From the Mailbag: “It’s Wrong to Go to a Wedding Without Your Significant Other”


I just read your article from 2011, “I’m Pissed that My Boyfriend is Going to a Wedding Without Me,” and have no idea if your blog still exists, but if it does, I wonder if you would revisit this topic.

You said that the boyfriend, who wasn’t granted a plus-one to a wedding he was invited to, had to choose the lesser of two evils when deciding whether to attend the wedding without his girlfriend or decline the invitation, and that he should go to the wedding. But all of the arguments you made for the boyfriend to go — it’s just a one-day affair, and upsetting the girlfriend in the short-term is not as big a deal as upsetting his friends in the longer-term — support the fact that the boyfriend should have prioritized his relationship and gracefully declined the invite, sent a gift, and taken his girlfriend out for the day. In no way would this have been a short-term issue for the girlfriend. I just don’t understand where compassion and loyalty for your partner have gone in this day and age.

A few years ago, my husband and I were not invited to the wedding of our best friend of 30 years because his wife only invited her family. They had a rocky relationship from the start and she repeatedly broke it off with him and she’d move on to other relationships until he finally wore her down and she agreed to marry him. We supported their relationship because we knew there was something about her that he NEEDED, so we were shocked to learn (after a casual evening together) that they were getting married THE NEXT DAY and only her family was invited. We were graceful about the news (albeit with an open jaw) but I am still hurt by it.

Our friend has been completely overwhelmed by her family and we see him once or twice a year (this, after seeing him almost every day for YEARS). We accept their relationship as it is and have grieved the loss of our friend without complaint to him….we just want him to be happy. With that said, I would have been devastated if we had been put into the same situation as your writer, where the bride and groom were insensitive or cheap enough to invite one half of a couple. Our experience taught me, it’s not about “one damn day” at all. It’s about love and respect in relationships. — Still Not Over It

Ok, consider the topic revisited. Four and a half years later, I still stand by my original advice. It sucks when one half of an unmarried couple is invited to a wedding without a plus-one for the other half, especially if that couple has been together for two years like the couple in the original letter. But you have only a few options: go to the wedding, make the most of it, and support your friends who probably had difficult decisions to make as they planned their wedding and guest list; or, stay home either out of principle because you can’t support someone who doesn’t support your relationship, or stay home because you can’t bear the idea of being away from your boyfriend or girlfriend for a few hours.

It’s a personal decision and you gotta do what you gotta do, but, yeah, it is “one damn day,” and, more often than not, the lack of a plus-one has much more to do with budget or size limitations than anything else, and it’s far shittier to be “devastated” over a lack of an invite, and ditch a friend over this perceived personal slight, than it is to be “cheap” as you say and throw the wedding you can afford even if it, unfortunately, hurts some feelings of people you care about.


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  1. Avatar photo mrmidtwenties says:

    100% Wendy. I’m always shocked that people can see these situations any differently.

  2. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    I find it pathetic to expect your partner to skip a wedding just because the invite didn’t include you. The wedding has nothing to do with you. Don’t make it about you. Their wedding is them and their friends on their budget. Very few people have a magic budget that allows them to invite all people who might wish an invitation. Real people have real limitations. Accept it gracefully. Your relationship can surely survive a one day separation. If it can’t then you need to be looking at your relationship. A complaint like this is more about trying to feel validated by being invited or is about not trusting the partner to go off to a wedding unsupervised or about not feeling like a full person if your partner isn’t attached at the hip. A letter like this is more about the insecurities of the LW than the rudeness of the couple getting married.

  3. RedRoverRedRover says:

    Personally, I think that if your guest list is that tight, you should look at other options for venues or food or whatever. You don’t give some of your friends plus ones, and other friends in the same group no plus one. That’s extremely rude. Everyone on the same “level” should be treated the same. Maybe coworkers don’t get a plus one but friends do, for example. Or family gets one and friends don’t. So the bride and groom were rude to put the friend in this position. The girlfriend probably wouldn’t even have been upset if none of the other plus ones from the friend group weren’t invited either.
    Be that as it may, her boyfriend was put in this crap position, through no fault of his own, and I think if he wants to go to the wedding then the girlfriend should accept it. And if she wants to be angry at someone, be angry at the bride and groom who caused this situation in the first place.

  4. Oh man that letter was so long ago! Reading my comments from then are interesting. And I still agree with Wendy. It’s one day. And I find it odd just how much people hold on to the wedding day as a way to gauge their friendship. Friendships change so much over time. Did that LW ever update? I wonder what ended up happening and if they are still friends and if she ever got over herself!

  5. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

    yeah… skip the wedding of a best friend and take the sig. other out for a special day? wtf? as a partner if my boyfriend got invited to a really important wedding (close friend/brother/whatever) and was not given a plus one, as much as that would suck, I would urge my partner to go and not make them feel guilty for something they had zero control over. Sometimes this is just a necessary evil. My best friend’s father is dying of cancer, and just recently she got engaged, and was trying to plan a shot gun type really small wedding and one of the scenarios she posited was literally family and best friends no significant others, because it just was going to be a family affair 100%- so like her 8 closest best friends and then immediate family. You never know someone’s reason for doing something, but 99% of the time, especially when it comes to weddings, it has nothing personal to do with you as a guest and you should just get over it. Also you have been holding on to this for a few years now, let it the fck go, it will feel so much better.

