someone now. I'll talk to him closer to the date. My two best friends aren't seeing anyone and they are bridesmaids, so I don't think they will bring anyone. And the two groomsmen are married and their spouses will be there, as they are all good friends. So I really only have two to worry about. One of my best friends and my uncle. Reply On my save the dates, I wrote a personal note to the singles, asking them to let me know by the month the invites are going out if they would like a plus 1. This was for out of town singles, very close friends, and close family who are divorced. We'll see how it goes. Now reading this post (which is awesome) I'm thinking I may have been too liberal, but we'll see come July what the skinny is, because our B list keeps growing and I want those date spots! Now the friend from Alaska who asked if her friend can come as a date is going to have to get a lot of careful thought at $100+/head. Reply You know, I am grateful that there is a person out there who was that liberal. As a single, who is 28, I try to empathize with young people paying for their own weddings, but I get invited to A LOT of weddings, and because I have moved a lot, I have to travel out of state for most weddings. When I spend $1,300+ per wedding, it is nice when someone considers that although the day is about them, I have traveled far and have paid a lot to support them and would also like to have fun. Thank you for being so sensitive to the issue! Reply I've been struggling with this question since I started planning my wedding since my reception site holds a strict 130 and I have a lot of single friends. I've been having a lot of little game parties at my apartment where I'm inviting the stragglers who don't know the group as well to meet people so that the wedding won't be a giant party of strangers. Also, thank you for dispelling the "tacky" debacle! I was surprised to see that word used so often on a site dedicated to the offbeat! Brides, just focus on not being obscenely rude and people will understand that your wedding is about more then just them! Reply What happens when you have some extended family you do hang out with and want there, but others that you only see once or twice a year? Or how about relatives of my fiance who he wants to invite but doesn't think will actually make the trip to Boston from Ireland? Reply Our guest will be rsvp-ing via our wedsite. The wedsite has the option of listing the exact amount of guests allowed per party. I have the option of listing each guest within that party by name or leaving it blank and allowing the invited guest to write in exactly who s/he intends to bring! Next to each name is the option to bubble in "yes" or "no." The "maybe" option can be included, but we opted out of that. It's at wedsite.com, and so far we haven't been let down! All the RSVP options have been super helpful for us. The website is easy to navigate and sufficiently customizable, too! Good luck all! Reply We are having TWO RECEPTIONS. Sounds expensive, but it's the opposite! I have people who I love but don't intend on inviting to the wedding already asking me when they should save the date (presumptuous much?). I immediately tell them, "The formal family wedding and dinner are on such-and-such a date, but we are having an open reception at the park for all of our lovely friends like you the next weekend after!" We thought people would be offended at first, but every single person has said, "Omigosh, what a good idea!" Formal wedding plus 1st Reception cost: keeping it under $10k. 2nd Reception cost: $40 for public park "rental," plus $2k flat rate for a popular food truck, plus a friend's band who is playing for us for free. Cost of being able to celebrate with our entire group of friends, family and community that we love…PRICELESS. Plus I get to wear my dress twice. Bonus! Reply We made our guest list with +1s in mind. We live in a relatively urban area, but we've also been to about 10 weddings between us in the last year or so, and most of our friends are coupled off. I find that sometimes people won't want to bring a date if they already know plenty of others there, or that their date might be a drag. Married couples are obviously counted in, but by doing a bit of research and counting all of the +1s into the wedding guest list, we have realized that only a couple of people will be coming alone, and we'll deal with them as it comes along. Thanks for writing about this sometimes sticky wedding planning issue! Reply Although I am single, I frequent this site for the excellent decoration inspiration. I'll give the single person's perspective on this issue. If you are going to have a strict "no plus ones" policy, it should apply equally to singles and couples. If you don't know your friend's girlfriend, boyfriend, partner, husband, wife, they are not invited. Even people who are single without a S.O. usually have a best friend who fills that supportive role in their life. Frankly, I think it's very rude to rank other people's personal relationships. So either everyone gets a plus one, or nobody does. Reply Even though it's been nearly a year this comment, I can't wrap my head around "I think it's rude to rank other people's personal relationships" in conjunction with saying, "Well, if you don't know so-and-so's significant other." That's essentially "ranking," too ("Well I know someone, but I don't know the SO"… what if it's because he/she works, long-distance, you've been engaged such a short time the SO never got the chance to meet you, etc.). I think it all comes down to "discretion" and "case-by-case" rather than a flat out rule in EITHER direction. Reply What I