Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Do We Have to Invite Plus Ones To Our Wedding?”

My fiance and I just got engaged, and have decided on a smaller wedding and found a venue that we love! It only holds a small number of people, though, and we’re finding it hard to trim our guest list, especially when it comes to plus ones. We have tons of friends who are in long term relationships, but we’ve only met their significant others once or twice. What about married spouses we haven’t met? We’re at that age where most of our friends are married or in long term relationships, and with plus-ones, our guest list is almost twice as long. It’s not that we want to exclude plus ones, but there literally is no space in our venue! Please help! — Newly Engaged


Since you’re newly engaged (congrats, by the way), I’m going to cut you a little slack and assume you haven’t delved too far into the world of wedding planning yet. Surely if you had — if you’d perused even a few wedding blogs, magazines, and guidebooks — two things would be abundantly clear by now: 1) while the rules of etiquette are slightly flexible on inviting “plus ones” for single friends who aren’t in serious relationships, they are rigid when it comes to inviting the spouses and live-in partners of guests; and 2) sometimes the venue/dress/cake/ring/DJ/etc. that you love, love, love simply won’t work out for a variety of reasons (price, size, availability) and you have to make a few compromises.

The fact of the matter is, you cannot — CANNOT — get away with inviting people to your wedding without extending an invitation to their spouses or long-term partners. It simply isn’t done. Not only will some people assume your invitation was improperly addressed and bring their S.O.s anyway, they’ll think you’re a giant turd if they figure out your invitation was properly addressed and you really did mean to exclude the very people they’re married to/live with/have been dating for an eternity. This is doubly true for any guests you may invite who live out of town or don’t know your other guests very well (if at all). Can you imagine having to travel out of town and not being able to have your spouse come with you because he or she isn’t invited? To pay for travel expenses, wedding attire, and a gift, and not have the privilege of bringing your significant other along for the ride is going to make your once-close friends a tad resentful, and who wants to start a marriage with that kind of baggage?

As hard as it may be to accept that you’ll need to make room at your wedding for people you may not know well — if only because they are closest to the people you do know well — if you can’t trim your guest list down to include all significant “plus ones” at your preferred venue of choice, you’re going to have to pick another venue. It’s early in your planning and this is likely just one of many compromises you’ll have to make to have the perfect wedding because, as you’ll soon learn, a perfect wedding isn’t about having your preferred everything; it’s about creating a space where love can be celebrated. And trust me, it will be much easier for your friends to celebrate your love if the love they have for their significant others is shown a little respect.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at [email protected].

195 comments… add one
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    ReginaRey April 25, 2011, 3:08 pm

    Absolutely, 100% agree. Wendy made a really great point about this affecting the whole tone of your wedding – how much fun is your wedding going to be if the majority of the people there are annoyed that you were so thoughtless of their significant others? Who are they going to sit with at dinner? Dance with? Talk to if they dont’ know anyone?? Your wedding would be a big, giant AWKWARD event…not something fun, memorable, or enjoyable.

    If you absolutely will not compromise this venue, then you need to settle for an extremely intimate event – only direct family and best friends. But like Wendy said, some things can and should be compromised. In 10 years, the venue won’t matter…what WILL matter is that everyone had an awesome time at you’re wedding, and the tone of the event was joyous. You don’t want to look back and think “Well, it was gorgeous…but everyone looked like they were in pain.”

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      WatersEdge April 25, 2011, 3:09 pm

      I basically just wrote the same thing 🙂

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      HmC April 25, 2011, 3:21 pm

      “Who are they going to sit with at dinner? Dance with? Talk to if they dont’ know anyone?? Your wedding would be a big, giant AWKWARD event…not something fun, memorable, or enjoyable.”

      I agree with you and Wendy- you’ve got to invite significant others to a wedding. BUT I couldn’t help but think of all the weddings I attended as a single gal. It was kind of awkward, especially if I was the only single at the table. But I didn’t die.

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        ReginaRey April 25, 2011, 3:28 pm

        True. Attending a wedding by yourself is definitely not the end of the world. But attending it when you SHOULD be there with someone else is definitely going to change your whole attitude about being there. And in her case, she said the majority of her friends were all coupled up, which makes it that much worse.

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      mf April 25, 2011, 3:37 pm

      Totally agree. I have just one thing to add: if guests realize that they’ve been purposefully invited sans spouses or long-term SO’s, they may very well decline. (Either because they’re insulted or because they just don’t want to go alone.)

      So if you really want those people to come, include their partners/spouses/boyfriends/girlfriends, etc.

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        ReginaRey April 25, 2011, 3:40 pm

        I’m also wondering if she’ll end up not getting invitations to THEIR weddings in the future. It might be a bit catty, but I can see some people feeling slighted and purposefully excluding her husband AND her…people take wedding etiquette seriously!

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        TheGirl April 25, 2011, 4:16 pm

        I absolutely would not go to a wedding if my husband weren’t invited. Not only would I feel slighted, I would feel terrible leaving him home!

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      Thedudette April 25, 2011, 4:00 pm

      I disagree with you. i think it is very nice to invite a SO you don’t know well, but not at all required. Maybe they simply can not afford it and can not change venues. Those with boyfriends they want to come will understand if the bride talks to them about it. It is not horrible to go to a wedding alone, but it is rude to expect your SO to be invited just because you are dating someone. When I am a guest I ask if a SO will be ok, and sometimes it isn’t. And I understand that. That being said, I think husband is a different thing than boyfriend/fiance. Clearly a husband should be invited, and if not you should have a good reason to tell your friend. I also think all guests (if it is that small) should get a phone call explaining why they can’t bring their SO.

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        BoomChakaLaka April 26, 2011, 8:49 am

        What’s with the thumbs down? This was a very good point…

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        Guy Friday April 26, 2011, 1:50 pm

        Sorry, but while we’re on the same page about actual spouses, I’ve got to respectfully disagree on fiancees and boyfriends/girlfriends. I do totally get that weddings are expensive, and it’s totally understandable not to invite everybody and their grandmother. But how would the LW react if the person simply failed to bring a wedding present because they couldn’t afford one (you know, since getting the proper outfit and taking off of work/traveling if needed/etc. can be expensive for the guest too)? I mean, sure, the person could call and say that to the LW, but I think they’d still be hurt at the very least.

        In planning my wedding right now, I’ve tended to defer to Emily Post, who says that an easy cut-off line is married/engaged/living together = joint invitation without hesitation. Beyond that, I’m just taking each other invite on a case-by-case basis. Trust that the people in your life won’t bring a date just to bring a date.

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    WatersEdge April 25, 2011, 3:08 pm

    I can definitely chime in here. Wendy is absolutely right that 1) you NEED to invite spouses and long-term partners, and 2) the answer is to either invite fewer people (WITH their plus-ones), or change your venue.

    I changed my wedding venue to accommodate more guests, from one that sat 60 to one that sat 80. I really wanted a small wedding (in fact, I wanted to elope… badly… but I did not get my way). It was absolutely worth the hassle of changing venues to have everyone happy and in attendance. You don’t want to blow all this money on a party just for your friends to have a crappy time, right? After all the stress and hassle of planning a wedding, you’re going to want to see shining happy faces telling you it was the best wedding they’ve ever been to and they had SO much fun. You will definitely not want to see pinched, tense smiles… you will believe that’s it’s because they’re pissed at you for being at a wedding alone, or that they hate your dress, or they’re taking bets on how long the marriage will last, and you will not be happy. Happy guests = happy wedding = happy bride. Share the love and invite plus-ones.

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      honeybeenicki April 25, 2011, 4:38 pm

      I changed my wedding venue too… well, kind of. I changed to a bigger (and ultimately MUCH better) room at the same location. My family is huge and we are all very close, so there wasn’t much trimming to do on my side. My husband’s side wasn’t as big, so it was kind of lopsided, but we managed to get our list down to about 175 (135 came) total. Plus side was that we went from an interior room to a room with a huge wall of windows overlooking one of the lakes here in town. And not only did I invite all the plus ones, we also invited tons of kids (about 35 of the guests were kids) and had special tables set up for our wedding party so they could sit with their SO’s.

      LW, its VERY important to remember that your friends and family have SO’s and spouses and long-term relationships and whatnot and they mean as much to them as your new fiance means to you. Put yourself in their shoes and figure out how you would feel if you weren’t invited to a wedding but your fiance was because the bride wanted a specific venue.

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    RMM0278 April 25, 2011, 3:20 pm

    How’s that saying go? “If your friend had his wife at his own wedding, then he must have her at your wedding.”

    If that’s not enough to convince you, think about it if the positions were reversed. What if you were invited to the wedding of a friend and your fiance/husband was intentionally left off the invitation? Would you go? I’m thinking no.

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      SpaceySteph April 25, 2011, 4:34 pm

      Love that saying. I mean boyfriends/girlfriends of a few months is one thing… but to actually even think for a second about excluding spouses?! I don’t care if you are 99% sure she is a Ukranian mail order bride… if your friend married her, and you’re inviting the friend, she’s part of the package!

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    TECH April 25, 2011, 3:22 pm

    Overall, I agree with Wendy’s advice. It is considered a tad rude to not allow friends to bring their spouse to a wedding. If a good friend explained her circumstances to me, I wouldn’t be offended and would understand not being able to bring my boyfriend along, but that’s just me.

    However, I have alternative. You mentioned the venue you have your heart set on is simply too small to hold everyone. In this case, have you considered trimming your list so you can invite a smaller number of people, including their significant others?

    For example, let’s say the venue holds 50 people. The way your list stands now, if you invited 50 friends, when they brought their significant others, the list would jump to 100. But if you only invited 25 friends, they could bring their significant others, and you wouldn’t be offending them. Sure, you’d have to exclude some people from your list, but if you let them know it’s only close family and a few friends, they have no reason to be offended.

    Also, keep in mind, not everyone you invite will end up coming.

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    nameless April 25, 2011, 3:24 pm

    My boyfriend is a groomsman in a wedding and they are not inviting any plus ones. He pretty much said that I’m coming whether they like it or not. Otherwise he wasn’t coming. So I think if you don’t invite the plus ones that you won’t get very many people at your wedding because they may decide not to come.

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    Sarah April 25, 2011, 3:27 pm

    Not inviting spouses and long term partners of your guests will definitely shorten the guest list….mostly because no one will come.

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      Rachelgrace53 April 25, 2011, 5:22 pm

      EXACTLY what I was about to say…There’s no way I’d go to a wedding without my SO.

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    Emsz April 25, 2011, 3:27 pm

    When I saw the title of your letter I was going to say that no, you don’t have to. But then I read your letter, as well as Wendy’s advice, and I changed my mind. If you want to invite those friends, you have to invite their SOs.

    I would like to add this though: if you’ve only met the SO of a particular person one or two times, then how often have you seen that particular person during the course of their relationship? I’m assuming that for something to qualify as a long term relationship, they have to have been together at least a year. If you’ve seen the person more often than once or twice during that year, how come you haven’t seen their SO more often?
    And if you haven’t seen them more than once or twice in the past year, barring special circumstances ofcourse, are you really sure you want them at your wedding?
    Now, I don’t really understand weddings, as I’m sure I’ve said before, but to me a small wedding is really small. Like, 30-40 of my absolutely closest friends and family, and I would have to think really hard about inviting someone that I had only seen about once or twice in the last year.