  6. PumpkinSpice says:

    People need to learn how to live without their significant other. One day apart will not kill the relationship and if it’s does then it was not meant to be. Just because someone is part of a couple does not mean that the whole world need bow down to recognize it. Maybe they didn’t have the money, maybe they do not care for a specific person. Regardless of the fact, that person is not invited. If your partner cannot comprehend that the world does not revolve around them and their wants then they are in for a rude awakening. Shit happens, and people don’t need to explain their reasons why to you .it is the couples decision who makes the quest list. Not the people invited. If you feel disrespected then don’t go. But just because you are one half of a couple, does not mean the other half has to be invited to every single event that happens.

  7. I just don’t understand why this person is asking that the issue be revisited when her reason for wanting to revisit is not at all similar. This woman is married and NEITHER she nor her partner were invited to the wedding she discusses. What does that have to do with whether one person in an unmarried couple should go to a wedding they were actually invited to (but their SO wasn’t)?

    1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      I was thinking the same thing.

    2. Basically. You said it. The situation isn’t the least bit similar.

    3. FancyPants says:

      I feel like this weird woman is just sitting around dwelling on this slight from years ago and found something with a vaguely similar theme (not being invited to a wedding) and figured Wendy might let her grind her axe a bit.

  8. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

    My two cents here: How is the LW not aware as to whether this site stil exists…if hs used the site to contact Wendy… Now, Im not the most capable person in the internets by far, but…huh?
    Secondly, LW, you are comparing… apples and tigers, not even apples and oranges. That’s, uhhh sweet, I suppose, that you think your friend needs something from this woman he had to WEAR DOWN TO MARRY HIM, but errrr…. What the what? Your friend (seemingly) values a rocky relationship with a domineering woman, allowing her to dictate that he cannot see friends more than a couple times a year that he used to see daily. The relevance of THAT situation to the fact that you found out the day before the wedding of the wedding is pretty much non-existent. Im sorry. It sucks, but your friend values his wife over your friendship.

    1. Still Not Over It says:

      Just having found this site, I was so surprised to see such a prompt response to my query. It has been very interesting to read the comments, and maybe I will learn something here. Yes, the two events discussed were completely different…my point was about comparing those two events was this: The bride and groom make decisions about their day based on their needs and they move on. Even though we were (and still are) completely supportive of our friend, his priorities have changed, so the relationship has changed and he isn’t a part of our life anymore and we are okay with that. But my husband and I still have our relationship, which is our priority. I was hurt that we were not invited to the wedding and because of that could relate that this girlfriend was hurt that she wasn’t invited and her boyfriend made going a priority; that’s all I’m saying. It would be interesting to see if the girlfriend/boyfriend are still together. Thanks all!

      1. anonymousse says:

        Wait, this happened to you years ago and you are still upset about it and googling advice for it? I am sure he didn’t mean a personal slight to you. I’m sure she didn’t personally mean to offend you for years. Deep breath in, Deep breath out, let it go!
        If this is truly an issue for you, you have a very blessed life, indeed.
        The thing is, they still had a relationship at the end of the day. The boyfriend going was honoring his friends relationship for ONE day, or more likely, half a day. I’m sure she didn’t break up with him for going to the wedding. So, they still had their relationship, too. Him going isn’t insulting his relationship to his girlfriend. It was obviously not a personal thing, which the bride and groom explained.

      2. In this situation, the girlfriend and boyfriend had only been together for a couple years. While it still would have been nice if the boyfriend had received a plus one, there are still people who only invite couples that are married or have been in their partnership for many years. It’s understandable that the girlfriend was a bit hurt… had I been in her situation, I probably would have been too. But I would completely understand if my SO still wanted to go, because I would assume that it wasn’t a personal slight and that it was just an issue of budget. It wouldn’t be that big of deal, and I can easily entertain myself for an evening without my SO. His choosing to go is no comment on his love for his girlfriend.
        Your situation is completely different, and if you were writing in to receive advice a few years back, you probably would have received some different advice than the original letter writer. One thing would still be the same though: It may have hurt, but sometimes you just need to move past it.

      3. The most important relationship should always be between the couple, whether dating or married. Those are the people that will be there with you to end, not friends who come and go?

      4. It would be great if one’s partner was always with them to the end, but close to half of marriages, and a far higher fraction of relationships, end in divorce or break-up. Some friendships last a whole lifetime, others come and go. It’s often difficult to know which friendships will last and which won’t, although often the ones you keep putting effort into are the ones that endure.

    2. Still Not Over It says:

      LW may have moved on, but I just found this site yesterday and am happy to see it’s still thriving and has such fascinating conversations.

      My friend was honoring his bride’s wishes; I won’t judge their relationship or issues, the story was relevant to the point that we too were bummed we weren’t invited (and we were his married best friends – which seemed to be a point of contention for LW) but now we’ve all moved on in different directions.

      1. ele4phant says:

        I do want to understand that objectively I understand why you and your husband were shocked, hurt even, to not only not get invited to the wedding but to not even know they were getting married until the last minute.