think this poster is trying to say is that while you may not know your friend's boyfriend of 5 years whom she lives with, you also don't know your other(single) friend's best friend. Yet the former gets a plus one, and the latter doesn't… Why should the boyfriend (SO) outrank the Best Friend? Why should one person be allowed a plus one and one not? Reply Because a wedding is a celebration of romantic love, and yes, it is an event that by its very nature *does* exult eros over philia, if only for one day and in that one, specific space. It absolutely makes sense that a couple would make space on their guestlist for a guest's significant other half, but not for a friend, who – not being a unit with the guest in question – might honestly come off a bit like a random gatecrasher. I honestly believe it is the absolute prerogative of the bridal couple, who may well be paying as much as $100 a head for each guest, to be discriminatory in which relationships they recognise and are willing to go out of pocket in recognition of. My best friend is the platonic love of my life going on fifteen years now, and I can't imagine my life without her, but it certainly wouldn't occur to me for *an instant* to feel entitled to have her invited to accompany me to someone else's expensive, catered event, and offended when she wasn't! Reply Or $80 – $250 /head in Brooklyn or Manhattan!!! We were really specific and addressed both the envelopes and the inside wrapper to exactly who we intended to invite. Still, my two of my FOH's friends (one of whom actually invited himself to the wedding in such a way that it was too awkward to *not* send him an invitation) have invited girlfriends that we didn't even know existed. We've decided that so far, two extra guests aren't going to break the bank and I don't want to make things awkward by telling the guys they can't have dates. But I'm still bitter about it and trying to figure out how to *not* be angry any more. Reply Thanks for bringing this up! We're getting married during a hockey game and providing our guests with tickets to the game on top of the reception, etc. A lot of my friends/coworkers that I wanted to invite are married but I don't know their spouses and don't have the $ to buy the extra tickets. I ended up cutting them from my invite list – but I haven't finished my invitations yet… Maybe I'll reconsider and use one of these ideas to invite them as singles. As coworkers, maybe they can just come as a group. Reply We began our invitation with the wording "Because you have shared in our lives by your friendship and love" hopefully getting the point across that we do not want unknown random dates at our wedding. In the event that one of our single friends does contact us about bringing a date then I plan on calmly explaining that we cannot afford to have +1's due to our limited budget. The one exception we will be making if for our bridal party. Of the six people we have chosen only two are married/engaged. Since we are asking them to put a lot of time and effort into being a part of our wedding, we think it is only fair to allow them a +1. Of course if they prefer to go solo we are OK with that too! Reply What if this +1 situation is with an attendant? My MoH is insisting that she get to bring a date, but she's not dating someone that I've ever met. We are pagans and having a pagan wedding and want to restrict the list to actual FRIENDS. She is not the only person I've told no about +1s, but she is making the biggest deal. Help! Reply I'd recommend reading the comment above you–your attendants shell out a LOT of time, money, and energy on you. She might not even know many people at your wedding (though I'm sure she might, since you said you're keeping it to friends). Either way, don't feel entitled to just take all the efforts your bridal party gives you–is one date going to ruin your whole wedding? And in an even more civil way… why don't you agree to meet this date BEFORE the wedding? If she's your MoH, you should probably be getting to know him/her anyway! Reply So this hasn't been visited in ages, but regardless. I just sent my invites out last week. Those who I knew had long term partners were invited by name – as in "Jane and John". Those that had been together years and years and years/were living together/had had little humans together. One the RSVP cards, the names of those invited appeared. If it was one person, then just their name. Today, I got my first contact asking about the invites and plus ones. I simply told them that "No, there was no plus one due to venue and catering, and that I only plus one'd those who wouldn't know anyone there." I also told them I would let them know if they could bring a plus one later on if numbers allowed it. I have decided on a blunt but kind route from now. I'm done with letting things flow around me for fear of being a Bridezilla. Reply My invites are going out next week and I went the route of putting each guest's name on the reply card…all 90 of them. It was daunting, but I hope will alleviate any confusion about +1s. In a follow up story, my bitchy MoH who would NOT give me a break about bringing a date broke up with me. I feel relieved 🙂 Reply My fiance and I are rather geographically challenged. I grew up in Indiana, then moved to Illinois when my Mom remarried. Shortly after I left for an international boarding high school where I made friends from all over the world (my bestie lives in Saudi Arabia). I went to college in Texas, where I met him, but most of my family is still in the Midwest, and my friends are all over the country/world. He lived in Texas his whole life but his parents recently moved to