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      SpaceySteph April 25, 2011, 3:40 pm

      My best friend lives in Florida. I live in Texas. She has been dating her boyfriend for about 3 years, during which time I’ve met him maybe a handful of times. She’s been my best friend for 19 years and will not only be invited to my (currently hypothetical) wedding, she’ll be standing up in it. But I haven’t seen her since last June. We talk on the phone regularly (which obviously doesn’t include long conversations with her boyfriend), see each other when we can (which sometimes involves bringing the bf and sometimes not)… but I haven’t been able to get back home in awhile due to a hectic work schedule and she can’t afford to come visit me.
      Just because you don’t see your friends, doesn’t mean you aren’t friends. Of course since she’s my best friend, I love her and want her to be happy so I will of course invite her boyfriend to my hypothetical wedding even if that swells the guest list and even though I don’t really know him.

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        Emsz April 25, 2011, 3:53 pm

        I can see how that might happen. I should have included that caveat, but I come from a country where nothing is more than four hours away by car, so I don’t have these problems, usually.
        Also, and I probably should have mentioned this as well, but I was mainly speaking about ‘normal’ friends, and not best friends. Obviously, if someone is so important to you that they will be standing up in your wedding, you can’t get away with not inviting their SO. But for ‘normal’ friends, who won’t be standing up in your wedding, you really have to question if you want them there if they are living close to you (like they would be in my country) and you haven’t seen them since last June.

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        SpaceySteph April 25, 2011, 4:30 pm

        The LW didn’t mention whether these friends and their SOs live close and still onyl hang out a couple times a year, live far away but are good friends, or whether they hang out all the time just the two of them without SOs. Or maybe they are work friends who socialize at work but don’t hang out much outside. I have several work friends who I see outside of work occasionally, but I would still extend them an invite to my wedding.

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        honeybeenicki April 25, 2011, 4:41 pm

        Agreed SpaceySteph – one of my bridesmaids was one of my best friends since high school and we hadn’t seen each other in over a year because I live in WI and she lives in WA.

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        delilahgem April 26, 2011, 3:08 pm

        I feel like this can happen as you get older and see your friends sometimes less than you ideally would. People move, have jobs, and other things going on.

        “Just because you don’t see your friends, doesn’t mean you aren’t friends”
        So true.
        I am MOH in a wedding coming up where I’ve met the groom maybe five times over the last two years. The bride is a friend I’ve had since childhood and she’s lived a little further away the last few years.
        I was also MOH for a couple that was mainly long distance before they got married, so I didn’t really know the husband til later.

        I don’t necessarily need to know anything other than whether or not my friend is happy.

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      MissDre April 25, 2011, 4:41 pm

      My best friends have only met my boyfriend once in the near-year we’ve been together. When I go hang out with my girlfriends, it’s to spend time with them, so needless to say I don’t bring him along. Also, we are not party people. We are past the age of clubbing and houseparties, so our weekends are spent watching movies or visiting museums.

      On another note, it’s hard to even find a reason to bring my friends and my boyfriend together. My best girlfriends are single, so they would feel like a third wheel if we said hey, come check out this museum exhibit with us. And at the same time, I don’t think my guy is really interested in hanging out with me and my girls, we’d just be talking about girlie stuff.

      On the other hand, I tried to invite my co-worker and his wife on sort of a double date to this black history event, and he said straight up no thanks, he didn’t want to chill with some dude he didn’t know and his wife wouldn’t want to hang out with some other girl she didn’t know…. he said that would just be awkward. So there’s my attempt at socializing thwarted… Last but not least, my very closet friend in the world is married with three children and barely has time to see me, let alone come out for a social occasion with my boyfriend and I.

      So there you have it… it’s perfectly reasonable for your best friend to have only met your SO once or twice!

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        TheGirl April 25, 2011, 4:44 pm

        How unadventurous of your co-worker! Of course its awkward the first time you meet people, but if you don’t try you’ll never meet anyone!

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        MissDre April 25, 2011, 4:52 pm

        That’s what I thought… and it wasn’t like we’d be sitting trying to make conversation at an intimate dinner table… it was to a talent show type event at a theater. I am not a very social person, but sometimes I do feel a bit lonely and excluded. So it’s very disheartening when you TRY to reach out and make new friends and you get straight up turned down!

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        jess of citygirlsworld.com April 25, 2011, 9:48 pm

        Yeah, this pretty much describes my life too! Things are somewhat fragmented but I don’t mind it. I like that I haven’t different groups to move between. And then a few times a year me and my BF throw big parties where everyone DOES come together.

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    napoleon1066 April 25, 2011, 3:29 pm

    Just put yourself in one of your guest shoes. You just got invited to a wedding, but, sorry, your fiance has to stay at home. Speaking for myself, if I were invited to a wedding but had to leave my wife behind, I’d either not go, or go and feel really awkward the whole time.

    You’re probably better off putting together the guest list and then picking a venue. Remember, you want to share the day with all the people you love… not just the ones who fit in the room.

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      SpaceySteph April 25, 2011, 3:34 pm

      Sorry, was typing basically the same thing at the same time. Totally agree!

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    SpaceySteph April 25, 2011, 3:33 pm

    Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine that a year from now one of your friends is getting married to one of these long term SOs you don’t want to invite to your wedding. You hear of the engagement and are happy for them. You get an invite and it has only your name on it, not Mr. and Mrs. So and So. Just you.

    How would that make you feel? Would you be sad that your friend didn’t invite the man you love? Would you be happy to go to a wedding dateless, knowing that your husband was excluded? Would you be glad to celebrate the love of your friend and her new husband by arriving alone, sitting alone, dancing alone? These are people that your friends have chosen to spend their lives with, just like you are choosing to spend you life with your fiance. Even if you don’t love them, don’t like them, or don’t even know them, you do know your friends and you want them to feel happy, loved, and included, right?

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    BoomChakaLaka April 25, 2011, 3:33 pm

    If small/intimate is non-negotiable, then you’re going to have to trim your guest list. Otherwise, I don’t think it’s going to fly if your guests aren’t allowed to bring spouses. What really makes a wedding are the people that are there, not the view from the venue or even the decorations.

    Since you are newly engaged, maybe you can push back the wedding date a bit to save more so you can accommodate more people?

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    justpeachy April 25, 2011, 3:36 pm

    I just got married two months ago and had plenty of “plus one” drama, so I am so excited to throw my hat in this ring. My husband and I found the perfect location and knowing that we had to pay per head, we worked the guest list like nobody’s business: no plus ones to singles, inviting relatives first who we guessed wouldn’t travel to the wedding but were happy to have the invite, etc. Well, I had a single guy friend I’d know for over five years and his invitation got lost in the mail, so he emailed me and asked for the info (he knew he was invited from the save the date card). I sent him the info and asked what he would like for the dinner. He then emailed back saying he wanted the chicken and his girlfriend would have the vegetarian but she was allergic to soy, dairy, air, etc. I had never even heard about a girlfriend and he had never had a girlfriend more than four months. I told him that since it was small wedding and we weren’t comfortable having people we didn’t know there and either he had to introduce her before the wedding (two months out) or he shouldn’t bring her. He told me there was no time before the wedding to do an intro but she wasn’t uncomfortable with not knowing anyone. I then flat out told him not to bring her and he refused to come to the wedding.

    My point is 1) There are tricks to working a guest list so you can compromise and get what you want. 2) Some guests will cause problems no matter what, no matter how careful you are. 3) Good friends will not cause you drama. They will understand how stressful planning a wedding is and they will cut you some slack. As weird as it sounds, planning a wedding will teach you a lot about yourself and the people around you.

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      nameless April 25, 2011, 4:07 pm

      I guess I don’t understand what the big deal was of one other person there. Shame you just couldn’t make an exception. He must not been that great of a friend. I would never do that to a friend.

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        justpeachy April 25, 2011, 6:03 pm

        I’d agree with you if I’d sprung this on him a week before the wedding. I asked to meet her TWO MONTHS before the wedding. How do you think I felt about our friendship when he couldn’t meet for lunch on one of 8 possible weekend? Or for a quick bite of dinner on 40 possible weeknights? It very much gave the impression that he did not value my friendship.

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        nameless April 25, 2011, 6:26 pm

        that’s true….good way to weed them out I guess.

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        atraditionalist April 25, 2011, 6:34 pm

        I don’t blame you at all for not wanting this girl there after she gave you some long list of her many allergies and then just said that she didn’t have time to meet you.

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        Britannia April 25, 2011, 6:20 pm

        When you’re on a really tight budget, one person can easily amount to well over a hundred dollars for the evening, and that is just too much to sacrifice when you barely or DON’T know the person at all. This isn’t about the OP being a bad friend, it’s about her friend’s girlfriend being unwilling to make time to meet the OP before having the OP drop a load of cash to entertain her at an event she obviously wouldn’t appreciate the intimacy of.

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        nameless April 25, 2011, 6:25 pm

        What does OP mean?

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        SpyGlassez April 25, 2011, 7:18 pm

        OP = Original Poster; same as LW

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      LolaBeans April 25, 2011, 4:15 pm

      a friend of mine is in a wedding party, the maid of honour actually and the bride told her unless she’s been dating someone more than 6 months she isn’t allowed a guest. nice eh?

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        justpeachy April 25, 2011, 4:33 pm

        Please don’t think I was that crazy. My sister was my maid of honor and I definitely let her bring a guest, as well as my friend who was my videographer. My biggest concern, other than cost, was having photos of this person I had never met (and knowing my friend’s history with women, would have never seen again). That’s just awkward and there’s actually a really good episode of How I Met Your Mother about that…

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        Mel April 25, 2011, 6:11 pm

        Sorry, I think being concerned about having photos of someone you don’t know at your wedding and using that as an excuse to not invite them is weird. Pretty much everyone has either friends or relatives that get invited by the parents or your fiance who they haven’t met before. You’ll have plenty of pictures full of your best friends and your family, a few unknowns/weirdos aren’t going to ruin anything.

        I agree that only allowing people to bring true significant others and not just a random date is completely cool (that was the rule I followed). But, if a friend is dating someone exclusively/living together/engaged/married, I feel strongly that they should be included in the invitation. When I had been dating my now husband for 7 months I was invited to a wedding for a close girlfriend I had known for almost 20 years. And, she had even recently (1 year prior) graduated from grad school with my boyfriend, so she knew him as well. He wasn’t included on the invitation, so I called her assuming it was an oversight. It turns out they had decided to apply the following rules to SOs: 1) Married, 2) Engaged, 3) Living Together, or 4) Dating for at least 1 year. This rule ended up excluding exactly 3 guests, including my boyfriend. While I understand that it’s up to the couple to choose who gets invited, I was very hurt and frankly angry that she couldn’t expand her 250+ guest wedding to include my boyfriend, especially after I asked her about it. I did end up going (alone), but this was four years ago and I’m still kind of bitter about it. I really didn’t enjoy having to lie when asked at the wedding where my boyfriend was, as the other guests certainly assumed he was invited.

        On the flip side, when my husband and I had only been dating for 1 month but were already serious, his best friend (who I had never met) was mailing out invitations to his wedding (out of town, no less) and thoughtfully included me. We both went and had a great time, and as a result I have very positive feelings toward this friend. If he had instead applied some arbitrary rule about how long a couple had to date for it to “count”, I probably would feel differently about him.

        When my wedding came around 2 years later, I made sure to invite all significant others, even those we found out about after the invitations were already in the mail, as I would never want anyone else to feel that way.

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        SpyGlassez April 25, 2011, 7:19 pm

        Why lie? Let it fall on the bride. “Well, he pushed the head count over too far.”

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        delilahgem April 26, 2011, 3:20 pm

        happened to me, it was a very small wedding.