        But, I think it’s a shame that you’ve taken it so personally, and let it (at least partially) impact your friendship with him. Rationally, you should realize that his marriage is about him and his wife. You should realize that there are lots of reasons they chose to go about their wedding the way they did that have nothing to do with you – they could have had a very tight budget, the symbolize of marriage means less to them and they just wanted to do it with no big to do, maybe they wanted no wedding at all but they were being pressured into one by family so they caved a little bit. So many reasons, none of which reflect on how they value their friendships with you.

        And even if it did reflect somewhat on your friendship with them, it could have been a small thing for you to overlook this one slight in order to not let it damage your friendship.

      2. ele4phant says:

        I do want to *say* that I objectively understand…that’s how that first sentence was supposed to start.

  9. LisforLeslie says:

    A lot of the comments assume, understandably, that the lack of invite is restricted to a) unmarried b) all unmarried c) all unmarried from both sides of the wedding. The LW’s situation aside, we’ve had a few people write in about exclusionary treatment where a partner is specifically excluded, as in, “all partners are invited except for you because we don’t like you”. Or like the LW – all friends from one side are invited but not another. In those situations – the invitee should take a moment to consider the insult flung at his or her partner. But if all invites are consistent – then suck it up and go be supportive of your friend or family.

    1. I 100% agree with being consistent across the board. I went back and read the original letter and it seemed that maybe there was a no girlfriend/boyfriend rule since two other girlfriends were excluded, that we know of.

      1. RedRoverRedRover says:

        From what she wrote though, those two other girlfriends aren’t part of their friend group. Their whole friend group is going, which I assume means SOs as well. Maybe they’re all married and the original LW and her boyfriend are the only unmarried ones and that’s where the line was drawn… but if it were me, I wouldn’t exclude just one person because of that rule. I do think it’s rude to invite the whole friend group except for one person, and it does seem exclusionary.

      2. No doubt I’d be hurt by the slight… but I’d hope that everyone else in the friend group was married and there really was a hard no boyfriend/girlfriend line. Because what if someone from group A found out that someone from group B was allowed a plus one for a girlfriend?

        That might not have been the case at all and maybe the marrying couples are total a holes. I’m just choosing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

  10. I will go so far as to say that if the couple is married and only one partner is invited, it is a bit different. I think my advice would be the same (the invited person should go, ESPECIALLY in a situation like the LW describes where the bride excluded most of the groom’s side– anyone from the groom’s side lucky enough to be invited should definitely show up for him!) but I do think that as a married couple you are a very specific social unit and should be invited as such and it is ok to feel a bit snubbed at not being invited.
    But I wouldn’t feel “devastated” as the LW puts it, and especially if the couple isn’t married then it’s just making drama for the hell of it. Newsflash LW (this LW and the old LW too): someone else’s wedding is NOT about you. Shocking, right?

  11. Ele4phant says:

    I feel…you only let this impact your long term friendship with this guy because you chose to hang onto your resentment about not being invited. If you don’t make a big deal of it, it won’t be a big deal to your relationship.

    And yeah your not going to get to see your friend every day for the rest of each other’s lives. Regardless of his inlaws, people’s lives change, priorities changes, amount of free time changes.

    I used to live with my closest friend and we talked every day. Now we’re both married with careers (we don’t even have kids yet) and we’re lucky to see each other every few weeks. It’s just life.

  12. I agree with LW. If the relationship is secure and in no way a new relationship, then you dont invite one half of the couple. And if you do then you cant be upset or feel unsupported if the person chooses their partner over your wedding. AFTER ALL, your wedding is a day that you are showing everyone that you are choosing this person over everyone else. So you cant get your panties in a wad when your friend does the same thing.
    My boyfriend/ common law spouse here in Texas, have been together many years. If he was not invited I would feel offended and would not go and vice-versa. I would tell them they have my support and I would send a gift. You dont have to attend to support your friends.

    1. Ele4phant says:

      Eh disagree. Weddings are not about validating and celebrating every romantic relationship – it’s about validating and celebrating one SPECIFIC relationship – the bridge and groom’s. If you want everybody to be supportative and recognize your relationship – have your own wedding.

      I give total side eye to people who get upset about the lack of a plus one – like c’mon, stop making this about you. It’s not your day. And given how ridiculous even a small modest wedding can cost, I find it hypocritical how our society trashes couples for having big weddings that they can’t afford, and then gets all upset when the couple throws a small wedding and has to make cuts to the guest list. It’s a no win situation.

      I’m married and while my husband have a lot of mutual friends, we also have friends that are really just my friends, and vice versa. I personally would not care if one of his friends got married and invited just him and not me. In fact, I’d actually be kind of psyched to have a day to myself and not have to spend some of my free time at a wedding , but I digress.

      If a couple thinks it’s very important to invite couples, and therefore chose to extend plus ones to all their guests at the expense of not inviting some friends, that’s fine. Again their day. But if another couple wants to deal with their limited guest list by inviting all their friends and not giving them plus ones, that should also be fine and people shouldn’t take it personally.

      Because – I cannot emphasize this enough – a wedding is about ONE couple that day. If you aren’t the bride and groom, don’t look to the wedding to validate your relationship.