Colorado, and his extended family is in Montana. To top off the craziness we recently moved to California and are having the wedding here. Soooo… issues. Our solution is we are having a very very small wedding/reception out here in CA, less than 50 people, and then we are going to have two more 'cake receptions' in different locations around the country after the honeymoon. One in Indiana for most of my family/friends, and one in Texas for his family/friends. We will have another much smaller cake, minimal decorations, and probably just an iPod playlist as a DJ, and not much else. They will be very simple (read: very cheap) but it offers a way for us to celebrate with everyone without having to having to book multiple hotels full because absolutely everyone will be flying in for the event. It is also another chance for me to wear my dress more than once, which is great considering what I paid for it. Reply I had a number of people ask me directly about bringing SO's. When I explained the limitations to them, they were completely cool the reality that we can't do it unless we know said SO well. However, we also had a number of people RSVP with SOs which we had NEVER met, so I had to make the awkward phone call explaining that there is a reason there was only one name on the card. Again though, most people have been completely cool with it and apologized for not checking. We do have one person who has said if he can't bring his GF then he's not coming. I was pretty pissed because first, he just RSVPed for this girl whom I had not only never met, but we didn't even know he was dating someone. Then when we contacted him about it he asked if his ex will be there. Yes. Will she be there with her BF? The answer, honestly is yes, but because we've known her current BF for 2 years before they were even dating. He was always on the list even if they'd broken. This friend then gave us the ultimatum that if his GF can't come, then he won't be there. Goooooo drama! Reply I'm still very undecided. I have 4 lovely friends in their 40s and 50s who are all married, and I have never met their partners. Two off them went to a wedding withoutr their husbands, so I guess it is okay with them because they didn't refuse the invite (they had an absolute blast!). Even though they all know each other, I still don't want to be Miss (Bad) Manners, and but I don't want random blokes at the wedding either. This post made me feel a LOT better 🙂 Reply We ran into the problem of who gets a plus one and who does not in terms of our group of friends – love that term, "urban tribe" – and people were starting to get huffy about whose SO is more important than others within the group. It got so messy that we decided that in that group of 10, they all knew each other well enough that they could eat/dance/drink with each other and have a lovely time – that way, the girls who were pitching a fit that they could not bring a date but so-and-so could became a non issue. We have set an all or nothing rule that unless we know the SO that they can't attend. If our friends can't leave their SO at home for one night to spend with 10 of their close friends at a wedding, then they don't need to come. There is a reason we invited groups – there is not a single person there who won't know at least a few people. Reply I am having the same problem. I have a huge family. My partner has a huge network of friends… I don't know where to cut. so no plus ones is a good idea but still sticky because of the family and friends who have been dating for a long time. I have family who would be coming but I don't know their partner. but they have been with them for years… Reply I know this is an old post but exact language is really helpful to me so maybe this will be helpful for somebody else. This is what I have decided to put on our wedding website… Can I bring a date? We have worked really hard to create an intimate celebration that includes all of our closest family members and friends so we ask that you come solo unless we know your other half well. We will specify all guests on your invitation and of course will seat our attractive single friends together so perhaps you'll go home with a date. We also ask that you make other arrangements for your children, as this is an adult affair. Thanks for understanding, and if you have any concerns about this please contact us directly. Reply This is very helpful. Thanks. Reply Our dilemma is that I have my heart set on this place (Caesars Palace Juno Garden) which will only accommodate up to 150 people… then we are having dinner which will accommodate up to about 200 people, but then we have a limit of the number of people allowed in the suite (Absolut Suite) which I've heard is pretty crowded at 200 people. And our budget isn't big enough to accommodate more than 150 people- so we're kinda stuck. And what makes it worse is that his family is more than twice the size of mine and he has friends galore. I feel bad when I tell him we're limited the the amount to people we can invite, but it has to be done. So currently I only have my brothers and sister and their families (15 people just right there), then my aunts and uncles, my cousins and their spouses, my godmother, my mom and dad's best friends who have known me since BEFORE I was born, and my four closest girlfriends and their husbands…. and that's 50 people… which leaves him 100. I think that's more than enough, but you have to know; his parents are divorced and remarried to other people. So he's got FOUR parents, that means double the grandparents and double the aunts and uncles… but NO CHILDREN… except his brothers and my close niece and nephew (the only ones under 18)… so hopefully there aren't many +1s and no angry parents? Reply I forgot to mention that as for the plus ones, I put on our wed site that we just don't have the room for extra people, but if the contact us the when the RSVPs are due that maybe we could work something out… I have a good idea of who might not be able to come at least on my side… but first and foremost if my niece Chelsea (my bridesmaid) wants to bring a date she gets first pick as she is helping me do my DIY (dresses, purses, invitations, etc.) If she wasn't going to be only 20 when we get married I'd make her my MOH. But honestly with the restrictions we really CAN'T have more than 150, not trying to be rude to those single people. I really will try…. I blame my FH for having too many people! 