Wedding Plus-One Etiquette: What You Need to Know

Wedding Plus-One Etiquette: What You Need to Know

Image by Olguin Photography. We’re breaking down everything you need to know about wedding plus one etiquette.

The wedding guest list—it’s one of the trickiest parts of wedding planning. After carefully selecting your wedding guests, the next challenge is determining whether they’re allowed to bring a plus-one, which can be a delicate situation. While there are no hard and fast rules on who makes the cut (after all, it’s your special day), there are creative strategies to simplify the process of planning plus ones and ensure it aligns with your vision and budget.

Image by Les Bandits. See more of this real wedding here.

What Is A Wedding Plus One?

The term “plus one” refers to a guest being given permission to bring somebody with them to a formal event, usually a wedding. When allocating your wedding plus ones, it’s important to note that not every guest has to have one. Traditionally, a plus one is often a date or romantic interest. However, it can also include a family member escorting an older guest who may need assistance or a close friend accompanying a single person. It’s a topic that sparks frequent discussions about wedding invitation etiquette. Should couples allow guests to bring plus-ones, and if so, which ones?

Who Should Get A Plus One?

If your wedding budget allows it, the simplest approach to handling plus-ones is to extend the invitation for all your guests to bring a date. However, if you have limitations on venue capacity or budget constraints that prevent accommodating additional guests, traditional wedding etiquette suggests that the following guests should be granted a plus-one:

Immediate Family

It’s important to consider extending a wedding plus one invitation to your nearest and dearest. Whether it’s your goofy younger brother who needs a dance partner or your doting aunt who deserves a charming companion, giving your immediate family the option to bring a plus-one can add an extra touch of warmth and joy to your celebration. After all, what’s better than seeing your loved ones share in your special day with someone who means the world to them? 

Wedding Party

These are the people who have stood by your side, helping you plan, prep, and stay sane throughout the entire process. They’ve been your confidants, your cheerleaders, and your partners-in-crime. That’s why it’s only fair to extend a plus one invitation to these VIPs. Offering one is a thoughtful gesture that shows your appreciation for their unwavering support.

Couples Who Are Married, Engaged, Live Together, Or In A Serious Long-Term Relationship

While it can be tempting to break traditional wedding rules, it’s always considerate to invite both parties in a married couple, even if you’re closer to one person than the other or haven’t met someone’s spouse. After all, would you want to attend a wedding without your own spouse? 

Similarly, for couples who are engaged, live together, or have been dating for over a year, it’s customary to offer them a plus one. In today’s world, many couples live together before marriage or choose not to marry at all. And acknowledging their commitment helps them feel included. While you can use your judgment for couples who’ve been dating for over a year, it’s best to err on the side of caution and provide a plus one unless it’s clear that it’s not a serious relationship.

An Important Guest Who Doesn’t Know The Other Attendees

Imagine if one of your dearest childhood friends, who lives far away, is attending your wedding. While they may know you, your parents, and your partner, chances are none of you will have much time to spend with them during the event. To ensure they feel comfortable and can have a good time, consider offering important guests like them a plus-one. This thoughtful gesture will allow them to bring a companion and enjoy the celebration, even if you and your other guests may not have much time to personally connect with them.

Wedding Plus One Etiquette As A Guest

As a wedding guest, it’s important to understand and follow wedding plus one etiquette. While it’s exciting to receive a plus one invitation, it’s essential to be mindful of certain wedding etiquette guidelines. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Understand that not all guests are entitled to a plus one. The couple’s budget and venue capacity may determine whether or not a plus-one is extended to you
If you do receive a plus one invitation, RSVP promptly and provide the name of your guest as requested by the couple. This allows them to make appropriate arrangements
Be gracious, considerate, and respectful of the couple’s wedding day plans. Avoid making any last-minute changes or demands that may disrupt their arrangements
If you are unsure of whether or not your plus one can attend by the time the RSVP by date arrives, it’s best to plan on going alone. This way, the couple’s not having to pay for an extra plate that may not be needed
Enjoy the celebration while also making it a memorable experience for yourself and your guest. Follow the schedule of events, participate in the festivities, and be a respectful and engaged guest

Remember, being a good guest means respecting the couple’s wishes and making their wedding day as special as possible. By adhering to wedding plus one etiquette, you can ensure that you are a thoughtful and considerate attendee. Contributing to a memorable and enjoyable celebration for the couple and their loved ones.

Image by Epic Love Story.

Important Wedding Plus-One Tips

Determine Your Budget

When creating your guest list, it’s crucial to establish your budget as a starting point. The size of your guest list will depend on it, as inviting more people will require additional expenses for catering, decor, and other wedding costs. Ultimately, your guest list should align with your and your partner’s vision. Whether you dream of a grand celebration with hundreds of guests or an intimate and refined affair, the decision is entirely yours to make.

Recommended Reading: Free Budget Wedding Tool

Consider Your Venue Size

The size of your venue will also determine how many guests you can invite. If you have a small venue, you may not be able to accommodate everyone’s plus one. In this case, it is important to be upfront and honest with your guests about the limitations of your venue. Just remember, while people may be hurt, it’s your special day. You don’t need to feel bad about who you do/do not invite.

Create Tiers

Once you have determined your budget, create tiers for your guest list. Start with the must-invite list, which includes close family members and friends. Then, create a second tier for acquaintances and colleagues. Finally, create a third tier for plus ones.

Include The Plus-One In The Invitation

How you inform your guests about whether or not they can bring a plus one starts with the envelope. Traditional wedding invitations often come with an inner and outer mailing envelope. The outer envelope is addressed to the recipient (the guest or couple you know personally). And the inner envelope lists all the names of those invited, including children or plus-ones. 

However, modern invitations may not always follow this traditional approach, especially with online invitations or single envelopes. In such cases, it’s important to clearly address all invitees upfront. If a couple is in a relationship, list both guests by their full names. If you’re allowing a guest to bring a casual date, simply write your friend’s name followed by “and guest.”

Recommended Reading: The Top Websites to Buy Your Wedding Invitations Online

Consider Seating Arrangements

When planning the seating arrangements for your wedding, consider creating a seating plan that ensures a comfortable dynamic for solo guests. For singles, it can be awkward to be seated between an old married couple or a couple who is overly affectionate. Avoid creating a “singles-only” table, as it may come across as segregating your single friends. Instead, place them between outgoing and friendly couples who they are likely to get along with. This will give them the opportunity to meet people naturally.

Be Prepared For Guests Requesting If They Could Bring A Plus-One

Be prepared for guests to inquire about bringing a plus one to your wedding–even if they were not initially given a wedding plus-one. It’s important to first gather more information about the requested addition. For example, if you were unaware of your friend’s recent relationship status change, consider including their partner if possible.

However, as mentioned earlier, it’s your big day. Don’t feel obligated to make it work.  It’s okay to kindly decline. You can respond with a thoughtful message such as, “We would love for you to bring a guest, but this is a very intimate affair.” It’s best to have this conversation over the phone or in person rather than through email. As it allows for more personal communication. 

So, now that we’ve covered the wedding plus one etiquette, let’s move on to another important aspect: the seating plan. Check out our guide filled with pro tips, followed by our creative seat chart ideas that will add a fun and personal touch to your wedding celebration.

Image by Nikk Nguyen.

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