      1. Anonymousse says:

        Imagine all the drama avoided if people stopped taking everything so f$&@%#* personally.
        When you are cutting numbers down, a blanket, “marrieds invited,” but not “dating couples” seems pretty reasonable. Or really, ANY way a couple decides to do it is fine, because it’s their day. Their day. Not inviting one person isn’t a personal stab at you. I’ve never been so happy we had a courthouse wedding.

      2. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        “If a couple thinks it’s very important to invite couples, and therefore chose to extend plus ones to all their guests at the expense of not inviting some friends, that’s fine. Again their day. But if another couple wants to deal with their limited guest list by inviting all their friends and not giving them plus ones, that should also be fine and people shouldn’t take it personally. ”

        It definitely is up to the couple. I’m not sure why people think there would be fewer hurt feelings if you skipped inviting some of your friends so that you could invite plus ones for other friends. Somebody is getting cut out and somebody will feel hurt. I’d personally rather have friends over significant others I don’t know very well. If the significant other had become a friend they would have an invite in their own right.

      3. anonymousse says:

        I just can’t understand people getting so upset over this. It’s a wedding. It’s one day out of your life. If you can’t get over it, you have other issues that need your attention.
        It doesn’t matter really, how or why a couple decides to do it a certain way. I can understand feeling a little hurt, but FFS has everyone lost their minds? It doesn’t matter. It’s not personal. Let it go. If this is truly such an issue…all I can say is you, LW, are fortunate that this is the thing you can’t get over. You must be very blessed in your life that this is the issue that this is what keeps you up at night.
        Have you seen the Starbucks red holiday cups??

      4. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Personally I don’t like the “their day” idea. The ceremony is all yours, no two ways about it. But the reception is a party you’re throwing for your guests. It’s NOT all about you, it’s about you and your guests, just like any other party. Of course it’s celebrating the couple, just like a birthday is celebrating the birthday boy/girl and a graduation is celebrating the graduate. But it doesn’t mean it revolves around them and no one else matters. As the host, you have a responsibility to your guests. It should be enjoyable for them, not something they need to endure. And the “our day” idea flies right in the face of that.
        I didn’t always see it that way, but I have been to some horrible weddings where it felt like the bride and groom were essentially holding us hostage. Like, at one we had literally nothing to drink for over two hours. I ended up taking my empty wine glass into the bathroom to fill from the sink. When you’re throwing a party, you need to consider what will make it fun for your guests, period. It doesn’t matter if you just got married or not. The day still doesn’t revolve around you.

      5. ele4phant says:

        I mean, I went into my wedding kicking and screaming – I really wanted nothing but a courthouse with four people and a small dinner afterwards, and I ended up with a sit-down dinner for 40. So, I obviously understand like it or not the wedding was “not just about me”. And, for the people who were invited, I put a lot of though and care into designing a celebration that we could all enjoy, not just do whatever my husband and I wanted with no regard for our guests.

        At the same time, the whole raison d’etre that day WAS to celebrate my husband and my new marriage and to include people we wanted to share that with. I did not and do not appreciate when people try to make it about validating their own relationships or spinning it so they were the center of it. We invited you because we’re excited and want you to share that excitement with those close to us.

        It wasn’t that I wanted a special princess day where everyone bows to all my wishes, but I don’t bring your drama and personal drama into an even that isn’t focused on you.

      6. anonymousse says:

        Exactly. If you can’t go to a party or reception without your SO, then that’s sad. I’m sure if you are included in the friends category, and extended an invitation, you probably have other people that you know at the wedding and the reception. I don’t really think anyone should have to adjust what they want to spare the egos of people they may not know very well. I have long term friends that I don’t really know/have a relationship with their SO. That’s okay, I’m not bothered by it. I’m not sure if I’d invite them to a small ceremony. I don’t think that’s a personal slight.

      7. RedRoverRedRover says:

        I wasn’t trying to say that you, personally, are guilty of this. Just that it’s a common theme to hear “it’s our day!” used as an excuse for selfish or rude behaviour. As to drama from the guests… if you put their comfort foremost, you won’t have any drama, because they’ll be happy. That’s all I’m getting at. It makes everything go smoother if the bride and groom recognize that it’s NOT about them, but rather about everyone attending, including the bride and groom but also their guests as well.
        Obviously there are a lot of landmines to wedding planning. But in my opinion you need to come up with the guest list first, and then see what you can afford. We’re led to believe that there’s all this stuff you “have” to have for a wedding (and sorry you were pushed into that). For a lot of couples having all that stuff means the guests take a hit – either by not being invited at all, not being given a plus one, or being charged for things at the wedding (like booze). Weddings need to be taken down a notch. There is absolutely nothing wrong with an afternoon party with finger sandwiches and desserts. Why can’t people do that instead? Compared to a sit-down dinner, it’s probably half the cost. If you want booze you can get away with a few cases of champagne. It can still be at a nice venue and be a formal event if that’s what the bride and groom are looking for. But then they don’t have to compromise on their guests.