😛 Reply I know this is yonks later, but the "check back after the RSVPs are in" seems like a great way to approach this, especially if the limit is due to practical reasons like venue size. You're acknowledging their desire for a guest without making a commitment to overstretching yourself (or breaking fire regulations!). Reply I was just invited to a wedding on the West Coast (I live on the East Coast) of a friend I have not seen in five years. I was super excited when I received the save the date, but am so bummed now that I received the invite. I have not been invited with a guest and the ONLY two people I will know at this wedding besides the bride and groom are my ex-boyfriend and his now wife. Do you think they had just hoped I wouldn't come, so they didn't invite me with a guest? This one seems like a no brainer to me, but apparently not. Reply THANK YOU EVERYONE!! I've been mind blown with what to do about this, but def adamant about no +1s just b/c you're single- everyone that's invited knows will know more than a handful of people. I'm about to steal some of yall's wording- I literally just read every single post and cut and pasted, but what I had come up with on my own was 'Due to limitations on space and resources, we cannot invite any +1s to this event, we are at complete maximum' but I really like adding in that we want it to be a family and friend affair and you will know at least 5 people there! Oh and having a FAQs tab on our website- brilliant! Thanks again! Reply Because there's a 500 mile difference between my fiance's family and mine, and neither of us can afford to fly in the guests (or house them), we're doing 2 small weddings. There will be no +1s OR children allowed (with the exception of the ring bearer/"flower" girl – we're not doing flowers either…). The plan is to send out cards similar to the wedding program (http://offbeatbride.com/2011/12/funny-wedding-program) with a section regarding attire, food options, and bringing of additional people. I intend to have that section read somthing like: (in bold) Can I bring a guest not listed on this invite? (/end bold) Sorry, but no. As this is one of two weddings, we have to keep the guest lists small. We wish we could invite everyone, but alas, we can't. If childcare is an issue, please see (insert website her) for help. And if someone calls, asking if they can bring someone not listed? "Sorry, but I thought the invite was clear. We simply can't do it." Reply Hey everyone, Is it a bad idea to put a note in the individual's invitation that they cannot bring a +1? I'm working on a tight budget and a small venue. Reply I personally don't think its a bad idea about the note with the invite I think it just comes down to the wording… I'm just about to start invites for our wedding and there are a few people that we don't want to invite their partners (and at least one is a husband) I will say it unfortunately comes down to the budget, and we have had to be really tight on our guest list…………. not the fact that your husband is a major douchebag who seriously needs an attitude adjustment and I would rather stick the fork I will be eating my wedding cake with into my eye than shelling my hard earned dough on feeding him and making nice on a day that is about my partner and I. End rant/ I hope it works out for you 🙂 Reply Urgh – this is sort of where we're at with our guest list, and for some reason the +1 issue brings out the bridezilla in me something fierce. Our guest list right now is hovering between 80 and 90 people. Neither of us has a ridiculously huge family, but neither do we have a ton of money. Our families are paying for most things, so I feel badly asking them to extend themselves further so that we can include people that we don't really know and don't feel strongly about having there. This isn't going to be an issue for most people, but we do have a few friends who will likely be bringing S/Os we don't know. It's actually one friend in particular who cycles through relationships fairly quickly who is causing me some grief – we had finally made the decision not to give him a +1, only to find out he has a new girlfriend with whom he has bought a house. I also had one of my bridesmaids' very recent ex, who I haven't known for that long, Facebook me to ask if she can still come to the wedding (which isn't for a year and a half). o_O I guess I just don't want to spend my wedding meeting and making small talk with people I've never clapped eyes on in my entire life, whose dinner I have made my family pay for. Given that it's only a few people we'll probably just decide on a case-by-case basis, and err on the side of being inclusive. But we're really making an effort to keep the guest list small and the costs down, and HAVING to invite people we've never met because MANNERS just kind of gets my goat. Reply I love that this discussion spans years – My