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    Anastasiachs April 25, 2011, 3:37 pm

    I’m going to counter what everyone, including Wendy, is saying. During my last long term relationship, my boyfriend, who was three years older than me, went through a couple of months where it seemed like EVERYONE he knew was getting married, I swear there were like 10 weddings within a couple of months, and I’d met most of the couples, I actually went to high school school with some of them, and I was totally okay with not being invited. I understood that they were tight on space and since I’d only met them a few times in social situations, it made logical sense that my boyfriend would be invited and I wouldn’t. If we were married, I might see a problem with it, but I didn’t.

    I might be in the minority here (the same boyfriend was really upset when he wasn’t invited with me to my Uncle’s destination wedding, but a) it was just family (her brother didn’t bring his significant other) and b) they paid for everything), but this is how my family does their invites. It’s very “nothing is official until you’re engaged” so that’s how I’ve been raised.

    But back to the problem at hand. If these are really close friends and you are really, really set on this venue (either because you’re more in love with it than your fiance or for financial reasons) talk to them and see if they would have a huge problem with it. My guess is that as long as they know other people there, who are not you, they’ll have a blast either way.

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      justpeachy April 25, 2011, 3:51 pm

      I think you make a very good point. Since most couples are paying for the own weddings now and most these couples are young and just starting out, cutting the guest list and expenses is very tricky and I think most of the guests would probably understand that if you talked to them about it.

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      Thedudette April 25, 2011, 3:54 pm

      I agree with you. If it were husband/wife I would say you have to invite the SO, but a boyfriend or fiance you don’t know I think it is polite, but understandable if you can not afford to have them in attendance. I have been invited to weddings where I could not bring a SO and some where I could, it just depended on how much money they had to spend. I always called the bride or groom and asked before I sent in my guest cards. If it were my wedding I would lower the number of guests and invite SOs, but it is not the worst thing in the world to attend a wedding alone.

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      AnitaBath April 25, 2011, 4:08 pm

      Good points.

      I think it also depends on what age the couple is. If they’re younger, most of their friends probably aren’t married or haven’t been with their SO for as long. If the couple is older, chances are most of their friends are older too, and the likelihood of them feeling like the LW is shunning their SO of seven years is a lot greater.

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      honeybeenicki April 25, 2011, 4:46 pm

      While I understand the destination wedding non-invite, I don’t think “they’re paying for it themselves” is a fair reason to exclude long term SO’s or married spouses. We paid for our very expensive wedding ourself and cut here and there so we wouldn’t have to exclude plus ones or make anyone feel uncomfortable. Finances are not an excuse for bad manners (I bet Miss Manners would agree). If she wants a small, intimate wedding then she should have just that, but then she needs how to learn to trim her guest list in a way that husbands/wives are not being excluded.

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        Quakergirl April 25, 2011, 5:28 pm

        “Finances are not an excuse for bad manners”

        THIS. There are plenty of good ways to cut costs in a wedding (in fact, Wendy has posted some great ones), but being rude to your closest friends is not one of them.

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        honeybeenicki April 25, 2011, 7:53 pm

        I did a ton of things to cut costs in my wedding. The venue we picked was a premier spot in the city I live in and they don’t allow you to cater in (you have to use their caterer), so I scrimped everywhere else. I made all of the invitations myself (and they were gorgeous and I got exactly what I wanted) for less than $50, made all of the center pieces including beautiful wooden roses and ribbon wrapped vases (15 tables = $35 + head table, parents table, and tables for the wedding party = $25), made all of the programs, went easy on the flower and cake budget – by letting the cake guy do pretty much whatever he wanted with few limitations, he gave me a discount, made all of the wedding favors (including cute little paper bags full of coloring things and toys for all the kids).

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        mf April 25, 2011, 5:57 pm

        AGREED. You can do whatever you want, Miss Manners be damned, but if you decided to invite people minus their spouses/long-term SO’s, your friends will think you’re rude. And they probably won’t come anyway.

        I’m planning my own wedding now, so I can sympathize. It’s really tough to trim the guest list. But it all comes down to priorities. Would you rather invite these friends (and eat the cost of inviting their spouses, etc.)? Or would you rather not invite them at all and spend your money elsewhere? Would you rather trim your guest list to suit your small venue? Or would you rather book a larger, perhaps not ideal, venue in order to invite your friends with their spouses and partners?

        There is no right answer–but there is a rude one.

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      Thyme April 25, 2011, 5:30 pm

      I agree! I’m at an age where most of my friends who are married were married very young, and my SO, who barely knew said friends, wasn’t invited to any of their weddings. It didn’t even occur to me to be offended! Weddings are expensive enough as it is! But I guesss we’re in the minority here, huh?

      But I do think she should talk to their friends about it first, and make sure they know it’s a venue/money issue, not a personal affront to the SOs. They might be really understanding, or they might not. She should decide what she’s willing to risk based on that.

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        Bellz April 25, 2011, 8:55 pm

        Same here! My SO has been invited to a few weddings since we’ve been dating and I haven’t been offended that I wasn’t invited simply because I didn’t know those friends very well (or at all).

        But as everyone is saying, it’s a very different situation if the couple is in a serious relationship/married. It would be very rude to exclude SO’s.

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      Anastasiachs April 25, 2011, 6:19 pm

      By adding that my uncle and aunt paid for everything, I mean that in a “They paid over $1000 for each of us” way, which is totally understandable not to invite my boyfriend, hell, I probably wouldn’t have let them (I’m the miser of the family).

      That being said, I did forget to say that they through a HUGE blow out (they both own their own construction companies, so all the workers and under-contracters, plus extended family) party the summer after they got married, which I thought was a great idea. Nothing big, just hors d’oeuvres, a small bar, and cake.

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    cat-i-z April 25, 2011, 3:57 pm

    I’m trying to figure out my guest list as we speak. I never once thought of not inviting my friends SO’s! I plan on inviting them to the showers too. I do not want to make anyone feel excluded or uncomfortable. The guest list can add up quick.. I know for sure but if you’re heart is set on this venue… you’re going to have to keep it really intimate.

    Congrats & Best Wishes.

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      sarita_f April 25, 2011, 4:40 pm

      @cat-i-z – I’d be careful about inviting plus ones to your showers unless you actually are close to these extras. Showers are all about people bringing you gifts after all, and it could very easily be seen as gift-grubbing.

      If I was someone’s plus one, even if I had met the bride or groom once or twice, I’d feel that being invited to a shower is tacky. I wouldn’t feel a warm glow of ‘inclusiveness.’

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        justpeachy April 25, 2011, 4:48 pm

        I disagree. My mom threw my bridal shower and we used it as a time to celebrate the upcoming nuptials with her friends that were not invited to the wedding to keep the wedding small. Also, I don’t think it’s tacky to invited SO to showers because it’s nice to get to know them better before the wedding. It’s not like you’ll have any time to get to know them the day of the wedding…

        I do agree though that it can seem like gift grubbing (nice term sarita_f). I made sure to make it clear that I only *expected* wedding gifts and no presents were necessary at the shower

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        sarita_f April 25, 2011, 6:59 pm

        @justpeachy – I think we’ll have to disagree here. And I’m not trying to rip you a new one here, but here’s my perspective on how your comments about how you handled your shower:

        1. A shower is all about gifts, so I don’t think anyone would feel comfortable showing up without one. Although there is a one wedding / one gift rule of thumb, so it could just be that the one gift you’re getting will be given at your shower.

        2. It rubs me the wrong way to hear people say they ‘only’ EXPECT wedding gifts. A gift is NOT to be expected, no matter the occasion. I’m hoping you didn’t mean it that way and you forgive me for picking on you due to semantics.

        3. I would be horrified if anyone who was throwing me a shower a.) was a relative and b) invited people that were NOT going to be invited to the wedding. That’s like, hey, thanks for the gifts but you’re STILL not good enough for me to feed and entertain you for the night.

        I’m probably coming across as one of those people who use the anonymity of the internet to be bitchy, but I’m really a stickler for these kinds of things. FWIW, I wouldn’t be caught dead creating a registry (god forbid someone think I am thinking about gifts AT ALL), and would never think to spread the word that I want cash only or somesuch. But that’s just me, not meant to be an outright attack on your or anything.

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        Desiree April 25, 2011, 9:09 pm

        I kind of understand where you are coming from, but then I got to the part where you “wouldn’t be caught dead creating a registry.” As someone who has just finished attending a bunch of weddings, a registry is a LIFESAVER. The fact is, many people *will* buy gifts for a wedding. By virtue of the registry, they don’t have to spend hours head-scratching to determine whether or not you need/like such-and-such. Also, it helps prevent you from getting 5 toasters (happened to a friend of mine who didn’t have a registry).

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        sarolabelle April 25, 2011, 10:21 pm

        yea you definitely want the registry. People are stupid when it comes to gift giving and they will often ask right away “where are you registered?”

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        TheGirl April 26, 2011, 8:51 am

        Absolutely! A registry is necessary – otherwise you just end up with a bunch of gifts that you don’t want and don’t know where to go to return and a bunch of people irritated and asking why you aren’t registered. From my experience people appreciate the registry.

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        sarita_f April 27, 2011, 11:06 am

        @sarolabelle & @TheGirl – Sorry, but I don’t *expect* gifts, and I’m not going to dictate a shopping list. If my guests are so kind as to buy me a gift, then I am not going to think they’re *stupid* for getting me something they thought I might like.

        As far as guests being irritated there’s no registry, boo-freakin-hoo. If they’re so moved as to buy me a gift, I’m sure they can think of something I might want. Ending up with 20 toasters is not some national tragedy – I’ll keep what I want, return what I can and donate anything else to Goodwill. And life will continue on.

        I agree registries make giving gifts a total no-brainer… but that in and of itself is one of the main issues. If a couple doesn’t have a registry, you don’t care enough to take the time to figure out what to give them, and you’re also fine with them knowing exactly how much you spent – cash or a gift card. Done and done.

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        fallonthecity April 26, 2011, 12:21 am

        Oh, finally, someone who agrees with my antiquated views on weddings and gifts!!! I wish I could thumbs-up you a thousand times. I agree with all your points, except that I’m a little embarrassed to say that I’ve caved in recent years about the registries. It IS a very convenient way to buy them a gift you know they’ll use, but I still think it’s incredibly tacky to include registry information on any invitation. If I want registry information, I’ll call someone (not the bride) and ask for it.

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        cat-i-z April 25, 2011, 4:55 pm

        I truly appreciate the advice. I should have been more clear. I’m inviting the SO’s of the groomsmen… not anyone else… that’s what happens when you type to fast before having to head off into a meeting. 🙂

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  • becboo84

    BecBoo84 April 25, 2011, 4:00 pm

    Holy moly… I kind of want to assume that this question is a joke. That would be seriously rude, and if your guests realized that you’re purposely excluded their long-term SOs, I think you’d probably lose a few friends as well.

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    KMac April 25, 2011, 4:10 pm

    I have been invited to a wedding – that I had to fly for – without my boyfriend, who I lived with at the time.

    It was for one of my former college teammates, and truthfully, she was one of the few people’s weddings I would have attended under those circumstances. I had to do the awkward “was anyone else’s boyfriend not invited? no? is anyone else going alone?” I had to share a room with another couple – who had JUST started dating. Please tell me how he was invited as a plus-one and my boyfriend was not? It’s not his fault, and he certainly was not the only one.

    Anyway, yes … It seems petty, and I wish I was not the type of person who was bothered by things like this, but it was hugely awkward for me to be there. Not because I was the only one without a date (I certainly wasn’t – I thankfully had a group of college classmates who had chosen to come stag) but partially because of all the reasons I just mentioned AND I had to explain all night where my boyfriend was. Totally ruined the vibe of the night for me, which was a shame because it was otherwise a beautiful affair.