      8. ele4phant says:

        I fundementally disagree with you on the responsibilities of guests and the couple. While I obvisouly think the bride and groom need to plan a reception in which the invited guests are feed, having fun, and comfortable, it is still their right to invite whom they chose, and design a party that is in as much keeping with their sensibilities as possible.

        If that means a small sit-down dinner in which plus-ones are not included for budget reasons and because they don’t want to include plus ones they don’t know very well because it’s a small, intimate, event, I think that is fine.

        If an invited guest can NOT tolerate what couple plans, okay, that’s fine, do not go. But to me it’s crazy that you would get upset because you don’t like how a couple has designed an event that meets their budget, sensibilities, and ultimately is to celebrate THEIR marriage. This day isn’t about you. Go have a nice time, and don’t make it about you and your slighted feelings. Or don’t go if you can’t do that.

      9. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Of course it’s their right to invite who they want. I’m not arguing that. But throwing a wedding is no different to having a party in your own home. Would you have a birthday party and be like “married people can bring their spouse, but no one else can bring their SOs”? Probably not. Then why would it be ok at a wedding, a much more formal event? I just don’t get that way of thinking. If it’s informal, then fine, there are no expectations from guests. But as we’ve seen over and over on here, formal events come with certain expectations, and by deliberately choosing not to follow those expectations, you are causing difficult situations for guests. That’s not what a host should be doing. Just my opinion of course.
        And to be clear, if you get invited to a wedding and you don’t get a plus one, I agree that neither you or your SO should throw a hissy fit over it. Just have good grace and go (or allow your SO to go without making a fuss). But I don’t think a host should put a guest into that situation. And I’m not saying this out of some anger at a past slight – I’ve literally never been invited to a wedding without a plus one. Maybe it’s a regional thing, but it’s not done here as far as I know. And I’ve been to weddings where the bride and groom don’t have a lot of money. They still invited plus ones. So maybe I have a different outlook than other people here do. But I basically agree with the etiquette that at a formal event, you invite people as social units. If you don’t want to do that, nothing’s forcing you to have a formal event.

      10. ele4phant says:

        Again, why does a wedding have to be a more formal event? I very much tried to have an informal event (and kind of got away with it), but let’s be real, people will NOT let you do what you want. You cannot treat it with that level of informality without people throwing a hissy fit (see my mother). And that’s the rub.

        Couples get pressured into having a type of event they don’t necessarily want, and then because they’ve been pressured into having a more “formal” event, the “rules of etiquette for formal events” are mandated.

        Oh man, I’m still so angry over my wedding I think.

      11. RedRoverRedRover says:

        It doesn’t! I gave that same reply below. But most couples WANT them to be, in my experience. Sorry your mom threw a fit, but that doesn’t suddenly change people’s expectations of what a formal event is, you know what I mean?
        My only point is, people will have expectations if it’s a formal event, because the entire meaning of the word “formal” is that there are specific protocols that are followed. If you subvert those expectations, yeah, you can’t be surprised if you’ve caused problems and bad blood among your guests. It’s better to either follow protocol, or not have a formal event at all.
        And I agree with you that too many people think a formal event is “necessary”, which your mom obviously did, and again I’m sorry about that and it sounds like it really sucked. But that’s what needs to change, not the formal event rules. People shouldn’t be pressured into doing more than what they want to, it’s ridiculous. If you don’t want the big brou-ha-ha with everything that goes along with it, then obviously you shouldn’t have to. Clearly I think your mom was in the wrong, there. It should have been your and your husband’s choice, not hers.

      12. Ele4phant says:

        Let me ask you this though – if I had the small informal wedding of my dreams and you were my friend – and your husband was someone I didn’t know and didn’t want to invite, would it make a difference to you? No, would you still feel slighted or not want to go, even if I was having an informal wedding without the formal wedding etiquette?

      13. RedRoverRedRover says:

        No, not at all. That’s a totally different scenario with different expectations.

      14. ele4phant says:

        Why wouldn’t it bother you the same, though? You’re an introvert, you have to go by yourself, why would it make a difference whether you’re sitting with people you don’t know at a causal bbq vs with people you don’t know at a fancy reception hall? Either way, you’re out of your comfort zone.

        It still seems to me that there’s some ingrained attitude in our country that weddings are WEDDINGS! and deserve some special treatment when it comes to social ettiquette for no real legitimate reason aside from tradition.

        And for me “Just because that’s the tradition” or because “well, that’s what the etiquette says so that’s the way it should be done” isn’t enough reason to justify doing something a particular way if it doesn’t feel right or work best for the couple.

      15. RedRoverRedRover says:

        If it’s a small, intimate thing, it’s more likely that I’ll know the people there. If I’m not that close to the group, I probably wouldn’t be invited. A small group is also a LOT less intimidating than a large one.
        But mainly, as I’ve said multiple times, it’s the difference between a formal event and an informal one. Whether people like the distinction or not, it’s there. For a formal event, people expect they can bring their date. If you’re dressing up and having a sit-down dinner and a dance afterwards, you expect your SO to be allowed to be there. Formality comes with protocols, that’s what formal means. You can certainly go ahead and have a “formal” event and ignore the protocols, but then you can’t be surprised if some people are upset.
        Maybe it sounds nitpicky, but you’ve seen LWs write in over and over about this stuff. There ARE expectations, whether we want them there or not. Ignoring that is going to cause friction. Of course you’re free to do so. But then you can’t be upset that people don’t like it.