wedding was over a year ago but I stumbled on this when looking at things on pinterest for a friend. I wanted to share that we did RSVPs via a website. Our general rule was people got a +1 if they were in a relationship around at least 3 months and all guests were invited by name – except for my single first cousins who were all in their 40s and some older family/friends who would be traveling alone. We had three friends have break ups in the 8 months we were engaged. Two of them didn't have any expectations to bring guests after that – one had a complete meltdown that we didn't give her a guest even though she had no one specifically she wanted to bring and had several good friends there who would all be flying solo. She could not comprehend that we were trying to have a smaller more intimate day. It was one of the biggest stressors with my wedding was her anger about this. While I was reeling with her anger we sent out our invites. We did RSVPs on the website only – I was so smug about that because I heard horror stories about people writing in another guest on their response card. With the website (we used wedsimple) you couldn't add another person. I figured I was saved from that drama. When I got my first RSVP I was so excited – the person sent me a msg via the website immediately after saying "To whom it may concern – I am bringing a guest." Just the wording… I was so pissed. To whom it may concern? I think it's clean who it concerns!! Turned out he had just started dating a girl and said for sure she'd be flying down (both his brother, sister in law, mom and dad were all coming to the wedding also). Leading up to the wedding my now husband called him saying we just want to confirm she is coming and if she's not you need to tell me by 2 weeks before when we turn in our numbers. Said he understood and it's all good. A couple days before the wedding he text my husband saying "Just wanted to tell you I'm single and ready to mingle." Yep. They broke up and she didn't come. I don't understand how people just don't get it enough to even be socially appropriate about it. Reply Having a dinner for 20 after our wedding. At the moment I have 21 people on the list. Two of the people on the list I thought I'd add a +1 guest on their invite. I also have one child at the table (not me) it's our flower girl. Can I not add the +1 on the invite and ask the parents of the child to go home after the wedding or make arrangements for a sitter. Seems like no matter what I'm gonna look like a jerk. This has all come about because my partners family has suddenly decided to terrorize me by showing interest in what's going on in our lives. 😉 Reply Remember it is your wedding not theirs, however if they are paying for part of it then I would let them have some say. I'd ask the flower girls parents if you could arrange for a sitter for her for the reception, explain that it is an all adult party and not appropriate for the young girl. Also remember that most likely not everyone you invite will attend. There is nothing wrong with over asking by 1 person. Reply Way to may post to read all the replies to this one but I've done two things. First I put on the RSVP cards that I have saved X# of chairs for the party and the names of who is invited are on the envelope. For example I have two single friends who live together and are both dating people I don't know. I put on 2 seats and the names of those two friends. Also in my FAQ This is my response to that question. "• Can I bring a date? Nope no dates, sorry this is our wedding and we don't want anyone we don't know to be there. I refuse to feel awkward in a big poufy dress in front of strangers I'll already feel that way in front of my friends and his family. We have a really small venue and we weren't able to invite nearly everyone we wanted to and we just don't have the space to add people we don't know." I know it sounds really harsh I tried to add the humor in it because I know those two friends have now been dating the people they are with for a while but I don't want to risk not getting along with them or them causing drama….. and I really don't have any more seats unless someone sits with my mom. Reply I just wanted to say that when my fiance and I had only been dating for a couple of months he was invited to a family friends wedding (his name was on an invitation with his parents names, no + guest on the rsvp card). He/his parents asked the couple if I could come (as his plus one). They replied that the could afford to pay for someone they had never met (hardly even heard of) to come to there wedding (fair enough). I didn't actually find out about this till after so I am not sure how it was organised but my fiance paid for me to go to their wedding. In the end my partner and I had a great time and it was an important day in our relationship not to mention how wonderful it was to be able to witness two people who are now good friends of mine get married. Our wedding is in April and I will be putting names on invitations and no +1s on the rsvps (we are very space limited) but if people ask me about brining their new partner if we can squeeze them in to the church we will. (i'd still be mad if people assumed they could bring a +1 (or kids) though 🙂 asking=good, assuming=bad) Reply I've been reading posts on this website for two days now. It's really making me worried, even though it's mostly "How to deal with X situation" posts. I've started a list of people I'd like at a small immdeiate-family-only (plus my cousin bridesmaid and her fella, and my best friend bridesmaid and her fella who are the ones who got us together) ceremony and dinner. So far, without any