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      Rachelgrace53 April 25, 2011, 5:55 pm

      I BET that was awkward. The room sharing AND the questions… I can just see it — “Where’s (boyfriend)?” “Oh, he wasn’t invited” *Crickets*

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    RoyalEagle0408 April 25, 2011, 4:11 pm

    I’m going to a close friend’s wedding in 2 months and we got an e-mail right before invitations were sent out telling us we cannot bring significant others, no matter how long we’ve been together. Only one friend can bring a date and they’ve been together for 10 years (though aren’t engaged yet). I understand the desire to have your wedding in a particular venue or to keep your budget under a certain amount (my friend’s concern), but a lot of people are unhappy about having to leave their long-term significant others home. Like as been said, people will not be pleased with it. Especially those people who you might be close with but who may not be all that close with other guests, because they won’t have anyone to talk to and might not be inclined to go.

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      honeybeenicki April 25, 2011, 4:48 pm

      Wow I can’t imagine getting something like that – is it just no SO’s or no spouses at all (married couples)?

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        LTC039 April 25, 2011, 5:40 pm

        Idk…I think its tacky to not invite your friend’s SO’s (if they’re married or in long-term relationships). Like I said, I know times are tough, but there are other ways to cut costs for weddings… I don’t think it’s right. My friend is having a destination wedding, I’m her bridesmaid & she invited my bf. (We’ve been together for 2.5 yrs but aren’t engaged or anything). She’s on a budget but she’s inviting serious S/O’s anyway…Her single friends don’t get a plus one though…I think that’s the best route…

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      RoyalEagle0408 April 25, 2011, 4:57 pm

      Well, this friend is the first to get married, so there are no spouses, but only the couple who have been together for nearly 11 years can come. What bothers me is that they’re not engaged (no one else is either), so that’s not even the criteria. I wouldn’t care, but the only person I’m close with is the bride (there was a falling out that I got stuck in the middle of so none of my close friends were invited), and all the rest of the college classmates who are invited are a relatively tight group, so I wanted a date to have someone to hang out with.

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      ladiejoy April 25, 2011, 5:15 pm

      Wow that’s pretty crazy. I actually think it’s MORE rude to specify a particular person can bring a date just because of the length of time they’ve been together. If someone is going to make a decision in that direction, it should be all or nothing. It’s almost as if by putting a time line on it, they are saying that one relationship “means” more than another. Which is bullshit.

      I just don’t like the idea of excluding people for the very reasons discussed here… singles want to feel not so awkward and alone when they are celebrating the marriage of someone else. Nothing makes you feel MORE single than attending a wedding alone. I am IN a LTR and still have attended plenty of weddings by myself… I would have had a better time with my guy.

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        RoyalEagle0408 April 25, 2011, 5:25 pm

        Yeah, I could understand if the couple was engaged because then it’s a logical cut-off, but since they’re not, it irks me. Part of me wants to skip the wedding since I have to rent a car and either get a hotel room or skip out on the post-wedding fun (it’s an afternoon reception with a cash bar, so there’s going to be a pub crawl type thing afterwards), but I can’t. With all of the travel related expenses and the gift it’s costing me more than the price of me and my uninvited date’s seats at the wedding.

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        sarita_f April 25, 2011, 7:05 pm

        OMG, a cash bar?!?!?! Faint. BeYOND tacky.

        And this is a totally snarky comment, but – I bet the bride spent thousands on a dress/tiara/cake/flowers. Probably also dictating that the bridesmaids all wear an expensive dress, buy specific shoes, tell them they have to spend their own money on a particular hair stylist and makeup artist, and tell them they have to lose weight or dye their hair or wear contacts instead of glasses.

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        cdjd2614 April 25, 2011, 7:17 pm

        More tacky then a cash bar is only supplying the guest with water and coffee to drink (it was a late afternoon evening wedding with spaghetti dinner) and for the toast, sparkling cider but only just enough for a single swallow.

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        sarita_f April 25, 2011, 11:03 pm

        @cdjd2614 – Well, hey – it’s what they could afford. I don’t find it tacky at all. They paid for the kind of soiree they could afford, and didn’t try to get their guests to underwrite a fancier party than they could afford. This is Miss Manners 101.

        I find it sad that you judge a gracious host. Sorry, but you should learn to be a gracious guest.

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        cdjd2614 April 25, 2011, 11:15 pm

        @sarita_f I know how to be a gracious guest but since you seem to have a bone to pick with so many of us let me set you straight. It’s one thing when the bride and groom have a cost effective and classy wedding, even if its not the most high end I can appriciate what they went through to make their day special and make it a beautiful with limited funds. It’s a whole different story when you know the bride and groom were given thousands by both sets of parents and they are doing just enough to get by for their guests so they could pocket as much as they could to spend on themselves. While I know weddings can be expesive there are ways to cut costs, guess what punch doesn’t cost that much to make! There are ways to do it classy and trashy miss manners but if you want to have a big wedding cause in your mind it’s all about you then you’d better be ready to front the costs. Not to mention this bride and groom specifially said on their invitations that they did not want any gifts from anywhere then the 3 places they were registered. So I know how to be a gracious guest however there is such a thing as being a gracious host.

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        fallonthecity April 26, 2011, 12:26 am

        Requesting gifts on the wedding invitation — now -that- is tacky!

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        RoyalEagle0408 April 25, 2011, 11:20 pm

        Yet you find a cash bar tacky? That doesn’t really make sense. Open vs. cash bar isn’t always about the price but sometimes the guests. For example, I was at a wedding that had a lot of kids and a lot of older family members in addition to the 20something year old friends. It was a cash bar to keep people sober enough to not offend.

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        delilahgem April 26, 2011, 3:40 pm

        Now THAT is the only way I can see logically having a cash bar.

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        RoyalEagle0408 April 25, 2011, 8:41 pm

        Actually the bride is pretty chill about everything. Her and her fiancé are paying for the wedding themselves, so an open bar would be extremely expensive since they’re both from stereotypically Irish families. Also, I’d be beyond pissed if no one could bring dates because there was an open bar…

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        cat-i-z April 26, 2011, 11:42 am

        Some places only allow cash bars… they are rare… but they are out there… I found one while trying to pick my venue. This particular venue has dangerous terrain… so they must limit how much everyone drinks… they won’t allow a open bar for liability issues.

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        LTC039 April 25, 2011, 5:48 pm

        Well in my friend’s case, all her “singles” are friends with each other too (they all went to college together), so it’s not such a big deal. But I def see what you’re getting at. If you’re planning a wedding, expect that the guest list is going to be a big cost…Excluding people is wrong. Either cut your list short, elope, or have a strictly family wedding…

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    TheGirl April 25, 2011, 4:11 pm

    Agree with Wendy! I had a super intimate wedding (22 people) but I did not exclude the plus ones for those that wanted/needed them. The trick is narrowing it down to the bare minimum! I had immediate family, a representative of each extended family (my aunt and uncle, his cousin and her husband) and our very closest friends only. It was tricky, but we didn’t have a lot of money or time, and I think in the end it worked out. Everyone that wasn’t there understood that we were working with limited funds and a health insurance deadline, and I’m sure your friends will understand if you need to do it too. Just take the time to call (or have a close relative call if there are too many) those that are getting cut and explain the situation (that’s what I did).

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      TheGirl April 25, 2011, 4:18 pm

      On a side note, I think I have a parentheses problem (or not).

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        honeybeenicki April 25, 2011, 4:48 pm

        I do too (but its ok).

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    Painted_lady April 25, 2011, 4:17 pm

    Yeesh. Maybe this isn’t the case, but I think it might be really difficult to trim your guest list down to zero plus-ones, partly because at weddings no one knows everyone well enough to distinguish who’s associated with whom. I have a couple of friends whose SOs are friends as well – some of them have even become better friends than their SO I was friends with initially. So going with your line of thinking, I would either edit my best friend’s boyfriend off the guest list, never mind that they take turns calling me to let me know they’re going out at this point, he knows what drink to get me at the bar, and he makes stuff specifically for me when they throw parties. Or if I invited him because he’s also a friend now, I would be opening myself up for a lot of resentment because I’m sending a pretty clear message that certain SOs are “in” while others are “out.” You have to make a fairly hard and fast rule when it comes to inviting people to events you host, and with something like a wedding I’d err on the side of “the more the merrier” rather than “members only.”

    Also, I sort of think of plus-ones more as a way to make your guests more comfortable rather than making a statement about the plus-one’s importance in your life. That way they know they’re sitting with someone they know, they won’t be stressing about being the only one not dancing, and they won’t be stuck making small talk with perfect strangers in line for the cake. That’s part of being a good host, which as the honored couple, you technically are.

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      SpaceySteph April 25, 2011, 4:53 pm

      Haha your line about making small talk with strangers felt so familiar. My friend got married 6 months ago. My boyfriend couldn’t make it and everyone else I knew in attendance was in the wedding party. So while they were off taking pictures between ceremony and reception (we had an hour to walk around the sculpture garden the wedding was held at), I was stuck making awkward small talk with the groom’s brother’s gf, another girl who didn’t know anyone but the wedding party. She was nice, but it was super awkward for both of us. Man did I wish my boyfriend had been able to come at that point!

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        Painted_lady April 25, 2011, 6:07 pm

        Haha! I was COMPLETELY speaking from experience on that one, too. I went to the wedding of a friend of mine in college – we were still students at the time so we had all the same friends. I didn’t worry about a date because I figured I’d know about twenty people there.

        EVERYONE BAILED. It was summer and out of town for a lot of people, but I was shocked when I realized I was going to be eating wedding cake at a table full of strangers. I was miserable. So, lesson learned, even when I’m single, I have a wedding date.

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        SpaceySteph April 25, 2011, 10:05 pm

        Man your story is WAY worse… at least I only had to spend an hour with a stranger! You had a whole… 4 hour party? Yikes!
        Sadly though, I’ll be going alone to yet another out of state wedding for a college friend because my boyfriend can’t make it, again. But that is a gripe for another day.

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    Marie April 25, 2011, 4:20 pm

    This is good to hear – I was just invited to a wedding of a friend from high school, and while we have kept in touch for years I don’t know her circle of friends well, or at all. Also, her wedding is very far away and would cost me significantly in plane, ferry, hotel, gift and I am still in grad school. Despite all this I was still planning on attending, she is one of my closest friends after all. Then I doubled checked whether it would be alright to bring my long term boyfriend along as well and she replied No because she didn’t know him and was trying to keep the wedding relatively small (it is still going to be 50-100 or so people so it is not super intimate). Now I don’t think I will attend, it just won’t be enjoyable at all if my SO is not with me. I was really floored and didn’t know what the etiquette about this sort of thing was – thank you for this Wendy. So many days I read this site and you totally answer my questions about some aspect of life, love etc!

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      mf April 25, 2011, 4:24 pm

      Your friend wants you to fly to her wedding, pay for a hotel room, possibly give her a gift, and she won’t let you bring your long-term BF? Hell no!

      It would a bit less insulting if her wedding was close by, but who wants to travel to an out-of-state wedding–where you don’t know anybody–all by yourself? That sounds so lonely and boring! I say send your regrets and mail her a nice card.

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        SpaceySteph April 25, 2011, 4:55 pm

        So true. I went to a friend’s wedding alone (same one I was talking about in a different reply). I flew alone, rented a car alone, got a hotel room alone- two bridesmaids actually did stay with me the night after the wedding but the whole wedding party stayed with the bride’s parents the night before. It was lonely. I did it out of choice because my bf couldn’t make it; I don’t know if I would have bothered if she had told me outright I had to come alone.