      16. ele4phant says:

        I also don’t understand why it’s a hardship or awkward position to get invited some place without your SO. My husband and I are not joined at the hip. I do not need the outside world to validate our marriage, he’s literally the only person I really care about being onboard with me about our marriage.

        If a friend of his that I didn’t know very well (and we do have our own friends) invited him and not me to their wedding, it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest. In fact, honestly I’d prefer not to go because I kinda don’t like weddings, so the wedding of someone I’m not close to wouldn’t be how I would chose to spend my free time.

      17. RedRoverRedRover says:

        It isn’t for every couple, but it is for some couples or some people. For example I’m an introvert, and if I got invited to a wedding where I didn’t have a big group of friends and I didn’t get a plus one, I wouldn’t know what to do. Say a wedding of a friend where i don’t really know her other friends, or the wedding of a coworker where she’s only inviting one or two coworkers. Both of these have happened, and if I didn’t have the plus one, I would have really been on the fence about going. It would have been either go and be extremely uncomfortable all night (I don’t do well in large groups where I don’t know anyone), or not go at all and feel bad for skipping my friend’s wedding.
        My husband is the same way, he hates being invited to things without me. Maybe some people are totally comfortable in a room of relative strangers, but not everyone is. That’s why I made sure all my coworkers had a plus one to my wedding, and actually every single one brought somebody. Even one guy whose wife got sick, he brought a friend instead. It’s just more fun with someone you can enjoy it with.

      18. ele4phant says:

        I think you and I just fundamentally disagree here.

        I mean, I’m an introvert too, but I feel that’s my thing to deal with; I don’t expect people to accommodate me. Sometimes that means I decline going to things alone if I don’t feel up to it, sometimes that means I push through my discomfort if I don’t have someone to go to an event with. I do not feel it is the host’s obligation to help me deal with any social anxiety I might have. They have graciously put in time and effort to plan a party and invite me to it, I’m not going to start making demands of them when they didn’t have to invite me in the first place. If I don’t think it will be an enjoyable thing for me, I just won’t do it, but I won’t blame them for not tailoring their party to me.

        And by the same token, what if the bride and groom are introverts and would feel uncomfortable with people they don’t know at an arguably very intimate event? I feel, as it’s their wedding, it’s their prerogative to invite who they want.

        I get the sense you fall into the camp that it’s more important go with what makes the guests happy, but I dunno, I just don’t think it is. I think what is going to make the couple happiest and most comfortable is most important on one of the biggest days of their lives.

      19. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Yeah, we just disagree. Personally as a host, I want my guests to enjoy themselves. That’s the point of having them there, to have fun with them. How can I enjoy myself if my guests can’t? They’re not the “audience” to my “big show”. They’re part of the celebration. If they’re not, then why are they even there? That’s why I think they deserve consideration. Sure, the party wouldn’t exist without the fact that I got married. But it wouldn’t exist without the guests either. So why is one the end-all-be-all and the other doesn’t matter? It’s once again this “my day” attitude, building the wedding up to be some ultimate thing. It’s not. It’s one day in an entire lifetime. I don’t consider it the most important day of my life, either. The day we met, or the day he proposed, were much more important.
        Anyway, to each their own. We still have people raving to us about how amazing our wedding was. And it’s not because it was oh so expensive or perfect or anything like that. It’s because in every decision we made, we thought about what we wanted, AND we considered how it would affect our guests, and we made sure there was a balance between them. And I think our guests felt it, and felt extremely welcome. And I’ve never heard any rumours of anyone being upset or anything we did causing issues or anything like that. Cutting back on things we wanted were definitely worth it for that kind of memory. I don’t even think about the things we gave up. We were considerate to our guests, and in kind, they made it a night to remember.

      20. ele4phant says:

        For what it’s worth, we still have people raving about our wedding too – except for me I look back at it as a really stressful, frustrating time in which I couldn’t fully focus on what was most important (the whole getting married to my favorite person thing).

        Which makes me sad. If I had drawn a harder line in the sand, maybe I wouldn’t feel that way. I’d recommend to engaged couples to do whatever makes you happiest. If that means pissing some people off, so be it. After all, if they can’t just be happy for you on such a momentous occasion, well maybe that says more about them then it does about you’re ability to be a great hostess.

      21. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Yeah, but that’s what I’m saying though, it has to be a balance. You can’t have nothing you want and do everything for your guests, but you also shouldn’t do whatever you want with no thought for your guests. You have to consider both.

      22. I chose not to have a big wedding for a few reasons. And I had more people than I thought be pissed that they weren’t invited. It surprises me still that those people thought that they were automatically guaranteed an invite to my wedding because we had worked together for a certain number of years, had been closer when their wedding happened, etc. To me weddings are these weird beasts that make people crazy and it’s just not worth it. If you want a sit down dinner and that means you have to invite fewer people, go for it! I don’t know to me it is just one day, I don’t really talk about my wedding or other people’s weddings with them when we’re together. I talk about my relationship with them and things we share.