groomsmen, it's 25 people including my fiancé's 6 nieces and nephews. Plus my cat if whatever venue we get allows. Being Irish, we're probably going to have a big party "reception"/afters. This is where it gets tricky… I've got a few couples listed who I am close to in my re-enactment club, and as many friends of his that I know he's close to, and our mutual friends from when we actually knew eachother in college. And then it's the relatives that we like – Okay, so I have discussed some things with him. But I have only listed the cousins,aunts and uncles that I like and know would make it a good night, and that all get along. And yet, I feel bad for not inviting my lovely aunt and her partner (we don't consider him part of the family) and their grown-up kids and their partners (I get on OK with my cousins, but they're not the most down-to-earth and kinda don't gel with the others so well). I've not even listed any of my dad's nieces and nephews yet (I'm closer to my mother's side) because some of the ones I get on with best are the kids of his brother that he hasn't spoken to for 30+ years. I don't recall talking to the ones who live in Wexford (SE Ireland), and the others are all well older but came to our engagement party up home in Monaghan (north central, on the N.I. border) and I *do* like them — the eldest even told me he was going to propose to his lady one drunken night. There are a good few aunts and uncles on my mother's side whom I haven't invited too. The one aunt who has really stirred up trouble with my mam's sister and her kids (I like the elder girl, but don't really know her well and she lost her boyfriend shortly before we got engaged… :-/ ), the uncles who are separated from their wives and turned into giant assholes somewhere, the uncle who lives in England, the ex-wife of one asshole uncle and their two sons (who I knew as babies but they wouldn't know me from Adam now), and the 3 sons and partners of the other ex-wife whose daughter is one of my bridesmaids – lovely guys all round but I'm not as close to them as I am to their baby sister. So far I'm at 160 people for the whole day. Plus one feline, maybe. I may decide to round up to 200 for the party (in the hope that half can't make it), but that'd just be people **I** think would be fun to invite. And the issue of exes comes up then — the one guy it never really worked out with but was there for me for so long who sounded genuinely kinda sad when I told him, the ex who's my sparring partner and better as a friend is not a question if there's space, and the one guy it was never official with but was there just as much as Ex#1. GRAAAAGH!!!! Any advice? Any similar situations? Sorry for long post. Have a potato *giefs* Reply Vina, are you a member of the Offbeat Bride Tribe? http://tribe.offbeatbride.com This kind of complex question is basically EXACTLY what the Tribe was designed for. 🙂 Join up, and you'll find tons of advice over there! Reply We had to cut out 2/3 of our guest list due to budget issues, which meant all our dearest friends and mentors were cut out so we could afford to cater (literally!) to the relatives. I wasn't about to let some fourth cousin thrice removed bring a stranger to my short wedding when my college roommate couldn't be invited, so I found an awesome template online that I modeled my RSVP card after. The first line states, "We have reserved ___ seats in your honor," so all I need to do is write in the same # on the blank space as is listed on the front of the wedding invite. Easy peasy! If anyone throws a fit…well, the entire thing will probably be only one or two hours…I'm sure they'll survive. God help anyone who tries to sneak in a guest anyway LOL I WILL ask them to leave (the Boy and I have spent over a year scraping the bottom of every paycheck barrel there's no way I'm wasting my money on people who can't respect me enough to remember it's my day, not theirs!) Reply We were very blunt and two the point. Our invites said at the bottom "By invite only and no children under 14" its simple and direct. And nobody took it personally bc it was out front in everyones face, so it was clear it applied to everyone. Reply We used the wording, "We have reserved _ seats for you" on our RSVPs Reply We are currently running into this issue in several ways. We wanted to have an intimate wedding where we were surrounded by our nearest and dearest. That came to about 75 people. With parents forcing us to invite all extended family, we ended up inviting 94. Our venue can fit that amount, but it's not ideal. For this reason, (and hello! Money!) we laid down boundaries about +1s and kids. We dealt with this by making it clear on the RSVP cards and by carefully addressing the invitation to only those people invited. We were always sure we did not want kids apart from my niece and nephew who are in the ceremony (and will be taken away to go to bed early on). Everyone else had to either make a choice or their make own accommodation for their kids. BUT! We still had someone write in their kid's name on their card regardless of number of guests that were invited. After the feelings of shock and awe at the thick-headedness of that, it then lead to an awkward email that still hasn't gotten a response! I could go on about this but I'll stop there. The other is the decision we made about +1s. Our married family and friends got invited regardless of how well we knew both of them. Even our friends who have lived together and have been serious for years got invited together. In this case however, all of those couples we know equally as couples. Then it got sticky… Cousins who have been dating people but don't live