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      Helen April 25, 2011, 6:11 pm

      So what you are saying is that you can’t have an enjoyable time by yourself? That sounds like a symbiotic relationship

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  • landygirl

    Landy April 25, 2011, 4:40 pm

    All I can say is I feel your pain. I wouldn’t suggest not inviting the significant others, it would be very awkward for everyone. Either trim the total list or find a larger venue.

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    cdjd2614 April 25, 2011, 4:43 pm

    Let me tell you a little story. My cousin’s wedding (I’ll call her S) was last September and I was a bridesmaid, my son and niece who were 2 were the flowergirl and ringbearer. I am a single mom so in order to make everything work out I was going to need some help, S informed me that I was not allowed to bring a date since they didn’t have the money to feed people they don’t know (the did everything on the extreme cheap to make sure they spent as little on the guests as possible so they could have the money given to them for the wedding by thier parents to pocket). In the end I was able to get a couple different family members to help me but it was a major hassle. On her wedding day she was a complete bitch to everyone and her mother manhandled my son and niece to get them exactly where she wanted them standing 5 minutes before they even needed to be in their spots. By the end of the ceremony I was so pissed off that the minute we walked back out I grabbed my son and left, I have not spoken to S or anyone in her family since.
    My point is that being denied a plus one (which was so I could have help with my son) put us on the wrong foot way before the wedding came and all the things that happened added up to me walking out right after the ceremony. Would you want your friends walking out cause you didn’t want to include a plus one?

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      justpeachy April 25, 2011, 4:50 pm

      I agree with you. Anyone who is in the wedding/helping with the wedding should get an automatic extra invite if they need one.

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      Rachelgrace53 April 25, 2011, 5:51 pm

      WOW. Sounds like that wedding would have been a disaster no matter what, but holy cow that sounds awful. A very good reality check for the LW!

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    MissDre April 25, 2011, 4:48 pm

    Honestly, I wouldn’t even go to a wedding if I couldn’t bring someone. Even if I was single, I would want to bring a friend with me. I am not a very social person, I don’t like big crowds and I have absolutely no idea what to say to people I’ve just met. I’m just shy like that and I’ve been that way my whole life.

    So unless I would be able to bring someone with me to talk to, I just wouldn’t go.

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      mf April 25, 2011, 6:03 pm

      Me too. I understand why some people don’t include plus ones for single guests. But still, if I don’t know other people at the wedding, I’ll be miserable by myself. Like you said, I’m shy and not very good at making conversation with strangers.

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    jena April 25, 2011, 4:49 pm

    You have every right to not invite plus ones… Thing is, those invited have every right to not go because they want to bring a plus one. I was invited to a wedding last year of a girl I didn’t know too well. It was casual, BYO-everything (picnic style), but NO PLUS ONES. She was very rigid on this. I didn’t go. Bring my own food and drink but not a date so that I can have fun, and instead be forced to mingle with a bunch of other singletons who I don’t know? Yeah, uncomfortable.
    Pick a bigger venue if you can, or be prepared for either a lot of people to not come, or for people to come and not enjoy it as much as they could.

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      mf April 25, 2011, 6:06 pm

      BYO weddings are a HUGE pet peeve of mine. I’ve been to two of them, and I had to fight the urge to say to the couple, “This is your wedding, your party, and you are the host. Why are your GUESTS obligated to cater your event?”

      I didn’t bring a gift to those weddings, just a dish to pass and a nice card. I’m sure the couples were fine with it, but if they weren’t, that’s too bad. It would be obnoxious if they expected their guests to bring food, drinks, and a gift.

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        jena April 26, 2011, 9:29 am

        Yeah, I wasn’t cool with the entire idea. Potluck is fine since it’s super casual, but byo-alcohol and cater your wedding AND I’m not allowed to bring someone? No. Not okay.

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      Britannia April 25, 2011, 7:59 pm

      Okay… I am on the “Don’t Have To Invite Significant Others” side, but bringing your own meal and alcohol to a wedding party?? That’s just inappropriate. Why not just have called it an outdoor potluck with a side of marriage? Unless the couple getting married are complete teetotalers, I think it’s very rude to not provide at least a few imbibements… and when you’re hosting a party, *you* are supposed to provide the food.
      I don’t blame you in the slightest for not going.

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    • theattack

      theattack April 27, 2011, 12:06 pm

      Ehh… I can understand the potluck picnic style wedding. If you only have a few hundred dollars to spend on a wedding, that’s only going to cover the basics (minister, marriage license, and maybe reserving a public park). Poor people still want their loved ones at their weddings, and backyard picnic style is probably the only way people on a very tight budget can celebrate with their family and friends. But it is ridiculous to not be able to invite SOs to a potluck wedding.

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    Caroline April 25, 2011, 4:52 pm

    If you really want that venue, then you need to cut your guest list to only the most important people and their SOs.

    Just have a huge reception afterwards! I went to a wedding reception last summer, and not the actual wedding, because the girl who invited me is Mormon, and only Mormons could attend the actual ceremony inside of the temple. A reception can be relatively less expensive than the ceremony – you could just have a barbeque in your backyard or something, and it’ll be more fun for all of those who attend. More like a party.

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      SpaceySteph April 25, 2011, 5:43 pm

      A coworker of mine had a super small wedding and reception, then later that evening met up with everyone at a bar nearby. They sent evites, said no gifts please, bought a round, and that was that. Cut your guest list to the absolute essentials (including +1s) for the wedding/reception, and then tell everyone else your affair was super small but you’d like to celebrate with them later at bar of choice. Buy a round, thank everyone for coming, and then they can bring whoever they want at low cost to you without jeopardizing your “small wedding” concept.

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    MissDre April 25, 2011, 4:59 pm

    I’ve never been able to think of any more than 15 people that I would want to invite to my wedding. There are lots of people in this world that I like, but I only have 3 girlfriends that I talk to regularly, and I only have one sibling and no extended family.

    I feel really lucky because I’ve always wanted a small wedding and can’t imagine the stress of having to weed out your guest list and agonize over who might be offended if they don’t get an invitation… I’m sure that must be really hard especially when it comes to people with big families.

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      Thyme April 25, 2011, 5:40 pm

      Yeah, I worry about that, for my hypothetical future wedding. I want it to be very small, but I’ve got relatives who would probably be majorly offended if I didn’t invite them. And I have close friends who I’d honestly rather have there than some of my family members… It’s already stressing me out and I’m not even engaged!

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        LennyBee April 25, 2011, 6:47 pm

        I have the same problem. I’m not engaged yet either, but when it happens, I don’t want to have to invite 200 family members that I’m not close to. I think that’s one of the benefits of destination weddings. You don’t have to invite everyone you know just to be polite, and nobody will be offended at not being invited.

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        sarolabelle April 25, 2011, 11:43 pm

        I knew someone who had a destination wedding. The whole grooms side of the family didn’t attend because they couldn’t afford to go. I’d reconsider a destination wedding.

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      SpyGlassez April 25, 2011, 7:46 pm

      I agree. My immediate family is small, and we are not close with extended family. When my best friend got married when we were in college, both she and her boyfriend had HUGE families so they had a big event. It was awesome, and great fun because of who all was involved, but that is NOT for me. We don’t live near the family we do have, however, and except for my aunt and uncle, I can’t imagine any of the others would even want to come. Also, I don’t have a large friendship circle, and so I’m not worried about invitations in that direction. I can’t imagine having to go through this much work!

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      Britannia April 25, 2011, 7:56 pm

      Thankfully my guy and I don’t have large families, either… I would love to have a big party with lots of people, but frankly, it’ll all be coming out of MY pocket (he’s broke and so is the rest of our families) and if I didn’t have such a small family I would probably go bankrupt trying to please everyone.

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    sarita_f April 25, 2011, 5:09 pm

    I agree with Wendy, 100%. Sad that you’re thinking about your picture-perfect wedding and not about enjoying the day with those people you’re closest to and making sure THEY also enjoy your day.

    I will say that, going on four years as single, getting invites with a plus one is just so gracious! I know it’s not requried, but it really shows me that the bride/groom/whoever recognizes that it would be nice to bring along some kind of date, particularly when I don’t know anyone else at the wedding well.

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    LTC039 April 25, 2011, 5:31 pm

    I understand that times are economically tough right now, but if you want to go that route, of not having “plus ones” on your guest list, expect very little people to show up at your wedding. If your friends are married or in long-term committed relationships, it’s proper etiquette that you invite their S/O…If they’re single, then its ok to not add a plus one. One of my good friends is getting married in September, she’s only met my boyfriend twice, but she knows we’ve been together for 2.5 years & she invited him.

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  • MissRemy

    Ally April 25, 2011, 5:35 pm

    Just wondering if the LW has considered the people that their parents will want to invite? Because that can soon add up to quite a number and make a larger venue much more convenient.

    Two of my close friends are getting married in July this year and are paying for their own wedding, having saved for well over a year to be able to afford one at all. In order to keep the costs down and due to a small venue what they have planned to do is keep their guest list small (80-90 people maximum) and only invite family and a selection of their closest friends. Most of the friends are in the wedding plus a few extra each. So that the rest of their friends aren’t left out completely they are having an After-Wedding Party when they get back from their honeymoon where all their friends can come and celebrate together – and the bride and groom can let loose in a way they wouldn’t on the big day. The few closer friends whom there just wasn’t room for were all spoken to personally to explain and are happy with the idea as no one is excluded! I don’t know if this is a feasible option for you, but it could solve your SO drama!

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    Rachelgrace53 April 25, 2011, 5:37 pm

    Why is it on the day that you’ve chosen to celebrate choosing a life partner, are you showing NO respect to the life partners chosen by the people you love?
    No one is going to remember where you got married 10 years from now, but if you wise up and invite ALL significant partners, they will hopefully remember what a great wedding it was.
    As a wedding planner, this letter made me absolutely want to scream. I give people the benefit of the doubt on most etiquette issues, because some people just don’t get it, but you said it best Wendy:
    “trust me, it will be much easier for your friends to celebrate your love if the love they have for their significant others is shown a little respect.”

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      Spark April 25, 2011, 7:21 pm

      I thought the exact same thing!

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      Britannia April 25, 2011, 7:53 pm

      What about showing respect to the couple’s wishes for the venue, or for their wallets?

      Is it really so difficult to go to a wedding/party alone? It seems to me like we’re falling into the stigma that couples should never ever have to do anything apart from each other because without their husband/wife, they just won’t be able to have a good time.

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        Hana April 26, 2011, 3:54 am

        I totally agree with you. From most of the posts above I get the feeling that nobody on this site can do anything without their husband or boyfriend. Geez.

        My boyfriend wouldn’t care if he wasn’t invited to one of my friends weddings if he didn’t know them, and he wouldn’t want to go anyways. The day is about the people getting married not my boyfriend and myself.

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        jena April 26, 2011, 9:33 am

        If you’re not super close with the person or if they are extended family (for example, a cousin) getting married, you may not know anyone. When my cousin got married I wasn’t allowed a plus one and neither was my brother. We sat at a table of strangers and a photographer asked us how we met because he thought we were “together.”

        Going to a wedding stag is not fun. Weddings are supposed to be fun.