      23. ele4phant says:

        Totally, they make people behave so bizarrely.

        In one breathe, I hear, “Well it’s fine to do whatever you want! If you want a potlactch that’s cool” and then I hear people should be planning whatever will make guests most comfortable (I guess inviting whomever will make their intended guests happiest?) and forgoing personal details or wants to accommodate a guest list you don’t even want.

        It was super frustrating my wedding. I just wanted to get married, I didn’t want a huge thing. This is the most monumental thing my husband I have done, shouldn’t we get to celebrate it how we want, include just who we want, and spend as much as we see fit?

      24. “As to drama from the guests… if you put their comfort foremost, you won’t have any drama, because they’ll be happy.”

        If only! Lol.

  13. Avatar photo call-me-hobo says:

    What is it about wedding invites that make people just crazy? You never hear letters like, “My bf’s bestie invited him to his graduation, but didn’t include my name on the invitation! Should bf not go to send a message?”

    When I got married, we gave everyone who wasn’t a couple a plus one. We didn’t want to deal with it. You know what? Most of those people who had a plus one that wasn’t really a friend of ours- the S.O. didn’t even come to the wedding. Because most weddings are boring. I’m so sick of people thinking that weddings are some sort of declaration about how you feel about every single person in your life.

    1. Yes! I completely agree.

    2. Ele4phant says:

      Agree with you 100% on all of this.

    3. I don’t know, weddings are kind of like the last event of their kind, right? The last true invitation only it’s rude to ask for a plus one type event. Every party I’ve ever thrown has been like “significant others welcome” and “bring your kids and your dog.” Weddings really are a unique construct these days– maybe in the old days of dinner parties and stuff it was different…

      (ETA- I do think it’s weird to think of weddings as a declaration on how you feel about everyone, but I think part of the issue is this invite-only thing is fairly unique to weddings)

      1. Idk, there have been dinners where I’ve sent out on-line invites and wouldn’t allow a plus one. For instance, my birthday dinners… if you’re not in a relationship or started seeing someone that I haven’t met… you don’t get a plus one because I want to celebrate with those closest to me.

      2. Your avatar is awesome!

      3. Thanks! I don’t know why I love this, since I’m not even a little big gangsta. It does make me smile.

    4. RedRoverRedRover says:

      It’s because it’s a formal event. Etiquette says that for a formal event you invite your guests as social units. Graduations aren’t a formal event so they don’t have the same social expectations.

      1. ele4phant says:

        Well, why do weddings have to be formal? Not everyone wants a big to do for their wedding. I understand marriage is a big deal and I view it with that gravity, but a wedding is just one day with a party. If I could have just treated it with the same amount of attention I treat my birthday or my graduation party, that would have been preferable for me.

        It kind of pisses me off that society gets to dictate me how I should view and treat a day that is really only about me and my husband.

      2. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Well it doesn’t have to be. You could have a backyard bbq or a potluck or something instead, I know people who have done that. But if it IS a formal event, which it typically is, then people expect the etiquette for a formal event to be followed.

      3. Hopefully, we’ll be trending this way more and more. I think we as a society are generally trending in a less-formal more-potluck style. I really enjoy both throwing and attending more-the-merrier type parties. I’m happier to show up with a plate of cookies and a six pack than to think someone wasn’t invited because the hosts had to limit the guest list based on who they could afford to feed or how much the venue could hold.

      4. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Totally agree. I mentioned elsewhere that if you want an elegant wedding on a budget, you can do an afternoon party. A garden party, tea, finger sandwiches, little white tables and chairs. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact I’d be charmed if I went to a wedding and that’s what the reception was.

      5. Avatar photo call-me-hobo says:

        But then you have people who are going to bitch if you ask them to bring something to a potluck- “Why should I bring a gift if I have to bring a dessert, blah blah blah. I can’t believe how tacky they are being, blah”. It honestly reminds me of the whole “Mommy Wars”. Everyone has an opinion on it, and everyone thinks it’s their right to air that opinion no matter what. What some people find charming, other people will find rude and obtuse.

      6. RedRoverRedRover says:

        I assume that if you’re having a potluck, it’s socially acceptable where you live. I know it’s a thing in some regions. In others, not so much. Where I live a potluck actually wouldn’t be normal, and people would find it weird, but a bbq or afternoon party would be fine.

      7. What I’ve found in my life is the people who complain or find what I choose to do offensive or not ‘proper etiquette’ aren’t people I want to be friends with anyway. You don’t have to remain friends with everyone you’ve ever known. And if how someone chooses to celebrate their wedding bothers you that much, maybe you just aren’t meant to be in each others lives.

      8. Cheers to that!

      9. RedRoverRedRover says:

        If they complain, yes. But if you do something that they find offensive, I mean, they’re allowed to not like some of the things you do. Like if you did what happened to the original LW, and invite an entire friend group except for one person… I think that one person is free to feel offended. It is a slight of sorts, whether it was for budget reasons or not. It says you’re not worth $50, or whatever it costs in your area, but someone else is. You know? But they should keep it to themselves, and not complain, because the guest list isn’t up to them. If they wanted to fade out the relationship later I wouldn’t blame them though.
        Also I’ve been in situations where the way that they did it was a pretty clear gift grab, which I thought was rude. I was the one who did the fade-out though, not them.