together, aren't engaged, and we don't even know their SO did not get a plus one. We figure they are family and will not feel alone surrounded by family. Friends who are dating but not serious also didn't get a +1. Honestly, that one stings a bit but with the family we had to include it was a tough but necessary call. If they are true friends, they will understand. We ran into a few awkward convos with these. Cousins and friends asking if they got a +1 after only receiving a Save the Date, (to which we responded, "invitations will be out this spring") Friends asking even after it said "1 guest" on their RSVP, and genuine questions coming from a kind place which broke my heart! Once all the RSVPs are final (haha) I'm hoping we can make room for a couple of those people. Lastly and least, friends who are completely unattached don't get a +1. That one is easy. Why would they? This isn't a random "come y'all" party. It's a carefully orchestrated occasion. I'm anticipating my new husband and I won't have time to talk to everyone, why would I want to be introduced and make small talk with a totally random person? Is that awful? Wow, it feels really good to vent about this stuff to an anonymous party. First comment. Thanks! Reply We invited anyone that wanted to come but our party is a 4 day holiday weekend so I wouldn't dream of telling anyone that they can't bring a +1. I reserved and booked all of the accommodations and had everyone pay me for the rooms so I'm fairly confident that there will not be any no-shows. I didn't set my budget until after I knew how many guests would be attending. It simply makes more sense to me to do it that way. My rsvp date was May 30th but the celebration isn't until Labor Day weekend. The people who are coming are the most important thing. We figured that out first and everything after that is just details. We were actually prepared for as many as 50 more people to attend and we would have been thrilled to have them. Reply Can I write "invitation only" on our invites? My fiance is Nigerian and it has becone apparent to me that Nigerians feel that if they are invited to a wedding they have the power to invite others. His brother had people put +7 on their RSVP card when they were only given +2 on the invite. Despite his calls to some people he still had almost 400 people at his wedding when only 200 were invited. Which the venue of course expected him to pay for. We have a very tiny budget and cannot afford to have any uninvited guests. I'm even considering having the venue check names at the door to make sure no uninvited guests sneak in. Help! Reply So, I have no idea whether this reply is a moth late or over a year late… But: How does your husband feel about this? Is the: All welcome! thing something that is culturally important to him, or is important because you don't want to offend those people for whom it's important? If yes, maybe look into having some kind of party (maybe even as a seperate event organized by other people, as somebody in the comments mentioned) that everybody COULD attend. If it's not important to you or him, then yes, be blunt! But also recognize that people might have different expectations, that are just culturally formed and that this may result in clashes where nobody is trying to be mean or selfish. Reply I have a friend who RSVP'd +1, though her envelope was just addressed to her. My mother (who is graciously handling the guest list) is furious and wants me to correct her right away. I did not +1 this guest and our group of friends since well we'll have each other. It's not even a date she's inviting, but her roommate, whom I have never met. It is a small venue and numbers are tight. I can try explaining this to her, but it will just result in drama. Any advise would be greatly appreciated! Reply Hi Kbride, If she's truly your friend, she'll understand. If you just explain to her that numbers are tight and it wasn't intended for *anyone* to have a plus one, I'm sure she'll realise she misunderstood. It's best coming from you rather than your mother, as well. Good luck 🙂 Reply Ooooh…. this was an annoying subject for me. We decided no plus ones unless the plus one was a close friend, too. We were on a TIGHT budget. I was laid off soon after our engagement, and with one month to plan, I was broke super fast! My FH lived about 6 hours away and was not able to do much, my parents were hosting the wedding in their backyard, and we were both set on trying to spare them, my grandparents (who were assisting financially and otherwise) and ourselves from spending too much. The only people we weren't close to who were coming was a couple who were close friends of my parents', and since my parents had asked if inviting them could be our way of thanking them for paying for things and letting us use the house/grounds, we said alright. I told the people concerned that we had a tiny budget, and that we weren't doing plus ones. Pretty much everyone was understanding, including one of my bridesmaids, whose boyfriend was not being invited, (mainly because no one was getting a plus one, but a LITTLE because I didn't like how he behaved… which was like a spastic, selfish two-year-old). They all said they understood and it was fine, not to worry about it, etc. Night before my wedding, my wedding party (who were all out of towners) were all invited to come stay over night at my parents' house and work on last minute stuff. Guess what? My bridesmaid brought her boyfriend who stayed overnight and for the whole wedding, reception, etc. I could not believe she went ahead and brought him, but I knew that it would end badly if I said anything, so I ignored it and prayed that he would behave himself. Luckily, he didn't pull any of his normal bad behavior for the wedding, but I still feel sad that my friend would lie to me saying it was no big deal and then BRING HIM ANYWAY. Reply My finacé and I are using squarespace for our website and found that it is very easy to set up an online rsvp section. I have been told by a friend that the wording for our rsvp section is to the point, but well said. 