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      • Just Max

        Just Max April 26, 2011, 12:06 pm

        I am going to a wedding in a few months and the invite says “plus one”. Guess what? I don’t have an SO to attend with me. Besides the groom and bride, I only know a couple of other people that will be attending and they are going with their SOs. From what I know, most of the family and friends attending have SOs that will also attend. I am looking forward to attend and celebrate such an important day with my friends, but the part about going stag doesn’t sound too fun to me.

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        jena April 26, 2011, 1:38 pm

        Bring a friend! preferably of your dancing-partner-preference if thats your thing, but it will be more fun if you bring anyone, it doesnt need to be a SO

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        Britannia April 26, 2011, 6:10 pm

        I disagree with the general notion that going to a wedding “stag” is not fun. If you’re not shy, you’re being given an opportunity to meet a ton of new people, with all of whom you already have something in common – the couple getting married! And if you *are* shy, it’s a prime opportunity to work on your friend-making and independence skills. There’s no excusable reason for this “rule” that going to a wedding by yourself is uncomfortable if you don’t know anyone.

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      Rachelgrace53 April 25, 2011, 10:45 pm

      @Britannia It isn’t about HAVING to do everything together. No one is suggesting that everyone has to come in a couple. But there is a reason it’s commonly accepted that if you’re part of a serious pair, you WANT that person around. If you’re married, wouldn’t you usually want your spouse around for special occasions, especially if you won’t know anyone else attending? I know I would.

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    Quakergirl April 25, 2011, 5:38 pm

    I agree with Wendy completely on this one. Spouses are 100% non-negotiable, even if you’ve never met them, even if you’re not sure how to spell their name. You’re getting married (hopefully) because you think it’s a meaningful step in your relationship and want to make a public commitment to your fiance that makes you a social and legal unit. How can you willfully exclude the people to whom your friends have made that same commitment?

    As for long-term significant others, I think as long as these are people who mean something to your friends and are likely to stick around for the foreseeable future, you need to invite them just like you would spouses. Honestly, if you know these people exist as a major part of your friends’ lives, to invite spouses and not long-term partners is just rude and will make your friends feel like you’re judging them (even if you’re not). This situation frequently comes up with my brother (who is almost 31) and his girlfriend of seven years. While our married cousins are always invited to events with their spouses (some of whom have only been around for about 2 years), his girlfriend is frequently not included because “well, they aren’t married” or “how serious could he be about her?” Pretty damn serious, and it’s pretty damn offensive to be patronized like that as a grown adult. She’s family as far as I’m concerned, and as far as he’s concerned. Don’t be Judgy McJudgerson and not invite people you know matter to your friends.

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      Rachelgrace53 April 25, 2011, 6:00 pm

      Just wanted to give you special props for “Judgy McJudgerson” 🙂

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      kerrycontrary April 25, 2011, 6:20 pm

      I totally agree!

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      sarita_f April 25, 2011, 7:19 pm

      @Quakergirl – ugh, the part about your brother and his LTR getting the shutdown from the rest of the family is awful. It’s like everyone’s shaming them about not being married, they’re not legit or something – I agree it’s so patronizing! ugh, Ugh, UGH!

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    alexisCA April 25, 2011, 5:42 pm

    Seems like the letter-writer has forgotten her role as hostess — she needs to extend some effort to make her guests feel comfortable and welcome. Banning peoples’ significant others and spouses is not going to make people feel good about coming to your wedding! Especially since, as you haven’t met many of the SOs, I’m assuming there will be travel involved.

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    Leah April 25, 2011, 6:00 pm

    I think everyone is forgetting that it is HER wedding, so she can do what she wants. If she doesn’t want to invite peoples plus ones then the answer is simple, don’t do it.

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      RoyalEagle0408 April 25, 2011, 6:46 pm

      But a wedding isn’t just about the bride and groom. They can go to city hall and get married. The wedding is about celebrating with loved ones, so it’s more than just the couple.

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      sarita_f April 25, 2011, 7:21 pm

      @Leah – Everyone in the whole wide world can do whatever they want. But the LW wrote in to an advice website – not much advice to give if all of it is “well, it’s YOUR issue, YOU do whatever you want.” Wendy gave her the heads-up on how what she wants will be perceived by others. She can choose to forge ahead, but at least she knows some of the pitfalls of what she’s about to do.

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        mf April 25, 2011, 9:27 pm

        Well said!

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      Hana April 26, 2011, 3:57 am

      I agree with you Leah. 100%

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      jena April 26, 2011, 9:34 am

      Sure, she can do what she wants and say NO PLUS ONES. Her friends can do what they want and not come.

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    kerrycontrary April 25, 2011, 6:18 pm

    I have a question for you all. I completely agree that you have to invite spouses and live-in partners, but how do you define someone’s long-term significant other if they don’t live together? Over a year? 2 years? I don’t think theres anything wrong with not giving someone a plus-one if they aren’t in a serious relationship if you want to keep the guest list short, but how do you define that?

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      kerrycontrary April 25, 2011, 6:19 pm

      and I’m not arguing anything, Im seriously curious what other people think cause I don’t know the answer

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        Colleen April 25, 2011, 6:37 pm

        I think the comments here show that a hard and fast rule (together one year, married/engaged/living together, etc.) is tough to apply because relationships take so many forms. I would say that if the relationship is exclusive, the partner should be invited.

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        SpaceySteph April 25, 2011, 10:21 pm

        Me and my boyfriend were exclusive within a week of starting to date. We both decided that we didn’t want to date around and would like to be bf/gf. However, I don’t think he should have been invited to each others friends weddings for a few months after that, so I don’t think even this is a perfect rule.
        I think it really does depend on your perception of the relationship.. or if they’re engaged/married/living together. But also, if you send an invite to your friend and she calls to say “can I bring so and so?” I think the answer is almost always yes. She cares enough about this person to want to bring them, so it must mean something to her.

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        Rachelgrace53 April 25, 2011, 10:36 pm

        I like your take on that, SpaceySteph.

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      Rachelgrace53 April 25, 2011, 6:35 pm

      I would say it can clearly be defined as a “long-term relationship” after a year, but plenty of couples are serious and do everything together socially after just a few months, so it is a hard thing to determine. But I’d say in the wedding circumstance, it’s polite to invite the SO’s of everyone who has been in a relationship for over a year.

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      mf April 25, 2011, 6:42 pm

      That’s a tough question. I know some people deal with it on a case-by-case basis. For example… Susie has been dating Phil for a year but they’re not living together and they aren’t talking about marriage, so she’s invited alone. However, Matt and Michele have been dating a year and are also living together; their live-in status indicates long-term commitment so they’re invited together.

      Or you could just come up with an arbitrary rule: Couple married, engaged, living together, or dating for two years or more are invited together. Singles don’t get plus ones if they are not in a relationship or have been dating someone for less than two years or so.

      For my wedding, we’re inviting everyone over 18 with a plus one. Yes, it will be more expensive, but it’s a priority for me and my fiance. I want my guests to be comfortable and have fun. As an advantage, we don’t have to make an arbitrary rule or decide whether someone else’s relationship is “serious enough” or shows enough “commitment” to warrant a plus one invite.

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      Mel April 25, 2011, 6:55 pm

      I think it’s one of those things that you know it when you see it. If you are close enough to a friend to invite them to your wedding, then you probably know enough about their relationship with their SO to know if it is “serious” enough for you to want to invite the SO.

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      justpeachy April 25, 2011, 7:09 pm

      LW, if anything, don’t choose a new venue. If you’ve been lucky enough to find one that you love and it’s something that is important to you and your fiance, don’t choose a different one just to accommodate more people. You’ll find a way to make it work. Is it that the venue doesn’t have enough seating? Could you rent seating? And if you’re in the early stages of planning still, just realize that you can have a cushion of invites over that number because people won’t be able to make it. Just have a back up plan in mind in case they all do.

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      Spark April 25, 2011, 7:25 pm

      I’ve traditionally heard the cut-off to be one year. Two seems a little extreme–many people get engaged before they’ve been dating for two years!

      If it were my wedding, I’d give plus ones to everyone in a relationship.

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      sarita_f April 25, 2011, 10:58 pm

      @cdjd2614 – Well, hey – it’s what they could afford. I don’t find it tacky at all. They paid for the kind of soiree they could afford, and didn’t try to get their guests to underwrite a fancier party than they could afford. This is Miss Manners 101.

      I find it sad that you judge a gracious host. Sorry, but you should learn to be a gracious guest.

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    • theattack

      theattack April 27, 2011, 12:18 pm

      I think one year is a little too long for the cutoff. Most people who make it past six months are probably relatively serious about each other, and plenty of people become engaged after a year of dating.

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    Colleen April 25, 2011, 6:21 pm

    A wedding should be about celebrating your loving marriage with the other loved ones in your life. You’re the host of this celebration and must behave as you would in any other hosting situation. If you are selfish enough to make it all about you, and not show regard for your guests’ comfort, they will sense that and they will resent it. Being a good host means that you make sure your guests are comfortable, having fun, well-fed, etc. By letting your guests bring dates, you ensure that they’re having a better time, which also makes things more fun for you. It makes it easier for your guests to have fun on their own even when you’re not able to make introductions, seat them at the perfect table, etc. It also shows your gratitude for the time and money they gave to attend your wedding. They may have traveled, hired a babysitter, given up a shift at work, scrimped to afford a gift, rescheduled a vacation, or made so many other sacrifices to celebrate with you. Show your appreciation for that.

    When I got married a year ago, we had a smallish wedding, but we planned for inclusivity from the start. This meant that everyone about 17+ got to bring a date if they wanted to. Sure, it meant that a couple of guests brought friends/dates that we didn’t know, and yes, we paid to feed those people. Sure, it meant that my high-school cousin’s boyfriend somehow got invited and came along. I loved it this way, because it meant my loved ones were having a good time and felt our love for them and our hospitality towards them. Choosing a venue with extra space, so we could fit in those unexpected dates, was one of the best wedding-related decisions we made. I was so relieved to not have to dicker over whose partners were “serious” enough to be invited, to not have to tell my friend that she couldn’t bring her date, to not worry about one too many people not fitting in the space. You need to build your wedding and budget around the people, not the place.

    Choose a place with room enough for everyone you love, and the dates they may need in order to feel welcome and comfortable. Believe me, that makes your wedding day far more fantastic than the perfect venue will, and it will gather that much more support for your marriage from your community of loved ones.

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      mf April 25, 2011, 6:43 pm

      Yes! If your guests are happy, they will have fun. And if they have fun, that will make your wedding an equally fun and joyous occasion.

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      Mel April 25, 2011, 6:56 pm

      Totally agree. Making it all about you is not the way to host a wedding.

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    HmC April 25, 2011, 6:28 pm

    Wow, all the support for formal wedding rules, like inviting SO’s no matter what, continues to surprise me. I’m not married, but the older I get the more I realize how ingrained wedding traditions really are. I’ve been invited as a SO, not invited as a SO, invited as a single, and invited without my SO. As with most things, I tend to err on the side of not taking things so personally. I find weddings beautiful, particularly those of close friends. And they’re particularly lovely to share as a guest with a SO. But I personally see that as a privilege, not a right.

    I was in one very long term relationship, and I was typically invited to weddings as his plus one even if I didn’t know the couple well and I appreciated that. But I personally would not have been *offended* not to be included. I’ve also been to my fair share of weddings as a single lady. And, while it’s mildly depressing to be the only single at a table of couples, it’s not the end of the world. I do the same thing I would at any event without my SO- I make conversation with new people.