      10. Avatar photo call-me-hobo says:

        I live in the South. Many people here get married young, and often cheaply. In the many weddings I’ve attended, I’ve only been to one potluck reception. People still complained, though. But you know what? The bride and groom had a good time. If you focus on what your guests want/think on every aspect of the wedding, you’ll make yourself miserable. Just focus on what you and your partner want, and at least you’ll be able to look back on the day fondly.

      11. RedRoverRedRover says:

        I guess I’d have trouble looking back fondly if I knew people were complaining about it and didn’t enjoy it. I can’t be happy if my guests are unhappy. But then again, I don’t think I had the kinds of troubles that others have had, where parents or friends “force” stuff on them. No one tried to make decisions for us, we made them all of our own free will. I think for a lot of people, a wedding is a fight to get the things you want instead of the things other people (like parents) want. It wasn’t like that for us, luckily. So we came at it from a different perspective, there was no fight, we knew we could have exactly what we wanted and no one would push us to change it. And that’s maybe why it was easier to give some things up to add some conveniences for our guests.

    5. anonymousse says:


  14. “have no idea if your blog still exists”
    Really? How hard is it to go to the front page and see that there are new posts? Some people…

  15. Oh dear. I’m the original LW from 2011 (!) and I nearly forgot about this ? It’s been a few years since this, and I’m happy to say my boyfriend and I are still together. I appreciated Wendy (and everyone’s) advice and decided it was not worth getting worked up over. I guess the initial shock/embarrassment hit me and took a moment to get over…in the long run there is so much more that happens in life! I’m a little bit embarrassed to be honest!

    1. Avatar photo call-me-hobo says:

      Don’t worry, dear. Everybody has moments of fleeting of crazy, and we all get worked up about little stuff (if we didn’t, Wendy’d be out of work lol). As you can see, weddings have a tendency to drag the drama out of people at an even higher frequency! We’re glad you’re around and still reading.

    2. This is amazing. I was wondering what happened after rereading this. THANKS FOR THE UPDATE!

      To be fair, I would have been upset/sad too if I were in that situation.

    3. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      Thank you for chiming in!

    4. Oh my gosh, thanks for updating!! That is awesome, and I’m glad you and the boyfriend are doing well 🙂

  16. Haha, what? This story doesn’t even make sense: “we were hurt that they didn’t invite us, but we would have also been hurt if they had invited only one of us.” Damned if you do, damned if you don’t? Then again, that sounds like a lot of wedding planning.
    After 10 years, I can’t remember which weddings me and Bassanio were both invited to and which we weren’t. It’s a party, and an expensive one at that, not a referendum on everyone else’s relationships.

  17. dinoceros says:

    Wow, so you really hold a grudge, huh? It’s childish to make someone else’s wedding all about you. When a couple chooses to invite only family or whatever, there are a lot of factors, like money, time, stress, personal preference, etc. No one owes you a wedding. The fact that you think that your feelings should go above any other factors they have to consider is very self-centered.
    I think the issue you’re writing about (both not being invited b/c it’s family only) is a whole different issue than inviting half a couple. Sure, etiquette says invite both, but most people who plan weddings know that when you grant one person a plus-one, you have to give everyone one (or else you have dozens of people complaining that their relationship is more special than the next guy’s). Some people can’t afford that or don’t want a 300-person wedding.

  18. The Emily Post Institute’s podcast has consistently had the same advice. It’s difficult to plan a wedding, guest lists are hard, and weddings are about the couple. So they 100 percent get to decide the guest list and wedding party and wedding details. The wedding is not about you unless you are one of thise getting married. =)

  19. bittergaymark says:

    After attending far too many DREARY weddings in my lifetime — it simply astounds me that so many people, apparently, are just DESPERATE to attend each and every one they can… I dunno… I guess, I am so busy with so many other things — on average, I am out five nights a week — that this burning lust to attend weddings truly escapes me. Maybe if I led a much more boring life…

  20. I’m the guy left out and since it’s a Covid wedding outdoors in a gas station with food trucks, I can’t imagine a significant other being an added expense. It sucks being the one left out because personally I would never leave my significant other alone and go but that’s me. As beautiful and trustworthy as my girlfriend is, it sucks to know she’ll be hit on all night when, if I was there, it wouldn’t happen.

  21. Every December around Christmas when I was married to my ex, his divorced single sister would invite him to accompany her to her semi-formal company Christmas party. She didn’t want to go alone so she invited her brother, my husband, to go with her. Every year my husband got dressed up in the suit he hadn’t worn out with me in years, and I stayed home on a cold Saturday night with our kids. I never complained because it was just his sister after all. Nonetheless, asI look back, I realize his sister put him in a position every year in which he had to attend a semi-formal Christmas gala without his wife. His sister thought nothing of this that I couldn’t attend. My ex-husband always came back with stories of who he saw there and what people said. I guess it’s easy to see why I am not married to the guy anymore. Some things, like why you shouldn’t expect a married person to go to a fancy social occasion without their spouse, don’t need an explanation. They simply aren’t DONE.

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