'We wish we had the capability of inviting everyone to join us, but, due to space limitations at our venue, we sadly cannot. We sincerely hope you understand and know that we truly appreciate everyone for wanting to celebrate our life together!' Thought I'd post to maybe help a bride out who is still struggling with the perfect way to break it to the guests! Reply These are great, but what happens when you dutifully explain why plus one's are not permitted and your crazy relations go straight into orbit?! I got screamed at, called horrible names and was told plane tickets were already purchased and I would permit it if I didn't want to be responsible for reimbursing him for the ticket. It was utter madness. I caved out of shock, but it has truly soured my desire to include this individual in our day (and our life)! Sadly, this is not the first occurrence of utter rebellion and disregard for our wishes, but it is the most extreme. Reply Tons of great advice here: The drama-minimizing guide to not inviting family members to your wedding Reply Thank you for this content! We established and explicitly stated a no plus one policy at the beginning of the planning process, yet a friend recently challenged it, stating suddenly that "he assumed he was allowed a plus one" despite our earlier conversation. Being able to refer to this page (and consulting with close family and friends), was helpful in both addressing this situation, and clarifying the wording on our wedding website in a polite way. Reply My situation is two-fold. My father is a pastor and used to be mine while growing up. When he discovered he was not going to be asked to perform the ceremony, he was very upset and hurt. My response was that I wanted him there as my dad to support us and not in the role as officiant because the man we have performing the ceremony is our current pastor. Days later he sent an rsvp for him and a woman that he wanted to bring with him whom I have never met even though the invitation was addressed only to him. I told him that unfortunately our venue is not large enough for plus ones, nor are we financially capable of taking that on. He became even more upset and wrote my 3 brothers and sister a text message condemning my behavior after which he wrote that he would not be attending. I believe that he will change his mind, but I'm very concerned that he will show up either with his guest or will be there by himself but be unsupportive/unloving which will create a lot of stress for me and especially my betrothed on our wedding day. I love my father and want him there, but I'm very nervous that he will not act like a mature adult. Any thoughts? Reply Our affair is going to be small (30-45 people) so no one gets a +1 unless we've met this person. This reminds me of that HIMYM episode where Lily complains about Ted constantly bringing girls that no one ever sees again to private moments like New Year's Eve and her birthday. If this person was serious to you, then we would have met them by now! Reply We had our invites printed to read, "due to the nature of our venue, we cannot accommodate children or additional guests." This was true: the venue was a hard 60 people max, and that included my photographer. But, since the wedding was small, I was able to reach out to certain individuals who were in 1) long term relationships and 2) had children, but were family (my sister in law, and my brother in law's gf) and let them know that we absolutely wanted my nieces/nephews there, I just didn't want to have "versions" of the invitation. I was also able to talk to the few single folks invited in advance, and see if they wanted to bring a plus one. All of them were in the bridal party (and thus pretty occupied, anyway), and none of them opted to bring a guest. That said, beware of the online RSVP. I had people RSVP that they were coming who weren't invited. At all. Guest or otherwise. Needless to say, I lost my shizz that day. Reply I'm confused about SO's. My future brother in law has a girlfriend that lives with him. When she is invited to other family functions, get togethers she never stays more than an hour or two. Do you think she needs invited since it's likely she won't be there for most of it? Going off of past experiences, she was here for one hour at Christmas when my other future brother in law came from Oregon. Reply I am planning my wedding and I have written on my RSVP cards this RSVP is valid for one person only. to avoid having people show that I don't know as I wish to keep it personal but I feel bad as I have family friends that are three brothers and I only know one of their girlfriends really well and have an invitation for her but not the other 2 girls how do I tell them without sounding really horrible. Reply Read more comments ‹ 1 2 3 › Join the conversation Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Sign me up for your offbeat awesomeness newsletter! No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy. Biz owners & wedding bloggers Please just use your real name in your comment, not your business name or blog title. Our comments are not the place to pimp your website. If you want to promote your stuff on Offbeat Bride, join us as an advertiser instead.