    And last Fall, my now boyfriend asked the groom, whom he is close friends with, if he could bring me along at sort of the last minute. We’d only been dating a couple months at that point, and hadn’t been together when my boyfriend was first invited and he wasn’t sure if a plus one would have been extended regardless. If the groom had said no we would have completely understood. But thankfully, he was happy to have me. We bought a very nice present for the couple, I was sure to thank them both personally for having me, and the wedding was one of the most beautiful nights I had spent with my boyfriend in our then newish relationship.

    Like I said, I’ve never planned a wedding and I’m not married, so this is my layperson’s perspective. Weddings are (and should be) clearly very personal affairs, absolutely steeped in tradition. Whatever works for any particular couple is completely up to them. I am graciously happy to have a significant other along to share the magic. But if they’re not there, either because they don’t exist (I happen to be single) or the couple could not accommodate them for whatever reason, I enjoy the event without them. Just like with any event I am honored to be invited to.

    That said, I’d *want* significant others present at a celebration of love, so I’d do everything I could to accommodate them at my wedding, even ones I didn’t know well.

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      mf April 25, 2011, 6:49 pm

      I agree with you that it’s a honor to be invited to a wedding and that if you are invited, you should be gracious.

      However, it works a bit differently when you’re married and you’re invited without significant other. (This hasn’t happened to me, but it’s happened to friends of mine.) Married couples, engaged couples, and life partners are considered social units–family units for life. You can’t pick one person and ignore their spouse.

      I mean, I suppose you can if you want to. But it certainly comes off as disrespectful to their relationship.

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        HmC April 25, 2011, 7:01 pm

        I can understand that. I guess for me, that’s a game of “whose partner is important enough to be invited?” that I really wouldn’t want to play. I’d probably want to give every adult a plus one.

        edit: Come to think of it, this and every other letter to DW regarding weddings just affirms my long held desire to elope.

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        SpyGlassez April 25, 2011, 7:50 pm

        The older I get, the more enticing eloping looks.

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        mf April 25, 2011, 9:29 pm

        Yeah, I think about eloping A LOT. I love weddings, and I can’t wait for mine, but… should it really be this complicated?

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        SpaceySteph April 25, 2011, 10:56 pm

        Hah I’m young and I have been thinking about eloping or having an extremely tiny wedding since college. My ex boyfriend has a huge family full of people I would have met for the first time at the wedding (oh and half of them only speak Spanish, I really really don’t)… and very expensive tastes. Though in the thick of that doomed relationship we did discuss marriage, I dreaded the idea of the actual wedding… his perfect wedding would be a huge, 500 person, overblown affair. My perfect wedding is parents, siblings, grandparents, best friends; married by a ships captain, on a ship at sea. Like 20 people tops. Or alternately, married at city hall followed by a reception for only close family and friends at a restaurant. I don’t want to dance. I don’t want to buy an expensive dress.
        Current boyfriend also has a huge family that he would want to invite all of to the wedding. Too bad, a tiny wedding would be great.

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      sesl April 25, 2011, 11:14 pm

      Totally agree with and love this post. I was kind of surprised at the intense feelings about plus ones for weddings. I’ve been with my boyfriend a little over two years now and we’ve been invited to a few weddings. When we’d been dating for about six months my cousin invited me to his wedding across the country without a plus one, but I knew it was small and didn’t think it proper to ask if I could bring my boyfriend who he’d never met and maybe didn’t even know about (he’s not on facebook or anything and we don’t stay in close touch). I would’ve loved to bring my boyfriend for lots of reasons, particularly so that he could meet my extended family, but I certainly wasn’t offended and never considered not going to the wedding. I absolutely love weddings for all of the cheesy, romantic reasons and always am happy to share in the joy and love of the occasion.

      The same thing happened about a year later when a high school friend of mine invited me (kind of at the last minute, but I think I was a B-list guest, which I didn’t care about because I love weddings) but didn’t invite my boyfriend, who I’d now been with for well over a year and was living with. Again, I wasn’t offended and assumed he a) was having a small wedding and b) didn’t want to invite someone he’d never met and again, might not have known about. Maybe it makes me a sucker for willingly paying for travel, gifts, appropriate dress, etc, but I really think it’s great when someone invites me to their wedding and I’m happy to cry at the ceremony and get down at the reception and I can definitely do so without my boyfriend at my side. I’m pretty social and can boogie alone on the dance floor and chat up a brick wall, so weddings aren’t difficult for me in that regard, so I get why shyer people would really desire a date of some kind. Sorry this was so, so long but I really was shocked by the strong response to the LW and *heartily* agreed with HmC.

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    Britannia April 25, 2011, 7:48 pm

    I guess I view weddings differently than most people. From what I’ve gathered, most think that a wedding should be treated like a formal party, which I agree that the reception basically is. However, I have been invited to a few weddings since becoming an adult where my long-term significant other was not invited, and I was not offended by it because:
    a) I consider a wedding to be the celebration of a union between two individuals, not a demonstration of how good of hosts the bride and groom (or groom and groom or bride and bride) are.
    b) I *am* able to hold my own and have a good time by myself without my boyfriend or girlfriend (as the case may be at the time). Sure, I would like to have them along when I go out to important events, but it’s not like I’m going to be so offended to be invited as an individual instead of a couple that I won’t go to a dear friend’s wedding!

    I don’t expect to be invited to a stranger’s wedding just because my significant other *isn’t* strangers with the to-be-wedded couple, because a wedding should be about the sharing of love and intimacy to start a lifelong union on the right foot… and that love and sharing can come with a hefty price tag per head.
    I would prefer for my friends who are getting married to have the venue they want and everything else exactly as they want it, within their budget, than to have them make sacrifices ON THEIR DAY just so that I have my SO to sit next to me during dinner.

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      Amanda August 27, 2012, 4:36 am

      Totally agreed!!!! I would want my union with my husband to be celebrated by people who know us well. Im sorry but if i dont know them and they dont know me, why am i required to extend an invitation? I would be fine going solo to a wedding cuz my so didnt know them well enough. Stop making the day about yourselves…. It is just ONE day the couple gets to celebrate THEMSELVES. Why cant ppl just be understanding for that one day?? Learn to mingle with strangers. Jeez.

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie April 25, 2011, 8:07 pm

    You could elope or restrict the crowd size of the wedding ceremony and throw a big bash of a reception.

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    AnitaBath April 25, 2011, 9:09 pm

    All of these unspoken rules for having a wedding frighten me. Yeesh. Here I thought it was supposed to be about celebrating a special day with loved ones. It’s enough to make me want to elope!

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      jena April 26, 2011, 1:41 pm

      It is a special day with loved ones; so why should half of the “loved ones” be excommunicated?

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        Emsz April 26, 2011, 2:00 pm

        Yeah, but the loved ones for other people, might not be the loved ones for you.

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  • Jess

    jess of citygirlsworld.com April 25, 2011, 9:57 pm

    131 comments on the subject of wedding guest lists. There are fewer comments when the subject is heartbreak, cheating, and domestic violence! For whatever reason, wedding etiquette seems to attract a feeding frenzy of volatile emotions. It seems so stressful for everyone involved.

    Personally, I’m hell-bent on elopement. But as I’m not engaged, I can’t say whether or not I will be lucky enough to have the privilege of deciding that.

    I’m not knocking all the brides out there because I have seen the stressful mania that many close friends have endured. I just wonder if we haven’t gone overboard in our emphasis on weddings and their meaning in our friendships (not to mention, um, the relationship between those two people getting married….?)

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    belongsomewhere April 25, 2011, 11:33 pm

    To some extent, I agree here. If I was married and a friend only invited me, not my husband, to her wedding…I’d be confused. However, if I want a REALLY small wedding, and I honestly can’t afford for it to be any bigger at all, do I need to sacrifice my financial well-being in order to accommodate a handful of people I don’t know? That seems a little silly. A wedding is just ONE DAY out of years and years of friendship, and (hopefully) years and years of marriage.

    As a semi-related aside, I was talking to a friend about my very abstract future wedding plans, and I reminded her that neither my boyfriend nor I drinks or dances, and that, unless his father wants to pay (mine don’t have money, and he and I will likely get married during his final year of law school for practical/financial purposes as much as for romantic ones), we definitely won’t be having an open bar or a DJ (I really hate dance music! Why should I have to listen to it at what will, most likely, be the only big party I ever throw?). My friend was flabbergasted–“You’d MAKE your guests pay for their own liquor? You won’t ALLOW them to DANCE?” And that’s when I realized it’s going to have to be a brunch wedding in the woods. Then it’ll just be too fucking weird for anyone to have steadfast expectations.

    Back to the LW, perhaps you could have a low-key and cheap second reception/barbeque/open house a while after the wedding so that the friends whose SOs you exclude know that you don’t have anything against their partners?

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      RoyalEagle0408 April 25, 2011, 11:39 pm

      “You’d MAKE your guests pay for their own liquor?”

      Wow. If you don’t drink you could just as easily have a dry wedding. I find it funny that people are up in arms about the cash bar thing because I don’t think I’ve ever been to a wedding with an open bar. It just doesn’t seem necessary.

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        fallonthecity April 26, 2011, 12:50 am

        I haven’t been to that many weddings where there was a bar at all! Most of the weddings I’ve been to, if there’s alcohol at all, have a chilled bottle or two of wine or champagne on each table, and that’s it.

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      Britannia April 26, 2011, 12:38 am

      I think a brunch wedding in the woods sounds MAGICAL… or, at least, it could be 🙂 I’d definitely want to go to your wedding!

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    • fast eddie

      fast eddie April 26, 2011, 9:35 am

      I’ve been to a few weddings that didn’t even have alcohol available. Sparkling cider and punch filled that part of the reception nicely. Our wedding was in the backyard with lots of wine which was mostly ignored but the guests drank every last drop of water and soft drinks on that warm August afternoon. A few days later we took the unopened booze back for a tidy refund. The retailer wasn’t too happy but O-well. We put on some mellow CDs and a friend did the DJ thing. A few people danced on the small patio. In the heat of the moment I danced with my wife (don’t tell anyone).

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    sarolabelle April 25, 2011, 11:48 pm

    LW – I think you should call your friends who are engaged or in longer than 2 year relationships and ask them the names of the S/O and then address the invitation like this:

    Ms. Jane Doe and Mr. John Smith

    If your friends are single or in 2 years or younger relationships then you can say:

    Ms. Jane Doe and Guest

    If your friends are married then this:

    Mr. and Mrs. John Smith

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    • Dear Wendy

      Wendy April 26, 2011, 3:03 am

      I’m married and can’t stand it when people address me as Mrs. My Husband’s Name. I’m my own person! And I happen to have my own name (first and last). I bet I speak for a lot of women in 2011 thay unless you know the wife prefers to be called by her husband’s name, it’s best to address her as Ms. or Mrs. Her Name.

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        scattol April 26, 2011, 6:27 am

        You kept your own last name? I didn’t think this was possible (or desirable) in the US. How does that work? For sure, in Canada, the law and practice is different by region and it still a contentious issue: http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/arts/story.html?id=50d19231-08be-4717-acf3-50e4ece27ae2

        There are certainly two conflicting forces in the matter: a woman preserving her own identity on one side and the desire to form one unified family unit on the other.

        For instance, what would people who don’t really know you call you? Say your kids school teacher? Probably “Mrs Your Kid’s Name” thinking it was actually your last name (and beside they probably don’t know your actual last name).

        I am curious, it doesn’t seem to be a straightforward an issue as you think it would be.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Wendy April 26, 2011, 7:27 am

        Oh, sure it’s possible in the US. In fact, legally it’s harder to change your name than to keep it the same. And it’s becoming more and more desirable for women to keep your last name when you marry, especially with the younger generations and in more urban areas. I live in New York, where I’m sure school teachers are very used to parents — both mothers and fathers — having different last names than their children. But, I’m not really worried about that, I do get called Mrs. Drew’s Last Name from time to time — especially when we’re traveling — but it doesn’t bother me at all. What I don’t like is being called Mrs. His First Name His Last Name, as if I have no identity of my own. But that’s just me. It’s such a personal thing and I know plenty of women — my own mother, for example — who prefer to be addressed by their husband’s names. As I said, it’s really kind of a generational thing as well as a regional thing.

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        Painted_lady April 26, 2011, 9:31 pm

        Not just a regional thing – I teach, and there are so many nontraditional families that any notes home are addressed “To the parent/guardian of Little Billy.” All phone calls home are similarly worded, and it’s actually more unusual to have a kid with the same last name as their parent. I even have a couple of kids who insist on dropping the name of an abusive/neglectful/absentee parent without their legal name even being changed yet (that gets a little tricky). So your instinct not to worry is right – most teachers at this point know never to assume a parent’s last name. And the ones who don’t, don’t mean any harm.

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        belongsomewhere April 26, 2011, 11:12 pm

        My mom teaches at a private, secular all-girls school (which I attended on scholarship for 14 years–pre-K through 12th grade). My mom took my dad’s last name (she didn’t plan to, but my dad has an EXCELLENT last name). They receive fundraising mail from the school for Mr. & Mrs. [Dad’s first + last], although my mom has specified on forms that she’d prefer that they be addressed as Mr. [Dad’s name] & Ms. (not Mrs.!) [Mom’s name], or just their names without the Mr./M(r)s. The school has a slew of “non-traditional families” (ranging from single moms/dads, unmarried couples, same-sex and co-parents, etc.)–one would expect that a school for girls, which emphasizes independence, would “get it,” especially if they have the gall to ask an underpaid teacher for donations.

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        belongsomewhere April 26, 2011, 11:14 pm

        By the way, this is in a major, left-leaning east coast city–just goes to show how deeply ingrained these cultural customs are.

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      • fast eddie

        fast eddie April 26, 2011, 10:01 am

        For several years after our wedding my wife kept her unmarried name that she kept from her previous marriage for professional identity. It bothered my mother but after living together for 8 years I couldn’t have cared less and nobody seemed to take any notice of it. Some of our female friends use their unmarried names after 20+ years be hitched. The paperwork to change up is a snap. Most agencies only require a marriage certificate. Transferring funds from accounts without consistent names can cause delays.

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      • Jess

        Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com April 26, 2011, 10:34 am

        I think the age at which you marry is a big factor here as well. For many women marrying in their 30s, they already have a career and reputation associated with that name. The reasons against changing it increase with time.

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        TheGirl April 26, 2011, 11:37 am

        I pretty much only changed mine because my husband’s last name is totally awesome.

        However, on a side note, I did find myself suddenly unreasonably upset when we got a set of monogrammed towels (we did not REQUEST monogrammed towels, but whatever) and the the monogram was wrong. It’s supposed to be my first initial and his first initial with the initial of our last name in the middle, but they put his first name in the middle. I felt like it made me look like his property or something. A totally overblown response, but I just couldn’t help myself… I sat down and pulled out every stitch of monogramming on them. It took me several days to get through it, but now I actually have the towels I wanted anyway.

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        Vathena April 26, 2011, 11:39 am

        SO in agreement with Wendy. I got married last year and didn’t change my name because I like my name, and it just seemed like too much paperwork hassle. When we got hitched, we addressed the invitations to Mr. and Mrs. John & Jane Smith, or to Mr. John Smith & Mrs. Jane Doe. I still grit my teeth when we get cards and letters addressed to Mr & Mrs MyHusband’sName, but try not to let it get my hackles up…though I do joke to my husband that he’ll have to open those, since they’re not addressed to me! :-p

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    fallonthecity April 26, 2011, 12:56 am

    LW, you just have to pare down your guest list some more. I think that good rule of thumb is that if you know about the relationship of the friend you’re inviting, it’ll be gracious to invite them. If it’s a new relationship and you don’t even know the person’s name without calling and asking… well, I personally don’t see why you should invite them. Anyone you would have to address as “and Guest” on an invitation would probably not enjoy your wedding anyway.

    As an aside, I’m single and it always makes me feel funny to get invitations that say, “fallonthecity and Guest” or “fallonthecity and Date.” I realize they’re just trying to be gracious but sometimes I wonder if there’s going to be couple’s games or something. Mostly, though, I’m good at going stag, and I’m good at Rsvp’ing “no” to any wedding I’d be uncomfortable at. I send a note of congratulations and click “like” on their wedding photo album on Facebook 😉

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    RMM0278 April 26, 2011, 9:53 am

    One more thing I wanted to add…

    Going stag to a wedding in your 20s is okay because most of you are single anyway. Doing it in your 30s, however, just plain sucks. Everyone is all coupled up.

    Miss Manners just did a column on this, and I totally disagree with her. Speaking as someone who has been the only single person invited to a 100+ wedding, I just didn’t go because I’ve tried this before. Couples are with each other, they dance together, they eat together, etc. I hate sitting there with no one to dance with and no one to talk to. No one really wanted to get to know me.

    If you are going to invite singles with no plus ones, then fine. Just make sure you invite a lot of them and stick them all at the same table.

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    Jennifer April 26, 2011, 9:57 am

    One of my good friends just got married in Hawaii and I was one of two bridesmaids. I wasn’t allowed to bring a date and neither were any of our close friends. So we all had to spend major money to fly out to Hawaii for her wedding but she wasn’t even courteous enough to let us bring along dates. Honestly, I’m not sure if our friendship will last.

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    MajinMD April 26, 2011, 11:45 am

    The biggest problem I have with not inviting SOs or spouses is that a wedding is supposed to be a celebration of love. And not ONLY the love of the couple getting married. It seems extraordinarily selfish to behave as though the only love that matters on your wedding day is yours, and no one else’s, by excluding SOs and spouses.

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    Vathena April 26, 2011, 11:52 am

    Not that there’s really anything more to be said on this subject – wedding questions get so much traffic! – but when I married my husband last year, we invited every single guest with a +1, as well as all couples who were dating/living together (and some gay couples, so not allowed to get married in most states!) We also invited all children. We decided this and figured out the list before ever looking at venues. About half of our guests came from out of town (15 different states were represented) – if you are asking people to travel for your wedding, it’s kind of mean not to take these things into consideration. I had a lot of people pull me aside at the wedding as well as weeks later, to express their extreme appreciation at being able to bring a date. Of course it’s not always in the budget, but if you allow for dates and children, you will have the eternal undying gratitude and warm feelings of all of your friends and family, and it’s so worth it – that’s how a wedding celebration should feel, whether or not there is an open/cash bar, morning/afternoon/destination/black tie/whatever. All of the +1s were model wedding guests (air guitar on the dance floor!) and the kids make for adorable pictures, and everyone is smiling and happy. Just sayin’.

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    me74 April 26, 2011, 12:07 pm

    Holy Comments Batman! This might have been addressed – is there a group of the close friends you know well and all know each other well? If so you might be able to ask them to help you out, explain the situation and see if they would all be okay with no dates providing they are a group together and SO/Spouses are cool with this. I have a very specific group of friends this would work with and another group of friends where it would NOT at all so be careful. Honestly with this group of my women friends my hubby would rather stay home and watch the kids than sit with us and the other guys he doesn’t like all that well. BUT BUT BUT needs to be addressed directly and personally with the friends in question and I would need to know the situation from the bride.

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    Flake April 26, 2011, 12:26 pm

    I just wouldn’t go if my SO was specifically not invited. If my relationship is not important enough to you, I don’t want to celebrate yours.

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    LeahW. April 26, 2011, 5:01 pm

    My cousin didn’t invite my live-in-boyfriend to his wedding, and I would have been okay with it except for how he handled it. My bf and I, my parents, and my cousin and his fiance had all gotten together for drinks right after they had gotten engaged. This was the first time my boyfriend met my cousin, who spent the entire time talking about himself until his fiance finally interrupted him and asked how me and my boyfriend met. Fast forward a few months when my cousin called me up to invite me to the wedding and give me the date. He didn’t mention plus-ones, so I slipped my boyfriend into the conversation in a way that wasn’t wedding-related. My cousin took the hint and said that, “he seems like a really nice guy” but they couldn’t afford to invite him to the reception, though he could come to the ceremony if he wanted. Given the fact that my cousin hadn’t shown one iota of interest in my boyfriend when they met I couldn’t help but think his comment was a tad on the sarcastic side, plus I was pissed at the suggestion that my boyfriend could travel by plane to the wedding, go to the ceremony and then be barred from dinner!

    The bottom line is, I truly think that every rule of etiquette is breakable but only if you have a damn good reason and explain them very sensitively and openly with your guests. Although it sucked not bringing my boyfriend to my first, big family wedding, what really made me angry was my cousin downplaying the importance of our relationship. Tread softly, LW!

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    looloo April 27, 2011, 5:01 am

    honestly, people can sit and pout all they want but not everyone can fork over money for a wedding for people that they don’t know. it is their wedding and if they don’t want you to bring a significant other, well tough luck. mostly everyone is like, i felt this way, and i would never this and that but.. lets face it people it is their day not yours!

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    HelloJello April 27, 2011, 9:49 am

    I had the experience where a friend sent me an invitation to her wedding, but there were no names on it. I presumed my fiance, whom she had met several times, would be invited, especially since the invitation did not indicate otherwise. When I called her to confirm our attendance, she said great, then called me back a few minutes later to ask if by “we” I meant myself and my fiance. Because they had limited space. So I was in the position where I had to uninvite my fiance. I felt like a complete tool, and now wish I had made the decision to not go at all.

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    Niki April 27, 2011, 11:26 am

    My brother is one of the guests Wendy’s imagining at his friend’s wedding this fall, right down to being an out-of-towner. The groom is an old high school friend of his, and he invited my brother but not his live-in girlfriend. The wedding is in Western Canada (my brother lives in Montreal) and my brother and the groom don’t see each other much anymore, because there are provinces between them. So I believe the groom has only met my bro’s gf maybe once, and the bride possibly not at all. But the groom and my brother were very close for a period of years, and there are a few of the old gang from high school that are invited to the nuptials. And I think some of these guys’ wives/girlfriends DID get invited, but my brother’s girlfriend didn’t make the cut for some reason. I’m guessing it’s because the couple don’t really know her and maybe they haven’t been dating as long as some of the other couples (but they have been together a year and a half, living together since last summer, so it’s definitely a serious, significant relationship).

    My brother is really upset that his girlfriend didn’t get an invite. He’s now questioning whether they like her (which is unfortunate, because she’s a lovely, perfectly likeable person). And even if they didn’t like her for some reason, that wouldn’t excuse this insult. My brother is being asked to trek across Canada for this wedding, the least they could do is extend the invitation to his serious girlfriend as well. The fact that they didn’t means my brother is debating not going at all.

    So, Newly Engaged, you might want to consider his reaction to all this before you consider excluding spouses and other serious partners of your guests.

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    Ms. EM July 30, 2013, 12:11 pm

    I can understand both sides. If you know one person very well and are pretty sure their spouse or SO will know ONLY your friend, I can see inviting only your friend to your extremely small wedding. If they do not want to come without their spouse or SO, you should understand. What I don’t understand are the folks that say that regardless of the name(s) on the invitation, they will bring whomever they please. You say it is rude NOT to invite my spouse, SO, date, so I will come and bring extra people that were not invited? Really? And that isn’t rude?

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